View Full Version : Question About Matting Comp Prints

04-08-2009, 01:08 AM
I have been searching the forums, but have not yet found an answer. Are we supposed to mat our comp prints? I know we have to mount them, but I can't seem to find an answer about mats (and I mean actual mats and not just using Photoshop to produce a mat look).

04-08-2009, 01:38 AM
Amy - I'm not sure if it's in the rules or not, but nearly all competition images are digitally matted (sometimes referred to as a stepmount), and rarely matted with a physical mat anymore. I'll see if I can find it in the rules anywhere.

04-08-2009, 02:00 AM
Amy, You can use a traditional mat that is surface mounted over the image. You can mount a photograph on the top of a piece of matboard. You can do as Heather mentions and put a "digital" mat around the image. Or you can enter a image that is a full 16x20 with no border or matting. Digital matting is the most popular but there are plenty of prints with other matting styles entered. The choice is up to you. Remember presentation is one of the 12 elements and will contribute to your final result, so whatever choice you make, ask yourself does it add or take away from the image. Generally a full frame 16x20 image is not the best choice, but not always.

Heather, the term step mount does not really refer to a digital mat. Where it comes from is the old way of mounting where the iamge was mounted to a colored mat board and trimmed to a very narrow lip left showing. Then it was mounted again to an over all 16x20 matboard. You "stepped down" from the image to the backer matboard. In NE it was never called a step mount. We refered to it as a competition mount.

04-08-2009, 01:04 PM
I learn something new EVERY day! Thanks, Keith.

04-08-2009, 01:45 PM
Mattes used to be allowed and then they were banned. Now, they are allowed once again. One opinion used to be that the judging panel would wonder what was bad about the image that were trying to hide with the matte. I do not recommend using a matte over the image.

04-08-2009, 05:41 PM
Just because it's not the norm, doesn't mean it's bad. Judges will not wonder what you're hiding with a "real" mat any more so than they'll wonder what you're hiding with your digital crop. Well done prints do well. I saw an overmatted print get a perfect score of 100 at regional.

04-08-2009, 06:03 PM
I don't think matting would be "hiding" something. Although I usually have issues with images that are centered moved to the 1/3 areas to satisfy the rule of thirds.

Print competition has changed in a wonderful way when they allowed any thickness of presentation (although, making it too thick may mean your accepted image may not be possibly displayed at IUSA). Leslie entered one of her Frescos (Image on plaster on canvas) and we put a 1/4" mat over the top to protect the other entries from being damaged. It merited and it was displayed.

04-08-2009, 07:34 PM
Thanks very much to all who responded. My question has been more than answered. Now I have some decisions to make...

04-08-2009, 08:56 PM
Ah, but there's more! If you do chose to use an actual mat or to mount on matboard with the mat showing, check how the color of mat you chose will look under competition lighting. It can change the color in unexpected ways. For instance, I know of no black mats that look black under the lights. Most come out looking a dingy charcoal gray. If you want black around your image your best bet is to use a digital mat.

04-20-2009, 03:27 PM
I just want to thank everyone for the information as well. Being my first time to submit to PPA this year, I didn't know what the popular thing to was in terms of matting the images before they are mounting.
Additionally, I would like to know if most use a black digital matting and if some use a color or texture in their matting that may enhance the image itself.