Torn Edges in Photoshop


In this tutorial we will make an image appear is if has been torn out of a fashion magazine leaving raggedy edges. It’s not as good as the real thing but built into the tutorial are plenty of opportunities to modify the technique to achieve a certain level of authenticity.
1. Download this image or use one of your own. Pro-Tip if you are looking online for an image to use you want to use the highest res image possible. In Google Images when you search click on Tools and then click on the Size drop down and select larger than 4 MP this will yield very high-resolution results.

This tutorial assumes you are using high-res images; if you are using something lower-res you will need to adjust the settings in all of the steps.
2. The first step is to make a selection that mimics how you would tear the image – typically this means you would attempt to make straight tears. Select the Polygon lasso tool

and make a very general selection around the image. The trick to making this look authentic is to use as few lines as possible to make the selection.

3. In reality, trying to tear out an image would not yield neat corners, in the next step we’ll soften up the selection. Go to the SELECT menu > MODIFY > SMOOTH and smooth the selection with a 24-pixel radius (depending on the size of the image you can increase or decrease the radius to make it look right.)

4. Open the Channels panel (if you can’t find it go to the WINDOW menu > CHANNELS) and click on the Save Selection as a Channel Icon, rename it interior edge.

5. With the selection still active go to the SELECT menu > MODIFY > EXPAND and expand the selection by 18 pixels (again, depending on the size of the image you can increase or decrease the radius to make it look right.)

6. Save this as a new channel and call it exterior edge – this will be used to simulate the raggedy paper from the tear.

7. Deselect the selection by going to the SELECT menu > DESELECT (or Cmd/Ctrl + D)
8. Open the Layers Panel and make a copy of the background layer by either dragging the layer to the New Layer icon OR by typing Cmd/Ctrl + J. Turn off the visibility for the original background layer and make Background Copy the active layer by clicking on it.

9. Go to the SELECT menu > LOAD SELECTION select the channel interior edge and click on OK.

In the Layers Panel click on the Add Layer Mask icon to use the selection as a mask (the mask is super smooth at this stage – we will modify it in a few steps to make it look like torn edges)

10. Go back to the SELECT menu > LOAD SELECTION select the channel exterior edge and click on OK. Then, click on the Adjustment Layer Icon at the bottom of the layers panel

and create a new Solid Color Adjustment Layer with a white fill.
Slide the Color Fill 1 layer below the Background Copy Layer.

11. Now to make things look all raggedy. Click on the Layer Mask for the Background Copy Layer and go to the FILTER menu > FILTER GALLERY and click on the Brush Strokes Folder and the Spatter Filter. Spatter has two settings the spray radius which will make the edges raggedy and smoothness which will smooth out the raggedness. For this I’ve used 11 for the radius and 7 for the smoothness – you can make your own settings for this depending on what looks good to you.


12. Soften the Spatter filter effect – with the layer mask still active go to the FILTER menu > BLUR > GAUSSIAN BLUR and set it to 2 pixels.

Then go to the IMAGE menu > ADJUSTMENTS > LEVELS and bring the black and white points in just a bit to make the blur effect not so soft.

13. We’ll work on the Color Fill 1 layer by using similar techniques. Click on the layer mask for Color Fill 1 and go back to the FILTER menu > FILTER GALLERY and click on the Brush Strokes Folder and the Spatter Filter. Use similar settings as the last time but not exactly the same – this will provide a better sense of authenticity if both edges are not uniform. For my example, I used 18 for the Spray Radius and 12 for the Smoothness.

14. Next, hold the Cmd/Ctrl key down and click on the Color Fill 1 layer mask – this activates the mask as a selection – we will do this so that the next effect, add noise, will be limited to the just the white area of the mask. With the selection activated, go to the FILTER menu > NOISE > ADD NOISE and make the amount 12% and the distribution Gaussian. This will provide a slight texture to the ripped edges of the paper. Deselect the selection.

15. Go to the FILTER menu > BLUR > GAUSSIAN BLUR and set it to 2 pixels. Then Go to the IMAGE menu > ADJUSTMENTS > LEVELS and bring the black and white points in just a bit to make the blur effect not so soft.
16. The final adjustments are made as transformations to the layer masks. With the layer mask for Color Fill 1 still active, go to the EDIT menu > FREE TRANSFORM. With the transformation bounding box open, you can scale, rotate and move the exterior edge of the tear to give it even more of an authentic appearance.

17. You can adjust the shape of the interior edge by doing the same thing – click on the Background Copy layer mask and uncheck the chain link icon between the layer and mask (this allows you to manipulate just the mask and not the image.)

Use the EDIT menu > TRANSFORM > WARP feature to manipulate the overall shape.

18. Save the file as a PSD so that you can place into other compositions as a Smart Object OR go to the FILE menu > EXPORT > QUICK EXPORT as PNG to export the image with its transparent background that is suitable for use in a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation.

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