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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe Photoshop

How to Create a Torn Edges Effect in Photoshop

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Read Time: 7 mins
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Have you wondered how to create a torn photo effect in Photoshop? If so, your search ends here! In this tutorial, we're going to create a picture collage in Photoshop. Then you'll learn how to add torn photo edges in Photoshop and customize them to look unique and true to life.

Looking for that special something for your next design? Take a look at these really cool Torn Photo Templates. This template pack adds vintage effects to your photo and places them in a Polaroid-like frame with torn edges. They use layers, making them totally customizable and easy to modify. Be sure to check out these and the endless library of other amazing creative digital assets available on Envato Elements!

Torn Photo Templates on Envato ElementsTorn Photo Templates on Envato ElementsTorn Photo Templates on Envato Elements

What You'll Learn in This 'How to Add Torn Photo Edges' Tutorial

  • How to create a collage in Photoshop
  • How to create torn edges in Photoshop
  • How to customize a torn paper effect in Photoshop

What You'll Need

To begin this process, you will need:

1. How to Create a Photo Collage in Photoshop

Step 1

To create a collage in Photoshop, open your first photo. I'm using this simple portrait of a young woman with a shaved head on a white background by oneinchpunchphotos available from Envato Elements.

Portrait of a young woman with shaved headPortrait of a young woman with shaved headPortrait of a young woman with shaved head

Step 2

Now, open your second photo. I'm using this colourful portrait of the same woman, also by oneinchpunchphotos available from Envato Elements.

Colourful portrait of a young woman with a shaved head.Colourful portrait of a young woman with a shaved head.Colourful portrait of a young woman with a shaved head.

Step 3

Create a New Document. Go to File > New Document. I've chosen a size of 3000 x 2200 pixels at 300 Pixels/Inch allowing for the maximum resolution from these images.

New Document Window in PhotoshopNew Document Window in PhotoshopNew Document Window in Photoshop

Step 4

Bring the two photos into your new document. Now you'll want to convert both photos to Smart Objects. To do this, press and hold Control while you click the Layer name to open the sub-menu. Click Convert to Smart Object. Repeat this for both photo layers.

Create a Smart Object in PhotoshopCreate a Smart Object in PhotoshopCreate a Smart Object in Photoshop

Step 5

Decrease the Opacity of the top layer to 50%. This will reveal some of the layer underneath, allowing you to see the size of the model's face in both images at the same time.

50% Opacity of Layer on top of Another Layer50% Opacity of Layer on top of Another Layer50% Opacity of Layer on top of Another Layer

Step 6

Now we need to align the two photos so that the model's face is the same size. This can be a bit tricky, which is why we converted the layers to Smart Objects, which will allow us to resize the images as many times as we need to get this right without any loss of quality.

Using the Free Transform Tool (Command-T), resize the top layer. Don't worry about being perfect here, but try to align any key areas such as the nose and the chin to be as close as possible.

Step 7

Crop in on the image.

Cropped version of overlaid layers.Cropped version of overlaid layers.Cropped version of overlaid layers.

We've now aligned the photos well, so we can move on to create a torn paper edge in Photoshop.

2. How to Create Torn Edges in Photoshop

Step 1

To add a worn, torn photo edges effect in Photoshop, open the image of the torn piece of paper. Bring it into your working file, on top of your photo layers, and position the edge of the paper approximately where you'd like the torn edge to appear. Make sure the Opacity settings of all the layers are at 100%.

Don't worry about getting the placement exactly right just yet. We'll be able to adjust this if need be at a later step.

Torn Paper Edge overlaid a portrait.Torn Paper Edge overlaid a portrait.Torn Paper Edge overlaid a portrait.

Step 2

Drag the torn paper layer under the top photo layer.

Layer OrderLayer OrderLayer Order

Step 3

Select the top photo layer—for me this is Layer 2. Press and hold Control while you click the top layer name to open the sub-menu, and select Create Clipping Mask.

Create Clipping MaskCreate Clipping MaskCreate Clipping Mask

Step 4

Now that you can see where the rip is appearing, this is the time to make any necessary adjustments to align the two portraits as accurately as possible. Use the Free Transform Tool (Command-T) to adjust the scale of the photos.

Free Transform Tool on Collage PortraitsFree Transform Tool on Collage PortraitsFree Transform Tool on Collage Portraits

Step 5

Next, we'll need to create a selection of the ripped paper edge. Command-click the torn paper layer. This will create a selection that will appear as marching ants right down the rip.

Selection of Torn Paper EdgeSelection of Torn Paper EdgeSelection of Torn Paper Edge

Step 6

Create a Layer Mask on the top photo layer. There's a shortcut available for this at the bottom of Photoshop's menu that looks like a rectangle with a circle in the middle.

Create a Layer MaskCreate a Layer MaskCreate a Layer Mask

Step 7

Select the top photo layer (be careful not to select the layer mask, just the layer itself) and then using your arrow keys, Nudge it to create a rip.

Nudge tool to create a rip in the photoNudge tool to create a rip in the photoNudge tool to create a rip in the photo

3. How to Customize a Torn Paper Effect in Photoshop

Step 1

We've now created a torn photo effect in Photoshop, but I think we could make it a little bit more believable, so let's work on customizing the ripped paper.

First, Click the ripped paper layer, then select the Free Transform Tool (Command-T) and then the Warp function, which is found at the top menu of the Free Transform Tool.

Warp Function in Free Transform ToolWarp Function in Free Transform ToolWarp Function in Free Transform Tool

Click and drag your cursor around to create some asymmetry to the rip. Once you're happy with the results, click OK to commit.

Warp Function in use in PhotoshopWarp Function in use in PhotoshopWarp Function in use in Photoshop

That warping has really made the ripped paper effect appear believable now!

Step 2

Because our source image of the torn paper edge had a blueish hue, I'm going to desaturate it. Select the torn paper layer, and create a Hue / Saturation Adjustment (Command-H). I want to decrease the Saturation to -100 and increase the Lightness to about +16.

Hue / Saturation Adjustment in PhotoshopHue / Saturation Adjustment in PhotoshopHue / Saturation Adjustment in Photoshop

Step 3

Now let's sharpen the paper's texture. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. I used an Amount of 349% and a small Radius of 0.4 Pixels with 0 Threshold Levels.

Unsharp Mask Adjustment in PhotoshopUnsharp Mask Adjustment in PhotoshopUnsharp Mask Adjustment in Photoshop

And It's Done! You Know How to Create a Torn Paper Edge in Photoshop!

Just like that, you now know how to create a collage in Photoshop, how to add torn photo edges in Photoshop, and how to customize a ripped paper effect in Photoshop! 

create torn paper edge photoshop final resultcreate torn paper edge photoshop final resultcreate torn paper edge photoshop final result

5 Great Resources From Envato Elements

Are you curious about what other templates and digital assets might be a huge time-saver for you? Check out these resources below from Envato Elements and speed up your workflow now!

1. Paper Torn & Burn Photo Templates (PSD)

If you're looking for some cool Paper Torn & Burn Photo Templates from Envato Elements, here's the perfect resource for you! These photo templates come with real torn and burning effects for you to use on your next band poster design or photo album layout. These come with Layers and Smart Objects, making these templates so easy to customize to your desired look.

Burnt & Torn Paper Photo Templates from Envato ElementsBurnt & Torn Paper Photo Templates from Envato ElementsBurnt & Torn Paper Photo Templates from Envato Elements

2. Instant Films Collage Mockup (PSD)

With five backgrounds to choose from and a totally customizable template, this Instant Films Collage Mockup has an endless number of applications! Be it a fun family photo or an action shot, try this template from Envato Elements next time you're looking for a special presentation of a photo.

Instant Films Collage Mockup Template on Envato ElementsInstant Films Collage Mockup Template on Envato ElementsInstant Films Collage Mockup Template on Envato Elements

3. Modern Photo Collage Template (PSD)

These Modern Photo Collage Templates are a minimalist and modern photo collage mockup template with torn and tape effect, available from Envato Elements. You can use these templates on your website, mood board, social media, or whatever other application you can think of!

Modern Photo Collage Template on Envato ElementsModern Photo Collage Template on Envato ElementsModern Photo Collage Template on Envato Elements

4. Photograph Collage Scrapbook Theme (PSD)

Maybe you're looking for something a little more sentimental for your design. This Photograph Collage Scrapbook Theme from Envato Elements is a flyer template with earth tone colours, stylish borders, and a scrapbook theme. This vibrant template with a photo collage design is useful for holiday memories, greeting cards, posters, and so much more.

Photograph Collage Scrapbook Theme on Envato ElementsPhotograph Collage Scrapbook Theme on Envato ElementsPhotograph Collage Scrapbook Theme on Envato Elements

5. Elegant Photo Collage Card (PSD, AI)

This template from Envato Elements gives you a clean and tidy opportunity to create your own Elegant Photo Collage Card. This template contains a combination of earth tones and neutral hues, making this photo card look stunningly fashionable. The entire theme brings out a dramatic effect to your photo card layout.

Elegant Photo Collage Card on Envato ElementsElegant Photo Collage Card on Envato ElementsElegant Photo Collage Card on Envato Elements

Looking for some more awesome Photoshop tutorials? Check out these great articles on Envato Tuts+.

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