Lidia Lukianova likes a layer of mystery. See how she simulates torn paper using selections, layer styles, and clipping masks in Adobe Photoshop.

Lidia Lukianova is an artist and designer with a passion for illustration. Her design work includes all kinds of projects from identity and illustration to lettering and animation.

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This sample file has Adobe Stock images you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample file beyond this tutorial, you can purchase a license on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file.

Tear it up

Lukianova used the Lasso (L) tool to draw the jagged edge of the ripped paper across the model’s face. She then traced along the right, bottom, and left side of the image to close the selection.

An orange callout around the Lasso tool in the top left and marching ants indicate the selection of a jagged edge

Show what’s left

She then applied a layer mask to hide the area not included in the selection.

Bottom of model’s face is visible, area above the jagged line is hidden, Layers panel shows a callout around the mask icon

Go to the edge

Lukianova added and renamed a new layer to serve as the simulated paper edge.

Bottom of model’s face is visible, Layers panel shows orange callout around New Layer icon

Fill with color

With the Paper edge layer selected, she used Control+click (Windows), Command+click (macOS) on the mask of the Model layer to make a selection. Then she used the Paint Bucket (G) to fill the new layer with white.

Paint bucket tool is selected, bottom of photo is filled with white, new paper edge layer, orange callout around layer mask

Get edgy

Lukianova deselected the Paper edge layer by holding Control+D (Windows), Command+D (macOS), then dragged it below the Model layer. Then she used the Move tool to bring the paper edge up so it would peek out just above the model.

Move tool selected, photo of model has ripped paper edge, and paper edge layer is at the bottom of Layers panel

Make it real

Still on the Paper edge layer, Lukianova selected the Warp tool (Edit > Transform > Warp). She dragged the top handles to customize the shape of the ripped edge so it looked less uniform and more natural. She pressed Enter, or Return, when she was done.

Handles of the warp tool are activated and the ripped paper image is reshaped

Add some depth

To add the appearance of dimension to the torn paper, Lukianova double-clicked the Paper edge layer to bring up the Layer Style dialog. Then she selected to apply a Drop Shadow and adjusted the settings to get the look she wanted.

Layer Style dialog displays over the ripped edge portrait and shows the Drop Shadow setting checked and settings highlighted

Give it texture

Lukianova dragged the paper texture image from her desktop to her open document and dragged the new layer so it was just above the Paper edge layer. Then she held the Alt (or Option) key as she clicked between the layers to clip the paper texture to the paper edge.

The Layers panel shows 3 layers – model with ripped paper mask, Paper texture is a clipping mask on paper edge

Send flowers

Finally, Lukianova dragged flowers into the image and moved the layer to the bottom to complete the composition.

The Layers panel shows 4 layers – additional flowers layer has been added

Frame it

Make textured images seem tangible in your digital compositions.

Composite image with model’s face on the bottom, flowers on top, and rip in the middle displays in a frame on a gallery wall

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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