Photoshop Tutorial: How To Tear Up a Picture

In this tutorial I will show in photoshop how you can make a picture appear as if it was teared up and laying in the sand... I used a picture with a romantic mood to make the effect extra dramatic... The title of the image is "The day after"...

End result:
How To Tear Up a Picture Final Image

avatar Eladine

Views: 111592
Score: 7.3 / 10
Author earned: $10
Practice tutorial


Step 1

The sources.

Here are the sources I used, I found them at, a free, royalty free stockphotosite. The background source is sand and the forground source is a picture of couple.

Step 2

First you start with opening the picture you want to appear teared up. Duplicate the background layer by simply clicking on the layer with the right mouse button and select duplicate. We make the background layer invisible now by clicking on the little eye icon next to it. Then we are going to resize the duplicate. Go to edit —> free trans form and drag the picture small enough so you can turn it a little bit, but don’t turn it yet, only resize it. Like I have done here.

Step 3

As you can see I have placed a dark layer behind the picture so I can later on clearly see my work on the teared up edges. You do this by opening a new layer and fill it with a dark color. Make sure that new layer is behind the picture.

Step 4

Now select the lassotool. (shift & L)

Step 5

Select the top layer with the copy from the background. Then we select with the lassotool the part we want to seperate from the other half.

When you are satisfied with the selection you made, you copy and paste the selection of the photo onto a new layer.

Step 6

Set your layer with the copy of the background now to invisible by clicking on the eye icon aside of the layer.

Right click on your image in the new layer that you created with the cut off part of the picture and click “select pixels”

You will see that the cutout part of the photo is reselected again.

Step 7

Now go to “select” in the menu on top of your screen and then “modify” and “expand” as shown on the image here.

With this we will enlarge the selection. Just fill in the size you would want to, dont make it too large tho, you can experiment with this a little bit till you are satisfied.

Step 8

Now select your paint tool and choose a small hard brush. Set the color on white. Then paint small parts of the edges that you want to look teared up. As you can see while you are doing this, you can not color outside of the selection. To make it look more realistic dont paint too constant just like I have done here.

Step 9

Lets add some drop shadow now so it will look later on like its overlapping the other picture and the distance between the picture and the sand will be realistic created.

Keep this layer selected and click the little icon below your layers with the fx in it. (I believe in older versions its a lil round icon with an f in it.)

Step 10

Select the drop shadow and put the settings like I have done here.

Step 11

Now its time for the little trick that just makes the rip realistic as if real.

Select your smudge tool.

Step 12

Put the settings like I have done here.

Step 13

Start smudging zigzag way so that you get the effect like I have it here.

Step 14

After you have done that just have a look at your work and if you are satisfied you can now do the right side of the picture.

Make the copy of the background that you had made invisible, visible again by clicking on the small square where the eye icon was next to the layer. Then select that layer and start over at step 4 for the right side. Move both parts a little bit away from eachother so you have some room inbetween them and you can see better what you are doing when you work.

Step 15

To make things just a little bit easier you can copy paste the layer styles (the drop shadow) from the layer with the left side onto the layer with the right side.

Just right click on the layer with the effects and copy layerstyle. Then rightclick on the other layer and right click -> paste layer style.

That way they have the exact same settings on the effects without too much trouble. :)

Step 16

Now we open the source with the sand background and copy paste it below the layers with the picture sides.

Step 17

The image still looks pretty flat even with the drop shadow behind it. So we are going to make the picture a little bit thicker by adding another layer style to both of the layers with the sides of the pictures.

Click on the layer with one of the sides and click on the cmall round icon with the fx in it. Select “Bevel and Emboss”

Step 18

Put all settings as I have done here and copy paste the layerstyle onto the other layer with the other half of the picture, like I have described in step 15.

Step 19

You should have now a simulair result like I have here.

Now move the layers a little bit closer to eachother and turn one of them a little bit so one of them actualy lays on top of the other half a little bit. Like you can see in my final result.

Step 20

**Extra tip***

This is a moment where I usualy duplicate my layers and set one of each to invisible by clicking on the eye icon so in case I mess up or want to start over I dont have to use my history steps to go back but I can simply just delete the layer and put my copy visible. Then make another copy and make one of them invisible so you always have a clean untouched extra copy of your layer, just in case.

When you are ready to move on select your eraser tool

Step 21

Click on the layer with the left side of the picture.

I have used a very soft brush sized 300 here like you can see in my settings on this picture.

Erase parts of the picture carefully so it looks like some parts are covered by the sand.

Step 22

Now create a new layer and put that one on top of all other layers.

Select your eyedropper tool. Click on the layer with the sandy background and pick just a random color from it.

Step 23

We are now going to paint some sand on top of the pictures too.

Click on the new layer and select your brush tool.

Step 24

Select the spatter brush size 59, (thats a standard photoshopbrush) and change the size of the brush to 150, put the opacity on 65.

Step 25

Now randomly paint on the edges some sand grains. Then pick another color of sand from your sand background and go back to the layer you where painting on and paint some more sand. keep redoing this step over and over again till you are satisfied.

This may take you some time till you are happy with the result but while you are trying you will get the hang of it.

You will quickly see your image turn into a realistic picture thats been laying on the beach covered by sand..

Mind you, this is a new picture and the idea was it to be new still hence the title "The day after". Save your picture in the format you want and you are done.

** Extra tip**

If you want the picture to look weary and old you can try find a tutorial that does that. I have a tutorial for that, its called "Old mill tutorial". I am in the process restoring it so it might not be uploaded yet if you read this shortly after its posted. After using that tutorial use my tear photo tutorial and you have a the perfect old n weary teared up picture. It will even look more realistic if not both parts of the picture are there anymore if you want to give it the old and lost look .

I hope this tutorial is usefull, thank you for reading:).

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avatar RichieMB
RichieMB says:

Good job

(5 years and 2339 days ago)
avatar Eladine
Eladine says:

thank you much just restoring my old tutorials

(5 years and 2339 days ago)
avatar George55
George55 says:

Very nice effect Eladine.

(5 years and 2335 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Nice effect. This should come in handy.

(5 years and 2333 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Its not bad but you took to much of the picture off on the side with the girl. And you did a bit too much sand coverage on the photo. Those bits make the picture looked placed and fake. The tear technique is good none the less and thats the focus of the tutorial so still nice job.

(5 years and 2330 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Nice tute, just wondering why you would use a newly married couple as the example picture. Ripped in half doesn't exactly convey a nice message for newly weds; perhaps an omen of things to come. Again, nice work apart from the seemingly implied symbolism...

(5 years and 2328 days ago)
avatar Eladine
Eladine says:

it may let ppl think twice before they say to something they do not fully stand behind or thought well over :P thnx for looking and commenting on the tut

(5 years and 2328 days ago)
avatar devangel
devangel says:

nice tut

(5 years and 2322 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Want the divorcee love this one.

(5 years and 2322 days ago)
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Guest says:

A very creative way to ask for divorce or breakup.

(5 years and 2318 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

yah thanks

(5 years and 2316 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

hehehe...nice one,, i like it very much...thank you!!

(5 years and 2292 days ago)
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Guest says:

Dude.. this one is a gud start for a someone to start up with Photoshop.. keep it up

(5 years and 2286 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:


(5 years and 2283 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Too much sand and not enough shadow on the sand to make it appear it's actually on top of the photo. Right now it's flat and kind of fake looking.

Good job on the tear though.

(5 years and 2272 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

nice, I think i should do this with a picture of my own with an ex friend.
Thank You

(5 years and 2246 days ago)
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Guest says:


(5 years and 2238 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

haha funny..well done

(5 years and 2231 days ago)
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Guest says:

I love this effect =)

(5 years and 2205 days ago)
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Guest says:

so sad get work though

(5 years and 2190 days ago)
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Guest says:


(5 years and 2184 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

i did this tutorial it was very good but i was using cs2 to do it so some of the stuff u should didn't work out for me i had to lasso the pics to select it.

(5 years and 2176 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

very gud ,nice keep it up
thanksssssssss this 4 the tut.

(5 years and 2171 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

This tutorial is very cool!! Explained extremely well!! Nice Job!! =)

(5 years and 2165 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

its vry cool

(5 years and 2130 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

nice work keep it up k...

(5 years and 2046 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

hahah nice tut and by the girls side its looking fake u could do it beter but its a nice tut good job thnx

(5 years and 1997 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

it is very nice effect apply.

(5 years and 1931 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

nice used it for school assignment

(5 years and 1869 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Very informative thank you so much you might of just saved me from complete failure!

(5 years and 1823 days ago)
avatar Eladine
Eladine says:

thnx everyone im glad its received well and yes its a tut for beginners

(5 years and 1504 days ago)

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