Tattered Edge Instructions for Photoshop

Written by heather laurent
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Tattered Edge Instructions for Photoshop
Like a pair of frayed jeans, adding tattered edges to your photograph can give it a trendy, vintage look. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Custom borders can add a stylish touch to any portfolio or photo album. To give your photo a grungy or worn-in look, try applying a tattered border to the edges of your photograph. Photoshop offers several filters that allow you to customise the effect to your project's needs. The process is quick and easy, requiring only a quick mask and a few filter applications.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Open Photoshop. Select "File" and then "Open" to import your image.

  2. 2

    Click on the Rectangular Marquee tool from the toolbox on the left. Under the "Style" drop-down menu, choose "Fixed Ratio" and enter your image's proportion of width to height -- or the aspect ratio -- in the corresponding text fields. Most photos have an aspect ratio of 4:3 or 3:2.

  3. 3

    Make a selection in your image corresponding to where you want the inner edge of your border. Click on one of the corners and simultaneously drag the marquee box out until you are satisfied with the size of the selection. Click and drag the selection again to centre it in your image. You should have at least 5 pixels between the selected area and the edge of your photograph.

  4. 4

    Choose the Quick Mask button from the toolbox. The button contains a grey square with a white circle inside. The area between your selection and the edge of your image -- where you want to create a tattered border -- will be masked in a transparent red colour.

  5. 5

    Select "Filter," "Brush Strokes" and then "Splatter" to simulate a torn edge. Adjust the spray radius to a value between zero and 25. A higher value corresponds with a more pronounced edge. Adjust the smoothness to a value between 5 and 7 to achieve a realistic torn look.

  6. 6

    Select "OK" to apply the filter to your image. Choose the Quick Mask button again to exit the quick mask mode. A marquee selection now lines the edges of the rough-edged border. Press the "Delete" key to remove the excess parts of the outer image.

  7. 7

    Explore other filters to achieve different types of tattered edges. Try the Glass filter, Ocean Ripple filter or Wind filter -- all of which are located under "Filter" in the top menu bar.

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