Magazine Tear and Cut-out Effects in Photoshop

Written by judy kilpatrick Google
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Magazine Tear and Cut-out Effects in Photoshop
With Photoshop tools, you can create the look of a torn photograph. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Magazine tear and cut-edge effects, created with Photoshop tools, turn your digital photograph in a scrapbook-style snapshot or a retro print. Torn edges of a photograph or heavy paper will have exposed layers where the top layer of paper was torn away from the bottom layer, leaving a fibrous look. This effect is created using layers in your Photoshop palette, along with brushes to create the torn or cut effect.


For a basic torn or cut effect, three layers are needed: the background image, a copy of the background image and an adjustment layer. A fill colour of choice is applied to the adjustment layer. Enlarge the canvas, centring your photograph, to make it easier to work with layers while creating the effect. The copy of the background layer is the layer that receives the effects.

Magazine Tear and Cut-out Effects in Photoshop
Tearing paper often exposes a different colour layer. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Selection Tool

In Photoshop there are various ways to select a portion of a photo. The lasso tool may be used to draw a freehand shape along one side of the photo or around the entire photo to simulate torn edges. The pencil tool also may be used to draw a cut-out area in a photograph. With either of these tools, it is necessary to join the edges so selection will occur. Depending upon the manner in which the tool was used, you will select "Inverse" to select everything except the shape drawn or leave the selected shape and cut or delete the selection.


The brushes palette provides many textures that simulate the look of the fibrous edge of torn paper. This palette may be used as a brush or an eraser. The size of the brush, opacity and flow may be adjusted to give the desired texture and appearance. Whether you choose a brush or an eraser depends on other techniques you are using. For a cut-edge appearance, such as a zigzag or postage stamp, create a brush set. Scan an image. Change it to black and white. Go to "Edit" and select "Define Brush Preset." The white areas will become transparent. Give your new brush a name, and it is ready to use for your cut-edge effect.

Magazine Tear and Cut-out Effects in Photoshop
A postage-stamp cut-out effect is created in Photoshop as a brush. (NA/ Images)


Layer styles frequently used in the creation of magazine tear and cut-edge effects include drop shadow and inner glow. These effects give the impression of a three-dimensional object. Apply different effects to brushes by going to "Window" and selecting "Brush." When the window pops up, a menu appears, giving you many options for customising your brush.

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