Illustration • How-To How to Make a Ripped Paper Edge

Add a layer of mystery to your art.

Lidia Lukianova likes a layer of mystery in her art. See how she creates the appearance of torn paper, using custom 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.

Take a one-minute look at Lukianova’s technique in this video; the steps are written out below. 

Before You Start 

Use these sample files if you’d like, or practice with your own.

Step 1: 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 sides of the image to close the selection.

Step 2: Show What’s Left

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

Step 3: Go to the Edge

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

Step 4: Fill with Color

With the Paper edge layer selected, she command-clicked (Control-click on Windows) 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.

Step 5: Get Edgy

Lukianova deselected the Paper edge layer by holding command-D (Control-D on Windows) and 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.

Step 6: 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.

Step 7: 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 box. Then she applied the Drop Shadow setting and adjusted the other settings to get the look she wanted.

Step 8: 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 option (Alt) key as she clicked between the layers to clip the paper texture to the paper edge.

Step 9: Send Flowers

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

Frame It

Make textured images seem tangible in your digital compositions.

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

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