How to Make a Torn Paper Edge in Photoshop

Create a tattered edge effect using Photoshop CC 2019

Various photo collection in black, tan, and white

 

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Creating a torn paper edge effect in Photoshop is a fairly straight-forward process; however, because it requires the use of a small brush, it can be time consuming if you're applying the effect to a large image.

Instructions in this article apply to Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 for Windows and Mac.

How to Make a Torn Paper Effect in Photoshop

You can apply this technique to any image element where you want to create the appearance of torn paper:

  1. Select the Lasso tool in the Tools palette.

    If the Lasso tool isn't visible, click and hold the third icon from the top and select Lasso tool.

    Click and hold the Lasso in the Tools palette and select Lasso tool.
  2. Click and drag to draw a jagged circle around one side of the image.

    Click and drag to draw a jagged circle around one side of the image.
  3. Release the mouse button to complete the selection.

    Make sure the selection goes all the way through from top to the bottom and outside of the image.

    Release the mouse button to complete the selection.
  4. Select ​Edit > Clear to remove the selection.

    Select ​Edit > Clear to remove the selection.
  5. Repeat the process on the other side of the image.

    Repeat the process on the other side of the image.
  6. Go to Select > Deselect to remove the selection.

    Go to Select > Deselect to remove the selection.
  7. Select View > Zoom In to get a close up look at the edges.

    Select View > Zoom In to get a close up look at the edges.
  8. Select the Smudge tool from the Tools palette.

    If the Smudge tool isn't visible, click and hold the Blur or Sharpen tool and select Smudge tool from the list.

    Select the Smudge tool from the Tools palette.
  9. Select the the Brush Settings in the top toolbar and set the Size to 1px and the Hardness to 100%.

    Select the the Brush Settings in the top toolbar and set the Size to 1px and the Hardness to 100%.
  10. Place your cursor just inside one of the edges of the image, and then click and drag outside of the image. You should see a fine line drawn out of the image that tapers off.

    Place your cursor just inside one of the edges of the image, and then click and drag outside of the image to create a fine line that tapers off.
  11. Continue painting smudged lines like this at random out of the edges of the image. It may not look very impressive at this size, but when you zoom out, you will see that it produces a subtle effect similar to paper fibers.

    Continue painting smudged lines at random out of the edges of the image.

Once satisfied with the effect, you can save your image as a PSD file or in your preferred format.

You can add a shadow to your image to give it depth and make it look more realistic.

A piece of parchment paper with torn edges created in Photoshop CC 2019