Like many of you, I also will be integrating old photos alongside new photos for my recovery story. While I have not yet made the trip home to retrieve all of these photos, I know I will face the challenge of creating an effect that helps to make all of them tell a cohesive story. With this in mind, I began wondering what the process and end result might be to use a torn-edge effect around the photo in conjunction with the antiquing effects discussed by other tutorials? I found its actually not that difficult—utilizing a few basic tools and a few layers will create the desired effect.
Viola! Here it is:
Seeing as I feel this could be a perfect solution to my dilemma, I will share how to create the “Worn, Torn Edge Effect” in Photoshop.
Part I: Doing the Prep Work
Step 1: First, open a photo in Photoshop and create a duplicate of the background. This can be done by either going to the Layer drop down menu and selecting New—Layer via Copy or by using the keystroke short cut: Ctrl+J(PC) Command+J(Mac). You should now have two layers: background and Layer 1.
Step 2: In order to perform the necessary actions of creating the edge-effect, we will need additional canvas space around the edge of the photo. Working within Layer 1, go up to the Image menu at the top and select Canvas Size.
This will open a dialogue box (as shown). Focus your attention on the center portion of this box. We want to add 100 pixels to the width and the height. Make this adjustment in the New Size section.
Be sure to select the box next to Relative to let Photoshop know that we want these pixels added around the existing image. Also select the center box in the Anchor portion to signify that we want these pixels evenly distributed around the border.
Once you do that, hit OK and your Layer 1 image should look like this:
Step 3: Add a Blank Layer Between your Background Layer and Layer 1. This can be done by having Layer 1 selected in your Layers Side Panel and while holding the Ctrl (or Command) key, selecting the New Layer icon button in the lower right of the screen.
Holding Ctrl (or Command) is important to make sure the blank layer is added between the existing layers. If you miss this step, you can always move your layer around after it is created. The Layer should appear titled Layer 2 in the middle of your existing layers.
Step 4: Now that we have this blank layer, we want to fill it in white. To do this, go to the edit menu and select Fill. In the dialogue box, set the fill color to white.
We are now ready to begin distressing the edge of our photo!
Part II: Creating the Effect
Step 5: Select Layer 1 (this is the layer we will be editing) and then select your tool. For this we will use the Eraser Tool. Select the Eraser Tool from the tools panel on the left or by hitting E on your keyboard.
Step 6: We want to use the 100 Rough Round Bristle Brush as our Eraser head. To select this, click the Brushes panel toggle icon in the top options bar, select the view you prefer for finding the brush style (Large List is recommended), locate the 100 Rough Round Bristle Brush and make your selection.
Step 7: Now we can begin creating our initial torn edge effect. Start in a corner of the image, keeping only about 25-30% of the eraser head over the image with the remainder in that excess canvas space we added around the edge. Click once and while continuing to hold down the button on your mouse, make short brush strokes over the edge of the picture to start creating your new torn edge.
You will see your new torn edge begin to appear!
As you will see as you begin this process, it will take a few times around to fully eliminate the straight-edge of the image. Three times should do the trick. If you feel like you need to go back, you can utilize the Ctrl+Z/Command+Z shortcuts to undo brush strokes and get your desired effect.
Another helpful hint is that you can decrease or increase the size of your brush by pressing the left bracket key ([) to go smaller, or the right bracket key (]) to go larger. Find what works best for you.
Once you complete this step, your image should be looking something like this:
Step 8: Now duplicate this layer, the same way as you did originally (either through the Layer menu or Cntrl+J). You will now see Layer 1 and Layer 1 Copy. You can either rename these or just go with the default, whichever works for you.
Now, in order to get the torn-look, turn the top layer (Layer 1 copy) off by hitting the visibility icon (eyeball) to its left. With this layer hidden, we can now work with the original layer 1.
Step 9: Working with Layer 1, we will now add a color overlay. In the Layer Styles tab of the Layers Panel, chose Color Overlay (any of the color filters). Once added to your Layer (you will see it appear as an effect in the Layers Panel), double click on the effect.
This will bring up a dialogue box and you will see your photo turn the default color. For this effect, we want to change the color to a Light Gray. Do this by clicking on the color swatch and selecting the desired color. Click OK but remain in the Layer Style dialog box.
Step 10: Next, we want to add an Inner Glow. Do this by clicking directly on the words. This will open an options box. You want to change the Blend Mode to Multiply, the Color to Black, Opacity to about 10% and Size to 24 px (pixels).
Step 11: The last layer to add before exiting the Style dialog box is a Drop Shadow. Do this the same way you added an Inner Glow. With the Drop Shadow options box lower the Opacity to around 30% and set the Angle to 120 degrees.
Now you have completed editing this layer. You can hit OK and close out of the dialogue box. Here is what you should see:
Step 12: Now that you have edited Layer 1, turn Layer 1 Copy back on. You will no longer see any of the grey-shadowed layer we were just working on. To expose this, and get your finished worn-edge, return to your Eraser brush tool and go back over the edges, this time in Layer 1 copy, and reveal that grey-shadowed edge beneath.
Together, these layers now give you that worn, torn feel.