Mosselman's blog

Torn Paper Effect using GIMP

posted by Mosselman, Jun 29, 2008 6:54 AM — 66 comments

The image I will be ripping apart is found here:Image

Let's get started.

Today we will be creating torn edges in GIMP. I will show you how I create the illusion of a torn edge.

Let’s take this stock photo. We don’t need the full resolution for a simple torn image so we’ll be pasting this image into a new image.

1. Create a new image of 600x600 resolution with a transparent background.

2. Paste the picture into the new image and scale it down using the scale tool.

While dragging the corners of the image to scale it keep ctrl pressed in order to keep the aspect ratio. Press ‘scale’ when you are done.
I now have this image.

Since I am showing you the torn edge effect this will do just fine, how you choose to implement this is up to you. Now on with the good stuff.

3. We are going to make our initial rip through the picture.
A thing to keep in mind is that we will be working with a torn edge. In this case we will be ripping away the right side of the picture; this means that when we select our edge we have to afterwards select the whole right section of the image to delete it along with the jagged edge. I will show you what I mean.
This is NOT the way to go with the selection. I selected my edge and then let go of the mouse button, as you can see only a tiny portion of the image is selected.

Instead do the following:
Select the lasso tool or “free select tool”.

Select the area we want to delete and make the horizontal area where we want our edge to be jagged.

I now have this. Notice that I have didn’t cut the image right where it will appear to be torn just yet, remember this detail, you will see in the next step why I did that.
Press delete to delete the selected area. Then press CTRL+Shift+A to deselect everything and look at what you have now, not pleased? Undo the changes and retry.
For the realism keep in mind that the paper has to look torn, not cut by scissors, so slightly bigger chunks in the edge are totally acceptable. Here is what I have now.

4. Select the free select tool again.

Check the “feather edges” checkbox and set the radius to 5.

Now you have to re-do what you did with the edge in the previous step. The new edge lies just a bit to the left of the previous image, make sure that the space between the two edges is not too big. Also keep in mind to select the whole (visible) area to the right of the edge.

Here we are.
As you can see I have made sure that the new ‘edge’ is slightly inside the image and is NOT the same as the previous edge, but does have the same general shape.

5. Float the current selection by pressing Shift+CTRL+L or by going into the menu Select->Float.

Notice that a new floating selection was created in the list of layers.

6. Press the ‘create new layer’ button.

The floating selection should now be a floated layer.

7. With the new floated layer selected go into the colors menu and select Brightness- Contrast

Set both brightness and contrast to full and press ok.

It’s actually looking like a tear already, now for the finishing touches.

8. Go into the filters menu -> render -> clouds -> difference clouds

Now the effect of this is a bit tricky to predict. What I go for is to make the cloud in the preview area a bit compact, but not too much, it shouldn’t be full of closely packed darker areas, but there should be some of them. Play around with this to get a feel for it. Adding detail adds noise, which is good for the final effect.

Press OK when done.

Now we have this, not done yet though.

9. Open up the levels dialog found in the colors menu.

The settings for this depend on what it looks like in your case as well. Try to get the middle arrow very close to the far left and move the white one to the left slightly.
Note that my computer crashed and I hadn’t saved the image so it looks different now, I still used the same techniques so the tutorial still applies.

Play with it to see what works for you. I have this result now.

There we go, that looks like a torn edge. You can play with the settings for each step endlessly however to get to different results.

Kind regards and have fun,
Achilleas Buisman

Comments | RSS

1. posted by freddyfoon, Feb 4, 2010 6:04 PM

Hey, this is great! I followed it and created a cool torn envelope. Thank you!

2. posted by diondevill, Oct 19, 2009 11:51 AM

That's good. I like the comedy too (" computer crashed.."), made me laugh. Thank you for this guide.

3. posted by keshava, Dec 1, 2009 6:10 AM

may be late in seeing this but very useful

4. posted by aszxc, Jan 27, 2010 4:17 AM

thanks i will do very easity

5. posted by kaejae2006, Jan 15, 2010 5:37 AM

Hello :) anyway of getting the instuctions via email??? would love to have a copy of that to work from - love the visual ....... I have friends that have basic photoshop (I use CS4) and would love to share GIMP with them as well ........... prints out on 6 pages .... yuck :)

6. posted by timshapiro, Jun 8, 2010 12:33 PM

Like all things gimp, the effect looks terrible.

7. posted by knubbl, Jul 5, 2008 11:35 AM

nice .. thanks for sharing!

8. posted by xfera, Jul 5, 2008 7:36 PM

oooooooooooooookkkkkkkkkkkkkk, its not so easy, but i have to try. i think we can find an easier way ;)
thank you. respect_!!

9. posted by Mosselman, Jul 5, 2008 8:00 PM

Thanks knubbl, my pleasure.

Xfera, thanks, which steps do you think are difficult? Maybe I can help by explaining.

There are other ways to do it, but this is the only way I know to get this result.

Thanks though, please tell me if there is anything I can help you with.

10. posted by ewout_bos, Jul 5, 2008 9:36 PM

Dont know if i like the photo or the result more ;)

11. posted by Mosselman, Jul 6, 2008 4:13 PM

Ill take that as a compliment to the end result then :). Thanks!

12. posted by jevvv, Jul 6, 2008 11:14 PM

Hi Achilleas, THANK YOU for doing a Gimp tutorial!!!!!

... can't afford anything more expensive than Gimp ;-)

And yes, I understood it!

13. posted by michelini, Jul 8, 2008 5:11 PM

very useful when you have quit a relationship ;-)

14. posted by ruthsophia, Jul 15, 2008 7:24 AM

wow nice.. thanks for making the effort to teach us.

15. posted by minoo, Jul 16, 2008 6:45 AM

cool work

keep posting :)

16. posted by rekesab, Feb 2, 2009 3:22 PM

I like that one

17. posted by brahim-tnw, Jul 21, 2008 11:47 AM

nice one>>>


18. posted by Agnie, Jul 22, 2008 6:03 PM

What a clean tearing line. And there stays the original photo in case the friends ever made up... :)

19. posted by cadyvideo, Jul 24, 2008 7:03 PM

I had no idea about GIMP before this post - I SO appreciate it! I have been financially holding out for photoshop, and it payed off!!

Thanks again!

20. posted by imru2b12, Jul 27, 2008 11:19 PM

Cool tutorial, but wouldn't it be easier to find a stock image of a torn piece of paper, or to photograph one yourself. Then just mesh your photo over the torn one, then erase the edges?

21. posted by allanbapti, Jul 29, 2008 11:55 PM

very good brother, i'm happy...

22. posted by 7thDwarf, Aug 3, 2008 8:08 PM

Excellent tutorial, thanks for sharing it with us!

23. posted by annastasia, Aug 5, 2008 5:38 PM

Great tutorial, great girl

24. posted by kendalk08, Aug 6, 2008 4:25 AM

wow amazing tutorial... i didnt use the photo you offered but another photo. thanks for the tut

25. posted by ctkirklees, Aug 7, 2008 5:29 PM

your the man!! thanks for the tutorial.

26. posted by alcohol_ic, Dec 16, 2009 6:36 PM

Feels like back to the basic of photo retouching again (the world that have no photoshop's ACTIONs).

27. posted by rore_d, Aug 17, 2008 6:31 PM

Nice tut.
Just a quick tip to make the 3rd part easier: Select the wanted part quickly without jagged borders, and then use "Select > Distort..." to create the jagged edges.

28. posted by 221506, Aug 19, 2008 2:02 PM

nice to see the demo
very thank ful every body of sxc

29. posted by omanstar, Aug 26, 2008 7:59 AM

too cool brother

30. posted by Mosselman, Sep 3, 2008 1:46 PM

I got back from vacation a week ago and just read the new comments.

Thanks a lot, they make it worth posting tutorials. I will be making a new tutorial soon when I feel I found out something good.


31. posted by jimbrownza, Sep 24, 2008 8:12 AM

Thanks- downloading GIMP as I write this!

32. posted by ajishsaab, Oct 19, 2008 10:23 AM

thanks i will do very easity

33. posted by letmethink, Oct 21, 2008 7:24 AM

ha ha ha ha samaj nahi ai....

34. posted by ryantsui, Oct 23, 2008 2:42 AM

It is really good to know this. Thks.

35. posted by maza1826, Nov 26, 2008 8:32 PM

nice work! thanks

36. posted by hisho1968, Dec 1, 2008 2:33 PM

I followed the steps, I got something acceptable but not perfect as yours, maybe I have to experiment on that little bit more ... thank you dear for the effort.

37. posted by coolakn, Jan 3, 2009 11:47 AM

wow..its cool..bth the pict and the process...gimp is on its way..

38. posted by owoyalefem, Jan 20, 2009 5:06 PM

Thanx for sharing. Please, how do I download this software

39. posted by azwrigt, Oct 30, 2009 6:10 AM

Thanks for this. Its good to see a tutorial using GIMP.

40. posted by Mosselman, Jul 11, 2010 6:47 AM

Thanks for the positive feedback guys.

Thanks for taking time to comment as well. What do you think is not good about the effect? Any tips to improve it?

41. posted by Mosselman, Feb 28, 2009 8:33 PM

Thanks for all the nice comments.

I am probably too late, but owoyalefem this is the download location for the windows version of GIMP:

Good luck!

42. posted by devdinesh, Jun 25, 2012 5:49 AM


43. posted by JC-Sama, Mar 19, 2009 1:35 AM

Awesome tutorial ^_^

44. posted by hannahhmn, Apr 9, 2009 1:04 AM

I can't wait to try this out!

45. posted by magiver, May 18, 2009 4:15 AM

Good Work Thanks

46. posted by Mosselman, May 3, 2009 2:13 PM

Thanks. It stays incredibly nice to read that my tutorial is appreciated.

47. posted by Actz, Jun 3, 2009 1:46 AM

Smooth touching!!

48. posted by melbestawy, Mar 28, 2010 2:58 PM


49. posted by ccyfly, Feb 4, 2010 12:49 AM

it seems easy~
thanks for this tutorial.

50. posted by Mosselman, Nov 20, 2009 2:26 AM

Thank you guys, as I said, I love the positive feedback.

51. posted by awadh, Jul 22, 2009 6:46 PM

thank you
dear Mosselman
it is nice

52. posted by a7medlawer, Apr 15, 2010 7:43 PM

nice man

53. posted by saimlevis, Aug 10, 2010 5:07 AM

wow amazing tutorial. i like it very much.

saim is working for websmsmessages( from last few years he is writing poems, quotes, messages and list is going on.

54. posted by culterone, Jul 25, 2010 7:38 AM

I like that girl on the left very very much!

55. posted by escan, Aug 18, 2010 12:03 PM

WOW Great tut :)

56. posted by tunggrand, Aug 19, 2010 2:06 PM

thank you. i use Gimp,too. i see tutorial for you very good

57. posted by cytbn, Jun 16, 2012 4:34 PM

Thanks so much for this fantastic info! It is much appreciated!

58. posted by Mosselman, May 9, 2012 8:02 AM

@123scrap and @gypsy6080

Thanks for the kind words guys, still means a lot that a tutorial I did so long ago is still relevant and appreciated.

59. posted by sisafokker, Mar 8, 2011 9:22 AM

Thanks, I´m new at image editing and new with GIMP (I´m fairly good at Microsoft Painth thought!!! jeje) and this definitely helps!
Many thanks

60. posted by 123scrap, Feb 3, 2012 2:10 AM

FANTASTIC !!!! you also made this so easy to understand. As I need the very easy basic tutorials as I are new to everything on computers. When I got my laptop really didn't even know how to turn it on. Oh yes got a strange look from the sales guy when I asked the question. But now shocked at what I can do now with the help of tutorials. Even doing digital scrapbooking as well. And just learning what I can on photo editing. Have come a long way in a short time. But with out people like you posting these easy to work with tutorials I would be lost. So a BIG BIG THANKYOU TO YOU !!!!! Keep up the great work..

61. posted by gypsy6080, Mar 24, 2012 8:08 PM

thanks for sharing i will definitely have to give this a try!

62. posted by fayskelley, Jan 9, 2013 9:19 AM

Very nice explanation. I have had Gimp for years and don't use it much. This is the best Gimp demo I have read. I'm on a Mac, don't have PhotoS, but have Painter12, iMaginator, Pixelmater and a lot of other Mac programs. I know Gimp has potential but just didn't seem intuitive. THANKS so much. Will give this a try. LOTS of good info here ! ~ Fay

63. posted by RestorePS, Jan 10, 2013 4:11 PM

Good to see a useful Gimp tutorial. Us professionals live and breathe Photoshop but Gimp is a fantastic bit of equipment.

64. posted by disenoweb9, Feb 22, 2013 8:02 AM

thank you for sharing! great job!

65. posted by softener, May 31, 2013 7:47 AM

As an artist I can understand why this tutorial would be helpful for digital artists. Drawing the human body is a challenge. Altering it digitally is an art. People don't always need to make huge breasts on a woman. Sometimes they just need to make a photo look better for an ad or some other form of art.

66. posted by renderiska, Jun 21, 2013 5:32 AM

It is just perfect!

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