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Photoshop Torn Edges Effect

Photoshop 911 reader "Joe" from California using a Mac and Photoshop CS, posted this question to the Photoshop 911 Emergency Room, and even supplied the photos so we could diagnose and provide a cure:

I need to create a similar torn edge effect. 
It was created for a photo previously and now 
I need to use the effect on a current photo 
for a new project.   
The effect is applied to the first photo on the 
page and the second photo is the one which 
is needing the edge effect applied.

Use what you have

But Joe... you have everything you need!

This is not a tutorial for this specific problem, but one all Photoshop users should keep in mind.

When faced with a problem, ask "What elements do I already have?" and "How can I utilize what I've got to get me where I want to go?"

Here you've already got the border texture. All you have to do is divorce it from the current photo and turn it into a reusable layer mask. Once you've got that, you can make as many frames as you like.

isolate the frame

1) Isolate the frame using Select by Color: as pictured, we used Select > Select by Color to select all the pure white in an 8-pixel range. Notice it picked up most of the white, but left some pixels which are still white, but outside the 8-pixel range.

isolate the frame

2) Magic Wand Adds to Selection: Using the Magic Wand, with "Continuous" turned off, we held down the SHIFT key (adding to the already existing selection) to include the pixels missed by the first step. Note that now we've got all the white outside the picture frame texture.

isolate the frame

3) Fill selection with BLACK: Once the selection is complete, start a new layer by clicking the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers Palette, then with the foreground color BLACK, fill the selection.

Once filled, investigate it carefully to make sure there are no white holes in the field of black. If there are, simply fill those too.

isolate the frame

4) Substitute the New Photo & Mask: Now we use the Move Tool (Tap V) to drag the new photo into the file. It arrives on its own layer. (Where it arrives, in the stacking order, is of no consequence. We moved it below so we could 'see' the mask.)

Again, using the 'non continuous' Magic Wand, we once again select the WHITE portion of the black mask layer. isolate the frame

5) Deleting the Background Creates the Border: with the active selection of the background, we turn off the mask layer, and make the layer with the new photo the active layer.

At this point, either DELETE the background to form the border frame, or merely fill with white.

The results are the new picture with a matching border to the old picture. To generate more pictures with the same border, just drag in the next photo and apply steps #4 and #5 again.

Many of the Photoshop gurus will complain that I should have used a layer mask for this job. However, this method is actually faster, and works in ALL versions of Photoshop since long before Layer Masks were invented. Why reinvent the wheel each time a new version of Photoshop comes out -- when this easy technique has worked since the late 1990s.


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