This GIMP (GNU) tutorial demonstrates how “tear paper” using GIMP’s Free Select Tool. To work along, you are welcome to download the Start Image I am working with Here. Unzip the file and open the image onto GIMP’s workspace.
I am demonstrating this technique by creating a single diagonal tear; however, there’s nothing stopping you from being creative, and cutting a chunk out of your image. Or perhaps you could tear/rip your image’s four edges. Whatever you decide, it’s important to experiment, and create tears/rips that suit your personal requirements.
You can quickly Undo a step at any time by pressing Ctrl then Z. Alternatively, click a previous Undo History snapshot - Windows then Dockable Dialogues then click Undo History. In addition, to Zoom in (or Zoom out) of your image; from the top menu choose View then select a Zoom Tool from the subsequent drop-down list.
Launch GIMP & Organise Its Workspace & Palettes
Open your choice of Start Image onto GIMP’s workspace - File then Open - Ctrl then O.
Ensure the Layers and the Undo History Palettes are visible, and then drag them into position over your workspace - (Windows then Dockable Dialogues - then click Layers and Undo History).
2/ Add An Alpha Channel To The Background Layer
Now, right-click over the Background Layer, and from the subsequent drop-down list, choose Add Alpha Channel.
And then from the left-side Toolbox, activate the Free Select Tool.
And enter the following Add to the current selection settings into the left-side Options Box.
Try a Feather setting of 1 or 2, and see how it effects your torn paper - depending on your aim, you may prefer the result.
You’re looking to draw a squiggly Lasso Line that represents your tear, or rip; and this must be applied in a full circuit. I am beginning as indicated below.
Therefore, left-click, and immediately draw a “squiggly” Lasso Line in a complete triangular circuit, (in an anticlockwise direction) as demonstrated below.
Instead of clicking and stretching a Lasso Line, as would normally be the case using the Free Select Tool; you are looking to left-click and immediately draw a squiggly tear-shaped Lasso Line across the image - as illustrated below.
Tip - Retracing Your Steps
Whilst you are applying the squiggly Lasso Line; - (before it has been converted into a Selection Marquee): to go back one step - press your Keyboard’s Backspace Key. Press the Backspace Key for however many steps you want to go back - (this is for Window PC users, I am unfamiliar with Mac’s). To cancel the Selection Marquee whilst applying it: press your Keyboard’s ESC Key.
Link Here To Read My Alternative (Cut Out Tear) Notes.
After you have completed the circuit, pass your cursor over the exact area where you began, and release the mouse button. If this doesn’t convert the Lasso Line into a Selection Marquee, then left-click once.
Now that you have converted the Lasso Line into a Selection Marquee, (as
illustrated below), you are ready for the next step.
If you don’t like your torn paper effect, then return your image to a previous state by tapping Ctrl then Z. Then reapply the Free Select Tool until you are happy with the result.
From the top menu, choose Edit and then choose Clear. (Alternatively, simply tap your Keyboard’s Delete Key).
Tapping the Delete Key, (Edit then Clear), removes the area inside the (triangular) Selection Marquee, leaving a Transparent (Chessboard) Background - as illustrated below.
Disable the Free Select Tool by clicking any other Tool from the left-side Toolbox. I always activate the Move Tool.
From the top menu, choose Select and then choose Grow. And from the subsequent Grow Selection dialogue box, enter a Grow selection by setting of around 4 pixels, and then click OK.
The number of pixels represent the width of the (white) tear; therefore, for a thinner - or wider tear, alter the pixels accordingly. Additionally, larger images require a higher number of pixels.
My Selection Marquee has been Expanded by 4 pixels.
You will find the next step easier to achieve if you enlarge your image by Zooming into it. (I zoomed into my image twice).
Now, from the top menu, choose Filters then choose Noise and then choose Spread. And from the subsequent Spread dialogue box, enter the following settings, or experiment, and then click OK.
Then from the top menu, choose Colours and then choose Levels. And to whiten the torn edge, left-click and drag the White Point tab all the way to the left - as illustrated below. Then click OK.
From the top menu, choose Filters then choose Noise and then choose HSV Noise. And from the subsequent HSV Noise dialogue box, enter the following settings, or experiment, and then click OK.
Monochrome Edge Note
To convert the torn edge to monochrome: from the top menu, choose Colours and then choose Desaturate.
From the top menu, choose Select and then choose None. Then return your image to its original size - View, then Zoom then Zoom Out.
Now, from the top menu, choose Filters then choose Light and Shadow and then choose Drop Shadow. And from the subsequent Drop Shadow dialogue box, (ensuring Allow resizing is unmarked), enter the settings of your choice, and then click OK.
Then from the top menu, choose Image and then choose Merge Visible Layers.
Congratulations, you have created your Torn Paper Effect, and it is ready to utilise and save.
Transparent GIF Tip
Link Here to learn how to save your Transparent Image as a Transparent GIF.
Fill Layer Tip
My Tutorial Here demonstrates how to create a Fill Layer and Fill it with either a Solid Colour, Pattern or a Gradient.
Now you are more familiar with this technique, you can have lots of fun producing personalised torn paper conversions.
Alternative Tear Notes
To create a cut out tear, add an Alpha Channel to the Background Layer. Then apply the “squiggly” Lasso Line, and convert it into a Selection Marquee - (as demonstrated earlier in this tutorial) - as illustrated below.
Then tap your Delete Key to remove the area inside the Selection Marquee. (As demonstrated earlier in this tutorial).
Then Grow the Selection. Apply the Spread Filter, the Levels Command: and finally, apply the HSV Noise Filter - (as demonstrated earlier in this tutorial).
Now, remove the Selection Marquee - (as demonstrated earlier in this tutorial). And apply a Drop Shadow of your choice - (as demonstrated earlier).
Wendi E. M. Scarth. Top of Page.