Apr 27 2009
By: Rick Yaeger
The character Nino in Jean Pierre Jeunet’s film Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain collects torn and discarded pictures from the photo booths at Paris train stations. He carefully pieces these pictures together in a bizarre "family album." It is this style of fragmented imagery that will be the inspiration for this week’s graphics tip. To get ready, scan in a portrait shot and fire up Photoshop. Here we go, but be warned — this is going to be a long process.
Step 1: Prep the portrait
Start with a scanned portrait with the traditional white frame around the outside on one layer. Make sure your scan is an actual floating layer named "Photo" and not a flattened file. If it isn’t, just double click the Background layer in the layers palette and name the layer "Photo" when prompted.
Next we’re going to need a little ripping room. Adjust the Canvas Size (under the Image menu) by adding an inch or so to the width and height. There should now be a half an inch or more of checkered etherial nothingness surrounding your snapshot.
Now we need to give the photo a bit of dimension. Not much. It is, afterall, supposed to be a thin piece of photographic paper. Go to Layer>Layer Style>Bevel and Emboss… and enter these values:
We will also need another layer named "Paper" to act the same way as the paper that real photographs are laminated on. Easy enough. Create a new layer under the snapshot, make a selection the exact size and shape of your snapshot by Command-Clicking the Photo layer thumbnail in the Layers palette. Now fill the selection with white in the Paper layer and apply a Drop Shadow layer style with the following values to it:
Step 2: Get ready to rip
Create a new Channel and, with the default white foreground color and black background color set, apply Filter>Render>Clouds.
Next comes a rather confusing part. We’re going to try to apply the Crystalize filter (Filter>Pixelate>Crystalize) to the cloud channel but this filter can be a bit of a pain. So rather than give you some values to try that won’t work I’m going to give you a "goal." Try to get a result that has a lot of big chunky crystals like this one.
The problem with this filter is that the preview often lies. We’d almost be better off if there was no preview at all, but don’t get me started… lets just get on with the tutorial.
Choose the marquee tool and select an area of the crystal channel that is not too small, is a similar proportion to your snapshot and contains about 5 to 7 crystals or portions of crystals. (See the selection in the image above) Copy it. This is going to be the map by which your snapshot will be ripped.
Hold down the Command key and click the Photo layer’s thumbnail in the Layers pallette. This will make a selection the exact shape of your snapshot. Click the "Save Selection as Channel" button in the Channels palette and then click on your newly created channel.
Paste the section of crystals you copied earlier onto this channel. Hit Command-T and stretch that section so that it not only covers but overlaps (see picture above) the silouette of your snapshot and hit Enter. It is now safe to deselect. (Command-D)
We’re still not ready to rip yet. We need to distress this map a bit. Apply the Ripple filter (Filter>Distort>Ripple…) with a setting of Medium ripples at 100%. This channel is now ready to rip the photographic layer of our snapshot. Name it "Photo Rip".
Now we need another channel to rip the paper upon which the photograph would be laminated. I’m sure you’ve noticed that when you rip a piece of paper that it rips in irregular lines. But it also exposes the inner edges is such a way that, on edges that were once together, one side will show the paper’s "inner pulp" while the other side overlaps it – this is what we will attempt to simulate.
Duplicate your rippled rip channel. Apply the Maximum filter (Filter>Other>Maximum) to it at a value of 2 pixels. Great! Now name this channel "Paper Rip". The Maximum filter expands areas with lighter pixels and allows them to encroach on the areas held by darker pixels. Next, apply the Wave filter (Filters>Distort>Wave…) at the following settings: (like the Crystalize Filter, the preview on the Wave filter lies — don’t trust it. All we want is for the Paper Rip channel to be slightly warped by the Wave filter)
Step 3: Enough preparation! Let’s rip!!!
I remember when I used my gym membership that time that the trainers talked about "getting ripped" and that it required a certain amount of repetition. That is true in this case also, but I hope I have more success training you than that guy had training me. With your Magic Wand tool selected and set to a Tolerance of 10 Anti-Aliased, Contiguous pixels, repeat the following process until you have created ripped pieces for each of the shapes in your rip channels:
- Duplicate the Photo layer.
- Duplicate the Paper layer.
- Link the new duplicates.
- Hide the originals. (click the "eye" in the Layers palette next to each layer)
- Move the duped Paper layer directly underneath the duped Photo layer.
- Go to the Photo Rip channel.
- Click in one of the rip shapes with the Magic Wand tool.
- Go to the duped Photo layer
- Under the Layer menu select Add Layer Mask>Reveal Selection
- Go to the Paper Rip channel.
- Click in the coresponding rip shape to the one you selected in the Photo Rip layer with the Magic Wand tool.
- Go to the duped Paper layer
- Under the Layer menu select Add Layer Mask>Reveal Selection
- With the Layer Mask of the Paper layer still selected, apply the Torn Edges filter (Filters>Sketch>Torn Edges…) with a setting of 25, 11 and 17.
- If you have no more rip shapes to make, continue on with Step 4 of the tutorial, otherwise repeat The Process.
Step 4: Finessing
Now your ripped snapshot should look quite convincing. The only thing left is to rotate and move each piece slightly and give the whole image a background to lay on.
With the Move tool selected (hit the V key on the keyboard), Command click any piece in the window. Go to Edit>Free Transform (or just hit Command-T) to summon the transformation bounding box around that piece. Now move you cursor near the corner of the bounding box until the cursor changes into a curved arrow. Click the mouse button and hold as you move the mouse slightly, thus rotating the individule piece slightly. You may also want to use the keyboards arrow keys to move the piece a bit on the canvas. Hit the Enter key when you are satisfied with this piece’s placement and orientation. Go ahead and rotate and/or move a few more pieces until the overall image has a more random look.
Add a new layer and drag it to the bottom of the Layers palette below all the other layers. Fill this layer with whatever background color you choose. I selected a nice red: