How to Create a Cut-Up Photo Effect in Photoshop

What You’ll Be Creating

In this tutorial, we’ll create a cut-up photo effect in Photoshop using a clipping mask. You will learn how to create a mask in Photoshop to make your own photo effects like this one.¬†

Tutorial Assets

To create this cool photo effect in Photoshop, I will use the following assets:

  • Wood Background
  • Couple Stock Photo

1. Add the Wood Background

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop. The size of the canvas is 850 x 600px, resolution 72 dpi.

Step 2

Go to File > Place and open the Wood Background image in Photoshop. 

Wood Background

 Change the Color of the Wood Background

This step is optional. But, if you want to change the color of the wood texture, add a Selective Color adjustment layer. 

Selective Color Adjustment

3. Add Your Photo

Step 1

Add your photo on a new layer. 

Romantic Couple Stock Image

Step 2

Press Control-T to resize the image. Keep the Shift key pressed to maintain the aspect ratio.

Resize Image in Photoshop

4. Add a Border in Photoshop

Step 1

Press Shift-Control-N to create a new layer below the Photo layer and call it Border.  

Create a New Layer

Step 2

Use the Rectangle Tool to draw a rectangle. The color that I used for the border is #f7f7f7

Add Border in Photoshop

Another method to create a border around a photo is to add a Stroke layer style to the Image layer. 

Use these settings: size 20px, position Inside, opacity 100%, blend mode Normal, fill type Color, color is #f7f7f7. The disadvantage is that you lose 20px (the border size) from your image.

Step 3

To make sure the Image layer and the Border layer are aligned, select the two layers and click on Align Vertical Center and Align Horizontal Center.

Align Centers in Photoshop

5. Merge Layers in Photoshop

Select the Image layer and the Border layer, as in the previous step, and press Control-E to merge the two layers.

You can also right-click on the layers and choose Merge Layers.

Merge Layers in Photoshop

6. Create a Cut Paper Shape

Step 1

To create the cut-up photo effect, we have to make a mask for the image. 

Pick the Pen Tool and draw a shape. To draw shapes with the Pen Tool, simply click on the canvas to add anchor points.

Use The Pen Tool in Photoshop

Step 2

Create another shape using the Pen Tool

Create a Shape with Pen Tool

Step 3

Add another cut paper shape.

Paper Cut Shape in Photoshop

Step 4

Using the same technique, add other cut paper shapes to cover the entire image. 

I’ve added eight cut paper shapes on eight separate layers. You can make as many cuts as you like and with any shape that you like.

Cut Up Paper

7. Edit the Shapes in Photoshop

The shapes that we made are vector shapes, so you can edit them easily. 

To edit a shape, use the Convert Point Tool. Click on the anchor point that you want to move and use the arrow keys to move it.  

In this case, if you modify a shape, you also have to modify the shape next to it.

Edit Shapes in Photoshop

8. Duplicate Layers in Photoshop

Go to the Image layer and press Control-J to make seven copies of the Image layer. You have to have an equal number of Image layers and Shape layers.

Duplicate Layers in Photoshop

9. How to Create a Clipping Mask in Photoshop

Step 1

Move each Image layer in front of a Shape layer. Use Drag and Drop to move the layers.

Move Layers in Photoshop

Step 2

To create the cut-up Photoshop effect, we use the Shape layer(s) as a mask for the Image layer(s).

To do that, go to each Image layer, right-click, and choose Create Clipping Mask.

Create Clipping Mask in Photoshop
Clipping Mask in Photoshop

10. Add a Layer Style in Photoshop

Go to Shape 1 layer and add this layer style:

  • Drop Shadow (color #000000)
  • Inner Shadow (color #f8f8f8 )
Drop Shadow in Photoshop
Inner Shadow in Photoshop

11. Copy the Layer Style in Photoshop

Step 1

Right-click on the Shape 1 layer and choose Copy Layer Style

Copy Layer Style in Photoshop

Step 2

Keep the Control key pressed and click on the Shape layers one by one, to select them all.

Select Layers in Photoshop

Step 3

Right click on the layers and choose Paste Layer Style.

Paste Layer Style in Photoshop

12. Create the Cut-Up Photo Effect in Photoshop

Step 1

To make the cut-up photo effect more realistic, let’s move the paper cut pieces.

To do this, select a Shape layer and its Image layer. Press Control-T to rotate and move it.

Transform and Rotate Layer in Photoshop

Step 2

Repeat the process with all the paper cut pieces until you get a realistic result.

Cut Paper in Photoshop

Congratulations! You’re Done!

In this tutorial, you’ve learned how to create this cut-up photo effect using Photoshop. This is a special effect for a picture that I like to use in my designs. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. 

Cut Up Photo Photoshop Effect

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