Create a crumbled paper effect in Photoshop + PSD

I was searching for some icons for inspiration to write a tutorial and I stumbled upon an awesome set of icons which really perked me up. I noticed a subtle look in those icons and starting to create them using Photoshop. I know that creating icons in Illustrator is more professional than trying them out in Photoshop but since I’m still new to Illustrator, and Photoshop is not that bad in vector graphics, I decided to create them in Photoshop.

In this tutorial, we will be learning about the GRID LINES in Photoshop and how to use them to create perfectly aligned objects. We will also learn about the advantages of Clipping masks. Finally, we will be creating a framework so that any picture can be added and made look like an icon. This is a very simple Tutorial and can be achieved in basic steps.

Step 1:

Create a new document in Photoshop with a size of 500 x 500 px and fill it with black (or gray). The darker, the better.

Step 2:

Now, Go to EDIT > PREFERENCES >GRIDS. Use the image below for reference.

Guides and the grid help you position images or elements precisely. The grid is useful for laying out elements symmetrically. The grid appears by default as nonprinting lines but can also be displayed as dots.

Step 3:

Now, depending on the size of your document, you need to set the grid spaces so that there appears equal number of divisions in the document and aligning and scaling becomes very easy. Especially while creating circular objects, finding the center is much easier.

We have created a 500 x 500 px document, So we will place a grid line every 100 pixels. You can even set the subdivisions, style and color!

Step 4:

Now, You can view the gridlines by going to VIEW > SHOW > GRID or just press CTRL + ‘ on your keyboard (CMD + ‘ for Mac).

Step 5:

The grids must appear like this : you can see that there are equally spaced grids

Step 6:

Using the Ellipse Tool and with the color set to white(mode set to SHAPES), SHIFT Click the center of the document, draw a circle, while drawing, hold ALT key to scale the circle with respect to its center.

Step 7:

Rasterize the circle layer and name it ‘BIG CUT’. Now using the Lasso Tool, Create a selection on the top left as shown below. This is to create the peel effect. You can remove the grid lines by simply clicking CTRL + ‘

Step 8:

Now, Cut and Paste the selected part by clicking CTRL + X and CTRL + V. And we need to Transform it now. So, using the Free Transform Tool (CTRL + T), we can rotate it any way we want.

Step 9:

If you notice, the peeled part has a new layer for itself. You can name it to ‘SMALL CUT’ later.  Now, holding SHIFT, rotate the peeled image to its completely opposite direction. You can reduce the opacity of the ‘BIG CUT’ layer for a better view. Move the image as shown below.

Step 10:

Grab this paper texture, I found here in deviant art and paste them twice. One above each of the layers, ‘BIG CUT’ and ‘SMALL CUT’. Use the image below for reference. Now, Create clipping masks for both the layers by ALT + Click on the border of the ‘cut’ layer and paper layer.

Step 11:

Now, for the ‘SMALL CUT’ layer, apply a layer style ‘DROP SHADOW’ with settings as shown below:

Step 12:

Let us now create a stylish border for the image. Using ‘ELLIPTICAL MARQUEE TOOL’, create a circular selection(holding SHIFT) as shown below.

Note : You can add the grid lines again and using the same point as the one used before for creating the ellipse, create the circular selection.

Step 13:

Now, set the mode to ‘SUBTRACT FROM LAYERS’ and create another circular selection with a slightly smaller radius than the previous one.

Step 14:

Create a new layer and name it “LINES’ and fill the above selection with black color. You can change the background color to something lighter now. Place the ‘LINES’ layer above the ‘paper’ layer mask of the ‘BIG CUT’ layer.

Step 15:

As you can see, the extra part must be removed. So, CTRL + Click on the ‘BIG CUT’ layer to create a selection around it and press CTRL + SHIFT + I to invert the selection. Make sure the ‘LINES’ layer is selected, now press DELETE key to remove the extra part.

Step 16:

The final image should look something like the one below. You can remove the grid lines now.

Step 17:

Now, to add your icon/logo/image, we need to Merge the ‘CUT’ layer and its respective ‘paper’ mask separately. Select ‘BIG CUT’ layer and also its paper texture mask and press CTRL + E to merge them. Do the same for the ‘SMALL CUT’ layer also.

Step 18:

Place the logo/image you want to add above the ‘LINES’ layer and set the blending mode to ‘MULTIPLY’ as shown below:

Step 19:

Thats all folks. Now you can create any icons you want using this method. I leave it to your imagination to create more effects. You can USE the burn tool to create an old paper appearance or give it a tear effect. It is all upto you. The final image looks something  like this:

If you want, you can give it a vintage look. I borrowed this burnt paper texture from DawghouswDesignstudio and a picture of grass from flickr to create a nice crumbled old paper texture effect. I added a dew brush strokes to get the immersed effect.

Using a grunge wall texture and applying a ‘HARD LIGHT’ layer style over the ‘CUT’ layers, I created another image. The out come was pretty retro like and brilliant.

You can download the PSD for this icon and start creating icons of your. Have fun. So, I hope you liked the simple tutorial. Feel free to subscribe to my RSS Feed or you can follow me on Twitter.

Create a crumbled paper effect in Photoshop + PSD

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26 Responses to “Create a crumbled paper effect in Photoshop + PSD”
  1. Easy to follow, great results! Thanks for the quick Tut.

  2. favSHARE says:

    This article has been shared on Go and vote it!

  3. Ben says:

    Lovely, the burn effect at the end is great.

  4. Kevin Mist says:

    This is a nice effect. I am not certain of its usability as an icon as I think if you were using photochop it would not scale perfectly. But it is still a useful tut to get people to learn more about the tools they have available to them.


    • Richie says:

      Rightly said Kevin. I agree with you. Illustrator(or any other vector tool) is the best option for creating icons. But, I believe it is not as versatile as Photoshop and besides, I started with a pretty huge document, which can be scaled down to the actual icon sizes if needed.

      I did this in Photoshop mainly because some of the features can be applied to create similar designs and not only icons.

  5. florian says:


    How can I set this mode on Cs4 ?
    My Circle disapears if I want to create the second one!

    • Richie says:

      After you click on the Circular Marquee Tool. If you notice the TOOLBOX on the top, below the Menu Bar, there are 4 options. The third one is ‘Subtract from selection’. This is toolbar is there is all the CS versions.

  6. PsdDude says:

    Very very nice! You have a lot of talent :) i like both images

  7. Lynadell says:

    thanks for that ! I wish I could do more in InDesign too, got some ideas?

  8. Cool tut! I like the paper texture.

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  3. [...] Create a crumbled paper effect in Photoshop In this tutorial, we will be learning about the GRID LINES in Photoshop and how to use them to create perfectly aligned objects. We will also learn about the advantages of Clipping masks. [...]

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