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Enlist your scanner to help give your photos a crumpled up look

Added on Friday 21st of August 2009 05:10 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


Creating a crumpled paper look in Photoshop can be time consuming. So when you’re short on time, don’t feel pressed to create all of your fancy Photoshop techniques from scratch. Do a little dirty work manually and take advantage of your available resources—such as your scanner or digital camera—for a creative crumpled look.


To create crumpled art in Photoshop, we’ll:

     Crumple and scan a piece of paper to digitize it for this technique.

     Isolate the crumpled paper from the background and remove the background pixels.

     Use a blending mode to impose an image on the crumpled paper.

     Create a displacement map and apply it to the image for a more believable crumple.


If you want to make an image or some text look like it’s on crumpled up paper, as shown in Figure A, there are a few ways to accomplish this look. You could create the creases and folds in Photoshop manually, but that takes too much time if you want an entire page full of folds and creases. On the other hand, you could try this easy technique and crumple the paper yourself. We’ll show you how to put any art onto a piece of crumpled paper and make it look believable.



Tip: If you can print the art you want to place on crumpled paper, then your work just got even easier. Simply print out the image or document on the paper of your choice, crumple it up and scan it. Then simply clean up the edges and remove the background.


Create a digital crumple

To follow along with this technique you’ll need a piece of paper, a scanner or digital camera, and an image to overlay on the crumpled paper. To follow along with our example, download from the URL given at the beginning of this article, extract the files crumple.psd and map.psd, launch Photoshop, and open the files shown in Figure B. (Map image provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)




Tip: If you’re using our image, skip to the next section in this article titled, “Isolate the crumpled paper.”


To create a digital crumple:

1.       Select a piece of paper and crumple it up. Squeeze it hard if you want deep creases; crumple it lightly if you want minimal creases and folds.

2.      Open the crumpled paper and place it on your scanner’s flatbed. If you’re going to take a digital photo of the crumpled paper instead, lay the paper on a solid-colored surface or against a solid-colored wall. Tip: Use sticky tack to adhere your paper to the wall temporarily while you shoot.

3.      Scan or shoot the crumpled paper. We scanned our crumpled paper at 300 ppi, 100%.

4.      Make any Curves or Levels adjustments necessary to fix your crumpled paper’s strong shadows or highlights.

5.      Save the file.


Isolate the crumpled paper

Next, you want to isolate the crumpled paper from the background and eliminate the image edge pixels so that only the paper remains on your canvas. You can use whatever selection method is easiest for you and your particular scanned paper image. We’ll use the Polygonal Lasso tool.


To isolate the crumpled paper from the background:

1.       [ctrl]-click ([Right]-click in Windows) on the locked Background layer and choose Layer From Background from the resulting pop-up menu.

2.      Select the Polygonal Lasso tool from the Tools panel.

3.      Enter 3 in the Feather text box located on the tool Options bar and select the Anti-Aliased check box.

4.      Click on an outside edge of the crumpled paper.

5.      Continue clicking along the border, tracing a selection around the outside paper edge.

6.      Close the selection.

7.      Choose Select > Inverse to invert the selection and select the outside edge pixels.

8.      Press [delete] ([Backspace] in Windows) to remove those pixels.

9.      Press [command]D ([Ctrl]D in Windows) to deselect the selection. Tip: To give yourself some working room around the crumpled paper, choose Image > Canvas and enlarge the canvas size as needed. W...