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Create a Realistic Broken Glass Effect

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In this brief tutorial I will explain how to apply a realistic broken glass effect to a background image using Photoshop brushes. After publishing our last PS brush set I received a couple of tutorial requests via email about how to create the preview image. Let’s discover it together!

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Step 1

The process behind this tutorial is very easy and quick. All we need is a background image and one of  shattered glass brushes. You can download the free sample if you’re not a member.

For a background image, I downloaded this beautiful panoramic shot and opened it in Photoshop.

realistic broken glass effect


Step 2

Reduce the saturation by going to Image>Adjustments>Vibrance. Enter a saturation value around -70 and +15 for vibrance.

realistic broken glass effect


Step 3

Just to add a nice detail to the scene, let’s write something with a sans serif font. I used Pirulen, which is a clean and crisp free font.

Font color is #56767d.

realistic broken glass effect

Step 4


In order to merge the text with the background, grab the eraser tool, select a grunge brush and eliminate some parts of the text. You need to rasterize the text first (right-click on the text layer thumbnail>Rasterize type). Use the eraser tool especially on the bottom area of the text, along the horizon.

realistic broken glass effect

Layer opacity is too high in my opinion. Reduce it to 40%. This is my result:

realistic broken glass effect


Step 5

At this point we can add the never-boring lens flare! Create a new layer and fill it with black. Then go to filter>Render>Lens flare.

realistic broken glass effect

Set the layer blending mode to screen to eliminate the black areas. Done!

realistic broken glass effect


Step 6

We can now create the broken glass effect. Download shattered glass brushes, select a brush and click once on a new layer. Foreground color is black.

Note that you could obtain the same effect with a broken glass image, however using a Photoshop brush is easiest.

realistic broken glass effect


Step 7

To make the effect realistic, we need to blur the background area which is covered by the glass. From the layers window select all the layers except the one with the brush, and click alt+ctrl+E (option+cmd+E for Mac) to merge them into a new layer. Then apply the blur filter (Filter>Blur>Gaussian blur) with a radius around 3px.

realistic broken glass effect


Step 8

With the blurred layer still active, add a layer mask by pressing the apposite button at the bottom of the layers window.

realistic broken glass effect

Now you can use a black round brush to eliminate some areas from the blurred background. Basically with the layer masks you can use black brushes to eliminate areas, and white brushes to replace them, without ever losing pixels.

realistic broken glass effect


Step 9

After all the “broken area” has been deleted, the crisp original background will be visible and you’ll get a realistic broken glass effect:

realistic broken glass effect


Step 10

To finalize the work, just play with a couple of adjustment layers. Start by radically modifying the color combination with a gradient map layer (Layer>New adjustment layer>Gradient map). Select the default gradient going from purple (#6f156c) to green (#00601b) to orange (fd7c00). Set the layer blend mode to screen, with opacity around 70%.

realistic broken glass effect


Step 11

To make the style even more vintage, let’s play a bit with a color balance layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Color Balance). I just modified the midtones until I was satisfied:

realistic broken glass effect

Finito!

Here is my final result! I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial.

realistic broken glass effect

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