photoshop creative

Create a shattered glass portrait

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
March 2, 2016

Use a combination of clipping masks, layers and blend modes to create this smashing glass portrait effect


1. Mask your subject


Start with a black background and place your subject onto it. We’re going to cut the subject out, using the Quick Selection and Refine Edge tools. This means that when you place the subject on the glass, no white space will be seen.

2. Start adding glass


We’re going to cover our subject in shards of glass: one layer for each shard. Search stock sites for glass images and build a bank of them before you start. Keep larger pieces of glass towards the centre of the subject, and be sure not to leave glass edges across the main features, such as the eyes, mouth and nose.

3. Build to edges


Build up the glass. Make sure the shards get smaller towards the edges of your subject, and keep the pointy edges facing outwards, ready to spread out in a shattered effect. Duplicate your subject layer and hide the original. Place this layer over the first layer of glass.

4. Create a clipping mask


Select your subject layer, duplicate it twice, and set one layer to Screen, Opacity: 80%; one to Soft Light, Opacity: 80%; and one to Multiply, Opacity: 20%. Alternatively, select the subject layer and follow the ‘Step 4 action’ that’s free on the FileSilo to do this.

5. Build up the face


Duplicate these clipping masks for each of the first few layers and build up the face. Here, you can observe how much of the face is being shown on the glass. Tweak the Multiply layers’ Opacities to show more or less of the glass texture.

6. Finish your glass collage


Duplicate your clipping mask’s layer and then set them to every piece of glass until you are left with what looks like a glass collage.

7. Merge clipping masks


Go through and merge your clipping masks to their respective layers. You should be merging four layers together at a time. This is so that we can start moving the shards, but it is a destructive edit. Perform a Save As command before starting the merging process.

8. Create a shatter


Click the Move icon or press the V button. Hold down the Cmd/Ctrl button, and you’ll be able to move shards of glass without selecting their layers. Spread out the glass at the edges, but keep the shards in the face close together, otherwise it will look as though the picture has been stretched.

9. Add glass dust


Place smaller shards below the shard layers, and resize to cover over the picture. Duplicate the subject layer over the glass dust and set to Screen. Then turn down the Opacity to between 50 and 75%, and mask out the edges with a soft black brush.

10. Apply adjustment layers


Add a Curves layer, as shown above, to bring the colours out. Add a Vibrance layer of +50 and a Warm Photo Filter, too. Add a neutral grey layer (#7f7f7f) and Dodge and Burn slightly to bring out contrast. Remove one of the shards from over the subject’s eye.

11. Add drop shadows


Next, we’re going to add shadows to the shards of glass. This may take a while; Ctrl/right-click a layer, go to the Drop Shadow option, choose Opacity: 50%, Distance: 0, Spread: 15%, Size: 40px. Apply the same effect to every shard.

12. Create flying shards


Copy four shards from your resources into your picture. Ctrl/right-click and choose Free Transform before Cmd-clicking a corner to pull the perspective, as if they’re flying out of the picture. Reduce the Opacities to 60%.

13. Finish with a gradient


Finally, hide the glass layers, create a circular gradient of #9d3d3d to #190000 and just use a brush with #ba7e6e to accentuate the area behind the subject. Alternatively, find a dramatic background stock image that works well with your portrait.

  • matthew damico

    can you send the link of where you got the glass images please