Quick Tip: Create a Realistic Broken Glass Effect in Photoshop

Quick Tip: Create a Realistic Broken Glass Effect in Photoshop

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!


Click to enlarge

realistic broken glass effect

Step 1

The process behind this tutorial is very easy and quick. All we need is a background image and one of our 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 our 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


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

realistic broken glass effect

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(+add yours)
  1. Excellent tutorial Sebastiano!!

  2. dyde

    So… Your tutorial is called “Create a Realistic Broken Glass Effect in Photoshop” and your method is to use premade brushes of broken glass?

    This is a tutorial on composition, not on creating realistic broken glass, even if you blur things that are “covered” by glass.

    And it’s not that good of a job. Sorry, but if this is what passes for a good compo or even a good tutorial these days it’s not very hard to be a graphic designer.

    • Gerry Button

      To be fair, they did in fact create the brushes themselves. And chances are they took the photos of the broken glass for that as well. Re-creating realistic broken glass in Photoshop would probably be a lengthy process and still wouldn’t come close to using a stock and or brush.

      If you believe it’s not that great that’s totally fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I will respect anyone willing share it. One question I will ask though, you are quick to criticize, but could you yourself provide a high quality tutorial? Detailing the steps to create a realistic broken glass effect without the use of Stocks and or Brushes?

      • dyde

        Exactly, THEY did the brushes… They did not teach anyone how to make broken glass, they taught people how to apply a brush to a surface together with a lens flare.

        And why does it matter if I can do shit better than he can? A lot of movie critics would be out of a job if they had to do movies better than the ones they criticized, yes?

        And yes, Sebastiano, I get that you are a business, but you should try harder than this, is all I’m saying. In my opinion, this is under par.

      • neil

        to be fair, dyde has a point.

    • Hi guys,

      The only reason behind the use of a stock PS brush is to show to our members how can they use our resources into their works. Don’t forget that here at WeGraphics we provide premium resources along with tutorial aimed at explaining how useful these resources are.

      As I wrote in the intro of the tutorial, it was born from members request about how to realize the preview image of one of our sets.

      • You also have to keep in mind that part of being a good graphic designer is being resourceful. If you can turn hours into minutes by using a PS brush versus a “from scratch” illustration, then chances are your working faster and smarter, and that usually translates into more income.

        Food for thought.

    • Prathap

      I completely agree with dyde, it’s not upto the mark and even the end results doesn’t look that much impressive, it doesn’t match with the title but it will be a good beginner tutorial who really interested to buy graphics from webgraphics and design something shattered on their own.

    • Lilly

      You guys are HATERS–so what if Sabatiano used premade brushes. Photoshop is hard as hell as it is for newbies. If it helps out thats great. Who the heck wants to spend hours on end trying to make broken glass from scratch? Keep up the Good work Sebastiano -your tuturials rock. :)

    • dude

      To my knowledge there is no “quick” way to create a realistic broken glass effect, but you seemed to have passed over that portion of the title and assumed there was.

      As far as your movie critic analogy…there’s a reason they’re critics, and not artists. Just sayin’. You yourself have not presented any credentials, and are flaming something that is offered for free.

  3. Nathan Longbrook

    Great result! Thanks for the tutorial!

  4. Very nice tip Sebastiano.goona try that someday

  5. Gerry Button

    Im wondering now that I have seen a look at creating this in Photoshop, im wondering would I be able to create this within After Effects, bring it to life so to speak. I have a vague idea on how to do it, so I may in fact try it out tomorrow when I get home. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Gerry Button

      And with a few minutes in After Effects, I was able to do exactly what I described. It’s a basic adjustment layer with a gaussin blur on it masked to the empty space in the glass with an image under it. I may turn it into a tutorial myself since I have recording tutorials before. Once again, thanks for the inspiration.

      • Cool! it would be great to share the video in this page

  6. Awesome outcome. Thanks

  7. RAJI


  8. The O

    an ok tut, since 1) you gotta pay for the damn brush, and 2) you’re using a brush

    • Hi!

      1) You can download the free sample 2) My aim was to show to our members a way to use the brush set

  9. Jari Sanders

    Hey Sebastiano,

    A very interesting tutorial, thanks!

    I’ve got only 1 question: Why is my glass brush different than yours: http://cl.ly/39150p1q0O1u1A3h021k

    • Jari Sanders

      Sorry, I activated Pencil by accident!
      Everything is working right now.

  10. Nice result, very useful tut.

  11. Steven

    Just checking should there be anything I do with the brush layer. I am using the sample and the ‘glass’ edge and crack areas are just black – being the foreground colour.

    Should there be a mode change or something as I cannot achieve the glassy look as seen in the tut.

    Many thanks.

    • Hi Steven,

      If you aim is to change the brush color, you can click on the foreground color thumbnail and use the color picker to choose another color before using the brush. Or you can double click on the brush layer thumbnail (into the layers window – generally bottom right), select “blending options” and then color overlay.

      • Steven

        Thanks for the info, I’ll give that a go.

  12. Very excellent tutorial. Thanks for that broken glass brushes link.

  13. you do a great Sebastiano,
    i really want you to keep up the good work..

  14. Chris

    Thank you so much! Epic Result!

  15. Extremely cool result! I thought the blur effect was ingenious, and I loved the vintage touch at the end. Always enjoy your tutes, Sebastiano– thanks!!

  16. Nice tutorial


  17. LadyNab

    I love learning new ways to use PS brushes! Good Job!

  18. Parker

    I think this might be the simplest tutorial with the best results. Nothing was hard, except that I couldn’t pay for the brushes, so I had to find my own. I liked the outcome very much.

  19. Pahn Randev

    Thank you but it took me 2 days To create it…:(

  20. vincent

    hey very nice tutorials keep updating new tutorials for photoshop cs5

  21. Josh

    Thanks for the tutorial. Really Awrsome stuff.
    Simple yet detailed with a great artistic result.


  23. thuske

    thank you… i did one with a number of different effects… but this tutorial helped a lot… thanks

  24. Roberto

    Complimenti per il bellissimo tutorial (cosi come per tutti gli altri tuoi esempi!!).

  25. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!
    Very useful information specially the last part :) I care for such info a
    lot. I was looking for this certain information for a very
    long time. Thank you and good luck.

  26. would it have been better if you shifted the bits in broken glass a bit? so that it would look like there was some sort of refraction… just sayin

    great tutorial though!

  27. tha’s so awesome

  28. nice design technique, i try make one but not like your result, need more practice

  29. alok kumar

    Amazing post very helpfull… Thankxx and keep it on…

  30. lets me try

  31. thank you… i did one with a number of different effects… but this tutorial helped a lot… thanks

  32. thank you i will try!!!

  33. thank

  34. an ok tut, since 1) you gotta pay for the damn brush, and 2) you’re using a brush

  35. Thanks for the tutorial. Really Awrsome stuff.
    Simple yet detailed with a great artistic result.

  36. thank’s so much, i wll try it

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  40. nice inpo min!!!

  41. nice sharing guys, keep sharing. thank you

  42. sangat jelas tutorial na min….

  43. great content guys, i love this rule

  44. nice picture, really inspiring, thank you

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  47. I made a better one with free resources! yay.. thnx for the tute.. lol

  48. great for this one tutorial. i hope i can make more like this

  49. really good tutorial about photoshop, can i sharing for this sir?

  50. i reallly need this tutorurial, very good

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  59. i really like this tutorial very helpful for beginner like me

  60. Well done, Sebastiano – thanks for this tutorial.

  61. thanks for the amazing tutorial. I love the effect created

  62. thanks

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    nice picture, really inspiring, thank you

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  69. thanks for the amazing tutorial

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  75. A good and detailed tutorial. Worth a try. Keep up the good work.

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  93. very cool broken glass fx.. will try it out when i’m home.

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