Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Stuff happens, and sometimes bad stuff happens to good photographs--things like them getting ripped and torn into pieces. If you're lucky enough to have all the pieces and luckier still to have them in separate pieces and not taped together by some well-meaning ancestor, it's not as hard as you think to put them back together digitally. If you're able to scan the pieces yourself, lay them out in the general order in which they belong, with plenty of space in between pieces. Duplicate the original layer using Ctrl+J on a PC, Command+J on a Mac.
Now move over to your toolbar and select your Magic Wand tool, and in the Duplicate layer, click on the background space, the white space. Now use Ctrl+X or Command+X to delete. Hide the visibility of the background layer, and there's all your transparency. Now we need to get the separate layers into their own layers. In the toolbar, select the Lasso tool and draw a selection around one of the pieces.
Once you have it selected, use Ctrl+J or Command+J, put it on its own layer. When you do your next piece, be sure to go back to the duplicate layer where all the pieces are and not on the layer where you just put that other piece on, and select another piece. Try to get a good distance away, but if you do have a space here that goes into the image, simply hold down your Shift key and select the area again.
It's going in there, and it'll open it up. Now hit Ctrl+J or Command+J to put it on its own layer. Continue to put all the pieces on their own layer, but for time's sake we are going to jump ahead and see what all these pieces look like once they're on their own layer. Now we have all the pieces on their own layer. If we make some of these invisible, you can see how each one is on its own layer now. Now you want to take your largest piece and move it to the top of the layer stack.
This will be our main layer and most of the pieces are going to slide under it. With your Move tool selected, make sure your Auto-Select check box is checked here at the top and click on one of the smaller pieces. We want to move this over in its general area, either with your mouse or with the arrow keys, and just try to get it in its general position. Continue with the pieces and if you run into a spot where the edges aren't lining up as they should, use Ctrl+T or Command+T to transform and just move it around. Again, use your arrow keys, or your mouse and rotate it as you need to to get a good fix.
In this case these shadows here, it's a good indicator of where you need to be to align it the correct way. And once you're through with that, you can hit Enter to accept your change. It's all right if there's a small gap and it doesn't line up perfectly. It's more important to make sure that it aligns on the edges. You can take care of this gap later using your Healing tools. Continue putting all your pieces in their areas, in their general area, and line them up as best you can.
Now we have all the pieces where they should be. Select the topmost layer and use keyboard shortcut Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E on a PC or Shift+Command+Option+E on a Mac to put all the pieces on a combined layer. If you're certain all the pieces are exactly where you want them, you could delete all your individual layers now. If not, it's better to be safe than sorry and leave them where they are. Now continue on with all these cracks as if they are a regular restoration and these are creases and rips, and you go over to your, say, for instance, your Patch tool and you begin working on that just as you would, a normal rip or tear.
And you have all of them taken care of. So now let's see what this will look like after you've spent the time repairing the rips. With a little care and making sure you get everything aligned, you can see how this looks like it never had a rip in it to begin with. Even though a photograph that's been torn into pieces may look like a lost cause, that's rarely the case, as long as all of the pieces are still there. With time, patience, and practice you can put a photo back together.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
164 Video lessons · 45221 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 83052 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 53262 Viewers
148 Video lessons · 90252 Viewers