Freelance illustrator and designer Mark Mayers is based in Cornwall. With over 18 years’ experience, he can recall life before Macs and is a reformed technophobe.

Mark now writes tutorials for leading publishers worldwide, and has won several awards, including MetalFX Designer of the Year.

Master a convincing shattering-glass effect that has dozens of applications with this brilliant technique from Mark Mayers.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Photoshop’s Glass filter is often overlooked, but when it’s used creatively, it’s capable of creating some powerful and impressive visual effects. The Glass filter works by distorting an image using greyscale information, in a similar way to how bump maps in 3D applications work.

In this tutorial, Mark Mayers reveals how to create a realistic shattering glass effect using displacement maps. You’ll learn how to prepare a suitable image for displacement, and discover how Alpha channels work in conjunction with the Glass filter to distort and push out the hidden lighting and edge detail.

Next, you’ll learn how to add specular highlights and use some custom brushes to really pull off the effect. Once you’ve mastered the Glass filter, there’s nothing stopping you from playing with textures such as wood or stone as displacement maps, giving you a wealth of texturing options to add to your creative arsenal.

Some of the files used in this tutorial can be downloaded for a small cost from iStockphoto, while others are available for free from stock.xchng.


Adobe Photoshop CS3 or later

Time to complete

1 hour

Project files

Files for this tutorial can be downloaded here.

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