Creating a Building Destruction Photo Manipulation in Photoshop


In this photo-manipulation tutorial we’ll destroy a beautiful theater. Usually such image manipulations take a lot of time but this is a quick one. We’ll perform a simple (yet stunning) picture edit but you might also wanna add a couple of orbiting stars to give it an apocalypse feel.

Remember I promised in my earlier tutorial that photo manipulation tutorials will soon be published. This is the first of those photo manipulations and there are many more to come. I greatly appreciate your feedback on this post, this is my first photo-manip.

Initial image

This was the image from where we started this photo-manipulation. I saw this image on MIT‘s website and immediately decided to make this.

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Now we need some clouds in the background. For that I grabbed a wallpaper I had in my PC. You can use clouds from any image, there’s a lot of stock out there.

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Step 1 – Extraction

So lets start with the Lasso Tool and cut the theater building from the image. Remove the background.

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Step 2 – Toning

When we done with the cutting off the theater, place it on a new layer and adjust the curves by striking Ctrl+M or Go to Image > Adjustment > Curves. Set the channel to the Red and put these values.

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Here we set the channel to the RGB and put the values.

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Here we set the channel to the Blue and put the values.

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We are done with the toning of the background.

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Step 3 – Crop

Now I crop the specific area of the background and move it to the new layer.

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Step 4 – Selection

Return to the Lasso Tool and extract the clouds. We only need the clouds.

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We have cut off the excessive part which was disturbing the effect of the scene and turn it’s Layer Style to the Hard Light. Now put this layer on background.

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After some copy-pasting, here’s the final background.

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Step 5 – Water Effect

Next step is creating a water effect. For  that, I selected the whole background and copied it on a new layer and using Transform pressed it down and Flipped it Vertically by pressing the left click.

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Step 6 – Effect

Now I’m making the water effect more realistic by adding Motion Blur Filter > Blur > Motion Blur on that background layer which we transformed previously.

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Step 7 – Realism

Here we Select the Blur Tool and rub on the edges of the water effect layer, this will make the effect more realistic.

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Step 8 – Applying Layer Mode

Here, I set the theater and set the mode to multiply.

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Free building manipulation in photoshop

Step 9 – Adding the Aura

To add a little concept, we copy the theater into a New Layer and add Motion Blur in it. Go to the Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Here we change the angle of the Blur effect.

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Free photoshop manipulation

Step 10 – Flip it

Here I scaled it down by pressing the Ctrl+T and Flipped it Vertically in the right click option menu.

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Step 11 – Break-up

Now comes the real deal. I randomly made selections for making cracks. I hide all the other layers and that is why you are seeing the building without it’s color toning. Once the background images will  be displayed, the colors will get back to normal. The cracks should not look smooth so the selection must NOT contain any sort of feather.

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Here we are done with cracks.

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Step 12 – Finishing Touch

Now what’s left? One thing, the cracks do not look as real as they should. The missing element is shadow. The broken parts should be making shadows. We can of course use Drop Shadow layer style for making shadows but I used Brush Tool to create shadows. Brush tool provides unlimited customization capabilities; that is why I recommend you to use customized brush over automated drop shadows. You can see the result of shadows in the final result below.

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Final Result

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  1. Joe @ best apps list June 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    This is awesoeme man I wish this raw power and functionality of photoshop comes to smartphones or tablet pcs asap.

    1. waseem July 2, 2011 at 5:03 am

      Thanks and I hope so too.

  2. Mark Armstrong July 1, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Lovely job! I often forget that one can use Curves on separate channels– thanks for the reminder. Cool water effect and great use of blending modes to achieve the dramatic lighting. Thanks!

    1. waseem July 4, 2011 at 1:05 am

      Hello Mr. Armstrong!

      Thanks a lot for the bundle of appreciation. We can see you are a pro yourself. It’s always nice to be praised by professionals.

  3. Asif July 2, 2011 at 5:43 am

    Very well explained useful photoshop tutorial.

    1. waseem July 4, 2011 at 1:00 am

      Glad to know that you found it useful, Thanks For Comment 🙂

  4. ferobanjo July 26, 2011 at 3:31 am

    yes, this is fine

    1. waseem July 26, 2011 at 4:26 am

      Nice Comment 🙂

  5. zacca October 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    how i can obtain the effect cracked building???? how to do the crack with the selection???
    thank you

    1. waseem October 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm


      I think you are the kind of a guy I was a few months ago, you don’t like to read, right?
      buddy this question is explained in detail in the steps above. You should read.
      If you have read it and still unable to understand something, please be explicit I didn’t understand. Sorry.

  6. zacca October 9, 2011 at 4:14 am

    i didn’ t understand how i can make the building destroyed!!!!
    thank you

    1. waseem October 11, 2011 at 3:21 am

      Well Zacca!
      the whole tutorial is about making the destruction effect. If there’s any single step you’re having problem with, I will definitely help you out but the whole tutorial….. that’s difficult.

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