Do you love hiking? Upgrade your footwear with a unique pair of foot-inspired boots! In this tutorial, we’ll go over how to manipulate a regular pair of feet to create an overall hiking scene using basic photo manipulation techniques.
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The following assets were used in the production of this tutorial:
1. How to Extract the Feet
For the purpose of this tutorial, I’ll be using the original dimensions supported by my Foot Reference to create the composition. Currently it’s 2200 x 2635 pixels, but later on we will crop it down to fit the scene.
Open your photo into Photoshop. Double-Click the background layer to change it to Layer 0. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the white areas of the background, and hit Delete to get rid of them.
Using the Magnetic Lasso Tool (L), begin creating a selection around each foot. Control-J to Duplicate each foot onto its own new layer. When you’re through, you should have two separate layers for each foot. Save file space by Deleting the layer with the scale still on it, and feel free to organize these layers into a new Group.
2. How to Sketch Guidelines for the Boots
Use the Move Tool (V) to position the feet lower onto the canvas.
Feel free to experiment with the position of the feet. You can move one slightly back or keep them aligned as I did. Changing the position may make the manipulation a little harder, so just keep that in mind.
The next few steps are optional. Feel free to move on without a sketch if necessary. To help me understand how to situate the boots, I’ll need to draw a quick sketch over the feet. This will help me understand the perspective, and where to place the laces, hooks, and collars correctly.
Create a New Layer underneath the feet group and Fill it with white using the Paint Bucket Tool (G). Select a basic Hard Round Brush (B) to sketch two circles located above the ankle on another New Layer.
Merge the two feet layers together. Add a Layer Mask to the merged layer and begin painting black onto the layer mask to hide the top half of the leg. Do this for each foot.
The feet are looking a little thin. Select each foot with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to make both wider. Adjust the Layer Mask and sketch accordingly.
On the sketch layer, draw a basic outline of the boot’s tongue. This will help give us a guideline for where to place the boot reference later.
3. How to Manipulate the Boot Reference
Now that we’ve got a good guideline going, we can incorporate the actual boots. First, open your Boot Reference into a separate document and use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to Delete the white background.
Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to make a selection around the left boot’s tongue, collar, and laces. Copy and Paste it into your photo manipulation document. Lower the Opacity slightly so that you can still see the feet underneath.
Position the boot over the left foot, Resizing it and Warping it to fit the foot with the Free Transform Tool (Control-T). Toggle the Visibility of the sketch layer on and off so that it’s not distracting.
Continue manipulating the stock until you’re happy with how the boot fits the foot. Then add a Layer Mask to the boot layer and paint black onto the mask to hide any parts of the boot that you don’t want, using both Hard and Soft Round Brushes.
Let’s move on to the right foot. Just like before, make a Selection over the right boot with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L). Copy and Paste the selection onto a New Layer above the right foot.
This foot is a little tricky, so I’ll slow the process down. Control-T to Free Transform the boot, scaling it down to fit along the right foot. Try your best to match the size of the left one.
While holding the Control key, grab the corners of the Free Transform box and tweak the perspective slightly.
Now Free Transform again, selecting Warp to mold the boot to the foot. Don’t worry about making it fit the leg completely, otherwise you may distort the stock too much.
Because the right leg is still showing, we’ll need to mask it out. So select the Layer Mask for the right foot and paint black to hide the rest of the leg.
Just like before, continue to mask any parts of the boot you don’t want. And feel free to clean up the edges by painting on a New Layer with the Brush Tool (B).
4. How to Create the Forest Ground
Now that we have the most difficult steps out the way, we can concentrate on the forest ground. Delete the white background layer. Copy and Paste the Grass Reference onto a New Layer beneath the boots. Adjust the Scale and Perspective to make it appear much larger with the Free Transform Tool (Control-T).
Create a New Adjustment Layer of Hue and Saturation, and Right-Click to set it as a Clipping Mask to the grass layer. Desaturate the grass to match the feet with the following settings:
- Hue: 0
- Saturation: -67
- Lightness: -12
Merge the layers for the boot and feet together. Control-J to Duplicate the layer, positioning it slightly underneath the first layer.
Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation. Bring down the Lightness to 0 to turn the duplicate black.
Then Blur the shadow by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and adding a Radius of 48.4 pixels. Keep the shadow around 54% Opacity when you’re finished.
Let’s make the grass look a little more realistic. Add a Layer Mask to the boot layer. Paint black onto the Layer Mask with a Hard Round Brush to reveal the grass underneath the feet.
Now Copy and Paste the Ground Reference onto the canvas to add some shrubbery to the scene.
Control-J to Duplicate it, and Flip the copy by going to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. Position the second stock behind the right foot.
Add a Layer Mask to each layer of shrubbery. Paint black onto the white Layer Mask with a Soft Round Brush to hide any harsh lines. Try to blend the shrubbery with the grass as much as possible.
The shrubbery is a little too bright for the scene. So set a New Adjustment Layer of Hue and Saturation as a Clipping Mask to both layers. Adjust the Lightness to -16.
Before we move on to the final details, let’s change the color of the boot collar. First, create a selection on the collar using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L). Then go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue and Saturation to create a Layer Mask of just the collar.
Change the color from orange to purplish-blue by adjusting the Hue to -108.
Repeat the process with the left foot.
5. How to Create Realistic Lighting and Details
Now that we have the boot and ground floor ready, we can move on to the finishing details to really make this pop! Start by adding a New Adjustment Layer of Curves as a Clipping Mask to the boot layer. Adjust the Curves for the RGB and Blue channels slightly.
Extract one of the ladybugs from the Ladybug Reference and Paste it onto the canvas. Make it overlap one of the feet for a quirky effect.
Now we need to work on the lighting and overall color scheme. Add a New Layer set to Multiply with an Opacity of 55%. Use a dark green color to Paint shadow on the left side to knock out some of the bright greens coming through with a large Soft Round Brush.
Increase the Brush Hardness to 100%. Now paint more shadow all around the boots. Ground them to the forest floor by painting shadow underneath them, and add extra shadow to the laces and boot tongue for more dimension.
Here is a before and after animation of this process. Notice how grounded the boots look now that the shadows have been applied.
Let’s change the colors next. To create an overall tint of green, add a New Adjustment Layer of Color Lookup with the following settings:
- 3DLUT File: TensionGreen.3DL
Follow up with another New Adjustment Layer of Brightness and Contrast with the following settings:
Always try to leave highlights for towards the end, when you have a better understanding of the lighting scheme. Now add a New Layer set to Overlay. Paint white onto the right side of the scene with a large Soft Round Brush.
Continue to add more highlights to the boot and ground. Here I added them to the boot tongue and lower left region.
Boots are known for having a shiny, leathery texture. Add some sheen to the boots by painting more highlights onto the foot, toes, and boot details. Make those hooks sparkle! Take note of the subtle difference with this animation below.
6. How to Sharpen and Add Dirt
Time for the last details! Boots in the forest won’t look this clean. So add dirt by creating a New Layer and using the Chalk Brush to paint dark brown dirt all over the boots.
Next, select the Crop Tool (C) to Crop the composition and make it slightly smaller. This will help draw the eye to the center while reinforcing the perspective.
For crisp, clear details, we’ll sharpen this photo manipulation with a High Pass Filter. First, select all your layers and Merge them together. Control-J to create a Duplicate of your merge.
Go to Filter > Other > High Pass, adding a Radius of 3.4 pixels. Set the Layer Blend Mode to Soft Light when you’re through.
Continue to play with Adjustment Layers to tweak the colors and lighting. To finish things up, I’ll be using this last Color Lookup Adjustment Layer with the following settings:
- 3DLUT File: Fuji F125 Kodak 2395
And that’s it! Check out the final result below!
All Done! Let’s Go Hiking!
Finding photo references that can blend easily together are a huge part of great photo manipulation. And with a little patience, basic Photoshop tools, and a creative eye, you too can manipulate stocks with finesse and ease.
I really hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments below.