Get a free year on Tuts+ this month when you purchase a Siteground hosting plan from $3.95/mo
In this quick tip tutorial we will explain how to create realistic shoelaces from scratch in Photoshop. Let's get started!
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.
Start by creating a new document in Photoshop; I used 1100x600px, 300dpi, RGB (8bit). You can use any proportions you like but keep in mind that'll you have to tweak the layer style parameters later on.
Draw some guides like the ones in the image below; I find them helpful, but it's up to you. Create a new layer and using the Pen Tool (P) and create the blue shape (#34526d); it's easy. Duplicate the layer (right click on the layer > Duplicate layer), select Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical and place it on the other edge of your canvas.
Create a new layer and place it under your previously created blue shapes. Pick a color you like; I used #534741 and paint the whole surface. Next go to the Layer Style window (double click on the layer) and set the parameters you see above.
Note: To set the pattern open the cloth pattern file as a new document. Select all, then go to edit > define pattern. It will now appear in your pattern list in the Layer Style Box.
Duplicate the "blue shape" layers and using the Hue/Saturation panel (Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or simply Ctrl/Command + U) set the lightness to -100 making them black. Next go Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and choose 5-8 px (whatever works good for you) and simply place them under your "parent" blue shapes so that it creates the feeling of a shadow. After that right click on the layer created in Step 3 and choose Copy Layer Style and simply apply the style on your original "blue shape" layers (right click on each layer > Paste Layer Style).
The next step is to duplicate your blue shapes once again and change their color (optional) by using the Hue/Saturation panel again. I chose to make it orange but you can pick any color you like. Next, move each layer diagonally in the opposite direction of your "blue shapes"; for the bottom blue shape you have to move your new orange shape a bit up and right, and for the upper blue shape down and right. Then select your blue shapes by pressing Ctrl/Command-click on the layer's thumbnail in the layers list, and delete those parts in your new orange shapes. The idea is to create a stroke effect. After that apply the effects as shown below (remember to change the shadow's angle; if you use eg. 120 degrees for the upper layer, you have to change it to -120 for the lower one).
Note: The pattern used is Canvas; don't mind the gap created on the left side, just crop the image so that it fits perfectly.
Now we're going to create the let's say "laces' holes" (sorry I don't know how you call these). Create a new layer (you can group the previous layers by selecting them in the Layers Panel and pressing Ctrl + G) and using the Ellipse Tool (U) create a perfect circle (remember to hold Shift). Turn down Fill to 0% and apply the following styles. Note: The color I used for the circle's stroke is #e1e1e1.
Duplicate the layer as many times as you want and place the holes anywhere you want.
Go back to your original "blue shape" layers and press on the Add layer Mask icon on the bottom of the Layers Panel. Now we're going to select all the holes; hold Ctrl and click on the thumbnail of your first "hole" (should be a grey square). Repeat it for all the holes but REMEMBER: for any additional hole you want to select you MUST hold Shift + Ctrl and then click. Now go back to your blue shape layers and click on the blank thumbnail (Mask's thumbnail) and simply paint black the previously selected circles.
The next step is to create the "stitches" to make our shoe look realistic. You'll have to download a "Stitches Brushes" pack. Once you have installed the brushes, create a new layer and use the Pen Tool (P) to make guides similar to those used when creating the "blue shape" in the beginning (see pic 10 1). Create them only on one part of the shoe, eg. the upper "blue shape", as you can always duplicate and invert it which will save you a lot of time. Select the Brush Tool (B), find the desired stitches brush and tweak its size (you can always use the Window > Brush panel to adjust further your brushes). Now select the Pen Tool (P) once again and press right click on the created line, choose Stroke Path from the list and uncheck the Simulate Pressure box. To make it look a bit better, apply these styles.
Next stop: the laces. Create a new layer, select the Hard Round brush from the Brush Presets panel and set the size to 40px. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and draw a simple line using as anchor points the centers of two holes. Note that I've moved the lower holes a bit backwards. Then, right click and choose Stroke Path; remind to keep the Simulate Pressure box unchecked. Duplicate the layer as many times as you need. After doing that apply the following styles on a laces layer and then simply Copy the Layer Style and Paste it on the rest layers. Note: The pattern used is called Burlap.
Now comes the tricky part. You have to make the laces look like they're tied. For this you have to add a mask. Keep the hard round brush but downsize it to 6-10px and start "erasing" the unwanted parts. If you have a tablet, you won't have any problems achieving the effect. Use the image below as a guideline. Apply the same technique to all the laces layers or duplicate the original and delete the ones created in Step 9.
Create more laces and place them diagonally (as shown in the final image).
Remember to place those layers right above your first layer (the one created in Step 3) and use the Mask to "cover" some unwanted parts.
In the last step we're going to create the rubber thing on the right edge. So, create a new layer, and using the Pen Tool (P) or the Ellipse Tool (U) draw a wide oval shape on the right edge of your canvas. Paint it white and apply the following styles.
That's it! Your shoe is ready. You can now group all the layers and flatten the image.
Now we move to the post-production. Place the Texture 5559 by dianascreation and Desaturate it (Shift + Ctrl/Command + U). Choose the Color Burn in the Blend Mode list and let the Opacity at 100%. Create a new layer and paint it using the Bucket with #f4d28f. Choose Overlay and reduce Opacity to 50%.
On a new layer place the crazykira03 texture by crazykira and se the Blend Mode to Divide and the Opacity to 70%. Create a new layer and paint the canvas with #343434. Set the Blend Mode to Hue and the Opacity to 20%.
Finally place the 02 texture by buzillo-stock on a new layer and duplicate it. Desaturate the first copy and set the Blend Mode to Multiply and Opacity to 80%. For the second copy use Multiply at 70%.