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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation

How to Create Realistic Feet-Inspired Hiking Boots in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

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.

Want to add that natural earthy look to all your photos? Browse the incredible selection of Natural Photoshop Actions on GraphicRiver to retouch your work. Or enlist the help of a design professional from Envato Studio for all your photo manipulation needs. 

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used in the production of this tutorial:

1. How to Extract the Feet

Step 1

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.

Original Foot on Scale Photo via PhotoDune
Foot reference via PhotoDune.

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. 

Delete the White Background

Step 2

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.

Separate the Feet Layers

2. How to Sketch Guidelines for the Boots

Step 1

Use the Move Tool (V) to position the feet lower onto the canvas.

Position the Feet Lower

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.

Experiment with Different Foot Positions

Step 2

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.

Draw Circle on the Feet

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.

Mask the Leg Away

Step 3

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.

Make the Feet Wider with Free Transform

Step 4

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.

Draw the Boot Outline

3. How to Manipulate the Boot Reference

Step 1

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.

Delete the Boot Background
Hiking boots stock via PhotoDune.

Step 2

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.

Manipulate the Left Boot

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.

Mask the Left Boot

Step 3

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.

Copy and Paste the Boot Reference

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.

Scale the Boot Smaller

While holding the Control key, grab the corners of the Free Transform box and tweak the perspective slightly.

Tweak the Boots Perspective

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.

Warp the Right Boot

Step 4

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).

Completed Boot Feet Manipulation

4. How to Create the Forest Ground

Step 1

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).

Add the Grass

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
Desaturate the Grass with Hue and Saturation

Step 2

Merge the layers for the boot and feet together. Control-J to Duplicate the layer, positioning it slightly underneath the first layer.

Duplicate the Boot Feet

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.

Blur the Boot Shadow

Step 3

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.

Reveal the Grass Underneath

Step 4

Now Copy and Paste the Ground Reference onto the canvas to add some shrubbery to the scene.

Add the Shrubbery

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 the Second Stock

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.

Mask the Shrubbery Stock

Step 5

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.

Desaturate the Shrubbery

Step 6

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.

Change the Boot Collar Color

Repeat the process with the left foot.

Change the Left Boot Collar

5. How to Create Realistic Lighting and Details

Step 1

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.

Add a Curves Adjustment Layer

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.

Add a Ladybug

Step 2

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. 

Add Shadows to the Scene with Multiply

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.

Paint More Shadow onto the Boot

Here is a before and after animation of this process. Notice how grounded the boots look now that the shadows have been applied.

Shadow Animation GIF

Step 3

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
Add a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer

Follow up with another New Adjustment Layer of Brightness and Contrast with the following settings:

  • Brightness:-27
  • Contrast:15
Add an Adjustment Layer of Brightness and Contrast

Step 4

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.

Add Highlights with Overlay

Continue to add more highlights to the boot and ground. Here I added them to the boot tongue and lower left region.

Add Highlights to the Boot

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.

Highlight Animation GIF
Bright white highlights, before and after.

6. How to Sharpen and Add Dirt

Step 1

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.

Paint dirt onto the Boots

Step 2

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.

Crop the Composition with the Crop Tool

Step 3

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. 

Sharpen Your Photo Manipulation with High Pass

Step 4

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
Add a Final Color Lookup Adjustment Layer

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.

Browse the amazing selection of Natural Photoshop Actions on GraphicRiver to apply natural, forest floor colors to any photo manipulation instantly.

I really hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments below.

Boot Feet Photo Manipulation Photoshop Tutorial
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