How to Draw Horse Hooves on Photoshop
 By T W I   •   4th Oct 2012   •   8,485 views   •   0 comments
Software: Photoshop Elements | Skill level: Intermediate

How to Draw Hooves on Photoshop

We’ve all encountered that perfect stock image, a sleek, well positioned horse that will fit nicely in the background we’ve picked out for our manip - except for one little detail. Dirty, gross-looking hooves. What now? Do we just abandon our stock horse in search of another with more manageable hooves? Unfortunately, most of our equine friends have an irresistible attraction to mud and dirt, and their hooves are inevitably the first things that encounter the muck. So now what? It’s time to redraw those hooves!

It’s helpful to find a horse with visible hooves, that aren’t hidden behind grass, or any brush on the ground, so that we can have a basic idea of how to shape the hooves.

How to Draw Hooves on Photoshop

Here, we have a stock image with well-defined hooves, which we should have no problem painting over. Don’t bother to erase the original hooves, but make a new layer over the horse layer. Take the eyedropper tool, and pick a color from the hooves, or choose your own color. With a fuzzy brush, roughly paint over each hoof.

Select the entire image (keyboard shortcut, CTRL +A). Now, select the move tool. We’re not actually going to be moving the horse, but by taping the actual image of the horse with the move tool, we can confine the selection to the horse’s outline, as shown below.

How to Draw Hooves on Photoshop

On the layer box, click on the layer above the horse layer, the one containing the blob of base color that will become the hooves. Change the tool to the marquee tool. Right click, and an option box should come up. From that option box, choose ‘select inverse’. Press CTRL + X, which will remove all of the extra hoof base color, leaving four hoof-shaped spots of color. If you don’t like the way the original hooves were shaped, now is the time to make corrections by either adding to or erasing the base color.

Now it’s time to start the basic shading! Shading hooves is surprisingly easy. All you have to do is pick a light source on one side of the image, then correspondingly shade the hooves. If my lighting was coming from above and to the left, then the left sides of the hooves will be highlighted, and the right sides will be shaded. I also like to lightly shade the bottoms of the hooves as well.

Make a new layer, and choose a color darker than your base color. With a fuzzy brush on opacity 25%, start shading one side of the hoof.

Repeat the procedure, this time highlighting the other side of the hoof. Don’t worry if your shading goes over the edges of the hooves, in fact I encourage you to use a big enough brush that it will!
For an idea for what the hoof shading should look like, refer to the image below.

Select the whole image, then select the base color of the hooves. Select inverse and press CTRL + X, on the hoof shading layer. More specific instructions can be found above, when I described how to shape the base color of the hooves.

How to Draw Hooves on Photoshop

Now the hooves finally have dimension, but not much realism. While my style of hoof-drawing will not produce completely realistic-looking results, however we will be trying for a more realistic appearance than we have right now.

From now on, we will be relying on the dodge and burn tools, which are a bit easier to use than the brush tool, I’ve found. Select the burn tool and set the range to ‘midtones’ and the exposure to 20%. Now, draw the burn tool horizontally across the hooves to create dark streaks across them. Though the streaks should be across the whole hoof, they should be concentrated in the area in shadow.

Repeat the procedure with the dodge tool, concentrating the streaks on the area that is highlighted, though some of them should stretch across the whole hoof. The settings (range and exposure) should be identical to the burn tool’s.

After you have added the streaks, the basic shading might have been compromised by the streaking. Using the burn and dodge tools, reinforce the shading, using the dodge tool for the highlighted area and the burn tool for the area in shadow.

If you want your hooves to look extra-shiny, put a large vertical stripe through the highlighted side, using the dodge tool. I experimented using different ranges, using both ‘midtones’ and ‘highlights’. This will create a beautiful shine!

If you are unsure of what the striping and/or the shine should look like, please refer to the before/after image above.

Now it’s time to sharpen, which will give the hooves a more realistic appearance. Different versions of Photoshop have different ways of accessing the sharpen filter, however mine is located in the top drop-down box, ‘enhance’. Click on it, and then select ‘adjust sharpness’, found at the bottom of the box.
The settinging I used to sharpen can be found below.

How to Draw Hooves on Photoshop

And if the hooves need to be cleaned up at all, be sure to do whatever is needed to ensure that they look nice! I cleaned up the shape of mine up a little bit, using the eraser tool.

If you feel like the hooves look a little too fake for your taste, I’ve discovered a trick to give them more of a realistic appearance. Simply merge all the drawn hoof layers together, and then lower the opacity to 94%, so that a little bit of the original hoof can be seen through the painted hooves.
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