Creating a brush with a hand and foot print in Photoshop

Foot and hand prints are an interesting way to add a human element to a digital picture. They are easily recognizable, but at the same time, each of them is absolutely unique. Handprints are canonical, are individual and often symbolize power. Footprints, as a rule, should be considered as elements representing a direction or movement. Having such brushes in a set, you can open new opportunities for your digital works.

Making these prints is not difficult and can deliver a lot of fun, although you have to tinker! In this short lesson I will share my technique of making and creating interesting and useful prints.

1. Create a handprint

At first glance, it may seem rather simple to get a good quality handprint without any stains, however, it may be more difficult than expected. Not every material or surface holds the print well enough to translate it into a digital form. But as soon as the right combination is selected, the process becomes simple and fascinating.

Step one

The materials recommended for this practical lesson are easy to find in any art salon or workshop:
Water soluble ink of any color
Cliche on linoleum
Colorful roller
Thick cardboard

I found all these materials in the local art workshop, which were included in the ‘Set for Creating a Picture by the Print’.

The most basic raw materials: hands and feet! You can use your arms and legs, but it will be much easier to use an assistant. My eight year old daughter was happy to help me!

Step 2

Squeeze out some ink on the linoleum cliché.

Roller distribute ink along the cliché. The idea is to coat the roller with ink, and not the cliché itself.

Step 3

Carefully paint over the arm with a roller. Press the roller tightly to apply ink to all grooves and cracks and do not press hard on the edges of the palm.

Step four

Hold your hand tightly to the cardboard. Make sure the fingertips touch the surface of the cardboard.

Step 5

When you raise your hand, a piece of cardboard will stick to it. Gently remove the cardboard from the hand to see the result.

To get the most complete handprint, for this, before tearing off a sheet of cardboard from the hand, press with the other hand from the back of the cardboard to make sure that the cardboard comes into contact with the notches on the arm, i.e. in the palm of your hand, and where the fingers connect.

Repeat the whole process, getting different prints of the handprint under different pressure and different finger positions.

2. Create a footprint

A footprint is created in much the same way. The only thing is the difficulty to get to the bath to wash off the ink, while not slapping the floor! I decided that the foot of an eight year old girl would easily solve this problem.

Step one

Apply ink to the foot in the same way as on the arm. Try not to tickle your assistant – he will not appreciate it!

Step 2

Step on a piece of cardboard — try not to fidget, because it smears ink.

Step 3

Remove the cardboard sheet from the foot and evaluate the print. Our legs do not have the same contact sensitivity as our hands, so you may have to make several attempts to get a good print on paper.

3. Let’s be creative

Now that you have at least some experience with ink, roller and cardboard, look around to find objects that could be used to create interesting prints.

Step one

I decided that a shoe imprint could be a better alternative for a bare foot imprint. But I do not want to spoil the sole of a good shoe with ink, so I chose shoes that are easy to wash – this is a winter boot!

Step 2

Apply the same process of applying ink on the sole of the boot and applying an imprint on a piece of cardboard.

Step 3

Evaluate the print, repeat the process if necessary.

4. We digitize prints

Having created several prints, it is time to clean the objects from the ink (now you see why it is so important to use water soluble ink?) And spend some time with a scanner to turn our prints into Photoshop brushes.

Step one

Scan each print using high resolution scanning. I recommend that you set a resolution of at least 600 dots per inch / dpi to get a brush with good resolution. If your scanner has a setting for black and white images, then use this setting instead of the settings for color images.

Step 2

Open the scanned image in Photoshop. Increase the contrast of the image, for this we go Image – Correction – Levels (Image> Adjustments> Levels). Start moving the extreme slider inwards until the print is completely black relative to the white background.

Step 3

Next, select a large soft white brush. Paint around the handprint so that everything is 100% white.

Step four

Carefully look at the scanned print and if there are any extra lines, scratches, ink drops, splashes or smeared areas, paint them with a white brush to get a perfect print.

Step five

Next, with the tool Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee Tool), create a rectangular selection around the handprints. Next, go Editing – Define a brush (Edit> Define Brush Preset). Give the brush a recognizable name and press the ‘OK’ button. Photoshop will now add the created brushes to your standard set of brushes.

5. You can use My Brushes.

Although I recommend you perform this lesson and create your own brushes, I understand that not everyone has the time or opportunity to do so. Therefore, you can use my brushes in their works!

Step one

Download the Brush Hand and Foot Prints link at the beginning of this tutorial. Next, go Editing – Manage Sets (Edit> Presets> Preset Manager), in the drop-down box Type of set (Preset Type), select the option Brushes (Brushes). Next, click Download (Load) and in the window that appears, select the installation file HandFootBrushes.abr.

So you add 9 brushes to your standard brush set.

Thank you for being with me. Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Author: Kirk Nelson

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