First Footwear Project

Hey Core!

I’m going to take a stab at designing a shoe for my digital drawing class.
The class is all about the sketches/renderings but,
I’d like to have a solid design concept to submit in an Adidas design contest.

I took a peak at this Core 77 Article:
How to Win a Design Competition - Core77
“the best way to win a design competition is to be totally obscure and produce something of shocking originality and beauty.”

With that in mind I wanted to come up with something different than just another sneaker with 3 stripes on it.
I recently came across a Ransom x Adidas shoe and I’ve been inspired to create something within those brands

To me,
Some of the most interesting design concepts are the ones where
a designer has a very unique, almost random source of inspiration.
It’s interesting for me to watch and see how the designer begins to incorporate that inspiration into the final design.

One of the examples Adidas gave showed a shoe inspired by a hand grenade.
Some of the colors and geometric patterns were subtly worked into the final design.

With this project I wanted to find a unique source of inspiration to draw from.
For some reason, the Ransom brand reminded me of Pirates .
And when I think of Pirates, images of Sand and Sea are the first that come to mind.

Relating that to footwear, A desert boot and a boat shoe both remind me of those two environments
So I thought it might be interesting to see if the two could be combined in a unique way.

This is my first lifestyle product so I’m not sure how to handle some of the details,
but this is how I plan to start.

Imagery looks good so far. Looking froward to seeing this develop.

maybe I am missing something, but why did you spell Adidas with two "dd"s in your mood images?

Getting chinese knock -off vibe from miss-spellings. Even when they are intentional plays on words.

Let’s see some sketches. Plans are nice, but design is more interesting. I’m assuming you are looking at a similar market as the current Ransom x Adi shoes?

The concept doesn’t feel that different to me. There are already tons of boat shoe (trend from 4 years ago) and desert boots (trend from 2 years ago) inspired products.

If you are going for “the best way to win a design competition is to be totally obscure and produce something of shocking originality and beauty.” I think you are off to a weak start. Not that you can’t get a nice shoe out of it, and if the class is just about sketching, it’s OK, but a bit boring.

Like the hand grenade example, try going outside footwear as inspiration (starting with another kind of shoe already makes it very hard to go too far) and you might have something more original.



Bepster - Whoops! Thanks for catching that. Edited and uploaded correct spelling

Rkuchinsky - Thanks, that’s some good advice. After looking around I’ve been seeing so many boat shoes that are all very very similar. I was originally thinking of just sketching a very simple shoe but after deciding to enter the contest I think I really need to do something less boring and more original.

I’ll upload some of my first sketches. I felt a bit “stuck in a rut” with them.
“(starting with another kind of shoe already makes it very hard to go too far)”
I am definitely realizing that now.

Hopefully I won’t have to go in a completely different direction as I only have 2 weeks to finish.
But I think I need to stop looking at existing shoes.

If you’ve never done shoes before it’s not that bad to look at existing shoes - better to get something less original, but possible to be made and commercial, than something so out there not in touch with reality or what anyone would want…

…but of course a good design is a little bit of new and old. I always use the 3 and 3 rule (I made up). 3 things the “same” and 3 things “new”. Keeps designs relevant and yet still pushes some innovations. For example if a new running shoe, could be-


  1. common toecap pattern
  2. regular lacing
  3. traditional colorway


  1. Unique use of upper material
  2. Innovative midsole tech
  3. Unique quarter panel pattern

Too much “new” and it’s not identifiable, too much “same” and it’s boring.


Thanks for sharing your 3+3 Rule that’s really very helpful!

Here are some of the sketches I’ve started on.
This is the one I put up in Sketch Fu, trying to get familiar with the proportions of a shoe.

And with these my thought was to look at pirate ships for inspiration.
I tried to highlight what parts of the ship I was looking at, though I wouldn’t necessarily put those colors there.
Only the more simple lines seemed to make sense on a shoe.

At first, my plan was to continue in this kind of direction
and then find some unique details to make the design original.
That would work out great for my drawing class but I wonder if I’d have something original enough for the competition.

Sketches and proportion are great. Solid start for your first footwear project. I’d like to see more push on design, construction and branding. What make these any different than shoes already on the market? What makes them Adidas? Ransom? What are the details?..

Another rule I follow/created is the 10/2/1 rule. What do you see at 10’ from the across the room? What new do you see at 2’ in front of the shoe shelf? What do you see at 1’ when you pick it up or trying it on?..


this is great advice, couldnt agree more.

also, for lifestyle/casual footwear, remember what makes it just that, and not athletic; materials (often leather and not man made though many exveptions), color (often accents of color on more traditional palette vs all over bright colors). at the same time what helps define this is the brand and the consumer, have a direction there first before sketching.

also casual shoes usually come in a collection sharing the outsole tooling, not just a 1 off pattern, the boot or boat shoe may be your ‘hero’ pattern but how can you create a 3 pattern collection that covers of the various wearing needs for your target audience.

sketching looks good from a technique standpoint. like to see where you take it.

Definitely good advice. I remember designing a new truing shoe when I was in Jordan and my director at the time giving me a similar piece of advice. He said that the shoe was an amazing piece of design, but I should as at least one major element that told people it was a shoe and not a design object… and he was right.

Thanks for sharing all the great advice guys!

I realize there’s still so much for me to learn about footwear. I wish they taught more about footwear or lifestyle products at my school. But I’m glad I trying to learn about it now and thanks again for helping me out.

I’ve been offered some contract work that I’m really excited about. But the catch is I got to start it right now In the middle of all of my final projects. So because of that I need to finish this project ASAP, I think It’ll have to be done by tomorrow or so.

Unfortunately, In order for me to do well in my class,
I think this is going to have to become more about the sketching and rendering than about the design.
But hopefully when the final is over I’ll have some time to work on a new, well-thought out design for the Adidas competition
(It turns out they are just looking for 1 or 2 pencil sketches and not a full blown presentation)

Here’s some progress on the work for my drawing class

Practicing rendering fabrics

A idea for a color palette

One of two boards for the class, The other board will be a rendered-out hero shot

Rob, love those refer trials!

Awesome rendering practice, love the subtlety of the canvas texture on the dark gray one. Looking forward to seeing the final design.

Just got back from the Academy of Art final show and saw your presentation board, awesome job, final render turned out really nice!