(footwear) designers: to render or not to render...

3 part question:

  1. render?

  2. why or why not? (is is necessary?)

  3. illustrator and/or photoshop? why?

you see the questions…got answers?

the answer is more questions,

when?

who is it for?

why?

Rendering, like any other kind of drawing is normally just a tool for communication. It may help present a concept to sales, marketing or other designers/fty. In day to day work, I almost never render by illustrator/PS or other time intensive means. Becuase of very tight timelines and resources, there just isnt time! Plus, in my position and and my company, I dont need to make such formal proposals to sales/marketing/others. Usually just a illustrator drawing or quick sketch (plus a good sales pitch/explanantion) from me) will do…

Different companies and workflows though are likely different. I would imagine that in a larger company with more heirarchy and steps in the product creation process that a rendering might be need to get sign off from others in the team.

Ultimately it depends if its needed or not. Nobody will pay you just to sit around and render all day if there is no need or nobody will see.

As for technique, again its likely a personal choice more than 1 right answer. What ever works to get the idea across in the least amount of time I would say would be best. Could be illustrator/PS/markers/pencils…again, keep in mind that rendering is just a form of communication, so pick the most efficient tool and keep in mind who will be “reading” it. Diferent audience might respons differently to different approaches, and it also depends on how much time you have to put it!

R

I tend to do everything in Illustrator, unless the client asks for it not to be.

Some clients just want large packs of hand sketches, they want a quantity of ideas without it looking fancy.

If clients are pitching for a license, for instance, then they might require something a bit more detailed and smarter looking.

I think rendering is necessary when clarity is important - specification sheets for instance. But I’m not talking fancy presentation work, spending hours on one colourway, more like clear, precise full colour instructions for making the shoe, in order to avoid confusion and f*ck ups :laughing: I find in Europe, in the fashion trade, it’s still mostly hand drawing, but if you are going to be working in China, then the quality of your spec work and a good understanding of photoshop and illustrator is much more important.

I’m noticing a lot of Eurpoean fashion footwear designers get left behind a bit as thier skills are not up to working in China,one of my consultancy roles at the moment; is to haul a design team (from a factory in Europe) into the 21st century, it is great that their CEO recognises that they must embrace new technology.

On my to-do list is to learn better rendering. Also to learn 3D as I had an enquiry about it (from a fashion company!) recently.

license?

full color instructions? have a pertinent example you can share? much is made of the “miscommunication” that can occur, is it really that bad? have they not seen just about every type of (shoe) design drawing? is it because of the tendency to show things flatly in illustrator without dimensioning? or is it just lost in translation?

License - a lot of my clients work in licensing, for instance they migfht be tendering for a new brand license - it could be a cartoon character, a celebrity or a clothing brand to be made into a footwear brand.

Full colour instructions - the spec sheet should be in colour if possible, it helps the factory understand where to place the colours - in the bad old days of fax machines, sometimes a spec might be mistranslated and the colours might end up in the wrong places. Flat designs are not a problem IMO -but odd proportions are. You can help the pattern cutter by providing clear plan side views of lateral and medial side, plus a top and heel view. Proportions are very important, if you are not sure, cheat, there is nothing wrong with photographing a last or a shoe which is already the shape you want. then tracing it as a basis for your design work. 3d or 3/4 views can sometimes be confusing to the pattern cutter because in order to make the patterns, he has to flatten the shoe down to 2D side views anyway (called a Standard), so a side view , in exact proportion to the last you are going to use, will help him alot.

When my partner gets home, I’ll persuade him to upload a spec so you can see how it is done.

Dunno why, but cant link direct to a blogger hosted pic.

Anyhow, heres some examples of specs for design and colorways done clearly in illustrator, that might give an idea of a standard presentation to a factory for clear communication. sorry the pics are small.

http://pullover.blogspot.com/2006/11/hummel-old-school-ss07-part-2-design.html

http://pullover.blogspot.com/2007/01/hummel-old-school-ss07-part-5.html


I also use the trace-over-a-photo technique often. Im really picky for accurate proportions and indeed find its better to ensure a good first pullover

R

License - a lot of my clients work in licensing, for instance they migfht be tendering for a new brand license - it could be a cartoon character, a celebrity or a clothing brand to be made into a footwear brand.

Full colour instructions - the spec sheet should be in colour if possible, it helps the factory understand where to place the colours - in the bad old days of fax machines, sometimes a spec might be mistranslated and the colours might end up in the wrong places. Flat designs are not a problem IMO -but odd proportions are. You can help the pattern cutter by providing clear plan side views of lateral and medial side, plus a top and heel view. Proportions are very important, if you are not sure, cheat, there is nothing wrong with photographing a last or a shoe which is already the shape you want. then tracing it as a basis for your design work. 3d or 3/4 views can sometimes be confusing to the pattern cutter because in order to make the patterns, he has to flatten the shoe down to 2D side views anyway (called a Standard), so a side view , in > exact > proportion to the last you are going to use, will help him alot.

ahhh, ok i thought it was something like that. thanks for the prompt answers!

Dunno why, but cant link direct to a blogger hosted pic.

i think blogger does not allow hosted images to external sites…

i do not like using the trace-over-a-photo technique, only because it always appears to distort the shoe from a flat view. it is better when i use an actual last, but even still i think some distortion happens…

rkuchinsky,
from the linked images, do you guys use standard footbeds and stitching for example? are these standards company-specific or more global? for example, do you have to specify every dimension of fit or does the factory pretty much know what the dimensions-per-size are?

sockliner-
It depends. A sockliner may be made specific to a last, in which case we will open molds to fit accordingly, and then just specify the last/mold number in the specs. Or, it could be a die cut EVA sockliner in which case the fty will create the die to match the last bottom.

As for stitching, im not sure what standard you are speaking about? Stitches/inch? From my own experience, this is pretty much a global and/or fty standard. I have never had the need to specify stitches, but we do have standards for thread abrasion resistance and quality spec.

For other dimensions, it really depends what you are talking about. Most of the time, for a new pattern, I wont specify many dimensions, and leave it to the pattern maker, except for a few that I do find are hard to interpret from a drawing and I know I can accurately spec, such as width of throat or distance from toecap to bottom of throat. Otherwise, working with pretty good pattern makers, Ill just let them interpret a well proportioned drawing. The “fit” is ultimately up to the last dimension.

As for drawing over pic, I do agree that sometimes it turns out strange, and always do adjust never just straight trace, but find its a good start. A straight trace will always look too fat though and need slimming.

R

Well,under my own experience,rendering doesn’t have any improtance inside a company (in spain).
Is most important to be fast and constant.
And when i made any rendering it was as a freelance project,i never used Illustrator (i’m learning it now),just hand and PS.

It’s strictly about the best/fastest communication as rchinsky points out. When I was doing luggage, everything was rough hand sketches with dimensions and callouts. Then we did illustrator which changed the workflow a lot but was still quick. Also with supplemental hand sketches (thumbnail type, line quality/ellipse accuracy not being important).
But also be careful with some unconventional designs/shapes. You may not run into with shoes so much because feet stay the same but say for example when the one-shoulder sling bags first started coming out, we sent specs for a design in perspective view and they literally took it as a flattened front view and made the sample like that. So there were weird diagonal lines converging that should’ve been parallel horizontal lines, etc…pretty funny.
Inhouse, we never did fancy renderings (unnecessary) but required them from external firms we used (gotta make them earn their pay). Generally they’re a selling tool, so whether you need to do them depends on who you’re talking to.

Speaking of drawing something new… does anyone have an opinion on the Boa dial being on shoes now instead of just snowboarding stuff??? I mean come on- $130 running shoes?