render me a critique, crit my rendering...

i posted this image a while ago, but never really had a chance to fully put it through the rigors of photoshop until this holiday weekend. anyway, here’s a few of the sketches and the final product. i did it less as a design exploration, thus there are no technical or material references and explanations, and as more of a brush up and refinement of my PS skills. i took previous tutorials from our generous mods into extreme consideration when doing this but as with anything else, i could always get better.

p.s. yes, i am guilty of using the lens-flare filter. i couldn’t help it!


I like the sketches more then the render. Even colored sketch look better then the render.

Both your sketches and render are pretty good.

Like chungda, i also like your sketches more than the render (but almost always find the case that hand sketches have more personality than PS renders).

first off, would be good to know where you are at to better give comments…age? experience? background?

not sure if its part of your layout, but your sketches could use some more contrast when scanned or cleaned up in PS. would help them pop a bit.

as per usual around here (probably the most frequent comment), watch your proportions on the sketches. the collar opening looks a bit small, and you have quite a bit of slant on the rear heel. toebox and vamp look pretty good. toespring is a bit much on some of the sketches and starts too far towards the arch. also could use a bit of heel spring.

what is the concept story for your design, or is this just a sketch/render exercise? the design itself is not bad, but looks a bit familiar, and find that some of the angled lines finish a bit odd, with strange corners and lines…

overall, nice to see a good exploration of forms and lines. keep up the good work.


thank you for the constructive criticism mr. kuchinsky.

as for my background, i’m 26 with a degree in industrial design. like some post grads, i’m currently stuck in that awkward limbo where i would like a career in design but in order to get the job, i need experience…but in order to get the experience i need the job. oh the dilemma! i’m thinking my best bet to get a foot in the door is to work on improving my portfolio and so that’s currently what i’m doing. i’m revising and reworking what i have and making those tweaks until i am happy and confident in what i present.

as for my sketches, i interned shortly for a company and the best part about it was getting to see how they worked and how they conceptualized. the one thing they commented on about my sketching was that it was like “chicken scratch”. it wasn’t meant as an insult, they just meant that i used too many short lines in my process, whereas they would mentally draw the line and take a few practice strokes without the pen touching the paper. then, in one swoop, draw the line precisely where they wanted it. i think i see the same thing in everyone else’s “sketches” too. they are super-tight, as opposed to mine, which are too loose. what do you think? is that something that i need to improve on, or are sketches just that, “sketches”?

as for the design itself, it was meant entirely as just an excercise in form and the process. just like belker mentions in one of his gnomon dvd’s, there’s going to come a time when, after the actual ideation, the rest of the process is going to become almost mechanical. what i’m trying to do is get to that point where after i come up with a sketch that i’m happy with, i can scan it in and then just do steps 1 through whatever and get the same result every time.

once again, thank you for your comments and suggestions and i will most definitely use them in my next design.

Stylerizal: I feel you man, i am in exactly the same boat, you need experience to get experience. there seems to be no work for those of us with just one year of experience, and being out of school makes us ineligible for internships. These shoe sketches are pretty decent but i prefer some of the sketches you have posted under the sketching section. keep up the work and goodluck man.

i truly believe that talent and perseverence will take us where we want to be, crew. despite what the world says about it not being about what you know but about who you know, i’d like to believe that talent speaks volumes.

…but hook-ups don’t hurt. haha!

check it out, about 1/3 of the sketches are imo unreadable; i.e. i can not really tell whats going on? how big are these? thumbnails? it looks like they are relatively small…a couple things that might help with the whole “chicken scratch” affliction is drawing bigger(think 8.5x11[and faster]) & sketchin with a pen or marker/sharpie, it forces you to be more decisive because making short, deliberate strokes result in blotches. i do not really know how important it is, because that will vary from place to place, however you want your sketches to communicate your intent clearly. I also always wondered this too, the response that have gotten is the “quality” of the sketch can vary depending on the audience.

one of the things i wish i would have done while in school and after school was just apply, i thought i was neither good enough nor did i have the experience necessary; but you never know what someone may see in your work…you just have to give them the opportunity to make that happen!

on revising old work, i think you should be selective about reworking/tweaking your old work in lieu something totally new. so you do not put so much energy in redoing the old stuff, try to mix in something new so you do not get frustrated with the old stuff.

i also would say that as a young designer, you do not want to make your process too mechanical; it is always good to be open in that regard, so that you are able to learn new things and do not become too “locked in” a certain method.

you might want to consider using textures & adding a lil’ more details (like in the midsole/outsole) in the rendering. just to let you know, i am a huge proponent of the lens flare (i minored in lens flare-ology in school); though rule #65, 741 of lens flare use dictates, that you must make the lens flare as obvious as possible (it is also about 3/4 of the other 65, 740 rules!)

haha! i think i forgot to get that particular book. i thought i learned everything i needed to know about the topic with the book, “lens-flare, hot and in charge”. i was gravely mistaken.

you’re right, jungle, those are thumbnail pics. i fit about 12-16 of those on a single 8 1/2 x 11. i’ll try going larger. you’re right, it will make me more decisive with my lines and won’t cover up any flaws due to the miniscule proportions.

keeping in the theme of you being right, i like where you’re coming from in terms of putting myself out there. maybe my process appeals to someone. maybe not. i’ll never know until i hear from them (or not). as a graphic designer told me, “i like the no’s. they bring me one step closer to the yes. and one yes is all someone needs”.

once again, thank you for your help and advice. it may be commone sense to some but to hear it and be told it personally makes a huge difference.

thumbnail sketches are ok, as well as larger drawings as jnuglebrudda suggest. i actually have found with my jr. designers that sketches get more scratchy the larger they are since the lines are longer.

i’d suggest just keeping things loose and practice. really there is no secret, but keeping at it will help. also may want to try using an underlay to keep the proportions correct and give you one less thing to think about when you are doing the sketches.

below is some thumbnails i did a while ago similar in size. note how you can use less lines and even perhaps some phat marker to indicate shading. a good exercise you may want to try is keeping a timer or clock handy while you sketch so you spend a minimum of time going over lines and keep things loose. try 15s per sketch, then 30s, etc.

post some more and im sure you will quickly improve! you can also try sketching an existing shoe from a photo with different views or variations so again you arent thinking about the design and just concentrating on the lines and fluidity of the sketch.



Those sketches aren’t that bad. I was the absolute king of scratchy, probably came from my comic book days drawing wild haired heroes in action scenes. Once I started using illustrator was when I learned to appreciate smooth fluid lines and that actually helped my hand drawing.
Try tracing over a couple of these sketches but you have a rule: The pencil can’t leave the paper unless you’re doing a hard, abrupt, change in direction. That will help you find your line and give you practice being definite with your stroke.
You might want to also try just tracing over a couple of those with a vector program (illustrator) so it’ll force you to find that one smooth line that’s in your line bundles. You’ll get a new appreciation for lines and smooth flow by making sure you use the least amount of control points as possible.
Also when you’re tracing over these, practice with different paper and pens/pencils. I found that some combos I just can’t draw clean with and if I just switch paper, then I can get a clean stroke. I still can’t draw very will with sharpies because I’m very heavy handed so it sticks and squeaks. You’ll get different feels with sharpies, cintiqs, ballpoint pens, pencils, rollerball micro’s, etc…so find which one has the right resistance to allow you to make a smooth stroke.
Also (I know too many alsos), I tend to draw small. That helped get rid of the scratchies. Drawing big makes it too easy for me to miss my mark, then the multi-line thing starts happening. You’ll probably find it easier to make a precise single stroke and get your proportions right on a smaller scale (like shooting at a closer target). Once you get comfortable with that go bigger.
Good luck.

another good practice tip is to try phat permanent sharpie on newsprint. if you hesitate or go scratchy, you drawing will become a bleeding mess. keeps up the movement and fluidity of strokes.


thank you so much for all great ideas! coming from designers i see on this board post some killer work, it’s a real privelege to get pointers from you all. i’m always looking for a way to get better and this is definitely going to help me improve my technique. again, i really appreciate the time you guys are taking to type out suggestions and share some insight into how you guys work.

can’t wait to get started. i will post results soon.

i start to worry when anyone says i am right about anything…

do not get me wrong, thumbnailing in the ishh! coming from a compulsive doodle-er, i know all about the chicken scratch…drawing small is great for the initial flash on the idea, but it lets you fudge or be vague on the details. going big (pause?) gives you a change of perspective (maybe pun), it is going to force you to make a decision & coax you into going into a little more detail. and you can do the reverse as well, if you find that the details are bogging you down go back to thumbnailing to get the overall aesthetic. once you have done that, scan it, resize it up, & use it as an underlay, which might i add is a very good way to practice making those fast continuous smooth strokes…

going back to the quality of sketches thing, one of the belker dvds highlights this well. it is the one where he just sketches cars, i think. some, probably most of his sketches were quite clark kent-like in their averageness, before then i thought that someone on that level churned out da vinci level stuff every time their pens hit the paper, it made me more confident a less critical about about sketching in general…

haha! i think i forgot to get that particular book. i thought i learned everything i needed to know about the topic with the book, “lens-flare, hot and in charge”. i was gravely mistaken.

ahh yes…i know of the text you mention…it is blasphemy…no texts exists in existence on the lens flare, it is actually an ancient art passed down through spoken word. sure people will say it has its roots in photography, but it is hogwash my friend! when one harnesses the true power of the lens flare, the practitioner is granted immortality (needed if one is to master this art), wisdom, & a very cool sticker that says “i dig lens flares.” one man Seetharaman Narayanan, is responsible for the proliferation of the lens flare in modern society. it is said (unconfirmed though) that Seetharaman’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grand father’s uncle’s brother’s nephew on hid mother’s side was a disciple of the original 71 mystics of the lens flare and that an increasingly diluted version of the discipline was passed down across the generations, and was encoded into photoshop as a filter by Seetharaman Narayanan, even in its diluted form (which was last measured to be 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000039% of the potency of the true lens flare[ this number is wildly debated as it is common knowledge that the lens flare’s true power is immeasurable]) people are still mystified by its glowing embrace…

LMAO…Ade has been waiting to go off on that lens flare tangent!

Skinny- great advice.

Another thing I like to do is rough out sketchy thumbnails…or even larger sketches with a light colored pencil (light green, light blue…whatever you want) Then go over it later with a superfine sharpie once your eye has identified the lines you want in the tangled mess. The lighter pencil disappears behind the sharpie and even adds an interesting dimension to a finished work. Give it a shot :wink:


so after all the supremely awesome advice, i went home enthusiastic and raring to try out all the tips you guys graciously dished. problem was, i didn’t have a single shred of newspaper to draw on. i tore my whole house upside down trying to find some, but to no avail. then i remembered what was sitting outside on my porch! something just as thin and flimsy and way more abundant. and so here are some sketches i did with a fatty sharpie and a thin black pen. i’ve gone through about a sixth of this phonebook and think i’m going to make it my new sketchbook or sorts. it’s always humbling to see everyone’s work on this site, but at the same time, it’s what propels me to get better and better. thanks again for all the advice and for any comments that will point me in the right direction.

“and he dids’t maketh the product shine, likening it to a million heavenly bodies radiating and bathing it in white-hot star light”
-taken from the book of Kardacia, written by the
head priest of the house of the lens-flare.

Lose the phone book asap! You lines are definitely looking better, huge difference. Good work.

wow, what an improvement! good work! i actually kinda like the phonebook background, and can imagine what its like to sketch on something that you dont really care about given you have 500 more free pages to use… personally i always find my best sketches are on lose scrap bits of paper, when it doesnt “matter” and get a lot tighter and with worse results the better the paper is (cant deal with sketchbooks!).

keep it up!


MUCH BETTER. That had to be all caps. Those sketches are hot. Great linework and form explorations… I wish it was on blank paper though… get some of this my friend:

Really loving the linework, super expressive and communicative.

friggin’ sweet! the ones in this last batch that look the best are the ones where you started varying the line width(s), you could try a lil’ more more of that. also it might be good for you to switch back & forth between sketching small , medium, & large sized joints, with the goal of achieving a somewhat consistent quality no matter the size.