Shoe concepts

Learning about the footwear design process myself from snoopin around this place, just wondering how people are getting the basis for their concepts. is it common to trace a photograph of a pre-existing shoe and spin off from there continually using that stencil/template throughout the design process? maybe some of you are just seasoned pros and can layout perfect proportions as ideas come.

i’m thinking there has got to be a self made template at some point, because i’m seeing a designer doing several sketches of one shoe many different ways and they all tend to look uniform in size and proportion.

maybe that’s just the mystery of the footwear designer…

I usual sketch up a proportion I am looking for an use it as an underlay for all my concepts so they are the same size and proportion for that round of concepts.

thanks for the quarter back, it makes perfect sense…what kind of paper are you using to be able to see the underlay? is it just copy paper? and then i’m assuming some sort of marker paper for the hand renderings?

I use graphics 360 (marker paper) for sketching because I like the way prisma pencil glides on it, then I photocopy the sketch onto regular copy paper to render with markers because I like the way cheap bond absorbs the markers and makes it look matte (you don’t want your shoe to look all glossy, it should look soft like it is sewn together…) and use some white and black pastel (which grabs nicely on the bond…)

This is just for initial concept drawings, sometimes I scan the sketch and render it quickly in photoshop instead of using markers…

Good question, Rawbin.

I sometimes sketch a shoe shape and photocopy it a few times so I can focus on the design…similiar to what MD wrote.

a bit off topic but…

MD: How do you get you linework to look so neat…french curves? i seem to be able to only draw jagged lines. :neutral_face: And the bigger the drawing, the worst it gets. hmmm. any tips?

NO CURVES, I don’t like to use tools, just a straight edge for a ground plane…

I use prisma pencils on graphics 360 paper, I think this helps me make smooth lines. I also learned that old Jim Or way of sketching: Keep it light until it is right: sketch very lightly and then come back in with darker and darker lines as you go using both the tip and side of the pencil. I also overlay my ideas a lot, I’ll do 5-10 quick overlays within 5 minutes of an idea before I start investing time in it… I think this gives me a good feel for how I want the design to be, thinking it out on paper instead of in my head. Then when I throw down the final sketch, it feels more natural.

no curves? wow…hmmm. so i’m guessing those sketches are never to scale right? What if you wanted to marker render ( to scale) a shoe…how would u go about that?

Wayne- just curious, why would you need/want to draw them to scale? I suppose you could create a template in illustrator using the rulers and base your shape off of your last measurements…then print it out as an outline and design within that template with markers. Otherwise I just don’t see the point of trying to generate it by hand.


what do you mean by “to scale”? i can not remember when/where i heard this, but i believe a sketch that takes up the majority of an 11x8.5 page is approximately proper scale for a us men’s size 9…true? probably no need to go bigger than that?

I never sketch 1:1, I usually sketch about half scale… a size 9 is usually about 11-12 inches long.

When I do tech drawings I will overlay the sketch on top of a last to get the tooling right.

Ade: i was using “to scale” to means actual size. 1:1 A men’s size 9 won’t fit on 8.5 x 11

Tony: I was under the impression that final presentation renderings were typically done to scale. In the past, I requested autographs from 2 nike designers( I used to collect) and they both sent 11 x 17 renderings. Perhaps they were drawn smaller and blown up?..I never asked.

MD: you overlay the skectch on a 2-d last correct?

I’ve never seen anyone draw to scale either - perhaps only on kids sneakers and shoes?

After all, do you ever see car designers drawing to scale. Imagne the size of the portfolio. :laughing:

Anyway, to the OP, yes I cheat. If it’s an existing last I photograph it (top and side views) so I can get the proportions correct. The better your proportions are the easier a job the pattern cutter has, so you soon learn!

If I don’t have the last I find a shoe made on that last. If I have neither I adapt something. Then I do what Yo does - I have one template and trace over. Sometimes when I need loads of upper ideas and have no time, I sketch the outsole then scan it and print off loads of copies to save sketching the outsole again, so I can concentrate on the uppers.

The other thing to consider - even in one company every designer does things differently - there isn’t necessarily a standard practise. We are currently helping a company in the UK clear its’ enormous backlog of specification writing (400 style backlog!). They have six designers and every one of them does stuff in a different way!

you guys are rad, i’m glad everyone loves talking about design so much…something i don’t run into often.

so, if i wanted to do a spin off a nike dunk, for proportions sake, i should take pictures from all angles of one of mine, use those as underlays and begin to lightly trace it with pencil on marker paper (or my preference). once i’ve got my basic outline then i suppose i begin to re-work lines, patterns, straps, etc? do as many of those as i need to until i’m satisfied, then make photo copies, and go to to town with some markers…i’m learning.

i also suppose i should post progress a long the way… :wink:

sounds like a plan!