I see a lot of bad shoe sketches out there, so I thought I'd work up a basic demo. The first step is understanding the particular proportions to different common silhouettes. A hiking boot's shape is very different from a kitten heel. A basketball shoe is very different from an ultra sleek running shoe. If you don't want your Ferrari to have the proportions of a dump truck, you have to pay close attention to the overall shape. In this demo I'll focus on a simple casual trainer. A lightweight, light duty runner with a simple design that will allow us to focus on the proportions and not get lost in details.
The first thing I do is set up a ground plane to work from and then define the arc of the toe spring. The toe spring is how arced the line is from the tip of the toe to about the middle of the shoe. Heavier shoes and more formal shoes tend to have very little toe spring, while more sporty shoes have a lot of it. The toe spring helps the foot move through the stride as you walk or run. Off of that arc I start to define what is often called the tooling, or all of the molded parts of the shoe. These can be a combination of injection or compression molded foams, injected TPU and TPE materials, and compression molded rubbers. I don't want to get too technical in this demo, but obviously how you put all of those molded parts together has a big impact on the ride of the shoe. Once I have the lower portion somewhat defined, I start sketching in the upper, which is all of the sewn or welded soft pats of the shoe. Here the understanding of silhouette is really important as is understanding how different sheet based textiles, leathers, and synthetics are cut and sewn or welded together.
For designers that really want to get into footwear, I always recommend they go to a thrift store and buy some old shoes and cut them apart. The amount of parts that are in a shoe assembly can be mind boggling, but for now just focus on the proportions. That will get your sketch half way there. Give the video a watch through, and feel free to post any questions below.
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Yo! C77 Sketch is a video series from Core77 forum moderator and prolific designer, Michael DiTullo. In these tutorials, DiTullo walks you through step by step rapid visualization and ideation techniques to improve your everyday skills. Tired of that guy in the studio who always gets his ideas picked because of his hot sketches? Learn how to beat him at his own game, because the only thing worse than a bad idea sketched well is a great idea sketched poorly.