How to Draw Shoes
Learn to draw shoes!
To be a shoe designer for Nike or any other shoes company you must know how to draw shoes! There is no right way or wrong way to draw shoe designs. Every shoe designer will have a different way to put the shoe design down on paper. The goal of a shoe drawing is to communicate your idea for how the shoe will look or work.
As a shoe designer, your drawings can fulfill different purposes. Is it a styling drawing for a high fashion shoe? This drawing would be all about the colors and material with little attention to the exact proportion or construction details.
If you are working on a high-tech running shoe, outdoor shoe, sneaker or skate shoe, your drawing will need to be more accurate to describe the technical details. An accurate, well-proportioned shoe drawing, can save you and your pattern maker some future headaches.
Learn how to design shoes!
We are in the modern computer age but even today most shoe designers will start with a pen and pencil. I have found a small stack of thin 8.5″ by 11″ paper is a great place to start. Thin paper, so you can see your underlay and a small metal clip to hold the sheets together as you sketch. Whatever pencil you like, I like to use both wooden and mechanical depending on what I’m doing. I will often start with the mechanical pencil to draw lighter lines, then darken in the shoe design with the fat, wooden pencil, once I’m more confident with the design.
You may also want a set of French curves to make flowing smooth lines, and a circle or oval template for other details such as eyelets or logos. You can make a template of your company’s logo to speed up sketching.
How to design sneakers
Setting aside the fashion shoe drawing style, I want to show you how to draw a more technical shoe. First, you need to start with a well-proportioned side profile. Go online, grab a magazine or catalog, measure or eyeball a shoe you have on hand. Use your phone camera or whatever camera you have to get a good side profile. Many times I’ve seen a young designer show a great looking, dynamic drawing, that looks nothing like a real shoe. How sad they are when the samples come back and they look nothing like that fantastic drawing.
How to sketch shoes
I take my side profile and clip it into my drawing pad under the first page then go to work. At this point, go fast, break the design down into parts if it helps you: toe cap, side panel, eyestay, heel counter. Each page should take just 5 minutes. I will darken in the parts I like, then pull a page from the bottom of the stack and draw in new ideas for the parts I do not like. In an hour you can make 10 pages, lay them out, then recombine the elements you like again.
From here I will make one drawing, darken the lines, then take a photo or scan it to pull the lines into Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator is the drawing program of choice. Once you have the drawing converted into a live vector format it’s easy to adjust lines, pull, bend, and tweak outsole lines.
Add colors, textures, and logo details to make your shoes come to life.
Do you want to learn how to design shoes of Nike? Do you want to design fashion shoes or tennis shoes?
You can learn more shoe drawing tips and techniques in our book How Shoes are Made