A dream can become a reality if you decide to work on it. That's what I learned a few years ago when I heard about shoe designing. I thought of opening a shoe line, but with many shoe lines in our locality, I thought of coming up with something unique that would raise eyebrows - shoe designing.

I started to learn how to design shoes in illustrator and slowly began to master the techniques. An idea also struck me on how to design shoes and manufacture them. After learning the tips for ten years now, I can design shoes for my shoe line and still manufacture them easily.


I know someone is wondering, how can I design shoes? Well, I am here to share the secret. Shoe designing adds beauty to your shoes and helps in overcoming specific problems in the market, such as; stiff competition from other shoe lines and lack of your favorite design and trendy shoes.

As a beginner, you can scroll on how to design shoes in photoshop and youtube channels and come up with your unique footwear. However, it would be much beneficial if you follow this blog and become a pro, just like I did; learning. Getting the right and helpful tips is all you need. And, without wasting time, why can’t we start?


Shoes Designing Process.


Footwear designing is a challenging task, as well as an easy thing to do. Just like other businesses, to design footwear, you need to equip yourself with the most important things first. Let us look at some of the factors to consider before sitting down and start designing.




How can you start on something without a plan? As a new shoe designer, you need to have fundamental step in your list. Like any other project, common sense, passion, perseverance, and a burning desire to flourish should be the most important characters you must have, whether you like it. Ask yourself if you desire to know how to design shoes and manufacture them, and start drawing your plan.

I did the same thing six months before starting my designing journey. Make yourself a plan that includes a series of steps you can execute each at a time. Write these steps down and memorize them. Give your plan a timeline and try sticking on it. Each day you wake up, check on your plan, and you will realize these steps are becoming easier as your knowledge and networks within the industry grow.

However, as time goes by, you will notice things changing in the industry. This means that you should make your plan slightly flexible to adjust quickly, making your journey beautiful and more reliable. Making a plan before actual designing gives you high marks in succeeding.


Customer Experience.


Competition in the market matters a lot. When I was working in one of the leading shoe retailers in my city, I used to see a large number of people coming to our shop than other shops; then, I had to ask myself why people like shop X more than shop Y do? What kind of quality does shop X offer that shop Y does not offer? Those are the same questions you need to ask yourself as you aspire to become a shoe designer.

In customer experience, you need to understand the kind of person you are designing for and the range. When I talk about the kind of a person, I mean, your potential buyer. How much do they earn, their daily business; are they outgoing people, or always stay behind their office tables? Of course, as you start to design footwear, remember you are not the own going to wear it, so consider your customer first.

About the range, I mean their age. Some footwear is meant for older people, while others are for the younger generation. You need to choose which generation you are designing for. When I was learning how to design shoes in illustrator, I had to compare the prices in the market to know the price I will set mine at. Why should I set mine at $100 when the majority can afford to buy it at $50? I also had to check which generation liked designer shoes before starting my shoe line and end up with foul losses.


The Design Process.


After equipping yourself with the necessary knowledge in shoe designing, you are now ready to start your journey. The process still needs much common sense and perseverance to achieve your desire design. So, stop asking yourself 'how can I design shoes?’ and follow these easy steps;


Step 1: Research.


Don't wake up and start drawing out of blues; research. As a new designer, it is recommendable to visit those local stores and try checking out their products. If possible, ask about the materials they used. Look at their shoes with a third eye and try to see why shoe A costs higher than shoe B. This material made shoe A that makes people love it than shoe B. Moreover, research on the trending design in the market and why people should choose your new design.

Researching gives the outward picture of your competitors and helps you set higher goals and why you think your design will be the next big thing. Don't fret about visiting your rivals as you will learn the simple mistakes they make band ready to amend them.


Step 2: Gather your Materials.


Have you done enough research? Yes. Now gather your material and colors. Here we are not talking about expensive materials that you will the whole month to gather; no. I suggest you pick on those materials and colors that you can afford without depleting your wallet. Remember, you can choose footwear designing as your full-time business; thus, you will need to frequently buy the materials.

The materials should also be readily available in the local stores. When you watch those examples of how to design shoes in photoshop, you will realize that there are those commonly used colors. Such colors include black, brown, cognac, nude, and red. However, as a new designer, why don't you come up with something different. You need to make your shoe line outstanding? Go for more neutral, saturated, and accent as hardware. Make your design as unique as possible.


Step 3. Look for Inspiration.


Creating your inspiration can be a tricky step, but again, why should you avoid it. It is as essential as planning for your success. You can pick those beautiful designs and pin those on your walls. You can also make your portfolio of your pictures to push you as you go about with your design. Furthermore, you have an entire world with you to get your inspiration.

Switch on that computer browse on trending designs, connect with your friends and shoe design pros, learn their secrets, and put them into actions. Inspiration act as a driving force towards our mission. However, do not make the mistake of copying everything. Use the inspiration to come up with your designs, something better. As for my case, it took me two days to go through different photos, sketches, and exciting textures to build my unique design.


Step 4: Sketching.


For any artist to come up with a beautiful final picture, hundreds of sketches are hidden in his bottom drawer. How can I design shoes if I cannot make a simple sketch? As a beginner, you should take a simple drawing of the outside of the shoe and create the pattern to turn into a 3-D product. Sketch your shoe lines in proportion to the actual shoe on a piece of paper, keeping in mind the actual shoe measurements.

Here is a secret in making your sketches; create the pattern on the outside half of the left shoe, create the inside pattern of the same left shoe, and then mirror it to get the right shoe patterns. You don't need to have a degree in shoe design to create your patterns and sketches. Common sense is all you need. Sketch as more patterns as you can to have a vast collection to pick from.


Sketching your design on a piece of paper helps you create what is precisely in your mind. It is also an added advantage as you not need to pay a lot to people willing to sell their sketches to you. Once the idea in your in is out down on sketches, it becomes easy to adjust the details and lines in the actual design.


Step 5: Actual Design.


It is now time to put that idea on the final paper. In footwear designing, we have a rule called a rule of 10. This means that, if one of your top 10 sketches will be right in the final design, the win the game. This is why you should make as many sketches as possible and pick the best ten.

Don't stick on drawing only one sketch; instead, strive to draw all the then sketches since you are not targeting only one customer. Draw the shoe patterns, indicating all the measurements on both sides of the shoe. Remember, patterns and lines are not enough; there is a lot to do.

Include the details of colors, textures, stitch details, surface treatments, seams, edge finishes, and last shapes. Give all the details, including inside the shoes, a 3-Dimensional figure of both left and right shoes. Don't stop at the overhead view, design even soles and heels, sock-liner, fancy branding, packages, extra services, and functions. When doing your final drawing, it is time to figure out what exactly your customers need and why other competitors failed to fulfill these demands.


Step 6: Creating your Lasts.


How do you want your shoe to look like in the final stage? If you are thinking of how to design shoes and manufacture them, then you need to focus more on this point. Your shoe lasts make the shape of your shoes as well as affecting the comfort of the shoe.

Designing the most cooling pattern and making it the most pleasing shape any eye can handle but failing to get the right fit is as much pretty as garbage. This tells you why any shoe designer must create his lasts and have them rightly fixed.


On the same note, you can shoe lasts from the factory that you are contracting with. Factories have their shoe lasts that they would prefer using on their marketing.

The only problem with this option is that you are using something that many designers used before you, and obviously, it will be used again by some else, hence little room for uniqueness. The only option remains for you to create your lasts. More to be said about shoe lasts (bespoke), but as the new designer, you can get the best bespoke for your line from the factory and adjust it to fit your measurements.


The Manufacturing Step.


After designing your favorite footwear, you might need to sell it to the world. On my side, once I had finished with my design, I thought of how I could make some dollars from it. That is when I thought of packing my designs and send them to the factory to manufacture. The most important thing to consider at this stage is your accuracy.

Ensure that there are no technical questions that are left unanswered—such details like seams, colors. Stitch lengths and edge finishes should be accurately outlined. Additionally, any extra features like zipper should be indicated on which side; if it's on the left side indicated, the factory will be aware not to put on both sides. Giving all the details of your design will make the factory to appreciate your efforts.


Closing Words.


Is the process not simple? Footwear designing is not something to be done by artists only. You can learn it in the comfort of your home and become an outstanding designer. Learn the tricks from how to design shoes in illustrator and start your shoe line. Passion and common sense are all you need to make a difference in the market. When I was training, how can i design shoes, I never thought I could talk of the town and teach others.



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.