words & images // Ben Adams-Keane
4Cent Friday is a weekly design blog on SoleCollector.com written by a member of the 4Cent Design team. Subjects may range from discussing rendering skills to design inspirations, to thoughts and opinions on the state of footwear design as a whole. For more background on 4Cent Design, check our interview here.
The process of getting inspired, throwing down a sketch and turning it into a rendering isn't as straightforward as one might hope it would be. I never sit down at my desk, think of a cool object I feel "inspired" by, and lay down a masterpiece. Rather, inspiration usually finds me when I least expect it.
Some of my best work comes from scribbles I did while watching TV or doodles I did during math class. My notebook pages are littered with shoe sketches -- not just because I hate math, but also because my best ideas tend to come to me while my mind is elsewhere.
The particular sketch I'm about to walk you through started off as a few rough doodles I did earlier this week in Calculus. I was in my perch at the back of the class, attempting to takes notes, when I noticed the backpack of my friend a few seats ahead.
It was an ACG backpack, with some interesting, rugged-looking constructions and material transitions. It happened to be raining that day out here in Massachusetts, and the combination of those two things got me thinking about how an ACG-type approach could be applied to basketball shoes. Maybe I could design a waterproof hoops shoe for outdoor-balling?
I started throwing down some doodles -- no pressure or expectations -- just pure brainstorming. As you'll probably notice, these sketches are super rudimentary and not the sort of thing I would normally present, but they're part of the process, so I wanted to include them.
After 4 or 5 rough doodles, the bell rang and I packed up my stuff and forgot about the project. The next day when I came back to class, I opened up my notebook and saw the doodles. There were a few things I liked so I decided to get out a fresh sheet of paper (college rule lined-paper of course; that's the disadvantage of working spontaneously) and did a larger-scale sketch.
A few of the things I decided to include were a lateral-support strap that covers the throat to prevent water-entry, and a pulley-system around the ankle that seals off moisture. I included a few hints of the materials I liked from the backpack, and threw in an open-arch to create separation from moisture on the ground.
From there, the process became much more linear. When I got home I scanned the sketch in, did my best to get rid of the notebook-paper lines, and started throwing on some shading in Sketchbook Pro:
Next, I blocked in some basic color:
Added some more detailed highlights and shadows to the lateral support structure:
After that, I switched over to Photoshop and started adding texture. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, but a good-old-fashioned google search for some material swatches usually does the trick.
To finish it off, I created some perfs in Photoshop and pasted them over my rough hand-drawn perfs. I also threw in a few final stitching details and shadow pops.
You could take this rendering even further, but for the purpose of quickly communicating the idea to a client, this should do the trick.
That's about it. Hope this gave you guys some helpful insights into my process, which doesn't exactly have to start with the concept of a waterproof basketball shoe in mind. Even if it's a gloomy day in math class, inspiration can be found.