How to Draw Shoes from the Side

foot-triangles 2

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted much lately, save for my fashion week live sketching portfolios each season. That’s because I’ve been busy in the studio creating a book called Draw Fashion Now. It’s going to be published in August 2016, will be available worldwide, and I’m so excited to share everything I’ve learned in over eight years of being a professional fashion illustrator.

Among other goodies, the book features a series of tutorials for figure fashion illustrations, with an emphasis on achieving contemporary attitudes and rendering in a variety of media both analog and digital. Due to limited pages, I couldn’t include tutorials for smaller details. When I teach classes on fashion illustration many of the questions I get are about how to draw specific elements – such as how to draw shoes from the side. So this will be the first in a series of mini-tutorials on how to draft all those tricky little details. Have a request for a tutorial? Email me or leave a comment.

As you can see above, a foot shape from the side is essentially an isosceles triangle. When wearing a heel, the foot bends so the toe remains flat on the ground, and the rest of the foot is propped up on the heel. It’s a very peculiar fashion when you think about it, but that’s a whole other story.

To check proportions, make sure the length of the foot is the same measurement as the height of the head. The toe section is about 1/4 the length of the entire foot.


Over the triangle you can draft the shape of the foot – round the heel and create the bump of the big toe – the smaller toes are hidden behind the big toe as this foot is being viewed from the inside. On top of that, draft the design of the shoe.


A high heel requires the triangle shape to be bent, as it is above. Make sure to include a bump for the ball of the foot. You can bend the foot to accommodate a heel as high as you want – although the extreme physical limit is a 90 degree angle from the floor, as below. Don’t worry, drawings feel no pain, and you can even eliminate the creases that would logically be caused on the skin at the toe and heel to complete the bondage fantasy.


If you used this tutorial to design your own shoes, I’d love to see them, please drop a link in the comments!

And if you’d like to see examples of completed shoe illustrations, check out Manolo Blahnik, whose drawing style is as fanciful and fetishistic as his signature stilettos. Andy Warhol was also known for rendering shoes at the beginning of his career as a commercial artist – check out Shoes, Shoes, Shoes and you will see what a master draftsman he was.

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One thought on “How to Draw Shoes from the Side”

  1. Congrats Danielle. I want this book and know at least one other who is a designer, who will also want it. Are you going on tour? If you are in Vancouver, I will tell those I know to come to the book talk. (and buy it) Woo hoo! In Toronto, I think there should be a fashion event and we all dress up and see the book. Double woo hoo!

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