Rabbit Holes: Shoe Design

Posted by on Mar 30, 2013 in Blog, Marker, Patterns, School Projects, Shoe Design | 4 Comments

In the spirit of Easter, I thought this might be a nice time to share my shoe design project! In my surface illustration class, we were required to get a blank pair of shoes, study their form and design an illustration to apply onto the shoe. I chose to work with a blank pair of canvas-coloured TOMS.

Blank Toms

Because TOMS aren’t the cheapest shoe to work with, I felt the pressure for coming up with something awesome… I wanted to make sure it was something I would want to wear too because I did order them in my size with the intention of wearing them.

I honestly don’t know why, but whenever I hit a creative road block, bunnies start popping up in my head. For example, if I’m at life drawing and I start to get bored of drawing the model… I will start to draw bunnies. I usually draw them in whatever pose the model is holding too. I don’t know… they are just fun to draw!

So bunnies happened to pop into my head for this project as well. I figured spring was just around the corner, and it would be a fun theme to work with. I set out doing sketches, studying the form of the shoe and figuring out what elements would work best on which part of the shoe. I eventually drew out this rough template as a guide:

Rabbit Holes - Shoe Design Template

Once my design was decided, I had to figure out how to apply it to the actual shoe. We did some tests in class with some regular canvas. I played around with applying acrylic, watercolour, ink, pencil crayon, and all sorts of different markers (I tried Bics, Sharpies and Faber-Castells). When it came down to it, I loved the vibrancy of the markers, especially the Faber-Castell, and decided I would risk the chance that the markers might bleed and draw directly onto the shoe without priming. Here’s the markers I ended up using:


Applying the first mark was the most nerve-wracking experience… but once I got started, the nerves diminished and it ended up being really fun. I started with the green sections, filling in those sections of the shoes with the Bic markers. I found the Bics bled the most, so I would not be able to use them for any details but they worked great for filling in the large sections. My Bics actually ran out RIGHT AS I FINISHED! Talk about timing…

The bunnies were outlined with the black Sharpie, and the details in the grass were done with the Faber-Castells. When the green sections were complete, my shoes looked like this:


I was happy with how this looked by itself, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fill in the white sections. The marker fumes were also starting to get to me, so I did what most people would do when trying to make a hard decision: I slept on it. I woke up refreshed the next morning and ready to tackle the rest! And I was happy I did. Here’s the final result!

Rabbit Holes - Shoe Design 06

You can also view more images of the shoes in my portfolio here:


Overall, I feel this project was a really good experience for me as an illustrator. I had always been curious about designing for shoes, and this project allowed me to experiment with the process and figure out what materials I liked working with. I would definitely order another pair and do it again! 😀 I already have some ideas in mind.

Rabbit Holes - Shoe Design

And yes, I already started breaking them in! Looking forward to wearing them around town for some shameless self-promotion! 😉

Hope everyone has a very HOPPY EASTER! (Sorry about the pun… I couldn’t resist.)


  1. Auntie Deanna
    April 1, 2013

    Love them! I bet any girl would like to wear them..love the carrots as well. God Bless you & guide you as you use your God given talent for the Lord!

    • Nicokat
      April 1, 2013

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Auntie! 😀

  2. Janet Woodley
    April 16, 2013

    When do I get a pair.

    • Nicokat
      April 16, 2013

      Hi Janet! I would take a commission! 😀


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