Monday, February 8, 2010


I've heard that you ought to be careful with what you put on your feet. Your feet, after all, holds you up; it's what the rest of your body expects you to move around on. So you have to take care of them, treat them well. Especially in the concrete capital - that is - New York City, those soles hit the pavement at breakneck speeds.

As a frequent pedestrian, a sometimes pragmatist, but ultimately still a giggly girl on the inside, my quest for the perfect shoe often results in me wearing the same shoe with every outfit for 2 years each. (These days you'll catch me donning weathered, brown Uggs - they're just so comfy!)

I like commitment, what can I say? And when I find that shoe - that comfy, versatile, uniquely stylish shoe, my loyalty is guaranteed.

When I was fourteen - a young teen with an affinity for goth culture, I sought out the perfect Babydoll shoes. I didn't want it to be black - that was too regular. I didn't want it to be patterned - that would be hard to complement each time...

It took me by surprise, when one day, while carousing the aisles of the 34th Street Macy's, I found a beautiful intentionally weathered-looking blood red baby doll shoes by Report (an under-rated brand, by the way, which I absolutely adore.)

I loved these shoes so much. They matched my black plaid skirt with the giant safety pins. My red plaid skirt with the buckles. In some situations, I could even wear them with pants.

The detail that took it the extra step was that on the bottom, was a beautifully ornate flower pattern that stamped the ground.

Feeling so happy with these shoes, I drew them.

I did this with Prismacolor pencils back in highschool. I like that Prismacolors - if pushed hard enough and long enough - can sometimes give the effect of oils.

The bottom pattern I did in acrylic paints after drawing it out in pencil and coloring around it.

The netting visible in the upright shoe was part of a stockings that had initially connected to a larger image which I have since cut off as the rest of it wasn't that good.

Anyway, something about the way the contours of a shoe could caress the human feet really impress me in terms of design.

I am even fascinated by the way the wrinkles and creases form where the toe flexes - creating these interesting textures I find akin to scabs - somewhat unpleasant, but also, somewhat fun to pick at and watch morph.

For my thesis film, I wanted to highlight this very aspect in the shoe of one of my characters - a young, female clown based off of Max Fleischer's Koko the Clown. (For more on this, catch next week's blog.)

My clown (who I am calling "Kiki" for now) is well trained in the art of acrobatics, and in one scene, she makes her way across a tightrope.

Drawing my from my childhood experiences in ballet, I figured she would make her steps using delicate tondu's - which would of course force her shoes to hug the shape of her perfectly pointed toes and arched heel.

It's a shame that this is probably the closest most viewers will ever get to the shoe. But hopefully any interval of time during which a closeup sneaks its' way in, can be one in which viewers can visually milk this cow of a texture. Urgh...I'll work on my metaphors.

While on the train, I noticed a woman with more adult baby doll shoes (kind of like a rendition of those old-timey dress shoes men would wear - you know, those black and white ones?) Anyway, the detailing in it got me to thinking that these shoes should have some sort of trim around the edge of the opening and the heels. So again, I dove into my conscious and recovered memories of velvet on my childhood shoes.

I added a Bump Map and a Specular map to bring out the creases in the soft leather a little more:

Then I also added a texture for the bottom for those brief shots where you catch glimpses of her sole...

The textures were created in Photoshop using a combination of stock photographs, photo-manipulation, and Photoshop-drawing.

The model was created in Maya. I used Digital Tutors to help understand facial geometry, and I used a Barbie doll to help understand body geometry, although her actual dress is inspired by "Lottie" of the "Living Dead Doll" series.

Anyway, I'll shut up about shoes for now, hope you enjoyed this banter and I hope the next time you're bored on a train and desperately seeking a spot to rest your eyes without accidentally staring into those of a stranger - check out some shoes, they can tell you plenty about a person and where they've been.

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