Dancing Shoes and Digital Shoemaking

3d Ballet Shoe by Indigo JansonYou just know when I go quiet for a full week that I’m caught up in some digital challenge, and a knotty one at that.

Speaking of knots, my good friend Kathy compared making 3D clothing myself to back in the day when you’d knit a sweater instead of going to the store to buy one. It’s a great analogy and she’s right in more ways than one.

If you are a knitter and can remember first learning, you’ll know it wasn’t always so easy. Before the finger movements imprinted themselves and the motions became automatic, you probably struggled with each new stitch. Did your first creation have dropped stitches, holes, and odd knots where you’d tried to repair it? I know mine did!

My digital dressmaking has been just like that. The very first thing I tried to make (a shirt) developed a hole in the back that I couldn’t fix no matter what. I had no choice but to abandon it. The next shirt was a definite improvement, but was rather boxy. Box modelling is where you begin with a cube (or box) primitive and pull it into shape, like a sculptor refining a block of clay. So ‘boxy’ results were probably to be expected from early attempts.

I’m pleased to report my digital modelling has improved, although I’m having trouble with free-flowing skirts.

Making 3D Shoes from a BoxThe first shoe I decided to make was a pointe shoe. Some might think I’m a glutton for punishment. It takes a professional ballet shoe maker a day to make 40 pairs. It has taken me 2 days (and counting) to produce a single shoe worthy of the name using Hexagon. Fortunately, I’ll be able to create a mirror copy for the other foot.

Of course, a ballet shoe is made for movement. Most other shoes would be happy to be matched to the sole of the foot (i.e. flat or high-heeled) and that would be that, I imagine. A ballet shoe needs to follow a foot pose. So will the ribbons. I think this will involve morphs. I haven’t figured it all out just yet.

The fact that the toes are scrunched up inside a ballet shoe and that the Genesis figure’s bare feet have naturally splayed toes means I’ll also have to redo all my ballet poses with scrunched together toes. Otherwise, the big toe pokes right out the side, and that’s not a good look. Modelling round the big toe would have produced a wide Mary Jane style (something like a toddler shoe rather than a woman’s shoe). Pointe shoes, on the other hand, are long and narrow with a very boxy toe. In fact, the real thing is longer and narrower than I am able to make, but I have to work with the constraints of the figure so I’m happy enough with what I’ve got.

This is not yet finished. I may add just a touch more detail, but the real challenge lies in first finding a way to stick these shoes to the 3D figure’s feet without it shrinkwrapping around them; and then finding a way to bend the shoe around an en-pointe (on points) pose without having to model a whole new shoe. Will it be possible? I can’t tell… I suspect I can use the current shoe but there will be a LOT of re-modelling to do. And that’s not even including the ribbons…

On the positive side, surely after this any other style of shoe I decide to make will be a cinch?


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About Indigo

As a digital artist on a budget, I'm fascinated by what happens when art and technology meet, and love discovering affordable ways to make that happen.
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4 Responses to Dancing Shoes and Digital Shoemaking

  1. Kim says:

    Wow, I am always impressed with how hard you work to master something. Your learning about 3D art is truly amazing.

    • Indigo says:

      I think I must be stubborn, Kim. I refuse to give up! Not to mention that the different aspects of 3D art give me a chance to work in ways I’ve always wanted to.

  2. Kathy McGraw says:

    Like Kim, I am impressed. No learning to make a simple shoe for you…..no, your models get the best, most complicated shoes 🙂

    I would rather be dancing than sitting in my tennies wondering what to do 🙂 Boy, I wish I had your determination when it comes to my creative side!

    • Indigo says:

      Ah yes, I like to make my life difficult… much to my amazement the shoes have gone well today and my characters will soon be dancing! Now you are going to have to tell me what ‘tennies’ means! 🙂

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