Learning how to draw tennis shoes is a great way to practice observing fine details and enhance your drawing skills. To start, you can freehand draw the tennis shoes on your drawing paper, but I chose to create a grid drawing to ensure I captured the accurate proportions of my shoes. Here is the reference picture I used.
My drawing paper size is 8.5 x 11 inches, so I printed out my reference picture to be half that size, 4.25 x 5.5 inches. Whatever size your drawing paper is, divide each side by two, and print your reference picture in that size.
Another helpful tip is to print out your reference picture in black and white so you can easily see the different values to create later on.
I created a 1-inch grid on my reference picture, and a 2-inch grid on my drawing paper, leaving me with the same number of boxes on both pieces of paper.
To use a grid to draw, we’re basically going to focus on drawing what we see in each square and draw one square at a time.
To start, I counted 3 squares down and 2 squares over on both of my grids. This is the square I will start drawing.
When using a grid to draw, it is important to focus just on that square and observe where each line or object fits in that particular square. I first started drawing the outline of the shoe, and then added the details and the shoelaces.
Once you draw everything you see in one square, you are ready to move on to the next. I chose to move down to the square directly below the one we just drew. If you find it difficult to draw what you see in a particular square, you can always divide the square into 4 smaller squares so you are focusing on smaller areas at a time.
To do this, divide the square on your reference picture in half horizontally and vertically. Do the same on your drawing paper so you are left with 4 smaller squares. Now you can focus on drawing what you see in each smaller square.
Continue moving to each square, drawing the outline of the shoes and adding the details you see as you go. If some details seem too overwhelming to draw at first, it’s okay to make your own artistic decisions and leave some details out of your drawing to make it your own. However, it can be a good challenge to draw all of the fine details you see.
When you have your basic line drawing completed, it should look something like this:
Double check to make sure you have everything drawn in each square, and next you are ready to erase your grid lines. Since I’m just focusing on the shoes for this tutorial, I’m only going to erase the grid lines only from the shoe area.
Now you have a basic drawing of tennis shoes! In order to really bring your drawing to life, it’s important to add value. To do this, I’m using an HB (also known as a #2) pencil and a tortillion.
When we add value, we’re referring to the differences between lights and darks, or highlights and shadows, and you always want at least 3 distinctly different values for a realistic drawing.
When you first start, find your midtones, or the values that are in between your darkest shadow and your lightest highlight. Hold your pencil at an angle and use the side of your pencil to shade in the midtone area using medium pressure.
Next, find areas that have darker shadows and shade while applying more pressure with your pencil to create a darker value. For areas that are highlighted, you can leave them the white of your paper or erase them later.
When you have an area shaded in with pencil, you can use a tortillion to create an even tone and heighten the realistic qualities of your drawing. Make sure to use the side of your tortillion, not the tip; otherwise, you will flatten the fine point.
Continue this process throughout the entire drawing, starting with midtones, and layering shadows on top with more pressure. As you can see from this progression of adding value, working in layers is very helpful, and your first layer of graphite pencil will not be your last. The closer you can identify and create the subtle value changes, the more realistic your drawing will become.
Here is our final product! I created this drawing using only one drawing pencil (HB or #2), but you can explore using a variety of drawing pencils to get even more contrast to create even more realistic qualities.
When it comes to learning how to draw shoes, just remember…the more you practice drawing, the more comfortable you will get with adding fine details and a variety of values. Enjoy, and keep drawing!