Footwear Modelling Tips and Tricks


Dear users,

I’m relatively new to working in the footwear industry, and I am trying to become accustomed to good methods and practice/order for sole construction. I feel like I’ve been through pretty much everything there is on YouTube.

One of the common roadblocks is trying to create organic surfaces that have at least some kind of dimensional control to them, rather than just eyeballing it. So the common order of work is using 2D designer drawing to get a floor/bottom curve which overshoots and creating a straight extrusion. Then creating the side walls using a thickness from the last and profiles, trimming it with the floor and applying a BlendEdge. Or another I recently found was doing a variable pipe/Sweep1 around the intersection of floor and sides, trimming away from floor/sides and then doing BlendSrf. Of course this is all done around a Last model + Upper substance.

I am trying to achieve something similar to the following: Surface modeling problems - so creating an outer surface which I can trim away from with very freeform projected curves. I’ve attached my example of a ‘base’ polysurface. Imagine that I am trying to create ‘raised zebra stripes’ that go along the bottom but also round off around the sides - So the best way seems to be the simple premise of an ‘A’ and ‘B’ surface. (Displacement is not an option here, I need to surface this).

To cut a long story short, I am trying to get a good single surface from the attached, so that I can offset neatly, trim a large patch on the A surface and an offset patch on the B surface, and then blend between to create neat ‘islands’, if that makes sense. I also had an idea of using Fin as a guide surface and blending that to the top islands. Really looking for good tips on how to Network it well to, say, 0.1 or 0.5. Having these ‘monocoque’ surfaces would also help me with FlowAlong - again I am usually restricted to just flowing along constituent surfaces i.e. only the bottom, only the swept side, only the blend area.

Attached is my really basic structure of the sole underneath the Rand area. So if i start trimming that between edges etc. it’s just making things very awkward when I get to blending surface edges.
NSRF.3dm (1.1 MB)

Any words of wisdom would be most appreciated - this sole modelling stuff is really hard to pick up on your own. No man is an island! Really keen to try and hear from others who have done this kind of work for a while or are in this field of work too.

Many thanks in advance. (excuse the long post)



Hej Jonathan,

from the attached file, it does not become clear what you want to do in the end. One can see three surfaces with an overwhelming number of isocurves. I looks like you used a fillet tool to blend between the side and sole surface. With both of these already being complex, the fillet becomes even more complex (isocurve mayhem). If you want to use these surfaces to build patterns, ridges or details into/from, which involves offsetting, it would quite possibly be best to first create these three surfaces in a clean fashion by using a couple of Bezier (single patch) surfaces instead.


Hej Lagom,

Thanks for your reply. Yes I would have to agree, I’ve suggested quite a few things I’m thinking about in order to try and improve the way I work.

From the attached I’ve managed to pretty much achieve what I needed, which is a softness to these raised areas above and beyond just blending the edge So I used a guide surface on the inside of the inner surface which follows my projected curve, and then used a variable radius pipe to cut the outer surface, and then blending between the two means the ‘island’ area comes out normal direction and then blends somewhat softly to the outer piece. But it is, as you say, isocurve mayhem. Definitely not neat.

Can you advise how you would go about creating such a patch? By this do you mean in single span surfaces?

The next problem I then get is because this pattern is wrapping around the sole sides, it becomes difficult to have a closed curve following the sketches and also on the polysurface. So the raised area is to go around the side and round off completely).



Well, the IGES-data you attached above is just plain odd (isocurve mayhem), if you look at the curvature graph in the image, you wonder who would design these initial surfaces in such wobbly unrefined fashion. Did you receive those base surfaces from a low-skilled supplier, maybe a bad model from a scanned-in last? I did Puma brand shoes way back and I would first of all re-create these IGES surfaces with nice looking degree 5 curves with a minimal control point count. That would allow for a better intersection of the curvy side and the outsole and, subsequently, one could build that large run-around fillet with simple degree 5 Bezier surfaces that are curvature continuous. This will make subsequent offsetting much easier and, because of the simplicity of the surfaces and no internal surface discontinuities, your detailing work far easier. Without knowing more about the design, that’s how I would do it. Detailing on top what already is messy often leads to larger problems downstream…

A quick mucking about Unto This Last.3dm (2.8 MB) to explain what I meant.


Unfortunately it’s all mine… often I’m rushing downstream to see if my idea of a workflow will come to fruition. But that’s not really a good enough excuse. Could you shoe me an example of how you would instead approach it, alongside me going back into learning NURBS fundametals of course. I’ll own up to the data being basic and amateurish anyway - far too many CPs all round which is down to me not risking too much rebuilding of rands/bitelines (for direct injection) for fear of losing exactness via deviation.

The main goal is for rapid prototyping as opposed to mould drawings. The criticisms are fair and hopefullt it will steer me on a clearer path.


See above, added a file to explain. Hope it helps summat. Off to the pub now!