How To Design Custom Shoes Online | The Basics


Design custom shoes online is one of the highest-paying professions in the graphic design world. According to Glassdoor, the average income of a shoe designer is about 75,943 per year, which is 6,300 per month. On the other hand, the average graphic designer’s salary is approximately $45,000.

If you're also interested in becoming a successful print-on-demand shoe designer, this article is for you.

To learn the basics of designing custom shoes online, better follow these recommendations:

  • Start using specific software and computer programs like CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, ICad3D+, ShoesMaster, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Vector;
  • Follow online courses from Udemy, Skillshare, or any platform you like;
  • Go to a college and get a degree to become a professional shoe designer or a certified print-on-demand shoe designer.

For more information, keep reading this article, as we’ve written an ultimate guide for you.

Let’s dive in!

How Do I Become A Successful Shoemaker?

To become a successful shoe or footwear designer, you’ve got to study and learn the basics. That’s why we pointed out some important steps to follow.

1. Determine Whether Or Not This Is Your Field

The first thing you should do is determine if you like this field or not. If you’re learning this profession because of its high payout, you’re wasting your time, effort, and money. You can never develop any talent if you don’t like it. The skills are associated with the subconscious part of your mind, and earning money is related to the logical part. To start properly, you need your subconscious mind, and that’s only possible if your subconscious mind wants it. Therefore, if you don’t like the shoe designing profession, don’t learn it. 

2. Learn The Basics

Before mastering your skills, it’s essential to learn the basics of shoe designing. It involves understanding the tools required, basic knowledge, scope, average salary, how this field works, and other critical information. It’s essential to participate in a course; otherwise, you won’t understand how this industry works.

3. Master Your Talent

Here comes the important part. You need to go to a college or take a professional-paid course to learn advanced skills. It’s better the first solution because it will teach you industry-grade shoe design and everything else regarding shoe design from scratch. 

Moreover, according to a survey by CEO World, about 70% of shoe designers working in large-scale multi-national companies have learned the basics from a college degree holder. If you can’t afford the college fee, you can purchase courses from Udemy or any other course marketplace as you like.

4. Put It Into Practice

You can never learn any skill without practicing it. It’s essential to physically perform what you’ve learned and gain experience in this field. You can never deeply understand what you have studied theoretically if you don’t put it into practice. You might need to start designing shoes in CorelDraw, Illustrator, or Photoshop. Do as many practicals as you can. Without it, your theory-based learning is useless.

5. Do Internships

You can do some internships to gain volunteer certificates, and experience for your future paid jobs. The employer teaches you the advanced and professional industrial-grade skills of print-on-demand shoe designing. Internships aren’t compulsory, but they make your resume powerful and increase your chances of getting hired by companies faster.

6. Do the Paid Job

That’s it! Find your desired job and make your shoe designing career happen!

What Do I Need To Design Custom Shoes Online?

In the olden days, designers used sketches to draw the designs, but today people use professional industrial-grade designing software.

Programs such as  CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, ICad3D+, ShoesMaster, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Vector are some of the most popular software for shoe designing.

Besides shoe designing software, you also need hardware to interact with it. Of course, you can’t use a mouse to draw the sketches, but you need a drawing tablet for that purpose. 

Or, if you can afford it, buy an iPad for better performance and optimization. But, if you’re using a PC laptop or can’t afford an iPad, go with the drawing tablet according to your budget.

How Do I Learn To Design A Shoe?

There are many ways in which you can quickly learn to design shoes. Our recommendation is to go to college and get a degree to become a certified print-on-demand shoe designer. 

If you are learning this profession as a hobby and want to do a part-time job, you can buy online courses from Udemy, Skillshare, or any platform you like. However, the college degree earns you a certification that you’re a professional industrial-grade designer. The course doesn’t give you any industrial-grade certificate. 

These are the only two sources of learning about professional shoe design.

What About Free Courses Online?

The internet is loaded with tons of free courses regarding shoe design. You can watch YouTube videos, read blogs and articles, and learn about shoe design from many other sources on the internet for free.

However, they aren’t convenient, and most of them will never teach you as much as paid courses. Of course, you’re not paying a single dollar to them, but what do you expect from those free instructors? They don’t give you any certification or label of completion. 

In the end, learning shoe design from free platforms is not worth the investment of time, especially if you're learning for a professional job. 

If you can’t afford the paid courses, you can do any other part-time job and earn money to pay for a qualified master’s.

It’s that easy!

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What Program Does Sneaker Designers Use?

Sneaker design also comes under the shoe designing category. You can say it’s a subcategory of footwear design. The software used for snicker designing is the same as other footwear-related software. Still, for your ease, below we’ve mentioned some of the most popular sneaker designing software that designers use commonly:

  1. Adobe Illustrator. Used to create 2D designs and illustrations. Primarily used in the base design.
  2. CorelDrawUse for detailing the design of the snickers.
  3. Adobe PhotoshopUsed to create mocks, posters, and other presentation designs.
  4. ShoesMasterUsed to create the mechanics of the sneakers, such as comfort logic, size, soul, and many other mathematical and ergonomic things about the sneakers.

Other software used for shoe design are:

  • Magneto
  • inkXE
  • Fusion 360
  • NoRefresh Shoes Design

How To Open My Own Shoe Store?

If you’re thinking of starting your own shoe designing company, here is a brief guide for doing so.

1. Identify The Market

First, you need to identify the kind of market you want to cover. In the beginning, it’s better to cover only one type of market rather than multiple ones. 

If choosing women’s footwear, you can go with high heels, wedges, moccasins, boots, or any shoes you like. If you’re choosing men’s footwear, you can go with boots, sneakers, casual loafers, or any footwear you like.

2. Target Your Customers

You have to decide how to sell your shoes to your customers. You can partner with a shopkeeper to sell bulk stock to wholesalers, or you can go with an online e-commerce platform and do OTT business.

We highly recommend OTT business as it doesn’t cover any 4th party, the cost will be lower, and you can contact your customers directly.

3. Start The Production

Now, you can start the production of your print-on-demand shoes. If you’ve got enough money to set up your shoe-making factory, it’s okay and will earn you the highest amount of profit. Otherwise, if you can’t afford that deal, you can go with 3rd party contract shoe markers. 

All you’ll need is your shoe design and size mechanics, and the third party will manufacture the shoes for you at a certain amount of cost. This model is fine if you start your shoe business on a lower scale and go with the OTT business model.

4. Packaging

Packaging is the first and last impression of your brand’s product. Have you ever noticed why Apple and Gucci offer premium and special packaging? Because they know: “A brand is identified by its packaging,” so make sure to provide suitable packaging.

You can use your local manufacturers to offer you custom-printed on-demand shoe packaging. Additionally, China is filled with POD packaging. You can hire any good Chinese supplier from Alibaba or MadeInChina. Choose what costs you the least and is suitable for your print-on-demand shoe business.

5. Price Labeling

You are not selling your shoes for free. Therefore, label the pricing wisely. Too higher prices will, of course, never get you any sales, and too lower prices will earn you a loss. Choose a price that makes you a profit and is suitable for your customers. Survey the market for average pricing, then decide what pricing you want. Remember, low-cost shoes = more customers.


If you’re interested in becoming a shoe designer, studying shoe design, or want general information about this profession, this article is for you.

We’ve written an ultimate guide on everything you need to know about the shoe designing profession: what it is, how it works, and how you can become a shoe designer!

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Print On Demand World Staff

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