Sketches: Footwear

On the way home from a sketching meet-up last Saturday, I found some time to sketch a sneaker and boot. I really enjoy sketching footwear and all the endless exploration you can do with the topic. This time I kept it a little conservative with the boot and sketched something I would wear. I tried to be a bit different with the sneaker.


I actually liked what I came up with! Lately I’ve been enjoying the color pencil style of sketching, so that’s what I used here. I hadn’t had a chance to do much digital rendering lately, so I loaded the sketches into my iPad and got working. Here’s the boot all rendered up along with some color ways:


Black fits the moto style I was aiming for. I tried some bold colors that could highlight the texture of the boot well. My favorite is the olive with a tan sole - it’s a bit different from my personal style, but I can see how people can get creative with mixing this boot into their wardrobe.

… and then the sneaker. I’m not too much of a sneaker head, but I had a lot of fun with this one.


I’ve always enjoyed designs that pulled the sole in a bit more to look further integrated. So that was the challenge here, and how do I design this in a way that makes it a statement feature, but not too overpowering. There’s also a peek of what the sole could potentially be.

In exploring these color ways, I thought - what ways could I break up the shoe, and how do I keep it balanced overall? I gave it a huge Nike logo and tried some texturing with Procreate’s native brushes.

There’s some things that need to be worked out if I were to take this further, especially the back. I only planned to briefly finish that sketch, but I just loved detailing this out. Sneakers are a completely different ball game. I would love to do a real project on footwear. It’s one of those things you see all views of, like watches and eyewear. So you have to be extra aware of how the designs translate when it’s turned around.

Linda BuiComment
Sketches: Winter Coat

Sometimes I participate in an instagram group called Weekly Design Challenge. The theme for this week was winter jackets. I ended up sketching a coat because it’s something I’m more familiar with. Compared to the coats I usually see, I tried to give this design more of an edge with exposed metal zips and leather trims. The wing collar also gives a more confident look. Sketched on the iPad!

Linda BuiComment
Suzuki Jimny

There was an industry event for Old School Car Class last Saturday that I was invited to pin up work for. It had been a while since I committed to a car sketch, and I absolutely needed to see where my skills were at. So, I pulled out some prismacolor pencils and got working!


I went old school with indigo and black prismas and tightened up the sketch with the iPad. Going back in with a black overlay on the dark parts helped give more weight to the car. This is a new technique and style for me, and the process helped inform how I should approach using colored pencils more efficiently.

My test subject was the new Suzuki Jimny. I’ve always enjoyed the look of 4x4’s, but there was something refreshing about the proportions and character of this one. Also, I love how it looks in tan:


Anyway — the event was great! Dan Zimmerman from Fiat Chrysler came by to show us some car sketching tricks while dishing out some words of wisdom. Anything can be a car if you just add wheels, basically.

Linda BuiComment
Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals

Yesterday, I went to the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals convention here in Rosemont, IL. If you know me at all, you’d know that I’m definitely not the target market for this. However, I had a friend that was going to sketch. I also heard that it’s a big deal. This was enough reason for me to allocate a few hours and check it out.

Continue scrolling to follow my little adventure. Please be forewarned, you are going to see comments and observations coming from a more design-centric and absolutely non-gearhead perspective. :)

Photo by Mike Herbert

Photo by Mike Herbert

Right off the bat, even from the parking lot, I saw that this event drew a cool type of crowd. Compared to more general-attracting events like the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick, there was a stronger and older car-culture presence here that felt refreshing.


Here I am sketching a Roadrunner. We had just started sketching, and already someone came up to ask us some questions about what we were up to! This was her car! She was incredibly friendly and enthusiastic to share some knowledge and comparisons between a few vehicles there.

Following up is a purple Roadrunner… with something clever underneath:


These mirrors are genius. Seeing the guts totally gave this car another dimension. There were some other owners that used mirrors in a similar way, but what sets these apart are their black frames and good alignment. From a quick glance, I thought the floor had windows that revealed some internal floor mechanisms. I did a double take and become completely enthralled by both the idea and the contrast of complexity against the smooth exterior form.

Engine looking better than it would out of the lot.

Engine looking better than it would out of the lot.

Here we area in the barn lot area where some owners prefer car preservation over restoration. On the left is Aaron from the Studebaker Museum blessing us with the most elaborate history lesson that ties together many of these muscle cars. He was so generous with his time and really elevated the experience for us!

One point that Aaron made was that muscle cars used to be made so poorly that by the time one hit the dealership, its engine paint would already be chipping off. People just accepted mediocrity when it came to muscle cars. When muscle cars are restored today, they tend to be restored too well and definitely far from the “historic perfection” that they would initially have the unfortunate quality of.


The back windshield blades drew me to this car - honestly I hadn’t seen a feature like that before. The angular nature of this Cobra emitted some hardcore retro vibes. This would’ve been really fun to sketch!


It’s neat to see the connection between the taillights and wheel design.


A beautiful and raw evolution of the Corvette. You really had to be here to experience something at this scale!


Triple the tail lights, triple the cool.


The hood and fenders are formed together so it could pivot out like this. I wonder if it’s a better way to access internals?


Circles everywhere. I can’t fathom what it’s like to have a row of gauges responding as you drive, but I imagine it helps you be “in the moment” of the experience. Perhaps a more engaging way to read information.


I can absolutely see this as a hovercraft. Wheels for scale.


… and that’s a wrap! This show was incredibly engaging and I got more out of it than I expected. Car culture is not something I am very involved in, so it’s fun to learn more about it through these experiences and the people I meet along the way.

Linda BuiComment
Inspo Series: James Jean

I’m always curious to know the driving forces behind someone’s creativity. Knowing what books they read, what podcasts they listen to, and even the individuals they are inspired by helps paint a bigger picture of who they are as a creative. Knowing this, I figured it would be interesting to jot down the things that I’m inspired by. Hope you enjoy this mini-series!



James Jean is an illustrator based in California that works within both commercial and fine art realms. He rose further in popularity by collaborating with fashion entities such as PRADA and Philip Lim and illustrating posters for Hollywood films like Bladerunner 2049 and Shape of Water. I’d say he’s equally, if not more, well known for his personal and distinctive body of work.

Jean graduated from the School of Visual Arts. Fun fact: he was roommates with Yuko Shimizu when she attended SVA for graduate school. I have to note that because they’re both prolific illustrators that are very in tune with creating work that addresses and challenges culture. Not to mention how highly skilled and intelligent they are!

It’s been an amazing journey to watch how Jean developed his life and career. I think I discovered him mid-2000’s, back when artist-centric websites were (and still!) the rage and blogs were the method of showcasing process.

James Jean in home and studio, captured by  MAEKAN

James Jean in home and studio, captured by MAEKAN

Year Of Monkey by James Jean

Year Of Monkey by James Jean

I came across a story on MAEKAN with James Jean and Juncha. It delved into the idea of unlearning as a way to help an artist grow. When things feel stagnant — which is the ultimate creativity killer — how does one overcome that?

Unlearning involves letting go of long-held ideas so they can be better understood objectively and if necessary, discarded. By freeing oneself to assess the value of an idea as it contributes to the bigger picture, it can allow an artist to improve their current style, or even pursue an entirely new creative direction altogether.

MAEKAN hit the target when addressing how Jean is comfortable with being uncomfortable. He continuously puts out work that pushes the limitations of what is both expected of an illustrator and a painting/visual. By result of constant exploration and a discomfort with repetition, he’s come to have a distinct style that transcends mediums and collaborations.