Beginning to Advanced Boots by Jack Johnston

Enjoy this free article on how to make beginning to advanced "Boots". by Jack Johnston


As part of our new website, I will do a free series of sculpting body parts for beginning to advanced character dolls. I would like to start the series of classes by showing how to make "Cowboy Boots". The reason I've chosen boots is because the steps included to make a boot shows the same steps we use in making shoes and boots.

To make a boot or shoe you will need the following supplies:

  • ProSculpt
  • pre-made resin foot armature
  • pounce wheels
  • 3-1 tool
  • detail tool 
  • scalpel.

I will go through the steps simplistically for this lesson to make it fast and easy to follow. If you wish to watch the entire film you may purchase our "Foot and Shoes" DVD

Just click on this link to find "Foot and Shoes" DVD.

If you have my pre-made feet armatures in front of you, you are ready to go to work. If you don't, you can make a pair our of ProSculpt clay. Once you have feet armatures completed you are ready to make a shoe or boot. Just flatten out a thin piece of clay with a hand roller or by using a pasta machine. Once you have a thin layer of clay you may cut out the patterns to make the boot.


Cut the pattern as it is shown in this image; from left to right, the upper boot, vamp, sole and heel, and the counter. The parts are the same for the boot or the shoe. You will cut them to the size of the resin pre-made foot armature. This armature is designed for an 18" character doll.


Lay the vamp (tombstone shape) over the instep of the foot armature as shown in the image. Smooth the vamp down over the complete front of the foot armature and pull the sides of the vamp over the front half of the foot. Seam the vamp on top and bottom of the foot to hold it firmly to the armature.


Wrap the counter around the heel (rectangular shape pattern). Seam the heel and the front of the shoe together to make the shoe. Now add the sole and the heel by cutting the sole out to match the bottom of the foot. Then cut the heel to fit on the bottom of the sole. You are the designer, so you may make the heel as short or as tall as you like. If you want the heel to be tall, just make several layers of clay. In this case I have three layers of clay to make the heel taller for a boot.


This image makes it clear as to what the shoe should look like with the vamp, counter, sole and heel seamed together. "Working Tip"... Hold on to the pre-made resin armature rather than the soft ProSculpt clay. If you hold on to the soft clay it will miss-shape the clay and cause it to become warm and too soft to work. If you hold onto the armatures the clay will stay room temperature instead of taking on your body heat.


Now, attach the boot wedge shaped pattern to the top of the shoe and seam it into place making a boot shape. Notice I have also shaped the toe and the arch to look like a boot rather than a shoe.

After attaching the upper part of the boot you may shape the very top edge of the boot to look like a Western style boot, Santa boot, or riding boot. You are the designer, so have fun shaping it the way you like it.


Once the shape of the boot is finished you are ready to put on the plant-on design layer, the wing tip, and the fancy heel plant on. Notice they are pre-shaped before putting them on the boot. You can make them as simple as you like or a advanced as you like. Or, you may leave them off entirely.


Attach the wing to the toe, the heel on the counter, and the upper design on the top of the boot. Now anchor the plant-ons using the pounce wheel tool. Notice the pounce wheel not only attaches the heel, but it leave sewing lines as though the plant-ons are sewed on. This is a wonderful tool, it will make your boot very realistic.


Notice in the blow-up that the tool actually stitches the plant-on to the heal. Once the boot is put together you may use a 3-1 tool to make all of the seam lines perfect. You may cut away uneven edges and shape the parts of the boot to look realistic.


Paint the boots to look like leather by using layers of acrylic paint. The first layer should be done very thin in a dry brush effect. Let the first coat totally dry before you ad the next layer of paint. The second and subsequent layers can be thicker. The final layer of paint is done with a dry brush effect using Unbleached Titanium paint. Notice it gives the illusion that the clay is leather, check the effect of aging on the edges. Work darker paint down into the stitches to look like thread.

The stockings are put on after the foot is cured in the oven and painted. Just cut the tips off of pre-made stockings and pull the sock tube down over the top of the boot and tuck the stockings into the boot top.

Shoe-with-legsI have attached the boots to the legs by using brass tubes and rods inside the boot. Then I drill out the wooden base and put rods into the base for the brass tubes inside the foot to allow the figure to stand up without any visual support. In the image below notice I have made boots to fit my "Sea Captain". You can make any kind of boot you like using this method. The fun of making shoes and boots is that you are the designer, you can have as much fun as you like. The viewer will think the boots are made of leather. The stitching with the pounce wheel, the layered clay and antique painting technique really bring the boots to life. To better understand the process I recommend you watch "Making Feet and Shoes".

Just click on this link to see the DVD selection.

Sea Captain sculpted by Jack Johnston

Apryl Jensen
Apryl Jensen