Optimum blank design methods have been introduced by many researchers to reduce development cost and time in the sheet metal-forming process. Direct inverse design method such as Ideal Forming (Chang and Richmond, Int J Mech Sci 1992; 34(7) and (8): 575-91 and 617-33) [7, 8] for optimum blank shape could play an important role to give a basic idea to designer at the initial die design stage of the sheet metal-forming process. However, it is difficult to predict an exact optimum blank without fracture and wrinkling using only the design code because of the insufficient accuracy. Therefore, the combination of a design code and an analysis code enables the accurate blank design. In this paper, a new blank design method has been suggested as an effective tool combining the ideal forming theory with a deformation path iteration method based on FE analysis. The method consists of two stages: the initial blank design stage and the optimization stage of blank design. The first stage generated a trial blank from the ideal forming theory. Then, an optimum blank of the target shape is obtained with the aid of the deformation path iteration method which has been newly proposed to minimize the shape errors at the optimization stage. In order to verify the proposed method, a square cup example was investigated. (C) 1999 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.