How To Custom Paint Sneakers
If you want to wear something one-of-a-kind, why not learn how to custom paint sneakers? Custom sneakers are cool, stylish and comfortable, and you can paint whatever color, pattern or theme you want onto them, lending new meaning to the words, “Those are my shoes.”
To custom paint sneakers, you will need:
- A pair of sneakers
- A design to paint onto the sneakers
- Acrylic paints in the colors needed for your design
- Fabric medium
- Two paintbrushes (one wedge-shaped half-inch, one fine-pointed round)
- A paint palette
- A pencil
- Several hours to allow for drying time
White canvas sneakers work best for this, as you don't have to lay down an undercoat like you do when painting leather. Any color of sneaker except white will need extra layers of paint to make the colors bright. Always have a clear idea of what design you want to end up with before you start. Drawing it out on paper, or printing it out if it's an existing design like a logo, gives you something to refer to as you paint each step onto your custom sneakers. Pick something simple for your first design.
Pick your paints based on your design picture. Acrylic paint is sold in a wide variety of colors. It's waterproof and permanent once dry, so there's no need for a sealing layer on the finished sneakers. While it isn't considered cloth paint by itself, if you mix acrylic with fabric medium, a liquid sold in most craft stores, it will dry flexible enough not to crack when the cloth of your sneakers flexes.
Have several different paintbrush shapes on hand. A half-inch wedge-shaped brush is ideal for covering a lot of space quickly using the flat end, and for getting to the very edge of the cloth with hitting the sole or other rubber parts of the shoe by using the flat, narrow edge. For detail work, a fine-pointed round brush works nicely.
Once you have your design ready and your supplies gathered, you're ready to make some one-of-a-kind custom sneakers.
Set up your workspace. Dress in clothing you don't mind getting paint-stained. Spread newspaper over your work surface to prevent paint stains, as well—once acrylic dries, it's permanent. Fill a cup with water and sit it to the side for rinsing your brushes. Set up your paint palette by putting the paint into the color sections and blending each with a small amount (the bottle ought to say how much) of fabric medium. You're ready!
Remove the sneakers' laces. If you plan to make both sneakers identical in design, set both of them on the table—they will turn out best if you add each bit of the design to both at the same time before moving on to the next part.
Lay down the background color of your design with the wedge-shaped brush. Even though you are probably trying to cover a larger area than anywhere else on the design, don't rush—be especially careful and slow around the edges of the rubber sole, heel and toe. Remember, once these sneakers are done you can wear them for years, so take a few minutes now to make them turn out as perfect as possible.
Wait an hour for the paint to dry. Be sure to close the covers of the color sections in your palette before leaving the sneakers to dry. Rinse your brushes as well.
Lightly sketch your design onto the sneakers with pencil. It doesn't have to be fancy or look finished—you're just making a guideline so that you can paint your design on with confidence.
Continue painting one color at a time, allowing for drying time in between, until your design is complete. For smaller sections, drying can take as little as half an hour. If your design has black outlines, add these last—sometimes they help cover up slightly wobbly edges, too. The fine-pointed brush works excellently for black outlining and detailing.
- Allow your custom painted sneakers to dry for two to four days before wearing them. Re-lace them and you're ready to set a fashion statement!