Sunday, July 19, 2015

How To: Paint Canvas Shoes

So I went to see Fall Out Boy on their Boys of Zummer Tour in and it was the best day of my life. I got up to the front of the pit and Patrick Stump looked right at me (okay maybe he didn't, but don't break my fangirl heart). Needless to say, I am still not over the fact that I finally got to see my favorite band live.

Anyways, before I went, I decided to paint some FOB-themed shoes for myself and my friend to wear during the concert.

And now I want to share with you how to make your own painted shoes. Here's how I did it:


  • Canvas Shoes - Any color will work. I got mine at Walmart for about $10. You could also use Vans, Converse, or Toms.
  • Acrylic Paint - I don't have a particular brand that I use.  However, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you use acrylic. Acrylic is plastic-based paint, so it will withstand more wear and be more resistance to water compared to other types of paint.
  • Paint Pens - You'll want these for the small details and outlines. You can use a permanent marker, such as a Sharpie, but in my experience the ink may turn blue or run if wet.
  • Paint Brushes - Make sure you use synthetic bristles suitable for acrylic paint.
  • Pencil - Use a white colored pencil for black or dark colored shoes. 
  • Newspaper/Plastic Bags - To stuff the toes of the shoes
  • Water, Palette/Plate, Paper Towels - You're painting, so you'll need this stuff.
  • Acrylic Primer (optional) - I didn't prime my shoes, but if you want to apply less layers of paint, priming might be the route to take.
  • Painter's tape (optional) - Although I recommend that you tape the soles of the shoes, it ended up leaving residue on the rubber that was very difficult to get off, so that's why it's optional.

Planning your design:

  • Find your inspiration. If you're not making them for a particular event, then pick something you like such as a fandom, a band, an appealing pattern/print, quotes, etc.
  • Do some sketches. Draw out your shoes and then sketch potential designs.
  • Only plan a design you'll feel comfortable painting. If you don't have a lot of painting experience, you don't need to try to be a Picasso. Most of the time, simple is better.
  • Still need some ideas? Click here for some inspiration from my Pinterest.

Prepping your shoes:

  1. Remove shoe laces.
  2. Stuff the toes of the shoes. I used plastic grocery bags because I didn't have any newspaper on hand.
  3. Tape off the rubber soles (if you choose to). If you do tape off the soles, I suggest you use a gentle painter's tape and don't leave it on the shoes for more than 2 days. If the tape leaves residue at the end, like it did on mine, a few treatments with GooGone will eventually take it off.
  4. Sketch your design on the shoes. If you're using a normal pencil, press lightly because the lines will show through the paint. If you mess up, you can erase it off.
sketch your design

Painting your shoes:

1.  Apply your base layer of paint (if you are priming your shoes, this is when you'll do that). You'll notice this layer will soak into the fabric, but don't worry, it will fill in as you add more layers. 

***NOTE: Do not wet your brush during the base coats. Water will dilute the paint, and make it harder to cover the canvas (especially if you do not prime first)***
here's after 2 coats of paint (sorry i switched shoes here, i forgot to take pictures while making the first pair)
2.  Apply 1-2 more base layers of paint until the color is solid and no longer being absorbed by the material. Make sure you let the paint dry between layers.
3.  After the base color dries, it's time to add your details. Use other colors to add shading and depth to your design or to liven it up a bit. You can use water on your brush here.
added some details to the flowers 
4.  Use the paint pens to outline and add the smaller details. I also used the pens for writing words and drawing the FOB logo on the shoes.

***NOTE: If you mess up, just paint over it. Use can also use a paint pen the color of your shoes to refine the edges of the design where the color bled or smeared.***

5.  Remove the tape and stuffing, put the laces back in, and wear your new kicks everywhere!!!

Here's how mine turned out:

My shoes:
Mine feature some of my favorite Fall Out Boy lyrics from their Boys of Zummer setlist. The toes say "American Beauty / American Psycho" because that is the name of their most recent album.

Shoes for my friend:
My friend is not as into Fall Out Boy as I am, so I made hers floral with the FOB logo. Her favorite color is pink, so I worked with that.

--The Informed Artist

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