How to paint Converse tennis shoes

Updated May 30, 2018

Converse tennis shoes are the perfect canvas for your own personal art. With a little paint or some permanent markers, you can create your own unique wearable art that's only as limited as your own ideas. The canvas used to make many Converse shoes, most popularly, the Chuck Taylor models, works well for painting and inking, as the colours soak in easily.

Prepare your work area by placing newspapers on the table, ground or your chosen work surface. Place the shoes on the newspapers. Remove the laces if you want them to stay clean. Mask the rubber sides and toe with tape to keep those areas paint-free. Wad up some newspaper and place it into the foot holes to keep the insides of your shoes clean.

Sketch out your shoe-art ideas on a piece of paper or on the shoes themselves using a pencil. It's best to draw on paper first to figure out the ideal layout.

Apply paints to the larger areas first, creating a background. Paint as many large areas as possible, using a separate brush for each colour unless you want the colours to mix. Allow paint to dry thoroughly between layers and before applying details.

Apply layers of other colours where needed. Touch up any areas that still have canvas showing through the paint. When the shoes have been thoroughly painted other than detail work, allow to dry completely.

Fill in the details using a fine brush or permanent markers. Be careful not to touch those areas with your hand as you draw, or your hand may smudge the lines. Allow shoes to dry completely.

Remove the paper from inside the shoes. Peel off the tape from the rubber areas and relace the shoes.


Black or white Converse work best for this project, depending on the style you're going for. These techniques also work on other canvas shoes. If painting on black shoes, try layering bright colours on top of lighter colours to create depth. Bright colours may show up better with a white layer underneath. Over time, marker or highlighter ink may fade a little, so you may need to go over your work with a fresh coat of ink. Puffy fabric paints can add a 3-dimensional look to your art.


Permanent markers will dye the fabric of your Converse shoes. So will paints, so there is no going back to plain material once you have decorated the shoes. Marker ink may run slightly when applied to the shoe material, so use caution when attempting fine details. Paint the shoes outdoors or on top of newspapers so nothing else gets paint on it.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Newspaper
  • Converse tennis shoes
  • Tape
  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Small paint brushes
  • Fabric paint
  • Permanent marker
  • Highlighters
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About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.