DIY: Painted Shoes

Updated July 20, 2017

The design on your shoes can be an expression of your personality, but you do not have to be limited to what you can find in a store. Shoes made of leather or canvas can be painted one or more colours of your choosing. You can be as creative as you like with your design, from a single solid colour to a mural painted on your shoes. Follow these steps to paint your own shoes.

Put on your rubber gloves. Select a well ventilated area to work, preferably outdoors. Use your acetone to strip the wax and dye off of your shoes.

Use your sandpaper to rough up the surface of your shoes. Paint will adhere better to a rough surface than a smooth surface.

Plan your design. If you want to paint particular shapes and images on your shoes, plan around where the shoe naturally bends because this will cause the paint to crack. Put the shoes on and flex your feet to see where the leather naturally bends.

Sketch your design onto your shoes with a pencil. Make notes on a sheet of paper as to which colour you would like to paint each section of your design.

Apply an undercoat with white acrylic paint to the design you sketched using your paint brush. Allow the white undercoat to dry in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Apply dots of coloured acrylic paint on top of the white undercoat. Leave space between the dots; you will not completely fill in your design at one time. Allow the dots to dry in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Use your paintbrush to slowly fill in the space between your first set of dots with more dots of paint. Depending on the size and complexity of your design, this may take several layers to produce the intended image. Allow 30 minutes for drying between each layer.

Put on your face mask. Coat your shoes with your acrylic spray can. Allow the shoes to dry 24 hours before wearing them.


Choose sturdy shoes that do not bend or fold to avoid cracking paint. Canvas shoes do not require a white acrylic undercoat, you can apply the coloured paint directly to the canvas surface.


Avoid open flames because acetone is flammable.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Acetone
  • Sandpaper
  • Pencil
  • Sheet of paper
  • Small paintbrush
  • White acrylic paint
  • Acrylic paint colours of your choice
  • Face mask
  • Acrylic spray can
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About the Author

Tom Fritchman is a freelancer who has been writing professionally since 2009. His first writing credit was actually a stage play called "Window Watching" performed at the Northmont Auditorium in Clayton, Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in language and literature from Wright State University.