Your shoes are boring! At least, you seem to think so, otherwise you wouldn't be searching for how to paint them.

Fortunately, painting leather shoes is easy, and can have excellent results. There are communities online of shoe-painters (naturally the internet has a community for everything), but most people have never seen a sweet pair of custom kicks.

For this instructable, we'll be customizing a pair of Florsheim Imperial dress shoes. I wanted them to be spectators (white/black two-tone), but they were $140. The Black version was on sale for less than $50. Paint was less than $5, so the choice was clear.

This method uses Angelus Leather Paint, which is well known as a quality Acrylic leather paint. It stays flexible, comes in a range of colors, and for once, is inexpensive! These instructions would work well on most natural leather articles, such as wallets, purses, BDSM wear, etc. It isn't designed for suede or other textured leathers.

Painting leather shoes is a 3 step process:
  1. Prep leather by removing existing polish and coatings with acetone.
  2. Paint leather with Angelus paints.
  3. Finish with an Acrylic Finisher for a gloss or matte finish.

You will need:
  1. Acetone for removing existing coatings (available at Hardware Store) - nail polish remover NOT recommended.
  2. Angelus Leather Paint (available at many online craft suppliers. I recommend Dharma Trading Company.
  3. Q-tips
  4. Paper Towels
  5. Masking Tape (Quality matters - get a good blue tape, or premium green "Frog Tape")
  6. Paint brushes of various sizes
  7. A shoe.
  8. (optional) Angelus Acrylic Finisher or Angelus Duller

Step 1: Prep the Shoe

Prep the shoe by washing any dirt or muck off the shoe.

Then mask any areas you don't want to get paint on. Masking tape quality does matter - use a good 3M blue tape, or the fancier green Frog Tape to get clean lines. In this case I masked the area above the spot I will be painting, because the shape of the leather and the size of my brushes will allow me to avoid painting the brogue.

In a well ventilated area, use the acetone to remove any existing coatings or polish. Use the Q-tips and paper towels to scrub any exposed areas. It should take on a dull appearance. Keep cleaning with acetone until you stop seeing polish come off on your towels! This step is crucial for good adhesion!

About This Instructable


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Bio: I'm an engineer in the renewable energy world, and help run a cooperative workshop makerspace in Boulder, CO called the Phoenix Asylum.
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