Step 1: Preperation
1. Plain fabric based shoes like converse, vans, or keds.
2. Acrylic paint-depending on the pattern, I suggest red, blue, yellow, brown, white, and black. These basic colors can be mixed into any color you need.( In theory you don't need brown, but I suggest it because hand mixed brown is often grayer and less appealing than store bought brown)
4. Firm small paint brushes, preferably nylon
5.paper plate (to pour the paint on)
3. A Black Sharpie
4. Clear Varnish- matte, satin or gloss. I recommend the spray on from Rust-oleum or Krylon.
Optional: Fabric markers (if decorating a light colored shoes)
Optional: Black sharpie pen, for those really fine details
Step 2: Paint a base color
A black background will need many layers of paint to become completely smooth and opaque, so paint a base color to make your project easier. However, if you put too much paint on the fabric it will be more vulnerable to cracking in the future.
1.Sketch an estimated shape of the space needed for your picture on the shoe with a pencil. If using black shoes, don't worry if you over shoot the amount of space you need because you can always blacken the extra unneeded space with sharpie and black paint later. If using light colored shoes then I suggest skipping this step; you don't need a base color because your shoe is already light enough to paint on. If you are painting over your entire shoe, you may want just buy white shoes to make your life easier.
2.Mix white and brown paint to make a tan color. Really water your base down, so that the paint seeps into the canvas. You will probably need two coats to make the surface smooth.
Tip:A smoother picture looks better, so make sure the surface is completely smooth, otherwise your paint will not fill in the little spaces in between the fabric and it will give your picture a pixel-y uneven look.
Tip:In my opinion, the base color of tan works best because it offers enough darkness for painting dark colors and enough lightness for painting light colors. Your going to paint over this color so don't worry, it won't show in the end. However if you are going to be painting something like the Starry Night you should probably make your base color blue.
Tip:If you are using a higher quality paint, like Basic, you can actually thin the paint with small amounts of water. Using a thinned paint for the base helps the fabric absorb the paint better and saves you paint. It also makes it easier to paint on fine details. I have seen little difference between the quality of Basic and more expensive paint brands, so I just use Basic.
Step 3: Sketch on your image and begin painting
Tip: If you are not a good artist you can use Transfer paper. It has one side with graphite and one side with plain paper. This way you can perfectly trace the image right onto your base color. Print out the picture you want and follow the directions on the package; use a picture that has simple lines so that it will be easier to trace.
Tip: If you plan to draw the image yourself use a pencil and draw right onto the base color. I suggest drawing only basic shapes first, then color them in with the paint, and then draw on the details with a sharpie later. But its up to you! Don't use pen to draw the image, it will bleed into your paint and ruin your picture.
Tip: For shoes of a lighter color, you can paint on the main characters or details with acrylic and then use fabric markers to do the background. Here is an example of a person that uses both acrylic and fabric markers:http://robyn-hood.deviantart.com/art/My-Neighbor-Totoro-Shoe-133374812. Be careful when you use acrylic and fabric marker, it will be much harder to cover up mistakes on a white shoe.
Tip: You can mix small amounts of water in with your acrylic to make it smoother. This helps when doing fine details and just generally makes the whole piece look better when done correctly. Some acrylic paints do not mix with water as well.
Suggestions for beginners:
1. Paint light to dark to conserve paint.
2. Paint the base color of your object first and then add highlights and shadows after, mixing the remainder base color with white for highlight and one of the matching primary colors for shade. Mixing black and your base color makes the color darker, but also grey-er and less realistic.
3. Be patient and do all of one kind of color first to conserve paint, otherwise you will constantly be cleaning your brush and by the time you come back to the other colors, they will dry up.
4. If you use a sharpie to create the the black outlines and final details, it will come out much cleaner looking. Painting them on gives you greater control over the size of the black line, but it is difficult to get really fine lines on the canvas.
5. DON'T GIVE UP! At first your painting will look odd and vague, but it will be fine once you have finished all the details. Also use additional paint to cover any mistakes you make, even if you totally mess up you can always just paint over the whole thing again with the base color.
Step 4: Sharpie Details
1. Add details and outline; if you mess up with the sharpie, just touch it up with more paint.
2. Fill in the extra space with black paint if you have black shoes. If you have white or other color shoes try to make an acrylic mix of paint that best matches your shoe color and fill in the extra space.
Ideas: You can use sharpie to draw on the rubber part of the shoe like I did. The sharpie will wear down and rub off eventually on this part of the shoe, so it may be necessary to cover your little pictures with varnish to protect them.
Step 5: Cover the painted area in Varnish
Now you have your own personalized shoes to wear on a nice, dry, sunny day!