Introduction: Customize Your Converse- Spirited Away

About: A crafty college student that sometimes tries to sew!

Customized converse look really cool, make great gifts, and are a great way to show off your personality.

They also cost around $80 online.

Luckily, you can transform any of your old low-tops into something new and exciting! These shoes were hand-me-downs from my sister, and I can tell you they were one of the nastiest pairs of shoes I had ever come across. But after cleaning them up and painting them, they look good as new. So if you want to do the same, we can start by gathering all the supplies we'll need to do so.

Step 1: Getting Your Materials

For this DIY you will need...

  • A pair of converse sneakers (or any other canvas shoe)
  • Acrylic paint in the colors you want
  • Matte varnish
  • A fine tip marker
  • Gesso
  • A palette (or a scrap piece of wood- for mixing colors)
  • Brushes- a medium one and a very fine one is reccomended
  • painter's tape, masking tape, or washi tape (no duct tape)

If the rubber part of your converse is incredibly dirty you can clean it with nail polish remover and cotton balls. I have heard that some people throw their converse in the washing machine, and you could try that too, but I found that the nail polish remover worked just fine- and it's better than wasting all that water on one pair of shoes.

Step 2: Getting the Idea

It helps to know what you are going to paint on your shoes before you start. I decided to show my love for Studio Ghibli and their movie Spirited Away by painting Haku the dragon and Chihiro together. While you can work from a reference picture online I found that it helps to draw it out first just so you can get a feel for the design. To paint my shoes I worked from both a reference picture and my sketch. In this instructable I'll show you how to paint Haku and Chihiro but feel free to do any design you want! Just keep in mind that if you're using low tops your design is going to have to be small- but don't let that discourage you! Let your creativity flow.

Step 3: Prepping the Sneakers

Before we start painting, you'll need to prep the shoes by covering any area you don't want to paint with tape. Then stuff your shoes with anything you can find so that you'll have an easier time painting them. I stuffed the shoes with plastic bags but tissue paper and scrap fabric would also work just as well. Just keep in mind that whatever you stuff your shoes with will likely get paint on it.

Step 4: Putting on the Base Coat- Haku

Now it's (finally) time to start painting! We'll start with a base coat of gesso so that once we move on to colors the colors will show up a lot better. To make Haku I started painting a thick, curved line with my medium brush and later added the finer details with my small brush. A reference picture helped me a lot with this. Since Haku is white I put on some extra coats of the white gesso so I wouldn't have to do it later.

Step 5: Putting on the Base Coat- Chihiro

For Chihiro, I started making a small dot for her head, adding her nose with the small detail brush, and then adding her hair. For her arms I started drawing two bent lines and then gave them more shape. Once again, a reference picture would be helpful for this as well.

Step 6: Shading and Details

As for shading I mixed a color only slightly darker than white and shaded Haku like so. I left the part where his belly is going to be blank but expanded the shadow down to his legs. Once all the paint is completely dry you can start adding in the details with your fine tip marker. If your gesso base coat is a little sloppy in some parts you can outline it with your marker and it will look clearer. My apologies for the blurry pictures :)

Step 7: Color!!

Now let's add a splash of color! ...carefully :) For Haku's belly I took the same shade I used for the shadows and added a bit more blue to it. For Haku's mane I mixed green and blue, and for Haku's horns and Chihiro's hair I mixed red, yellow, and blue to make brown. Keep in mind when you're mixing colors to add the darker color to the lighter color instead of the lighter color into the darker color- you'll use way less paint!

Step 8: Varnishing the Shoes

Finally, you'll need to varnish your shoes to make sure the paint lasts. This stuff stinks pretty bad, so you'll want to take it outside or somewhere like a basement or garage so that it doesn't stink up your entire house. If you're doing this inside you'll want to lay down some newspaper, and once all the paint is dry spray a light coat of varnish all over the area. While you are doing this I would recommend covering your nose and mouth with something as you don't want to inhale any of the fumes. Once you're done spraying the shoes, leave them overnight to dry.

Step 9: Taking Off the Tape

Once the varnish is dry, take the tape off your shoes and take the plastic bags out. You're done! I hope you found this helpful, and if you painted your own shoes put a picture in the comments! I'd love to see it! Good luck, and keep up the good work :)