Introduction: Drawing on Canvas Shoes Guide

Well, I don't really have much of a back story here other than I accidentally washed white shoes with black shoes and they gave birth to a Frankenstein pile of garbage. Now these are old school canvas shoes that I had bought at Wal-Mart about two years ago. If my memory serves me correctly I think they were $10. But anyways, the shoes were badly damaged and I knew for a fact I wouldn't wear them in that condition. So I figure with a little bit of know how and some basic material I could have a potentially epic pair of shoes here. So here is what I bought and what you will need if you are planning on tackling your own canvas shoes. 


1x Pair of Canvas Shoes (Mine had no laces thus making a larger working canvas but any canvas shoe will work) 
1x Pack of non-washable permanent markers (I personally used a multi-color pack of Bic markers from Wal-Mart $7)
1x Can of "Water Proofing" spray (I obtained a great deal at shoe show in my local mall for about $6 -- SOFSOLE SILICONE WATER PROOFER)

Now like I said my shoes were damaged badly so I don't know how long the overall shoe will last me but my first step was to wash/bleach them to a clean surface. (This took me about 3 good times because again, they were almost black.) If you just bought the shoes you won't need to do this but if you have wore them several times outside or for yard work you might want to go ahead and clean them just so that when you start the design process you will have a clean slate free of chemicals or oils. 

Step 1: Cleaning

As I stated before if you are just now taking the shoes out of the box you can pretty much skip the cleaning step. Go ahead and plan what kind of design you would like on your shoe. 

For those who are still with me at this point lets get started. We want the shoes to be as clean as possible so that the markers can have a nice even color and that the actual drawings will hold up better. If there are outside contaminates present such as grass, mud, oils etc... the marker will not hold to the canvas thus ruining the entire project. This could very well be the most important step in the process. 

I recommend using a empty bathroom or kitchen sink because using a washing machine can separate fabric from the canvas. I put the canvas shoes in my kitchen sink with about half a cup of bleach and dawn dish washing liquid. I let them soak in the water for roughly 30 minutes. I then proceeded to clean them off with an old dish rag. I did this process twice and my shoes were bad so normally the 1 time would take care of any normal wear. Let them dry naturally. 

***in the picture here you might see that my insole fabric has separated from the sole of the shoe, thus don't use a washing machine or drying machine --- I speak from experience*** 

This is my results. There are some "faint" staining still present but as long as you can get them close to white as possible is all that matters. Trust me this is impressive compared to how they looked. 

Step 2: Planning/Drawing

Now that we have a clean slate we need to plan what we are going to put on the shoes. Pick wisely because this is not coming off. I being the huge nerd I am picked Marvel Comic/DC comic characters. Use something that interests you and have fun with it. For this particular example of using characters I had to determine where to place them and we need to consider the layout of the shoes as well. Here are some bullets to follow:

*Don't jump straight into marker usage. Use a pencil to lightly sketch your characters into position
*I recommend using a limited color pallet. We want them to look like a matching pair. The pack of markers I used where only a 10-Pack . 
*Don't worry about messing up with the pencil - THEY ERASE FROM CANVAS!
*Don't try overloading your focus points. For example my "Focus" points where the toes. So I knew I could only put 2-3 Characters tops. 
*I am no artist with markers but if you have a pair of those cardboard shoe inserts (you know they often come in shoes when you first buy them.) THEY WILL BE INCREDIBLY HANDY. Insert them in the shoe.
*If you don't have the above cardboard inserts I just used my hand to support the canvas from the inside while I drew on the outside. My girlfriend suggested using small hand towels and stuff them into the toe, this might work well but I preferred the hands on method. 

*Here is one of the shoes as I sketched it with pencil. Batman and the Joker!!! :)

Step 3: Coloring

I bought this pack of markers only for this project. It was a good investment. The canvas does hold a fair amount of marker inc. So make sure you have a good supply of markers or at least a new pack like I used. While coloring your characters you want to leave room for bleeding which will be your worst enemy. About half way through mine I realized when I came just inside of the lines or edge of a shape it would "bleed" out to the desired line. However, my shoes do have bleeding and honestly unless you are starring at my feet you wont even be able to tell. Also, just as a reminded markers have what I call start/end points. This means that the color is darker where you start a line and where you end a line. Keep this mind if you wish to get even tones and colors. I was lucky in that to achieve a comic book or character feel I was able to outline my art in black marker giving it a defined line (which also will bleed onto previous colors so be careful). This line can hide imperfections of bleeding lines so use it to your advantage.

Step 4: The Finish

Okay, so after the coloring (which took me all of 3 hours) I let the ink settle. After about two hours I went to spraying it with the SOFSOLE water proofing spray. For this specific type of water proofer I had to spray the pair of shoes with a first coat and then a second coat 4 hours later. Which actually added depth to my colors - I am guessing from it being silicone based spray. Be sure to pay attention to the directions on your spray. I can personally vouch that this stuff is great! Here is the finished product :) 

Any questions or comments just leave in the comments box :)