DIY Dinosaur Toddler Shoes




Introduction: DIY Dinosaur Toddler Shoes

About: I am a fashion designer who is an avid scrapbooker + coffee drinker + pursuer of happiness. I live my New York life to the fullest while curating it into paper keepsakes to share.

Do you know a toddler who loves dinosaurs? Well then I bet they would love these hand painted dinosaur kicks! And who better to make them than you! Just keep reading to learn exactly what materials you need, and how to make these cute dinosaur high tops for your favorite toddler!


00 All white shoes
01 Pencil

02 Eraser

03 Ruler

04 Paintbrushes in various sizes

05 Foam brush

06 Angelus leather preparer and deglazer

07 Angelus acrylic leather paint in colors 'Chili Red', 'Light Green', 'Dark Green', and 'Black'

08 Angelus satin acrylic finisher

09 Sobo premium craft and fabric glue

10 Small piece of white leather

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Step 1: Design Shoes

Before starting any work on your shoes, you'll want to have an idea of what design details you want to include on your custom dinosaur shoes. Take a look at any stitching, panelling, or features that your white shoes have and design your dinosaur around those. I ended up having to change the shoes I used from the ones I sketched, but was able to slightly tweak the details in my sketch and incorporate them easily into the final shoes I customized.

Step 2: Prepare Shoes

First, you'll want to remove your shoelaces so that you can access the entire shoe.

Then yo'll be using the leather preparer and deglazer. Soak a cotton pad/cloth in the preparer and lightly coat your shoe a few times to remove the original factory finish. Make sure to get the tongue and any other hidden parts.

You will begin to see a small coating of the original finish come off onto your pad/cloth. You should continue deglazing until you no longer see the factory finish on the shoe. This step will prep your shoe to begin painting, and is vital for the paint to adhere properly to the shoe.

As the directions on the preparer and deglazer state, allow to dry for a couple minutes. Once dry, you are ready to apply any paint you wish!

NOTE: My shoe was a matte finish from the factory so it didn't take many swipes to completely remove the finish. If you have a high gloss or other glossy finish, it may take more coats to remove your factory finish.

Step 3: Draw Designs

Draw your designs onto the shoe making sure they are even on both sides of the shoe, and both shoes.

If you're nervous about replicating designs freehand, you can use tracing paper and a pencil to transfer your designs from shoe to shoe.

First, you draw the entire design on the shoe, trace the design on your tracing paper with a No. 2 (or softer) pencil, flip and re-trace onto the second shoe. You will notice that the original pencil lines will transfer to the other shoe giving you an exact replication of the first shoe.

I used this technique for the front teeth of the dinosaur.

For simpler shapes, you can simply cut around the shape and trace around the outside to transfer your design, which is what I did with a circle for the dinosaur eye.

NOTE: If you know that you want to freehand part of it, like I did for the dinosaur scales, leave that space blank.

Step 4: Begin Painting

Use Light Coats + Multiple Coats When Painting Your Shoe!

I began at the front of the shoe, a space I knew wouldn't be as interrupted as I flipped and worked on the back of the shoe.

I began with the color red, working on the teeth.

Take paint and pour it onto a palette, or paper plate, whatever you have available! This will make it easy to access and use.

You'll want to use the appropriate size brush for the space that you're working in - whether that's round, flat, thin, or thick, that is up to you and your discretion!

After your first light coat, allow it to dry. Most likely it will be dry as you continue painting so by the time you finish the second shoe, you can start back at the beginning of the first shoe but use your best judgement.

Continue layering light coats until it is evenly coated and to the color that you want.

Step 5: Continue Painting

As you continue painting your custom dinosaur shoes, you'll repeat the above painting process for the design details of the entire shoe. After I completed the teeth in front, I continued with light coats + multiple layers in my various paint colors across the entire shoe.

These Are the Steps I Took While Completing My Shoe:

  • Red Paint- I painted within the triangles I outlined at the front of the shoe to define the teeth of the dinosaur. Approx. 8 layers of paint.
  • Black Paint- I covered my pencil outline for the eyes with a thin layer of black paint to define the eye, leaving the white stitching showing. I decided to leave the white stitching showcased throughout my shoe to tie in with the white shoelaces. 1 layer of paint.
  • Dark Green Paint- I painted portions on the top and back of the shoes I wanted to be solid green. These were segmented by stitching which I left white. Approx 6 layers of paint.
  • Dark Green Paint- I outlined the scales freehand and then replicated by eyeballing shapes and locations of intersections from side to side, and shoe to shoe. Apron 4 layers of paint.
  • Light Green Paint- I covered the entire scaled area, including the dark green scale outlines that I had prepared. I also painted the eyelid of the eye. This gave the dark green a slightly lighter finish and evened out the surface of the shoe to continue defining the scales. 2 layers of paint.
  • Light Green Paint- I went into the interior of the scales to darken the light green puritan with another coat, being careful not to touch the dark green portion of the scales. Approx 2 layers of paint.
  • Dark Green Paint- I went in with one more coat of dark green to outline and darken the scale outlines until they matched the coloring of the solid green portions on the top and back of the shoe. 1 layer of paint.
  • Light Green Paint- I went back in to correct any portions of the scales that were lighter or discovered to even everything out with touches of light green within the scales. 1 layer of paint.

NOTE: If at any point you mess up, and need to undo a stroke or layer of paint that you put on, you just have to use your Angelus Preparer and Deglazer - It will work as an eraser for any mishaps.

To do this you can use a separate paintbrush, a q-tip, or something absorbent and precise to remove any excess or misplaced paint. Make sure you allow the Preparer and Deglazer enough time to dry completely before you begin painting over that area.

Step 6: Preparing Fins

Simultaneously while I was completing steps 1-8 (during any drying time/breaks) - I was preparing the fins for the back of the shoe in these steps:

  1. I measured the back height of the shoe (where I wanted a fin to jet out) and cut 4 small white leather pieces to that size.
  2. I decided what I wanted the back fin of the dinosaur to look like and drew that shape onto one of the pieces of leather.
  3. I replicated that shape for the other shoe and then made 2 reflections of the shape so that the fin will be double sided (giving you 4 pieces total).
  4. After those were cut, I took fabric and craft glue and, leaving ¼” free on the bottom of each piece, I glued the two pieces to complete each fin.
    • NOTE: The ¼” on each side, totaling 1/2" is the space that will fold back and adhere the fin to the shoe.
  5. Once glued together, I painted the fins in light green paint, approx. 5 layers on each side with drying time in between.

Step 7: Finisher

After everything is completely dry - the shoes and the fins, I individually coated them with the Satin Acrylic Finisher to give them a low gloss finish. Allow this finisher to dry completely before touching or moving them. This will protect the shoe from water damage and protect your custom paint during wear.

Step 8: Applying Fins

After the shoe and fins have completely dried individually, I took my ruler and got the center back of my shoe and marked it lightly with a pencil. I then took the fins and applied craft and fabric glue to the ½” leather portion of the fin I had folded back for application on each fin. I then carefully aligned the fin with the pencil mark and applied pressure to adhere them onto the shoe.

NOTE: The reason I finished them with satin finish separately was in the hopes that if you need to remove the fin at any point, the shoe will be better protected by that layer of satin finish, and it may create less damage than if applied directly to unprotected paint.

Step 9: Finished!

Once you have completed these steps, your shoe is completely finished and you can lace them back up and either give them as a gift, or put them right on your toddler!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you did, I'd love if you'd give it a vote (at the top)!

Thanks for viewing!!

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    6 Discussions


    This is absolutely awesome! I can't wait to try this out! Does it have to be done on leather shoes or can you use canvas shoes?

    the paper curator
    the paper curator

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi aNakedCupcake!

    Thanks for the comment! You can sure do this on canvas shoes, you wouldn't need to purchase leather paint, or use the preparer and deglaze so could just follow the other steps! Since cotton is an absorbent surface, it will work with other paint options whereas the leather needs the extra couple steps.

    Hope this helps!


    Cecily | The Paper Curator


    4 years ago

    My son Loves....LOVES, Dinosaurs!! This project had great step-by-step, detailed directions. Thank you for showing your super cute instructable!!! Looking forward to future projects to come! -Samantha

    the paper curator
    the paper curator

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Samantha,

    Oh yay! Yes, my nephew absolutely loves Dino's as well which is what gave me the idea and he specifically asks to wear his Dinosaur shoes now! I hope you give this Intsructable a try and share your results with us :)




    4 years ago on Introduction

    Super fun! I've never used colored leather paints but I do have that Angelus black for touching up boots. Do you find that it's pretty scuff resistant? I'd be nervous about it peeling up like a regular acrylic paint can.

    the paper curator
    the paper curator

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Ashley!

    That's what the Acrylic Finisher is for actually! It completely seals and protects from rain, the elements, and scuffing of the paint. These were given to my 2 year old nephew who completely jumps, plays, and moves around in them without abandon and they haven't chipped or scraped yet. Hope this helps!