Hand-painted Adventure Time (or Any Design) Canvas Sneakers




These hand-painted sneakers (here in South Africa we call them "takkies") were a blast to make. I made these as a gift for a friend. They took about 5 hours in total to make, and you could personalise them by using a design that's meaningful for the person you're giving them to.

You need:

  • A pencil
  • Acrylic paint in the basic colours (red, yellow, blue, white and black)
  • I also bought some "galaxy paint" which is this glitter stuff that you mix in with other paint for special bits like Lady Rainicorn
  • A fairly thin-tipped Sharpie or permanent marker
  • Cheap paintbrushes in a few sizes (get at least one tiny round one for the details)
  • White canvas sneakers / shoes
  • Something to use as a palette for mixing paint on (I used paper plates)
  • A glass filled with water

Step 1: Pick a Design and Complete Your Base Drawing

Pick a design!

You want something that has:

  • Fairly "flat" colours - not too much shading
  • Fairly basic shapes
  • Thick outlines

Bear in mind that it's not that easy to do shading and detail on canvas shoes, because the fabric weave is thick. So you want something that's not too intricate. Cartoons are a great option.

Spend some time Googling images and saving things you like for reference. Then, start drawing! I spent some time making sample drawings on scrap paper until I felt confident.

When you're ready, draw your designs onto the shoes in pencil. You can still make mistakes here and re-draw areas. You won't see them in the final product.

Once you're happy with the design, go over your lines in black marker.

As you can see from the picture, it helps if you have a sleeping cat around to help you complete this step.

Step 2: Paint!

Stick some marking tape around the bits you don't want to get paint on. Take some time to make sure that the tape lies right up against the canvas so that it all looks neat at the end.

Then it's time to dive in and start painting. Even though it might feel counter-intuitive, you want to start with the details, then work your way gradually to the larger areas/background. Unlike other types of painting, it's difficult to paint over or blend into something (unless you do it really fast), so you want to work from more detail to less detail.

Find a nice small area. Work out what colour you want it to be, and mix that colour on your palette (you can find lots of paint mixing guides online). If you can re-use that colour for other areas of the piece, hoorah! If you're making pink, paint in all the pink bits before the paint dries. This paint dries very quickly.

I painted the detail bits over 3-4 sessions. Just be sure to rinse your brushes in water when you're done so that paint doesn't dry on them.

Once you're done with the detail, fill in the background with a larger, flat brush. This bit is surprisingly quick.

Finally, go over your outlines with the black marker again, to make the lines crisp. And that's it.

Yay! You have excellent shoes. Marvel at your handiwork.

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    11 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Fabulous!! Do you find that the acrylic paint lasts well? I would be painting my daughter's shoes, and she gets them wet quite often! :/

    4 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hmmm... I'm not sure :) He's been wearing them for a few weeks now and so far they still look as good as new. They probably won't last forever, though. I'll give you an update in a few weeks if it looks like they're starting to crack or something!


    Reply 2 years ago

    That'd be awesome, thanks!! I'm gonna try it anyway :) Might try to use a fixative or waterproofing spray of some sort. Thanks for sharing!


    Reply 2 years ago

    About 1 month in, and they're still looking great. Did you try the waterproofing spray?


    Reply 1 year ago

    ... and more than a year later, they've held up perfectly well.