Painted Converse: Shoe Makeover




About: I'm a nerdy athlete who likes to make stuff :) ~stay weird~

This is cute and eye-catching way to brighten up your plain converse sneakers- the fabric used to make them is almost like canvas, and makes a great painting surface! This project provides a unique way to express yourself, and besides being super fun to make, it’s way better than paying hundreds of dollars for them online :). Let’s get started! For this project you will need:

  • · A pair of converse sneakers or other fabric shoes (I recommend hi-tops because you can have more room to paint- mine cost $50 but I bet you can find them cheaper in other places )
  • · An idea of what you will want to paint on your sneakers (this can be hard)
  • · Masking/painter’s tape (no duct tape- this is one project it can’t be used for)
  • · Acrylic paints in the colors you need
  • · Gesso/white acrylic paint
  • · A type of acrylic varnish or medium (highly recommended for long lasting paintings)
  • · Palette/cardboard/scrap wood
  • · Paint brushes- fine, medium, and larger
  • · A fine point marker or sharpie

BEFOREHAND: You may want to practice your design on canvas. This way by the time you paint your sneakers you can be sure that you have the right colors, technique, etc. My design is going to be a replication of the Japanese art masterpiece “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”. It is a fairly complicated design, so I wanted to make sure that I could paint it on regular canvas first before I moved on to a pair of sneakers.

Step 1: Prepping

First, you need to prep your shoes
for painting. Take the laces off and tape over the areas you do not want to paint. This may include edges near the bottom, toes, or tongues. You also will need to stuff the shoes with plastic bags, newspaper, or fabric scraps to let the shoe hold its shape and remain wrinkle-free while you are painting. It will make the job a lot easier.

Step 2: Making a Base

Now it’s time to paint! Outline your design on your sneakers with the
gesso or white acrylic paint with your fine sized brush and fill it in with a larger brush. The white color will act as a base so that the colors can show up brighter on your shoe. If your shoes are white or a very light color this is less important, but on dark or especially vivid colors making this base coat is crucial. Sometimes it also helps to look at a picture of what you are trying to design. However, that being said, feel free to improvise and make it your own. You may need several coats of gesso before the white color fully shows, and wait for it to dry completely before moving onto the next step.

Step 3: Refining Your Edges

Halfway there! After making a base coat, your edges may be a little
uneven. To make my edges smoother I outlined them in paint the same color as my shoe. Because my sneakers were black, I outlined my edges in black acrylic paint with a small brush.

Step 4: Little Details

Now it’s time to make a layout with your fine tip marker. I used my Sakura Micron fine tip markers (that I got at JoAnn's) to sketch out some of the details. By this point, you should see your design slowly coming into place. I already started to draw the little details on the crest of the wave since that part of the painting is already white in color.

Step 5: Coloring Your Shoes

It’s finally time to begin coloring in your design! When I paint I usually start with the most prominent color and then work on the details that would be on top of that color after it dries, such as stripes and other flecks of color. At this stage you may also want to begin to mix other colors that you might need later on or work on your other shoe while you wait for the paint to dry. To do this, use your palette. Always make sure to pour the darker color on the lighter color instead of the lighter into the darker color- you will have a much easier time! At this point, you can start adding on more details. I added stripes along the waves, white flecks of water, and added full detail to the boats with my fine tip marker and medium and fine brushes. As for other designs, especially cartoon/anime characters, be confident in your brush strokes and make them strong and clear. Don't be afraid to use a lot of paint- sometimes it helps to make the color pop. This can make them look better and more professional :)

Step 6: Finishing It Off

Yay!! The hard part is over! Now you can just coat your painting with
acrylic finish, varnish, or medium once your design is dry. This will make your masterpiece last for a very long time. I also added some more on the inside of my shoe, and it was much simpler than the wave on the outside.

Step 7: Smile!

Enjoy your sneakers! If the acrylic ever fades, you can
retouch the paint very simply. I thought this project was fun to make, and that the end result was awesome! Let me know what you think and if you painted a pair of shoes put a picture in the comments! I would love to see them!!



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    14 Discussions


    5 months ago

    WOW, i luv these!!!


    8 months ago

    Sooo cool!!! Nice clear instructable too ☺

    Schnelly B

    2 years ago

    Those are awesome!


    3 years ago

    can i use oil color?


    3 years ago

    i've been wanting to do something like this for a while. nice instructable! Does the acrylic spray make the shoes stiff or crunchy at all?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I've always loved that picture -- I've seen it on cars, on walls... and now on shoes. Great instructable, super_seal!


    4 years ago

    Awesome! You can be proud wearing these around town. Way to combine the Wave with Converse.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I'm so glad you guys like these! your wonderful comments really mean a lot to me :3


    4 years ago on Introduction

    These looks great! Thanks for sharing your work with the community!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Really nice and beautifully executed!
    Thanks for taking the time to document it.