How to clean your custom shoes and sneakers

Custom shoes, mostly hand-painted, like Vans, Adidas, or Nike’s AF1s, have recently become quite popular and trendy. You’ll see them everywhere, and now there are even hundreds of videos and posts available online teaching you how to customize your shoes yourself. So, maybe you hopped on the bandwagon and got yourself a stylish new pair of customized shoes, or perhaps you painted your favorite kicks yourself. Either way, now that you have them, you’re going to need to learn how to maintain them.

No matter what materials were used on your shoes, the paintwork will inevitably start to fade or chip after some time. It’s also possible that in the areas of your shoes where there is more flexing while walking and creases form, the paint will start to chip faster. So what can you do to avoid that? Well, we’ve made a list of a few things that you can do to keep your shoes in peak condition and make them last much longer.

Add sealant when you first get them.

While most acrylic paints are water-resistant, some are not, and being water-resistant does not mean that they are waterproof. The paint could still be very easily damaged if it comes in contact with a little water like after rain. To bind the paint to the surface and provide it an external protective layer, seal the paint using any acrylic finisher. There are different kinds of finishers available in the market, like matte, glossy, shiny, etc. Get any good quality finisher of your choice and apply 2-3 thin, even coats of it over your shoes. It’ll help with the following things:

  • Protection from moisture: Paint sealers form a thin layer over your paint that keeps the moisture out (i.e., doesn’t make any direct contact with the paint).
  • Prevents cracking: Acrylic paints have a tendency of peeling off or cracking when the shoes are worn, sealer will help prevent that.
  • Protects from dirt: The thin layer that stands between moisture/water and paint also ensures that no dirt, sand, etc. ruins your paint.  
  • Easier to clean later: A major advantage of sealer is that it provides a smooth surface that is easier to clean and less prone to any damage resulting from using soap, foam, or water for washing your shoes.

Depending on your shoes’ material, you could get a sealer made specifically for that material like canvas or leather, which would be more effective than a general sealer. Two of the frequently used sealers are from Mod Podge, which you can order on Amazon, or Angelus Acrylic Finisher, which again you can order from their online store. Both are available in different finish styles like matte, glossy, etc.

General guidelines to take care of your shoes.

You must take extra precautions with your custom shoes and are careful in the way you wear them. You could lookout for some simple things, which would ensure that your kicks keep rocking for a long while.

  • Keep your shoes out of direct sunlight, especially for longer periods, otherwise, the paint would crack and start looking dry and saturated.
  • Avoid putting your shoes in any place with moisture or excessive humidity.
  • Like humans, shoes need to breathe too! Store them in a dry and aerated place with very little humidity.
  • Don’t wear your shoes outside when there is rain, or it has been raining recently, leaving puddles, etc. Also, avoid your custom shoes when going for some strenuous physical activity or when you know you’ll be out for a long time.
  • When applying a sealer, move in the direction of the shoes’ creases, like the toe box or the midsoles, give special attention to these areas. 

Whatever shoe you have (Vans, Nikes, Adidas, etc.), these are some surefire tips to maintain their look for quite some time.

Cleaning products and their usage.

There are multiple ways to hand wash your custom shoes, depending on the material they’re made of and how dirty they are. There are different products for different levels of cleaning, and you could get any depending on how often you plan on cleaning your shoes. Some frequently-used cleaning products for customized shoes are listed below. Before you use any of these, though, make sure they’re compatible with the material of your shoes. Also, wipe out any excess dirt using a slightly damp cloth before moving on to deep cleaning.

  1. Foaming Cleanser: This is probably the best way to get rid of all the dirt and make sure that your shoe isn’t damaged in the process. Certain foaming cleansers are manufactured just for shoes. Spray that on your shoe, use a brush with firm bristles and scrub over the foam to cover each spot and bring out the dirt. After that, just wipe the foam off using a towel.
  2. Detergent and water mix: If you don’t have a foaming cleanser, use a good quality detergent, mix it in some water, and then use a shoe brush to lather it over your shoes. Again, rub over all the stains or dirty spots, then wipe off the lathered foam using a cloth or towel. 
  3. Baking soda/water mix: Not sure if your detergent is of the right quality? Substitute it with baking soda. Make a baking soda and water paste (not a more liquid consistency), apply it over the stains, leave for 15-20 mins, scrub with a brush, and then wipe off with a damp cloth.
  4. Angelus easy cleaner: This is a go-to when you want deep cleaning and is perfect since it works amazingly on canvas, leather, suede, rubber, almost any material you could think of. Just pour some of it in a bowl, dip your scrubbing brush in the bowl and start rubbing over your shoe. Once you’re done, use a microfiber towel to wipe away the excess, and you’re done!
  5. All-purpose foam cleaner: Need to get all the old, collected dirt? Order an Angelus foam cleaner that comes with a scrubbing cap to get the job done quickly and without hassle. Apply foam, scrub with the cap, and then just remove the extra lather.

You can find most of these products online, and a trusted place is Angelus. For more information, you can check out their website Angelus Shoe Polish or order, go straight to their online store Angelus Direct. A Youtube video by Angelus Shoe Polish also explains the use of their products, and yes (!!), they’re completely safe for customized shoes.

Long live your shoes?

You now know the best ways to clean your shoes properly, make them last longer, and retain their fresh look. We’d say it’s worth investing in at least a few of these products, you and your shoes deserve this much care, plus it ensures that you get the most from your customized shoes and enjoy them for more time!       

How to customize your Vans shoes & slip ons

Just got your new Vans and want to add a personal flair to them? Make them look unique and personal? Turn them into shoes that are a stylish upgrade from the basic Vans that everyone wears? Or maybe you’re simply tired of the generic design you see everywhere and want to customize yours to make them stand out more. If you find yourself nodding to any of the above reasons, rest assured, you’re not alone.

Many of us like to find new ways to tailor the things we use or wear to our needs and liking. It’s just more fun and enjoyable that way, plus it makes you love your things more. However, it’s not always easy to do so. Fortunately, Vans are one of the most ideal shoe choices if you’re looking to give them a new, fresh, and unique look. They’re durable, trendy, and are extremely easy to paint on. Add other embellishments or some unique decorations, and you have one-of-a-kind kicks to rock on. 

If you’re searching for creative yet easy ways to customize your new Vans, you came to the right place! Whether for yourself or a thoughtful gift for your friends, we’ve got a bunch of stunning ideas for you that are easy to follow.

Picking out the perfect Vans shoe design

Before you begin the actual process of customization or even getting the supplies you need to implement your specific design, you must get the suitable shoes for you to work on and apply your chosen customization. Different Vans sneakers may be more appropriate for one kind of styling, while others may prove easier to work on when applying different styling types. There are many options to choose from, and you can pick one according to your preference. According to Who What Wear, the most iconic styles that “every fan should have in their collection,” are Old Skool, the Slip-On, Sk8-Hi, Authentic, and Checkerboard. Here are a few commonly used designs:

  1. Slip-Ons: These shoes have a wider and clearer upper area with fewer cuttings in the design, so they provide the perfect mini-canvas for painting. You could draw a character, scenery, or a pattern and just paint it. These are also quite suitable if you’re looking for shoes good for air-brushing.
  2. Old Skool: This classic design is versatile, and you can implement almost anything on it. They’re particularly useful if your design involves hydro-dipping or any sort of be-dazzling like adding studs etc.
  3. Sk8-Hi: If you’re going for something simple, easy, and chic like doodling designs and using a Sharpie, you should go for these. They’re also suitable for hand-painting and adding other decorative, shiny emblazoning. 

These are some of the well-known choices, but you don’t need to limit yourself to them and get some other model if you like that more. You can find these and several different designs at Vans Online Store.

Let’s get started!

There are a few different things you could try out with your shoes to completely transform their look, including hand-painting, Sharpie, adding studs, etc. With the right materials and equipment, you could easily follow any of these separately or use them in combination with each other to create something entirely new and unique. Each of these different techniques further provides hundreds of different abstractions with different colors and themes. You could also let your imagination roam free—try some funky, random designs. Below a few other customization methods are briefly described.

You can find the best quality supplies for a reasonable price at Angelus Shoe Polish. Their products are tried and tested, and worth the money. Their products are also available on Amazon, and you can get them from anywhere in the world.

Hand-painted sneakers

This is probably the most widely used procedure when it comes to customizing Vans shoes. And why wouldn’t it be? You have complete control over each stroke, all the colors, and many designs at your disposal. So let’s get into it!


For this, you’ll need:

  • Angelus 2-soft or 100% Acetone nail paint remover as prep solution.
  • Leather paints 
  • Masking tape
  • Heat-gun or blow-dryer
  • Both flat-tip and point-tip paint brushes
  • Angelus matte-acrylic finisher
  • Graphite paper (for stenciling)


  1. Start by taping off the edges, soles, and any other place of your shoes where you want to avoid getting paint on. 
  2. Apply 2-3 layers of prep solution using cotton. This makes it soft, flexible, and helps the paint bond to the canvas shoes. Dry between each layer.
  3. Free-hand draw your design or trace it on a piece of paper and then transfer it on your shoe using graphite paper.
  4. Once you’ve clearly outlined your design, start painting! Begin at the boundaries or edges using a point-tip brush, then move to the inner regions and use a flat-tip brush here.
  5. You can also use shading techniques for the background. Make sure to apply thin coats and let each coat completely dry before starting the next. Use a heat gun or blow dryer for this purpose. You’ll need 4-5 layers.
  6. In the end, just apply a layer of your matte finisher to prevent chipping and making the paint last longer.

For a more detailed explanation, you can refer to Whitney Esther’s YouTube video. She not just goes into detail about the process but also demonstrates it through an example. You can use this general method for all sorts of designs: characters, sceneries, patterns, etc.


If your design involves fading color technique, gradients with different colors, or subtle color mixing like in a picture of the galaxy, drawing the sky, or painting flames, airbrushing is the perfect technique. You can also use it to implement character designs that are more complex or involve more intricate detailing.


You’ll require an airbrush first, which you can get from any crafts store or even from your nearest Walmart. You can also order an airbrush with the features you like on Amazon. There are all sorts of options available, and to know which one suits you most, read about some of the most used airbrushes on Advice bloggers article. Other than this, here are a few things you’ll require:

  • Angelus 2-soft or 100% acetone nail polish remover
  • Angelus 2-thin
  • Acrylic Leather paints 
  • Masking tape
  • Paint-strainer 
  • Angelus (or any good quality) brush cleaner.
  • Matte-acrylic finisher


  1. Make sure you carefully tape off the edges, soles, the inline of your shoes, and any other part that should stay paint-free.
  2. Use Angelus 2-soft with flat-white paint mixed in a 1:1 ratio to apply on your shoes and prepare it for airbrushing. The flat white just makes the other paint color pop more and gives a more accessible base to work on. You can just use Angelus 2-soft for flexibility and to help the paint bond.
  3. At this stage, depending on your design, there are two ways to proceed:
  • If your design has some characters or defined outlines and boundaries, use masking tape along with print-outs of your design to transfer it onto the shoes. While doing this. Start from the outermost edges, airbrush them and gradually move to inner details. We recommend watching JBo Airbrush’s video that does a fantastic job of explaining it for better understanding.
  • If your design is a simple fade or blend of some colors, you can move straight to air-brushing. For this for the middle, meeting part of your different colors, use a 1:1 mix of your two blending colors at the seams to make it look flawless and avoid harsh lines.

  1. Getting the correct consistency is extremely important in airbrushing. The paint’s viscosity should resemble that of milk. If your paints are new, they’ll probably be fine, but if they’ve thickened up, use Angelus 2-thin to get it right, it’s usually a 1:4 ratio (1 for 2-thin). 
  2. Pass your mixed paint through a strainer to remove any clumps.
  3. Pour your paint in the airbrush and use it to paint over the desired regions. Remember to clean your airbrush using a brush cleaner when changing colors and when ending. For the complete procedure, check out Jay Adan’s Youtube video.
  4. In the end, apply the matte-acrylic finisher and remove all the masking tape.

Airbrushing can seem quite tricky, especially for beginners, so if you need more tips on this, see DeJesus Custom Footwear’s video and YouTube channel, a pro at this method.

Hydro Dipping

Hydro dipping, also known as water marbling or immersion printing, is a process in which water is used to transfer images on to your shoes. Because of its fun and easy way of application, it has become quite trendy recently, and there are hundreds of tutorials on it. It’s usually used when making funky, mixed-color unique patterns or creative art. You could color contrast and give a cool, hydro look to your Vans.


Hydro dipping is relatively inexpensive, and you can get all your materials in a small budget. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A small tub
  • Painters tape
  • Rust-oleum spray paints or any sort of acrylic spray paints (you can get them at any crafts store or online)
  • Gloves 
  • Face-mask (to protect against any harmful fumes)
  • Matte-acrylic finisher (optional)
  • Shoe-cleaner (optional, only use if your shoes are old)


  1. If your shoes are old, clean them with a shoe cleaner first, using a shoe brush or cotton.
  2. Tape off the soles, inner areas, tongue, sole, and the tongue of your shoes using painters tape. Also, tape off any plastic regions or any other part you don’t want to be painted.
  3. Fill your tub with water deep enough to immerse your shoes in completely. Also, make sure the water is warm; otherwise, the paint won’t adhere properly. 
  4. Now spray paint your different colors on the surface of the water. You can spray them on top of each other or on different water areas and then swirl them together. 
  5. Slowly dip your shoes in this water to make sure the paint sticks and then take them out, again slowly.
  6. Let your shoes dry and then remove the tape.
  7. You can apply a matte-finisher layer on top to ensure that the paint doesn’t wash away and stays fresh longer. And all done!

You can use any paint colors you like; usually, 3 or 4 colors are chosen and then mixed. You could do a sunset, a forest, or an ocean theme! If you’re looking for a video tutorial, Skirt’s YouTube video does a great job of explaining it.

Sharpie or just drawing on your Vans   

If you’re looking to style your shoes into something that is more streetwear and has an edgy or modern doodle art vibe to it, you could use a Sharpie on your Vans or draw on them and make a unique and personal statement through fashion. This is probably the easiest way to customize your shoes with absolutely stunning results. 


For this, you only need a pen that is water-resistant and doesn’t bleed when applied to the cloth. Micron pens are the best for this. Clean the surface of your shoes. Make sure the surface is elevated and start doodling! Draw whatever pattern you want and then use light-colored paint in the background if you wish to add a little paint to small areas to add color. You can also keep it straight if you want. For a video tutorial, check out The Joyce Collective’s video on the method.

Using colored Sharpie


  • Sharpie markers that you can get at Stained by Sharpie.
  • Rubbing alcohol 
  • Eye-dropper (optional)


Use the various colors of Sharpies to draw the pattern you want on your shoes. It’s better if you draw these hand free since Sharpies are more akin to a sharp paintbrush rather than something less detailed, like watercolor. Once you’ve drawn your general pattern, you can slowly add a few drops of rubbing alcohol over your design to mix the colors and get rid of harsh borders. Not all Sharpie shoes need alcohol, it just depends on how much blending you want. You’ll find the complete process on Xavier Kickz’s video.

Add some bling to your shoes

Want to make your shoes look fancy by making them look shiny or illustrious? Or maybe you want something comfortable but also has a formal touch to it? Like something you could wear at prom, but it would fit in and not look too casual? Vans with crystals like Swarovski or rhinestone are perfect for you! The best part is you can customize them yourself.


  • E6000 glue or any strong industrial adhesive or glue that’s long-lasting and easy to use for crafts.
  • Swarovski crystals or rhinestones (you can order them from Amazon in any color and size)
  • Masking tape
  • Toothpicks or any other tool that would help in setting the crystals at the correct position. (optional) 


You can add crystals over your entire shoes, over specific areas, or in any particular pattern like a checkered pattern. First, determine that and then tape off the regions you want to keep empty. After this, start applying small amounts of glue to the parts you want to cover and quickly place the crystals of your choice on top, move to their specific place using toothpicks. Let it completely dry, and you’re all done! You can even use rhinestone threads and experiment with different colors.

How to hand paint your Air Force 1 Shoes (AF1s)

How do you hand paint your Air Force 1’s? Maybe you want to turn your older white pair of AF1s into a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable artwork. Or perhaps something more subtle, like a highlight of the Nike swoosh. Whatever your idea, most people agree that Nike AF1s are one of the best and most popular shoes to customize. If only there were a way to easily create a unique Nike sneaker for yourself without paying top dollar…

We have good news for you: there is, and it’s not as hard as you might think.

Gather your supplies

First things first, get your supplies. What are the bare minimum things you’ll need to help you along your journey? Check out the list below as your Starter Pack:

  • Brushes: Try to get brushes in a few different sizes and different designs like point-tip (for outlining), flat-tip (for broader areas). Go for brushes with natural bristles and reserve one wider brush for the matte finisher at the end.
  • Tape: Buy painters or masking tape to cover the areas you don’t want any paint over.
  • Prep solution: You’ll need something to effectively remove the shiny factory finish on your shoes and bring out a clean surface below which your paint can adhere to; otherwise, it’ll hardly last a day before cracking. You can use Angelus leather preparer and deglazer for this or get any 100% Acetone nail paint remover.
  • Acrylic Leather Paints: You can get good quality, reasonably priced colors of your choice from Angelus. You can also order their products from Amazon and have them delivered anywhere in the world. 
  • Acrylic Finisher: This is to bind everything in the end and prevent chipping completely. You could get a matte or glossy finisher, whichever you like. 
  • Cotton Balls: To apply the finisher
  • Duller (optional): This is just to give your paints a more matte look if required, but you can skip it if you want.

If you’re looking for a place where you get all these items instead of buying them at separate places, head on to Angelus Direct, where different assortments of these items are available.  

On to painting!

Now that you have your shoes and your supplies, it’s on to the fun part, the part that you’ve all been waiting for… painting! There are hundreds of patterns, designs as well as methods you could use during painting. There are a few different ways you can paint your kicks:

  • freestyle, hand painting
  • airbrushing
  • stenciling

The easiest and most popular is probably hand painting your new kicks. It’s versatile, easy to learn, apply, and in a way, forms the basis for other techniques like airbrushing, so that’s the method we’ll be focusing on!

But what if your Air Force 1’s are used, they’ve been around the block a time or two? You may be thinking it’s hopeless, especially if they’re all scuffed up and caked with dirt. You know that kind of dirt that gets on your shoes and then refuses to come off, even if you power washed them. If that’s how your shoes currently look, what are you to do? This is where the acetone and cotton balls come in. Check out the video from DeJesus Custom Footwear and see how he uses them to clean away any old dirt and make the shoes ready for painting. It’s easy, no need for nerves.

After you’re done cleaning your sneakers adequately, the rest of the method is the same for both old and new shoes. Here’s how you do it!

  1. First off, remove the laces of your shoes to avoid accidentally getting any paint on them.
  2. Tape off the edges, the shoe tongue, and any other area you don’t want to paint.
  3. Use your prep solution to remove the old paint (factory finish) and any dirt on your shoes. You can use cotton balls, scotch bright pads, or a brush for this purpose. You can sand your shoes before applying your prep solution, but that’s completely optional.
  4. You can move directly to painting if you’re going for a general style like two color painted shoes, but if your design has something complex, draw your design first.
  5. For drawing, you can use stencils (cut-outs or stencil using tape) or transfer your design (using charcoal/graphite tracing) onto your shoe.
  6. Once you have your design, start painting the outlines using a brush with a fine tip and then paint the inner areas with a broader brush.
  • If you’re going for a design whose boundaries are not that harsh or definite, go for airbrushing. It’s quite simple, useful for various things, and an airbrush is a one-time investment. After that, you can use the same paints as used for hand painting, mixed with Angelus 2-thinner in a 1:4 ratio (1 for the thinner) and just spray it on your shoes! You’ll need to use stencils for this to get the paint in the right areas.
  1. Do multiple thin coats, not one or two thick coats, for more even and fine results. Dry each layer using a heat gun or blow dryer before applying the next layer.
  2. After you’re done painting, and the paint has dried, apply 1-2 thin coats of any acrylic finisher on top. You can use matte, glossy, or satin finisher, whatever makes your colors pop!
  3. Remove the tape, paint over any tiny missed spots, and use a toothpick to remove small unwanted paint from areas that shouldn’t have it. You can also use a toothpick over missed parts or to paint over text!
  4. Add the laces back to your shoes and enjoy your new, one of a kind kicks!

For a complete, precise, and point video tutorial, check out Angelus Shoe Polish’s YoutTube video that explains the entire process for absolute beginners. And if you’re looking for ideas to paint on your shoes, head on to Pinterest or Instagram for some cool and stunning painting ideas.  

Useful tidbits for those that are still nervous

There are dozens of videos on YouTube that explain the process in detail. For example, Xavier Crews explains the process from beginning to end in his video. Besides the basic technique, it’s also essential to know these useful and handy tips that will boost your painting and make the process easier.

  1. Use the right paint: You’ll want to use paint made especially for leather and use it sparingly. It’s better to apply several very thin coats of paint (with plenty of drying time in-between) than to glob the color on all at once. 
  2. Choose a smaller brush: Many people make the mistake of choosing a paintbrush that’s too big. As a result, they end up with paint all over the place, and they can’t do the detailed work they wanted to do. It’s far better to choose a smaller brush than your actual needs than one too big.
  3. Use stencils: If you’re not great at drawing, yet you want to incorporate some design work, use stencils to get the designs you want. If the design is very detailed, use the smallest brush you can find and work slowly and deliberately. 
  4. Using tape to do stenciling: It’s easy to understand why you’d be nervous about doing free-hand drawing or if you’re scared of smudging while painting, and it’s okay. You’re probably worried that you’re about to ruin your favorite pair of shoes. If that’s the case, try the tip from Nick Iby and use painter’s tape to mask off all the areas you don’t want to paint at any particular moment. The tape is easy to use, it won’t hurt the shoes, and it can keep everything safely masked off until you’re ready to add some color to that spot. You can even put the tape over areas you’ve already painted to keep them safe, as long as you follow a few simple guidelines:
  • Let painted surfaces entirely dry before you tape them.
  • Ensure you seal the edges thoroughly.
  • Remove the tape slowly.  Don’t pull too hard or pull it off too quickly!
  1. Sanding your shoes: While you’re prepping your kicks, before applying the preparer and deglazer, take some time to file your shoes using sandpaper of different grits. This isn’t a necessary step, and often artists skip it, but we’d definitely recommend it, and it’s totally worth it in the long run because the paint lasts longer. While sanding, go in smooth circular motions and spend about 10 minutes sanding your shoes with sandpaper of each grit. Use 2 or 3 different grits. DeJesus Custom Footwear’s YouTube video shows the entire process of filing as well as painting.
  2. Build up layers for lighter colors: If you’re using colors of light shade, instead of diving straight into the color you want to show, start the base coats by mixing that color with white (1:4 or 1:3 ratio, with the larger proportion for white), and using this mix for the first 3-4 layers. Then paint 2-3 layers of the original color on top. 
  3. Lighter colors first: Since lighter colors are easier to paint over, do your light colors first and then move to the darker ones.
  4. Duller: If you want to give your paint and your shoe an overall more flat or matte look, you should invest in some good quality duller. Only a few drops are required and it lasts a good while.


There you have it. Now, you’re ready to start cleaning and painting. Remember, this is a project you can do at your own pace. You don’t have to set any speed records here; you only have to be pleased with the result. Grab your shoes (and your supplies) and have some fun! Who knows what you’ll be able to create. You might even enjoy it so much you start doing it as a hobby!

How to Hand Paint Your Vans Canvas Shoes

Buying custom Vans can be expensive.  Hand painted Vans cost anywhere from $120 to $500 online. We’ve seen pairs below $100, but that’s usually for whack designs, knock-off Vans, or non-unique pairs. What you’re looking for is a one-of-a-kind pair of kicks, don’t settle for anything less.

So this begs the question: why not customize your own pair? Hand painting canvas Vans is fun, cheaper, and much more personal to your style. It’s not as hard as you think. You get to learn a new skill, have fun in the process, and make something exactly as you wanted. Any detailing, color scheme, or design you want, you are the boss!

Painting your kicks might seem like a daunting task and it’s okay if you’re a little lost on where to start, what to get, or how to begin the process. That’s what we’re here for! In this article, we’ll break down the exact steps you need to know to hand paint your canvas kicks, as well as provide you an extensive list of the materials you’ll require.

Choose your Vans style or any canvas shoe

First things first, find a pair of Vans sneakers that you want to paint. You could choose several options, but what’s great about most Vans shoes is they are all canvas material! This makes it much easier for the paint to adhere to the shoe. Here are 4 of our top picks from Vans that we believe you’d like because they are easy to work with

  1. Slip-on’s. These are the most common choice for this kind of art project. They are easy to paint over, give you a lot of room to paint on, and are very comfortable.
Canvas Vans Slip-ons are great for painting custom designs
Click the image to purchase a pair of Slip-on Vans shoes
  1. Old Skool. Equally as much canvas space as the slip-ons but way more potential for different patterns. Old Skool Vans have a lot more depth and texture.
Canvas Vans Slip-ons are great for painting custom designs
Click the image to purchase a pair of Old Skool Vans shoes
  1. Authentic. They give an old sports vibe and are perfect if you’re looking for something simple yet versatile and fashionable.
A pair of canvas Vans Authentics are ready for hand painting by you!
Click the image to purchase a pair of Authentic Vans shoes
  1. Sk8-Hi. If you’re more into ankle-high shoes or if your design requires more space, these are the shoes you should get. Also, look at all that empty canvas waiting to be painted by you!
A fresh pair of canvas Vans Sk8-Hi make for a great pair of shoes to paint on
Click the image to purchase a pair of Sk8-Hi Vans shoes

Besides these, if you don’t feel like spending too much on your first attempt, you could get a pair of any canvas shoes. The one drawback of choosing an off-brand is that the shoe’s quality may not hold up over time. If you paint a design that you love, but the shoe starts to fall apart, you’ll be disappointed later.

List of supplies you will need

Before you begin, it’s crucial to make sure that you have all the necessary items to ensure that your project runs smoothly, and you end up with the best result. We’ve compiled a list of all the essential materials along with a few extra things that you can get for your own ease that would make the painting process much more efficient and give you unique, one of a kind shoes. You can also find the complete description of all the materials required in @sneakersnipercustoms’ YouTube video, where he explains their use and source in detail.

You don’t need to be worried about where you’ll get most of these items as at Angelus Leather Paints, and you’ll find whatever you need. You can also order almost all of these things on Amazon, whichever option you prefer. At Angelus, everything is in budget, and they are well-known for the best quality paints.

  • Prep solution. To help bind the paint to the canvas, make it last longer, and keep the material smooth and flexible, you’ll need to use a mixture of 50% Angelus 2-soft fabric medium plus 50% plain white for the base coats. This additional step also helps prevent cracking and gives it an overall smooth and bright look. You can also use 100% acetone nail-paint remover for this purpose if you don’t have Angelus 2-soft in supply.  Note that you want to purchase the 2-soft (not the hard) because these are meant for softer surfaces, like canvas shoes.
Angelus 2-soft Fabric Medium Additive
Click the image to purchase this bottle of 2-soft Fabric Medium Additive
  • Socks / Shoe trees. You will need something to insert inside the shoes to keep the work surface elevated and smooth. Old pair of socks or shoe trees should suffice.
  • Leather or Acrylic paint. It’s easy to get these paints at any crafts store, but for better quality and variety, visit the Angelus online shop and get the colors of your choice.
12 color assortment kit of acrylic paints from Angelus
Click the image to purchase your color assortment kit of Acrylic paints from Angelus
  • Tape. You’ll need masking tape to cover the soles and edges to avoid getting paint on them and to mask over any other area you don’t want to paint over.
  • Heat Gun / Blow Dryer. This is to dry off the paint after each coating.
  • Mixing jars. To mix paints.
  • Graphite / Vinyl paper. For stenciling your design.
  • X-acto Knife. This is entirely optional and just helps in the masking process.
  • Paintbrushes. You can get standard paintbrushes, although they don’t last that long and are hard to maintain. For better quality, you can get micro-detail brushes from any good store. 
  • Finisher. This is to bind everything together, avoid chipping, prevent the paint from being washed off easily, and give it a finishing look. Angelus has an acrylic matte finisher that is perfect for this job and highly used.
Angelus Acrylic finisher
Click the image to purchase your acrylic finisher

Let’s start painting!

Now that you have everything you need let’s get on to the fun part! You can get your own special hand-painted shoes in no time by following these simple and easy steps. Hattip to @whitneyestherfineart for her helpful tips!

  1. Pick out the shoes you want to paint over. You can get any of the Vans we mentioned above, but any canvas shoes will suffice. If it’s your first time, consider purchasing a less expensive pair from your local thrift store.
  2. Start by covering the soles, edges, the logo, and anything else you want to avoid painting over in masking tape. You can use the X-acto knife for easier masking.
  3. Stuff shoe trees or socks inside your shoes to keep the working space elevated.
  4. Now apply your prep solution (i.e., 50% 2-soft fabric with 50% plain white) on your shoes over the regions you want to paint. Completely dry the layer with a heat gun or blow dryer and then apply another layer again. Repeat this about 5-6 times and then see when it’s all dry.  Note that if you’re painting over black shoes, it would be best to have the first 2 or 3 layers of 50% 2-soft fabric and 50% soft cream color. The flat white layers on top would then really pick up color and make it easier for other paint colors to shoe.
  5. At this point, you can either do a free hand sketching of your design over your shoes or use a stencil for a specific design. Usually, the stencil is easier since it’s almost like coloring in the lines after you’ve transferred the design.
  • NOTE for stenciling: start by stenciling your design on a piece of paper, using a phone/ tablet screen, etc. scaled to the size you want to draw on your kicks.  Lay the graphite on the shoes with the rough, textured side facing down and just trace your design over it. 
  1. You have your basic outlines now! Add any details you like and then simply start painting using acrylic paints of colors you like. Use different sized brushes for this and make sure to apply the proper amount as some colors might need more than one layer.
  • At this point, you can even add some glitter using glitter glue, etc. if you want.
  1. It usually takes less time, but just to be on the safe side, let it dry for 24 hours.
  2. Once your artwork has dried, apply a layer of your matte-acrylic finisher on top to bind it and make it last longer. This layer protects your beautiful design from the elements and helps prevent chipping and cracking.
  3. Ready to unveil your masterpiece?!? Just pull off the masking tape, check for any missed spots and cover them, and remove paint from unwanted areas using a paint remover and cotton swab.
  4. Rock your new shoes!

How to hand paint Adidas sneakers

Hand painted Adidas Superstar sneakers by @loose.laced
Hand painted Adidas Superstar sneakers by @loose.laced

Are you an Adidas sneaker fanatic and want to take your style to the next level?  Are you an artist (or have an artist friend) that can help you elevate your Adidas shoe game? If yes, then you’re not alone. There are literally thousands of people online today who are just like you. They love Adidas and want to add a creative flair to their sneakers.

That’s why in this post we tell you exactly how you can hand paint your Adidas shoes to exactly what you like.  We take you step by step through the process and share tips along the way.

Adidas, known for their classics and their more innovative designs, are effortless to paint. Their smooth surface is perfect for the job; you just need the correct equipment, materials, and basic painting process to customize your kicks. There are hundreds of different colors and designs available, and you could apply the same general method to any pair you like. This, of course, isn’t just limited to hand painting your new Adidas shoes, you could also apply the same method to touch up or restore your old pairs as well.

First things first, get your Adidas shoes.

Adidas shoes have gained in popularity in recent years. From sports styles to everyday wear, the company has several different designs you could pick from, according to your needs or liking.  

Here are a few suggestions on which shoes you could get for hand-painting purposes:

Adidas Superstar shoes. These are the most commonly used for painting and customizing, given their classic style and simple design.

Adidas Superstar shoes are classic in style and make for a great shoe to hand paint

Stan Smith shoes. These were also quite popular some time ago, and a lot of people still prefer them.

Adidas Stan Smith sneakers can easily be hand painted

Nizza Shoes. For anyone looking for something new, especially women, these are also becoming super popular. They’re available in both simple and platform styles.

Hand paint your Adidas Nizza Shoes

Pro model shoes. A personal favorite, they are high-rise shoes available in a few different variations.

Hand paint your Adidas Pro Model shoes.

You can find all these shoes and more on Adidas online store and simply order from there. 

Supplies: everything you need to get started

It’s better to get all the supplies you need upfront so your project runs smoothly and doesn’t get slowed down. Otherwise, you might realize that after you’ve already begun, you require some other things. For this purpose, we’ve compiled a complete list of all the things you will find a need for in this endeavor.

You can find most of these things at your local arts and crafts store or order them online. For the best standard, something long-lasting, and which will be worth the money you’ll spend, we recommend buying your materials at Angelus Direct, an online store that sells everything you need to start customizing your own shoes.

Prepare your Adidas shoes for hand painting
@sophiesophss gives a step by step walk through of how to prep your Adidas shoes for painting. (video link)
  • Prep solution. This is an absolute necessity, as this removes factory paint or finish, leaving behind a clean surface to which your paint can adhere to. It also helps prevent any cracking in the paint, keeps the surface smooth and flexible, and makes the paint last longer. For this, you can get Angelus Leather Preparer and Deglazer which removes the previous oily layer and gives it a flat look. If you don’t have that, use 100% acetone nail-paint remover.
  • Small Cotton pads. To correctly apply the prep solution it is best to have these. You can also use tissue squares for this.
  • Masking or Electrical Tape. This is just to tape-off the areas where you want to avoid getting any paint. It is also useful in stenciling.
  • X-ACTO knife.  This is optional and helps mostly in taping off the soles etc. You can also get the Angelus detailing knife which will greatly help in the stenciling part too.
  • Pencil and your design printed on a paper. You will require these to trace out your design onto your shoes if you’re going for something complex.
  • Acrylic paints. The quality and colors of the paints you get is completely on you and you can find different palettes at Angelus or at any local store.
  • Air-brush. If your design has a fade or inter-mixed shading, you could get an air-brush to easily implement your design on the shoes. It is completely optional and you don’t require it for most of the techniques or drawings, it really depends on what you choose to make.
  • Paint-brushes. You’ll need two types of brushes, point-tip and flat-tip, for outlining and filling respectively.
  • Heat Gun or Blow Dryer. The multiple layers of paint need proper drying in between and this greatly helps in that.
  • Matte Finisher. In the end, to bind and hold everything together, to prevent chipping, to make the paint look fresh and last longer, apply a layer of Angelus matte finisher over your dried paint. You can also spray any matte finisher on top.
  • Angelus Duller. It helps reduce gloss and is optional.

Time to hand paint your Adidas sneakers!

Once you have all the things that are going to be used, all that’s left is the fun part… painting! You don’t need to worry about the different steps, the know-how, or the little tips and tricks, we’re here to guide you through it all. So just read on:

  1. Take the shoes you want to paint over and use your tape to cover the edges, the top laces area as well as the rubber toe-cap, since these can’t be painted over.
  2. Next soak your cotton pad or tissue with a little prep solution and rub it smoothly over the shoe to remove older paint and make it smooth. Do this 2 or 3 times, letting it dry first each time.
  3. Now at the drawing stage, you have two options: freehand drawing or stenciling. If you’re going for a simple pattern like ‘drip’ design you can easily freehand it. But if you’re going for something more intricate like a character, and you’re not comfortable free-handing it, go for stenciling.
  4. To stencil do the following:
  • Take the print-out of your design and carefully cut around the main part. Stick it on the part of your shoe where you want to draw it with tape (stuck at the back, not the sides) and trace around it using a pencil.
  • After the main part, cut out the boundaries of the inner major details, place it again on the same spot, and trace around these boundaries.
  • Add any further smaller details by hand or use smaller stencils.
  1. Now that you have your design, start painting the background! There are again two ways for this. 
  • Do it using a simple flat-tip paintbrush and your different colors.
  • Use an airbrush especially if you have multiple mixed shades in the background or are going for a slow fade look. You’ll need to make the proper paint solution for this first and use general stencils to ensure you don’t get paint on unwanted areas. 

If you’re using the second technique you can find the complete process explained in detail by Jake Mata of @visionarykickz in this youtube video. He explains the full stenciling process visually.

Watch Jake Mata of @visionarykickz hand paint a pair of Adidas Pro Model kicks
  1. After the background, use a point-tip brush to do the outlines of your main design and then use a flat-tip brush for the inner areas. Do 4-5 coatings of the base colors first and completely dry each layer using your heat gun before painting on another. Make sure that each coat is thin, smooth, and has even brush strokes.
  2. Add any further shadings you want and check for any missed spots.
  3. When the last of your paint has completely dried, apply a layer of the matte finisher and duller(optional; to reduce gloss) over your shoes.
  4. Carefully remove the tape from your shoes.
  5.  Enjoy your new kicks!

If you want more information or further help you can refer to Lorenz King’s YouTube video, who shows the process for a ‘drip’ style or if you’re looking to simply restore your shoes, check out Angelus Shoe Polish’s quick and simple video.


You now know almost everything you need to begin hand-painting your own Adidas. These are general guidelines that you can use for any design or shoes. Of course, if you want to know more about stenciling intricate patterns or other air-brushing techniques you can see more videos online and be on your way! Good luck painting!

Awesome New Custom Shoes Designed By Marcus Johnson

Recently, Your Kicks decided to pass out a few pair of shoes to legit artists from the southern California area.  One of those amazing artists was Marcus Johnson of San Diego, CA.  Marcus was given full artistic freedom and was asked to create a pair of kicks that are unique.

Check out the pictures below for a pic of what he created.  If you would like a pair of custom sneakers by Marcus, please view our custom shoe page.  Don’t forget to check out our other painted shoes that are currently sold exclusively through!!

Custom Painted Sneakers

Hand Painted Shoes By Marcus Johnson

Vietnamese Singer Kevin Khoa Wears Hand Painted Shoes While on Vacation

Famous Vietnamese Singer Wears Your Kicks While on Music Tour Across Southeast Asia!

Kevin Khoa Wears Your Kicks Custom Slip on shoes

Kevin Sporting Sink or Swim Painted Slip ons While Riding a Tuk-Tuk

Your Kicks is popular around the world! Even popular Vietnamese-American pop rock singer, Kevin Khoa can’t get enough!

Kevin Khoa, a Vietnamese-American pop rock singer, recently picked up a pair of Your Kick’s hand painted shoes. These slip-ons looked great on him as he matched them with his white pants, a sweater, and a long jacket. Kevin Khoa definitely hit the casual but artsy look that our one-of-a-kind shoes provide.

Kevin Khoa rocked the Sink or Swim pair during the day, and the Forbidden Seas pair out at night.


Kevin Khoa Wears Your Kicks Hand-Painted Vans

Kevin Khoa Wears Your Kicks Hand Painted Shoes

The Forbidden Seas pair that Kevin Khoa owns is on sale this month for $139.99! Your Kicks enjoys Kevin Khoa’s music as well as his fabulous fashion taste! Look out for our new line coming out in September Kevin, we are sure you’ll love those just as much.  

Both pairs of shoes are on sale this month and can be purchased by Clicking Here!

Are you a celebrity or a representative of a celebrity and would like your own pair of hand painted shoes?  Please contact us via our Contact Us page and provide all the necessary details like shoe size and style.  Thanks! Launches Sneak Peak into New Your Kicks Designs!

Our Friends At Received the Exclusive Right to Launch a Sneak Peak Preview into the Your Kicks Designs!

Your Kicks wanted to show love to our buddies over at by granting them the exclusive right to launch our new fall line of shoes.  As I am sure many of you are already aware, these designs will be sold exclusively through

Click here to view the post about our recent hand painted shoe designs.

Keep checking back for more as we will be launching new designs each week!

Your Kicks Hand Painted Slip ons now sold at!

We are finally launched in stores and online at!  Click on the image below to see a selection of the designs they currently carry.

Custom Painted Slip on Shoes at
Just click on the link below:

Buy @ Neiman

Best Way to Clean Painted Shoes

Hey everyone!

A common question I have been asked is, “how do I clean my shoes”.

First off, I think it is so great that people are invested in maintaining the quality of the shoes.

Second, you would be surprised how easy it is!

Use a toothbrush with warm soaping water on the design (canvas area).  Stay away from bleach products!

And use the old rag + rubbing alcohol technique on the rubber part.  Then let them air dry.

I would say that is pretty easy:)

Keep posted! More shoes releasing in the next couple of weeks!  Another one tomorrow!


The Victorious King
The Imperial City
The Longhorn
The Camouflage
The Hominid


Custom Shoes
Oeuvre Collection
Artist Applications