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!

Check out our boy @JasonWahler at a shoot in Downtown LA last week sportin’ Neiman Marcus’ exclusive Your Kicks in ‘The Hominid’


Jason Wahler Sporting Your Kicks!

Photo Credit: Peter Hurley

Featured Pair: The Imperial City

Another Bright Design From Your Kicks Design Team.

Our featured pair for this blog entry is titled The Imperial City.  There are so many details on this pair that it will take you awhile before you can gather them all.  Not only are there multiple cultures and languages represented in this design, but the colors are also very eclectic.  

 The Imperial City - Hand Painted Shoes by Your Kicks

The Imperial City: Available Sept 2011

This pair of vibrant kicks can be purchased by Clicking Here!


Shoe Description: Combining the always fashionable camo with the casual slip on shoes, these kicks will make your feet anything but invisible.  This design’s disruptive color pattern and details add a combative edge to what could be a civilized shoe. With deftly painted barbed wire stretching across your kicks, this shoe won’t conceal your sharp sense of style.




One launched and four to go! Keep posted! Another style revealed tomorrow!


Neiman Marcus Hand Painted Shoes


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


Custom Shoes
Oeuvre Collection
Artist Applications