Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Star shoes are one of the most popular shoe styles out there. They’re comfortable, available in a few different designs, durable, long-lasting, and most importantly, still trendy after all these years. The best part? Their simple design makes them perfect for customizing which is why many decide to hand paint their old (or new) Converse Chuck Taylors.
There are a lot of artists out there who invest in different sneakers and sell different styles of hand painted shoes. If you aren’t into getting your hands dirty yourself, check out our guide on buying customized painted Vans. Otherwise, it’s time to unleash your creative beast by customizing those old Chuck Taylors you’ve had in your closet since high school and turning them into a walking statement of your personality.
Don’t worry, Picasso, we have put together this simple guide to walk you through the proper steps of customizing your kicks.
Getting The Shoes
If you don’t already have some old Converse laying around, we got you covered. We recommend getting the classic Converse shoes since they’re made of high-quality canvas, are easy to paint on, and will last much longer than any other canvas shoes. The Converse Chuck Taylors are a favorite of shoe artists and come in two different styles:
High Tops: These are a great choice if your design is relatively larger and requires a large space; this would give you the blank canvas you need.
Low Tops: If your design involves a repetitive or funky pattern or some simple small prints like flowers, Low Tops are the way to go.
To scan through all your different options, you can visit the Converse official website and pick out something that fits your style.
Getting all the right materials is essential to ensure that your efforts are not wasted. In order to properly hand paint your Converse Chuck Taylors, you will need the following:
- Masking/ Painter’s tape: This is to seal off any areas you don’t want to be painted over and for stenciling.
- XACTO knife (optional): To cut off the tape and for stenciling (if you’re using tape to stencil out your design)
- Gesso/ Acrylic paint in white or black (as a primer): You’ll need these to form the base since canvas absorbs a lot of the paint and it’s hard to get the colors to show properly without a proper base. You can get it in white or black depending on the color of your shoes (use white unless the canvas of your Chuck Taylors is black)
- Good Acrylic paints: Get some good quality acrylic paints. You can find more info here and pick what suits your needs best. Some artists prefer to use a half-and-half mixture of Angelus Leather Paint and Angelus 2 soft, which results in a thin mixture that adheres to the canvas material and keeps the fabric flexible, so the paint doesn’t crack easily.
- Acrylic varnish or finisher: to prevent chipping, cracking, and making the paint last longer while looking fresh.
- Pencil/ fine tip micro pen or fine tip marker: to draw outlines of your design.
- Paintbrushes in different sizes: You’ll need at least one small, one medium, and one large-sized brush. You could get either flat-tip or point-tip depending on what you plan on drawing.
No two pairs of shoes are alike. You don’t want to hand paint your Converse Chuck Taylors the same way you’d paint Nike Air Force 1s. Make sure to follow the below steps carefully:
- First off, remove the laces from your shoes and place them somewhere safe for later.
- Now tape off the toe caps, the soles, edges, and the tongue of your shoes.
- Stuff your shoes with rolled-up cloth, shopping bags, or newspapers to keep the outer surfaces elevated. This will give a more comfortable and more smooth surface to work on.
- Draw a very rough outline of your design on your shoes using a pencil.
- Spread your primer over the entire area of your design or over your entire shoe if you plan on painting the whole shoe. You’ll need several thin and even coats of the primer to get the perfect base.
- Once the base has completely dried, draw a more detailed outline of your design on it. You can either freehand your design or transfer it using a tracing paper or graphite paper, as shown in DeJesus Custom Footwear’s video. For a more straightforward design, you can also use painter’s tape to stencil out the design as shown by DeJesus in his YouTube video.
- Now that you have an outline, start painting using the most prominent colors or the colors that take up the most space. After this, gradually add more colors on top, making sure that the layer below is completely dry first. You can use a blow dryer if the paint isn’t drying fast enough for your taste.
- Once you’ve finished painting, let it dry for 24 hours. Once dried, use a good acrylic finisher (matte or glossy) on top to give it a finished look.
- Remove the tape, add back the laces initially removed, and enjoy your new and improved masterpeice!
If you’d like a visual step by step guide on how to prep your shoes, check out Erin O’Hagan’s video. For a full tutorial, head to Ralph Cifra’s Youtube channel and see his incredible Rick and Morty Painting on Converse video.
Some finishing remarks
You’ve taken all this time to customize your new kicks, now what? Don’t let all that hard work go to waste by throwing them in the washer. Make sure to properly research how to clean hand painted shoes so you can best perserve your work of art for years to come.
Not into Converse? We’ve made similar guides for painting Vans slipons and customizing Adidas Sneakers.