Everyone has a pair or two of converse that they love to wear and are like their go-to shoes. And why wouldn’t they be? They’re comfortable, available in a few different designs, durable, long-lasting, and most importantly, they look pretty trendy and go with almost anything! But maybe you’re looking to customize your plain, boring converse shoes to give them a cute, eye-catching look, something that’s personal to you, or just something that you like. Maybe you didn’t just get new shoes, perhaps you have an old pair you want to touch up and give it a fresh look.
Our creative sides strike every once in a while and leave us with a craving to try something new, let our imagination run wild, and experiment with different things, for you that could be shoes this time. Whatever the reason may be, if you’re here, that means you’re looking for an easy and nice way to upgrade your Chucks, and what better way to do that than to hand paint them? That way you can draw on anything you like, use the colors of your choice and make sure you get everything exactly as you want it.
To get you started on your little art project, we’ve compiled everything you might need from art supplies to the easiest and simplest painting process. So just read on to learn more!
Getting the shoes
Can’t start without getting the proper shoes, can we? For this we’d 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 canvas shoes obtained from some store. 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 Converse official website and pick out something else you really like.
Getting all the right materials is essential to ensure that your efforts are not wasted and that once you start, you don’t face any blockers and have everything you need for a smooth process. So it’s best to gather your supplies beforehand. We’ve made a list of the tools and items that are required:
- 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 are 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 for other parts of your painting (You could get either flat-tip or point-tip depending on what you plan on drawing)
With everything you need on hand, you’re all set for the fun part: painting! Follow these simple steps to create something unique and unforgettable.
- 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, which would 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. Now use your primer over this entire area or use primer 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 version 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 little straightforward design, you can also use painter’s tape to stencil out the designs, DeJesus follow this method in his YouTube video.
- Now that you have your design ready start painting by starting from the most prominent colors or the colors that take up the most space. After this, gradually add more colors on top, but make sure that the layer below is completely dry first. You can use a blow dryer for this purpose.
- After you’ve painted it all, let it dry for 24 hours, then 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 Converse!
If you’d like a visual, step by step guide on how to prep your shoes, check out Erin O’Hagan’s video that shows just that. For a full character paint video, head to Ralph Cifra’s Youtube channel and see his Painting on Converse video that shows the process with a Rick and Morty painting.
Some finishing remarks
You can always search up more tutorials that relate to your specific design or style that you’re going for. For example, if you’re going for a hazy look or want to blend your different colors, paint over your base coat when it’s still a little wet instead of waiting for it to dry. Whatever you choose to do, with these general guidelines and the internet at your service, you’re sure to have success and thoroughly enjoy the process.