Hydro dipping (also called water marbling or immersion printing) has become a popular method of customizing sneakers in the last few years. You can become a sneaker artist simply by dipping your shoes in water with the colors of your choice. Not only that, but this is also a great investment in sneakers: you can buy sneakers for cheap, customize them, and sell them at a higher price! However, be sure to use a Shoe Bot while buying your Nike sneakers because most of the time, Nike fans will have cleared the stock even before your page refreshes!
For example, many artists love to customize their Vans while others prefer custom Air Force 1s. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than just simply dipping your shoes in water to customize your shoes this way. Although you can always simply buy a pair of hand-painted sneakers, putting your own creative touch on your sneakers is a great way to express yourself. If you want to start hydro dipping your shoes, here’s how you can do it.
Gather your materials
You’re going to need a few different things if you want to hydro dip your shoes. These are essential in completing the project and creating the perfect pair of custom shoes for you:
- Access to water
- Spray paint
- Sealing spray
- Rubber gloves
That’s it, once you have all of these materials, you’ll be able to move on to the next step and start prepping your kicks for color.
Prepare your shoes
Before you just start dipping your shoes in colorful water, it’s important that you get them prepared first. Typically, people who hydro dip shoes make sure that the shoes they use are mostly white. This leaves the most space possible on the shoe for the colors to bind to. That’s why many artists commonly hand paint their Nike AF1s; they are all white and easier to customize. If there are spaces on your shoes that you want to leave white intentionally–like the sole of the shoe for example–then it’s best to take painter’s tape and tape it in those areas. It’s important you do a good job taping the shoes where you don’t want any color to be at because it’s extremely easy for water to make it through little holes and cracks in tape. Also, make sure you remove the laces of your shoes before you start dipping. You can hydro dip them separately if you want to make them colorful but if you leave them on then the color has less of a chance of applying evenly. Now, you’re all set to start dipping.
Pick out your colors
Now that your shoes have been prepped and ready to be dipped, it’s time to pick out your colors. The colors you choose are all up to you, but remember that if you’re going for a certain theme for your dip (i.e. galaxy or marble) then it’s best to look up color palettes that go well together.
The best paint to hydro dip your custom sneakers, no matter if you decide to hand paint Converse Chuck Taylors or Adidas, is going to be spray paint. It bonds well to fabric and other materials after being sprayed, it’s easy to create designs in water, and is widely used for hydro dip projects. Going to your local hardware store and picking up a couple of cheap cans of spray paint or emptying out some old cans you have lying around is your best bet.
After you’ve picked out your colors and your shoes are prepped, it’s time to fill your bucket up with water and start spraying your paint. Keep in mind that inhaling paint can damage your lungs so wear a mask if you have one. Most types of spray paints will get the job done, but Krylon paint is commonly used for custom sneakers.
Even though you’re spray painting water, you want to try and layer your design in the best ways possible. If you see an area with too much of the same color, try spraying in a different color to get a cool-looking blended effect. At the end of the day, how you spray the water that you’re using is entirely up to you but if you can aim for specific sneaker designs or patterns that you can find online.
Now that you’ve sprayed your colors into your water, it’s time to start dipping. It’s important that you go one shoe at a time so you have enough paint to completely cover the surface of your shoes. Make sure you wear your rubber gloves and try to have a steady hand when you dip the shoe under the spray-painted water. Go slowly so you can have some control over what type of design bonds to different parts of the shoe.
After you’ve dipped the shoe, leave it submerged underwater while holding it with one hand and clear out the remaining paint on the surface of the water with the other. This will make it easier for you to pull the shoe out of the water without having excess paint bind to it.
Once you’ve finished your first shoe, put it somewhere safe to dry and repeat the same exact process for the second custom sneaker. You’ll be able to use the same water and you can start spray painting it just like before.
Let them dry and remove the tape
With so much water and paint used on a shoe, it can take quite some time for them to dry. It’s best to put them somewhere safe for at least 24 hours before you attempt to check if they are dry. This way, you’ll be certain that your shoes will most likely be dry and ready for the next step.
After you’ve confirmed they are dry, the next step is to remove the tape from your shoes and add your laces back in. This can be time-consuming but if you did a great job taping your kicks then it’ll be worth it when you see your final product come to life.
Final touches on your hydro-dipped sneakers
If you really want to be sure about sealing the paint to your shoes then it’s best to find some spray-on shoe sealant. It can be found near the shoe cleaning products at any footwear store. It’ll bind to any type of fabric and lock in the paint so it won’t easily wash out of your shoes.
After that, it’s time to grab your phone and start snapping pics to show your friends your cool new hydro dip shoe design!