How to Paint Shoes

DIY painted canvas shoes on dress
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DIY Painted Shoes for Summer

DIY painted shoes on a monstera leaf
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Summer's here, and the time is right for making all sorts of fun DIY projects to wear around in the sunshine! These DIY painted shoes are so fun, fashionable, and a total snap to make. They're perfect for both kids and adults, or you could make matching shoes for the whole family! Use your imagination when it comes to the pattern to let your personal style shine through.

Gather Materials

Materials to make painted shoes
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As you're gathering materials, look for canvas shoes with lots of flat space for painting. You could also use shoes with a rubber toe, but keep in mind that you won't be painting on the rubber portion (and it can eat up a lot of space, especially on a kids' shoe). You'll also want to be sure that your paints are acrylic, as they tend to wear pretty well on the canvas and the colors are nice and saturated.

What You'll Need

  • Plain canvas shoes
  • Acrylic paints in your choice of colors
  • Paintbrushes in a variety of smaller tips and sizes
  • Pencil
  • Cup with water and paper towel for cleaning brushes

Sketch Your Shapes

Light leaf pencil sketch on canvas shoe
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Think about your favorite patterns or patterns that your kids would love. It can be anything—shapes, rainbows, fruit, letters, clouds, stripes, or any other fun pattern you can imagine. We chose a jungle theme with various types of leaves. Start by using a pencil to lightly sketch your first shape. You'll be able to carefully erase light pencil from the canvas, but be sure not to draw too heavily.

Paint the Outline

Hand painting canvas shoes
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Once you have your basic shape sketched, use a fine tip brush to outline the shape with paint. Go slowly and carefully to ensure that you don't get paint on any area that's meant to stay clean. You may need to use multiple coats or brushstrokes to get full coverage on the canvas with certain colors.

Fill in Outline

Painting canvas shoes
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Using a slightly larger brush, start to fill in the outline of your shape. Get the base color down, and then if the shape needs any shading or details (like the lines on our leaves), add those after the base color is complete.

Add More to Your Pattern

Patterned painted canvas shoes
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Continue adding more to your pattern. Once you get going you may find that you don't need to use the pencil to sketch any more, but if you're unsure we recommend penciling things in first. Also, at this point you may want to decide whether you want the pattern to cover the entire shoe, or just a portion. We chose to keep our leafy jungle pattern just within the stitching that's on the toe of the shoe.

Paint the Back

Painting the back of canvas shoes
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For an extra pop of color, paint the back of your shoe a solid shade that corresponds to your pattern. Paint up to the top line of stitching (if your shoe has stitching like the one shown here).

Let Them Dry, Then Wear

DIY painted shoes sitting on dress
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Set the shoes aside to dry. Once fully dry (we recommend at least 24 hours), put them on and have fun!