How to Draw on Shoes & What Paints to Use

by Andie Francese ; Updated September 28, 2017

Painted shoes are a form of expression.

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Shoe companies have created a variety of styles, designs and colors to appeal to personal tastes. Beyond this mass-marketed selection is a subculture dedicated to custom-designed sneakers. You can create your own designs by applying acrylic paint to your shoes. The designs can be as simple or as intricate as you'd like--and the process is simple.

Clean shoes with soap and water thoroughly to remove dust and dirt.

Sand the entire sneaker with a fine grit sandpaper until the shoe no longer feels smooth. This will help the paint adhere to the shoe. Stuff the shoes with newspaper to make the surface sturdy.

Draw your design with a pencil. Be sure to avoid areas where the sneaker naturally bends as it will make the paint crack. Avoid the center of the toe box for the same reason.

Paint the design with a small paintbrush. Remember to be mindful of the pencil lines and keep within the outlines. Allow an entire section to dry completely before you move on to another part of the shoe.

Continue painting until your entire design is filled in. Allow the shoes to dry for several hours, or until the paint is dry.

Spray the shoes with clear acrylic spray outdoors. Allow the shoes to dry, in a warm, dry place overnight.


  • Leather shoes work best for painting. Paint will crack and peel if placed in areas were the shoe creases.

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About the Author

Andie Francese has been working as a freelance blogger and content creator since 2006. She has created content for Moviefone, Blogging Stocks and several other high traffic online entities, focusing on entertainment and technology. Francese graduated from Mercy College in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and journalism.