Jump to content

How To: Paint Leather Shoes! + Customs Q&A

Recommended Posts

Now keep in mind i took this directly from the book Sneaker Freaker, so all the credit goes to them. If you dont have a copy of this book shame on you, go get one! But for those who dont have one, i figured this would help people somewhat on how to customize shoes. The guide was done by the artist Sabotage, and it only covers leather shoes; stenciling, and painting.

Things you will need:

Sneakers (of course)
Stencils (if you want to stencil)
Varnish (to give it that extra shine)
Cotton Pads
Tape (to mask the soles)
Pen Knife or Tweezers (to handle stencils)

Step 1: Prepping the shoes.

1. Cut up the sponges into little squares slightly smaller than the cotton pads. Place the cotton on top of the sponge. Soak the cotton side with acetone, enough until you feel the coldness on the sponge side.

2. Fold the sponge in half. Start deglazing the leather with the sponge, dont rub too hard as you dont want the to lose the OG texture of the leather.

3. The acetone will dissolve the paint. There will be a creamy residue of wet paint on the leather. Use the cotton pads to wipe it off. The sponge and acetone acts like liquid sandpaper, change a fresh set of sponges if the old one gets too coated with paint. The leather should feel like suede.

4. Start masking the soles, its easier to mask them from the middle and with the soles facing away from you. Mask them at one go, one full round.

5. Get your stencils (If you want graphics, otherwise skip this step).

6. Mix your paints and store them in little air tight containers.

7. Paint your base coats first.

8. Place your stencils on the shoe. You can use the tweezers or a pen knife to handle them, fingers are too big. Position them accurately, then lock them down by pressing hard onto the shoe, you want clean lines without any paint seeping through.

Step 2: Painting.

1. Use an angle shader brush (brush with a angled tip). Dip generously into the paint. Always start by paining the stitchings. The tip of the brush should be facing the edge of the segment that you are painting. Paint back and forth, this way you fill up those holes of the stitching very quickly creating a perfect line. Plus, it reduces the risk of getting paint over to the other segment. Paint with long strokes. Spread whatever amount of the paint you have on your brush as far as it can go, this means thin coats. The first coat will not look even, dont panic and have itchy fingers and try to fill it up. Keep coating until you see an even, OG like finish with the leather texture still there. Paint fast, spread, even out that segment and dont touch it. Painting/touching a semi dry area will cause brush strokes and the OG of the texture of the leather to be lost. You will also feel resistance in painting, as semi dry paint is sticky.

2. If your going to be using a metallic color, paint it first the same hue of that color as the prime coat. If you dont, you will end up painting a zillion coats of that color to try and get it even.

*Sabotage used a tiger cammo pattern, you dont have to use this pattern, if you are going to be shading this will work*

3. The tiger cammo consists of 4 shades. One base coat and 3 shades of grey. Use a small/tiny angle shader and dip ample amounts of paint just enough to coat the hairs of the brush. Paint the first shade of grey, second and finish the shoe up.

4. The moment of truth. Peel off the stencils but not with your nails, you will dig out the paint. Use a pen knife/NT cutter to carefully dig out the vinyl. Pull them out slowly in the proper direction, you want to be 100% sure or its back to pasting them again.

Step 3: Touch Ups.

1. Use a hooked brush (or very thin one) to touch up the edges you might have missed when first painting. The hooked brush works best because it locks onto the edge nicely, and makes for some great clean edges.

2. So before you lace them up, you got to coat them with some varnish first. Krylon Matte Varnish works the best. Spray from a distance, in moderation. Lace up the kicks and go break some necks!

now updated with pics by your friendly mod Sharp020(it took me 30 minutes to capture and resize this pics so you ppl better be happy)



Lately there have been a ton of topics with questions about customizing your dunks/various shoes. Please refer to this Q&A for answers.

Source : ISS http://www.issforums.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=155216 go to it if you want more info(theres is alot of info!) thanks for C2 Customs for making this

Q:What is the best paint for leather shoes?
A: Angelus leather paint, there is a complete sticky in the forum about this product.

Q: How do people engrave on shoes, such as add gator skin?
A: Woodburing Pen or Soldering Iron. These are widely available online or in arts or crafts stores. Please check eBay, as I bought mine off of there.

Q: How do people add fabric or denim to shoes?
A: Make a stencil by masking off the area with masking tape and cuting it out with an exacto knife to make a precise stencil. Trace onto your fabric, cut out precisely, glue on with fabric glue. (people prefer GOOP)

Q: How do people add lettering to shoes?
A: Vinyl letter stickers are available at any arts and crafts store. Lay down your desired base coat for the color of the lettering, lay down your stickers, add you second color direclty over the stickers, remove carefully.

Q: Can you paint midsoles? If so is there any suggested paint?
A: Yes you can paint midsoles, but they WILL crack over time. At this point there is no perfect paint for midsoles but people are experimenting.

Q: How do you change the color of suede?
A: Angelus leather dye works best, but must be applied with extreme caution as it will bleed.

Q: How do people make such clean edges/designs?
A: Most people have developed enough skill through practice to creat clean designs by hand. This will take time! However, people can mask to achieve straight lines or edges.

Q: How do you make camo, elephant print, safari, etc...
A: Search google for images of samples that have been produced. Lay down your base coat color and add your secondary or third colors on top.

Q: How do I add images on fabric to my customs?
A: Paper that can be printed directly through an inkjet printer.(Iron on transfers) This can be purchased online or at office supplies stores. Print your image on the paper, iron onto your fabric, then cut and glue onto your shoes.

Q: What do Angelus Paint Dullers and Varnishes do?
A: Paint duller can be added directly to your paint to deminish the gloss it comes with and accomplishes a factory produced look. Varnishes can be added after you are done painting to add a glossy/shiny look to your paint to accomplish a patent leather look.

Q: How do I get glow in the dark paint?
A: Buy glow in the dark pigment powwder made for acrylic paints and add it to Angelus Neutral leather paint. This powder is available certain places online.

Q: What should I use to prepare the shoes and how do I know if they are prepared correctly?
A: Pure acetone is the strongest and most effective way to remove factory finishes for the best results in customizing. I personally use cotton balls for larger areas and cotton q-tips for smaller areas that are dipped in acetone to prepare my customs. Apply a good amount of pressure and scrub, but not so hard that you remove the texture of the leather. Some people believe you must make the leather turn grey for it to be prepared, but aslong as the finish is off, you're good to go.

Q: How do you change the color of the inside of shoes?
A: If mesh like on many AF1s, you may paint it with acrylic paint, but it will become stiff. If leather, paint it like any other leather part of the shoe with proper preparation.

Q: How do I achieve a fade effect? (i.e. Haze Dunks)
A: Airbrushing, experiment, basic common knowledge to most so I won't go in detail.

Q: Is shoe wax/water repellant needed to be applied after finishing a custom?
A: No, angelus paint is water proof, but it doesn't hurt, just dont spray on too much.

Q: How do I achieve fine detail/small thin lines?
A: Using a brush that comes to a small point and applying barely any pressure can get you those perfect details.

Q: Is createx a usable paint for customizing shoes?
A: I've heard it is and it isn't. I have never used it and I see no reason why anyone would becasue angelus works just fine.

Q: Can I throw my shoes in a washing machine to clean them/white up the mesh?
A: I have heard of great stories and horror stories from this. I reccommend against it as the mositure that will be left in the shoes will deterioate the soles. As for how clean you shoes get, don't expect miracles. Be sure to add the proper detergent and put the shoes in separate pillow cases.

Q: Will customs with printed canvas on them last through wear in the rain, snow, etc.?
A: If you follow the correct proceedures, even ironed on canvas should last because they are made to even go through the washing machine with no bleeding.

Q: How do I make canvas customs?
A: Quoted from Chameleon: Grab a sewing machine, thread, fabric, masking tape, exacto knife, glue and some beers and you too can have some awesome looking customs in just 10 easy steps.

I reccomend using exacto knife or fabric scissors (not the dull things you cut paper with)
I reccomend using Shoe Goo
I reccomend staying away from Liquid Stitch
I reccomend Coronas

1. Lay the masking tape down on the section(s) you want covered by the fabric.

2. Cut the section out on the masking tape with the exacto knife (duh).

3. Place the cut out section onto the fabric.

4. Cut out the template with an exacto knife, or if you like trace it out with a pen and cut it out with some sharp fabric scissors (dont cut exactly on the border, its better to cut a bit bigger incase you make a mistake, you can always clean things up, but you can go back an add fabric) Also, if your sewing more than 1 panel together, leave about 1/2 inch or so so the seams will look clean (explain later.)

5. Lay the fabric up against the shoe, get your piccaso on. If everything matches up against the shoe then go onto the next step, if not, this is the time to get everything perfect. Use the scissors to clean up all the edges.

6a. Single Panel : Take a pencil and simple trace out where you want the stiching to be. Now, go over it with the sewing machine. Please note, if your doing any part of the shoe that touches the midsole, dont sew there, as there is no stiching along that side.

6b. Multiple Panels : A bit harder than if using a single panel. If you want all your panels to seamlessly blend, then flip your fabric over and sew all the joining seams. (All of this stitching will be on the inside and thus will make all the seams on the shoe "invisible" just like all the seams on a...*looks around*...pillow case). But wait, your not done. You still have to do step 6a now!

ALSO. In step 6b. you can add additional stitching. I cant remember which customizer did but it was their "jack the ripper" customs and they had red stiching crossing the toe box, so if you were wondering how to do that, this is where you would.

7. Apply a thin layer of glue to the shoe, and also to the inside of the fabric, use a paintbrush or something of the sort to spead it around. Dont add too much glue though, depending on the fabic, it may cause the colours to bleed. Make sure everything is set right.

8. Watch tv. (yes, this is a step. The step isnt, watch the shoes while the glue dries, or poke the shoes and move the panels around. Trying to get things perfect usually means you messing thngs up and having to start over. If you must watch the shoes, at least grab a damp paper towl and wipe the excess glue off.) If you see parts where its uneven, wait till its dry. Its much easier to cut when its dry and stiff.

9. Once its dried go over and make sure everything looks just right. Pull out the exacto knife again. Make sure everything is clean and there are no threads sticking out. Dont go overboard though.

10. Mail me the beers.

Q:How do I paint the "Nike Air" stitching on the back of Air Force Ones?
A: Use a fine tiped brush and apply the paint thinly. Take your time!

Q: How can I avoid leaving burn marks in the leather?
A: Since it is a woodBURNING pen, it will leave dark burn lines on certain shoes and colors. If you want to get rid of these, paint over them with the same color.

Q: How do I make custom tags like Nikes?
A: Ask your local embroidey shop for an estimate of prices and what can be done. Some screenprinters also do this...

Q: Where can you buy Goop (the glue)?
A: I personally go to a store called JoAnns Fabrics, Ive heard of people going to other arts and cratfs stores such as Micheals for things such as goop also.

Q: Where can I find silica packets to buy?
A: Google Search...

Q: How do I make the splatter effect?
A: Mask off anywhere you dont want paint to be. Then there are several ways to apply the splatter, some drop it from brushes at a high point and let gravity to the work. Some people goop in on their brushes and flick or throw it at the shoes. Some also blow the paint out of a straw to get the job done.

Q: When to add varnish/gloss/waterproofer?
A: Anytime after your paint has dried.

Q: Will shoe polish come off in the rain/snow?
A: Check the label to see if it is waterproof, if not, add waterproofer.

Q: How do I paint patent leather?
A: I myself have never heard a solid fool proof way yet. Anyone got one, feel free to let me know, if not, I would reccomment not painting it.

Q: Where can I purchase Carbon Fiber?
A: It is available online in many stores, eBay, and some people have said they found it at local craft stores.

Q: Where can I buy Nike SB Laces?
A: I know for sure one seller on eBay that always had some available with BIN.

Q: How deep do I burn when trying to make gator/elephant print?
A: Quoted By Chameleon:

"To start off with, there is no answer. There is no measurement or depth gage for you to go by. There are no standards. No color markers or changes in the smell of the burning leather. If the alligator skin is done properly, it should not be even. Much like real alligator skin it should not compltely symmertical. There are highs and lows in the grain. To use the coin term "scales" loosely, there should not be in a uniform pattern. Experiment with it. That could quite possibly be the best info you could get regarding the croc pattern.

With that said, there are many customs ive seen out there that have a simple checker board pattern that looks very unauthentic. For that, press the hot woodburning pen into the leather and drag it in a slow, straight, steady line. Repeat if necessary. "

Q: How do I mask off the areas to make my stencils/templates for fabric customs?
A: I prefer to use the wide tape, overlap as much as need to sufficiently cover the whole area of the place you are trying to make a stencil/template. The press down the edges with a thumbnail to get them clean and crisp before you cut. Then take your exacto knife and carefully cut away the excess material, leaving you with a perfect template.

Q:where do you buy angelus paint?

A: look localy, but you wont find it in Jo-Anns nor Michaels, maybe you can find it in Pearls
You can also buy Angelous leather paint on www.turtlefeathers.com or has a good selection as well

Q:Two questions:

Angelus paint comes in 1oz and 4oz bottles. How much is generally needed for a pair of shoes?
Also has anyone tried dying the inside and the tongue with fabric dye, like Rit?

A. 1. 1oz. could almost definitely do a single pair so I wouldn't worry about that.

Q:Does anyone know anything about mixing Angelus paints to achieve a desired shade? I was looking at the link that goodbye posted, and I need a green lighter than the one available. Could I mix it with white like normal paints? Sorry, I've never worked with leather paints before...

A:you can usa a textile medium i think made by delta sold at michaels or somewhere like that. if you go there and ask im sure theyll know what im talkin about

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now