Converse Chuck Taylor All Star shoes, with their classic canvas uppers, are a blank canvas ready to be customized and made unique. Painting your Converse is a fun way to express your creativity and make the shoes match your style. With fabric paint made specifically for use on shoes and fabrics, you can create any design or color scheme you can dream up.
Supplies Needed for Painting Converse Shoes
Painting your Converse is an easy DIY project with minimal supplies needed:
- Converse shoes – The classic low-top or high-top Chuck Taylors work best as a canvas for fabric paint designs. Stick to canvas material rather than leather.
- Fabric paint – Look for paint formulated especially for use on fabric, shoes, leather, etc. Good brands are Angelus, Jacquard, and Liquitex.
- Paintbrushes – Round or flat brushes sized 00 to 8 work well. Have a variety for fine details and filling in larger areas.
- Palette – For mixing paint colors. Can use paper plates, plastic palette, or foam trays.
- Cups for water
- Paper towels, rags
- Pencil and eraser
- Ruler or straightedge
- Tape – Masking or painter’s tape for creating crisp edges
- Acrylic sealer/finisher – Used after painting to seal and protect the design. Angelus and Liquitex brands recommended.
- Sealing supplies – Heat gun or hair dryer, iron, press cloth
- Newspaper or drop cloth – Protect your work surface from paint drips.
Preparing the Shoes for Painting
Proper preparation of the shoes will allow the fabric paint to adhere well and result in a smooth finished product:
- Clean the shoes to remove any dirt or oils. Use mild soap and water.
- Lightly sand the surface to roughen it up so the paint can grip.
- Wipe off any dust with a clean damp rag. Let fully dry.
- Apply 1-2 thin coats of white acrylic gesso or paint as a base layer. This provides a uniform surface. Allow to dry fully.
- Sketch your design lightly in pencil on the shoes. Tape off any sharp edges you want to keep clean.
- Squeeze out fabric paints onto a palette for mixing. Add just a little water to thin slightly.
Painting Techniques and Tips
Applying the Paint
- Use thin layers of paint rather than glopping it on thickly. Several sheer coats allow better flexibility.
- Let paint dry fully between coats. Up to 24 hours for some paints.
- Mix colors directly on the palette. Test on paper first before applying to the shoes.
- Use different size brushes for filling in and detail work. Rounded brushes work well.
- Paint the edges cleanly using steady strokes. Remove tape while paint is still wet.
- Solid color – Coat entire shoe in one or two colors. Creates a bold look.
- Ombre – Gradually blend two colors together for a faded effect.
- Brushstrokes – Use visible thick strokes for a hand-painted style.
- Geometric shapes – Use tape for clean lines and shapes.
- Freehand designs – Paint patterns, shapes, illustrations freehand.
- Outline designs with a thin line of black or dark color. Pops details off the background.
- Shade with lighter and darker tones. Use side of brush to dry-brush for textures.
- Mix glitter or iridescent paint into colors for sparkling accents.
- Use fabric paint pens for finer details and hand-lettering.
Setting and Sealing the Fabric Paint
Setting the fabric paint fully will help it withstand daily wear without cracking or rubbing off:
- Allow paint to dry 24-48 hours until completely hardened.
- Speed dry with a heat gun or hair dryer on a cool setting for 5-10 minutes.
- For best durability, use an iron to heat-set the paint:
- Place press cloth over painted area.
- Iron on medium heat for 2-3 minutes over painted areas.
- Let cool before wearing.
- Seal finished shoes with 2-3 thin coats of an acrylic sealer like Angelus acrylic finisher. This protects the paint.
- Air dry sealer 1-2 hours between coats. Do not heat-set sealer.
- Avoid wearing shoes for 5-7 days to allow paint to fully cure before exposing to abrasion.
Properly set and sealed shoes will hold up well to normal wear. Take care of your painted Chucks by avoiding exposure to water and abrasive surfaces. Touch up paint as needed. Enjoy your personalized, one-of-a-kind Converse shoes!
Full Step-By-Step Tutorial
Now that you’re familiar with the supplies and techniques, follow this step-by-step tutorial for painting your own Chuck Taylors with fabric paint:
- White low-top Converse shoes
- Angelus 2-4 oz. fabric paints in 3-4 colors
- Assorted fabric paint brushes
- Palette for mixing paint
- Cups for water
- Rags, paper towels
- Painter’s tape
- Acrylic finisher
- Clean the shoes with mild soap and water and allow to fully dry.
- Sand the shoes very lightly with fine sandpaper, then wipe off any dust with a damp rag.
- Apply 1-2 thin coats of white acrylic paint as a base layer. Let dry.
- Sketch your design idea lightly in pencil directly on the shoes.
- Squeeze fabric paint colors onto palette. Add water sparingly to thin.
- Paint the base layer of your design using smooth, even strokes. Allow to dry overnight.
- Add secondary colors and details with smaller brushes. Allow to dry between coats.
- Outline key elements with black paint using the side of the brush for thin lines.
- Tape off any small details you want to remain white. Carefully paint surrounding areas.
- Remove tape while paint is still wet for clean edges.
- Allow paint to dry fully 24-48 hours until hardened.
- Seal painted shoes with 2-3 thin coats of acrylic finisher, allowing to dry between coats.
- Heat set with iron on medium heat 2-3 minutes. Place press cloth over shoes.
- Allow shoes to cure untouched 5-7 days before wearing.
And that’s it – you now have a customized, one-of-a-kind pair of painted Chucks! With some creativity and a few simple supplies, you can create any design that expresses your personal flair.
Painting Leather vs. Canvas Converse
The techniques for painting fabric Converse shoes vs. leather Converse will vary slightly:
- Requires little surface preparation – just light sanding
- Fabric paint adheres directly to the canvas material
- Can apply paint more thickly without cracking
- Designs can cover entire shoe
- Needs to be sanded and treated so paint adheres
- Fabric paint works but leather paint is better
- Should be applied in very thin coats to prevent cracking
- Limit designs to accent areas rather than full coverage
For leather Converse, use an angelus leather preparer and deglazer so the paint bonds properly. Leather paint is preferred but fabric paint can work when applied thinly and sealed properly.
Removing Fabric Paint From Converse
If you make any paint smears or want to remove painted designs from Converse shoes, it can be done:
- For fresh paint, wipe immediately with a damp rag. Rinse rag frequently.
- Rub gently with alcohol or nail polish remover on a cotton ball.
- Use acetone or paint thinner sparingly on a rag. This can damage the canvas so test first.
- For dried paint, use fine grit sandpaper. Buff gently to avoid damaging canvas.
- Repaint shoes with a neutral color to cover any stains left behind. White shoes cover well.
- If stains persist, replace insoles and laces to refresh the look.
Removing fabric paint is easiest when fresh. Once dried and sealed, paint is very stubborn on Converse canvas shoes. Try to wipe up drips as you work, and add details carefully.
Caring for Painted Fabric Converse
Painted Converse shoes require some special care to keep them looking their best:
- Allow shoes to fully cure 5-7 days before wearing. Let paint fully harden.
- Spot clean painted areas by dabbing gently with a damp cloth. Avoid scrubbing.
- Use shoe cleaner formulated for canvas shoes. Apply gently with soft brush or cloth.
- Stuff shoes with tissue paper or socks to help hold shape when not being worn.
- For storage, keep painted shoes away from direct sunlight to prevent fading.
- Check soles periodically for wear and replace as needed so they stay structurally sound.
- Use a shoe stretcher inside shoes if canvas starts sagging to restore shape.
- Spot touch up paint chips or cracks as needed so they don’t spread.
- When traveling, pack painted shoes carefully with other soft items to avoid scuffing.
- Try to avoid getting shoes wet as moisture can make paint bleed or lift. Use a sealant for protection.
- Re-apply a thin coat of acrylic sealer every few months or when paint looks dull.
With proper care and sealing, painted Converse shoes can hold up well for a long time. The sealant protects the fabric paint from cracking or chipping too quickly. Developing cracks in the paint naturally over time gives them a cool worn look.
Advanced Painting Techniques
Once you master the basics, try some of these more advanced techniques for painting your Converse:
- Cut designs out of thick paper, cardstock, or reusable plastic stencils
- Tape or hold in place and apply paint over the top with a brush or sponge
- Create solid designs, patterns, letters, shapes
- Remove carefully before paint dries for crisp edges
Freezer Paper Stencils
- Trace designs on matte side of freezer paper and cut out
- Iron designs onto shoes – shiny side down
- Paint over top – paper acts as a stencil
- Carefully peel away paper when paint is dry
- Cut craft sponges into shapes: circles, squares, triangles
- Dip into paint and dab onto shoes to create textures
- Vary pressure for solid and gradient effects
- Load brush fully with thin paint
- Run finger over bristles to fling specks of paint onto shoes
- Or use an old toothbrush for finer splatter specks
- Cut eraser ends or craft foam into simple stamp shapes
- Dip foam stamps into paint then press onto shoes
- Repeating stamp designs in rows or patterns
- Mix equal parts bleach and water in a spray bottle
- Cover areas not to be bleached
- Spritz bleach mix onto shoes for a worn, faded look
- Mix metallic paints like silver, gold, copper into clear acrylic sealer
- Brush metallic glaze over shoes in accent areas
- Creates a liquid metal effect over existing paint
Inspiration and Design Ideas
Need some inspiration for painting your Converse shoes? Here are some cool design ideas:
- Floral patterns – paint pretty floral designs along the sides or over the toe cap.
- Geometric shapes – use triangles, circles, lines in bold designs.
- Polka dots – paint different sized dots in contrasting colors.
- Ombre fade – blend two colors from dark to light.
- Glitter gradient – mix glitter into paint. Fade it from dense to sparse.
- Galaxy – paint a space scene with planets, stars, and nebula clouds.
- Rainbows – paint color bands in rainbow hues, or gradients.
- Animal print – use stencils and sponges to create a leopard or zebra print pattern.
- Characters – hand paint your favorite cartoon, movie, or video game characters.
- Cityscape – paint a skyline with buildings, windows, clouds.
- Oceanscape – paint waves, fish, and bubbles for an underwater look.
- Graffiti – use spray paint or markers for urban style letters and designs.
- Flags – paint flags from different countries if you’re a jetsetter.
Let your creativity run wild! Painted Converse are the perfect canvas for any colors, patterns, illustrations or designs you can dream up.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about painting Converse shoes:
What types of paint work best on Converse?
Acrylic-based fabric paints are the best for painting canvas Converse. Look for paint specifically made for fabric, shoes, or leather.
What is the best way to seal fabric paint on shoes?
Seal the paint with an acrylic sealer or finisher, like Angelus brand. This protects the paint from damage. Also heat set with an iron.
How do I get clean lines when painting?
Use painter’s tape to mask off sharp edges. Remove the tape while the paint is still damp. Acrylic paint dries fast, so work quickly.
Should I paint leather or canvas Converse?
For beginners, stick to canvas Converse. Leather requires more preparation and thinner paint coats.
How long does it take fabric paint to dry?
Thick layers may take 24-48 hours to fully dry and cure. Thin coats dry faster. Heat setting with a hair dryer or iron speeds the drying.
Can I put painted Converse in the washing machine?
No, hand wash only. Machine washing can ruin hand painted shoes. Spot clean gently with a rag.
Painting your Converse allows you to customize your shoes and make them unique. With some simple supplies and techniques, you can create any design that showcases your style. Just take your time, seal properly, and your painted Chuck Taylors will be a wearable work of art.