Cool Shoe Ideas – DIY Painting

So, as a part of this cosplay thing I’m doing for the local sci-fi/fantasy convention I’m going to next month, I painted a pair of shoes in an alien theme. It was my first time doing something like that, but it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. I figured I’d share with you guys the process I followed.

Gone Shoppin’!

Comfy, comfy shoes.

Now, unless I’m shopping for crafty things, I’m not exactly a huge shopaholic, especially where shoes are involved. Although there are fun styles out there, my feet are just small and narrow enough that I’m pretty restricted in which styles I can wear. If they’re too loose, the shoes slip off in mid stride and attempt to break whatever bone happens to be under the most stress when I get affectionate with the ground.

I ended up lucking out with these cute canvas shoes. They were on sale at Target for under $15.00, and they’re insanely comfortable, so I snatched them right up.

As a side note, when painting canvas shoes, stuff them with something, so when you paint, you’ll know the designs won’t warp when you wear them.

Things Get a Little Sketchy Here
Now, I’m by no means a visual artist, but I guess I get by. Since painting involves an element of that, I decided that I should at least try sketching some concepts before taking paint to canvas.

Not TOO terrible, at least.

I didn’t do too terribly, since I already had a bit of a picture in mind of what I wanted, though I did get a little carried away with goofiness on my sketch pad.

I did this primarily for two reasons –

1) To make sure I had crude enough skill to get something on paper close enough to what’s in my head.
2) To see what it would look like space-wise. (No pun intended. Alright, maybe a small pun intended.)

I’ve found that this is generally a great idea whenever making something involving patterns. For instance, when I’m making a beaded necklace, I lay the beads out in the pattern I have in mind before actually stringing them. Though I don’t have much experience with cross stitch or embroidery, I know drawing the pattern out first and coding it properly helps ensure a fantastic finished product.

Gather the Paints and Brushes

Purdy colors created not so purdy smells. Keep the room
well ventilated to avoid headaches.

Once you have your shoes stuffed and your design plotted out, it’s time to break out the paints! When decorating canvas, fabric paints are great to use, but I’ve also read that acrylics also work. I already had a few puff paints on hand, but I ended up picking up some regular fabric paints up, too. I only used one brush of that vast multitude, too.

That glass wasn’t for drinking water, either. It ended up looking pretty muddy once I’d cleaned the brush off between colors. 

Before actually starting to paint, squirt a little bit of the colors you’ll be using onto the plate and experiment with blending. I ended up blending all three shades of green before I got a color I liked for my lil’ alien buddies. The gold, orange and yellow got blended for a couple of the UFOs and stars, too.

Not pictured are the pencil used to sketch outlines onto the shoes before painting and paper towel used to blot the brush dry between dipping.

It’s a little hard to see, but there is the outline
of an alien flashing a peace sign and its UFO.

Sketching on Canvas
Now, I didn’t sketch on all of the little elements I added to the shoes, but I wanted something to guide me for the aliens on the toes and a few of the little UFOs. This makes it far easier to get the basic shapes down, especially when you’re not all that secure with your painting skills just yet. During this project, I’ve found that using bigger designs is far easier than any kind of detailed work. However, you just need to peruse the Internet for a while to find some absolutely amazing finished products by people who have been doing this sort of thing far longer than I have.

My dyslexia had a hand in the alien placement, but otherwise
it’s not bad for a first try, right?

Start Painting!
Ok, this is the fun part. If you started with an outline, I’ve found that it’s easiest to fill in the outline with your basic colors, then add in details afterwards. It helps to let the base coat dry a bit before adding things like eyes, mouths or lights. As it is, I ended up screwing my hippie alien’s fingers up. They’re recognizable, but still quite smudged.

Once you have everything painted, put them someplace safe to dry. Even once they’re no longer tacky, it’s a good idea to let them rest for several days before you put them on. The paint needs to finish setting, so there won’t be any inadvertent damage done while walking.

One thing that I would have done differently is putting tape over the that makes up the sole of the shoe. The smudging isn’t terrible, but it’s enough to annoy me a little bit. I had thought about painting over the white, but figured I’d just leave it be.

Some people will add a sealant to protect their work once the paint has set. This is an excellent idea, especially if you want your work to last a long time. Since I’m working on a budget, and these need to look their best for a single long weekend, I skipped that step. However, I highly suggest it to anyone who’s decorating a more expensive pair of shoes that they’re planning on selling or wearing for the long haul.

So, there we have it! A quickie tutorial about painting canvas shoes.

That poor little abductee has a huge nose. Anyone willing to take bets about
how long he’ll be able to resist that beam?


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