Acrylic paints are some of the most common types of paints used by artists. This is because they are easy to use, look clean and solid, and have a wide variety of hues.
Now more than ever, sneakers are gaining in popularity and there is no shortage of varieties in the market. Painting them with acrylic paints can be a great way to either breathe new life into a pair you’re already wearing or come up with something unique and new.
Let’s walk you through the steps of painting sneakers with acrylic paints, from selecting the design, preparing the sneaker, to applying color, and then sealing it. We’ll go over the techniques and tools used for this.
Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Sneakers?
If you're thinking about painting your sneakers, the first thing that might pop into your head is, "Will it ruin my shoes?" Who wants to put in hours and hours only to end up with a pair of ruined sneakers?
When you can't decide whether or not to use acrylic paint on your sneakers, you need some answers. You want to know if you should be avoiding this type of paint or if it will just come right off when you want it to. The answer is simple: you can use acrylic paint on sneakers.
Acrylic paint can actually be an excellent choice for sneakers because it isn't as water-soluble as other conventional paints, and it tends to stay put, which means that you won't have to worry about messing up your shoes with paint.
How to Paint Shoes with Acrylic Paints
Painting your shoes can be an extremely gratifying experience. The ideas are limitless, and the possibilities are extraordinary! So, without further ado, here’s how to paint shoes with acrylic paints...
Choose a Design
You should always first create a sketch of the ideas spinning in your head to paint with different colors. You can either create a 3D design on your computer or just draw it on paper.
We suggest that you start by picking an easy design instead of those that call for layering of colors if you're new to painting shoes. However, if you want to give your shoes a new look with just one color of paint, all you have to do is pick the color & you’re good to go.
Prepare the Shoes
The shoes will need to be clean and dry before you start painting them, so wash them thoroughly, then leave them out in the sun for a few hours to air dry.
If the weather isn't good outside, then open your windows and turn on the fan in your room to get rid of any trapped moisture inside the shoes.
Draw the Designs
Now you can draw the design on your shoes. If you don't want the pencil lines to show, make sure to create a light outline. Or you can also use a marker or a fine brush to go over the pencil line to highlight it.
Also, make sure that your drawing is neat before you start painting it.
Practice Painting on an Old Pair of Shoes
If you have never painted on shoes before, it is a good idea to practice on an old pair of shoes first. This is because you don't want to practice on something that you care about. If you mess up on an old pair of shoes or boots, no big deal.
Moreover, practicing the design on an old pair will give you the confidence to paint on a new pair. Doing so will allow your hand to get familiar with the technique. And, it will also help you understand the consistency and texture of the paint.
Cover the Inside and Sole with Tape
Before you start painting, cover the inside and sole of the shoe with painters' tape. This will prevent you from getting paint on anything but the outside of the shoe.
Tape off about a two-inch border around each section you're going to paint. It doesn’t have to be perfect — just do your best to make sure you don't get any paint outside of the taped area. You can pull off pieces of tape as you paint to reveal what's underneath.
You can also consider filling your shoes with paper to help them maintain their shape while the paint dries.
Apply the Acrylic Paints
You can now apply Nova Color acrylic paint to your shoes. Make sure that your brush strokes are short and even. Keep refilling the brush with paint till you're done filling the shoe, and you can't spot the shoe's old surface.
You should always use A #0 or A #1 round brushes for detailing. A #1 or A #2 fan brushes should be used to paint on the flat sides of your shoe. To paint the edges, use A #6 or A #8.
Also, do not use too much paint on your brush at once. It will probably be enough to apply one thin coat of paint on the shoes, first with a brush, then with a sponge. The more layers you put on top of each other, the thicker they'll get, which we do not want for this project.
For best results, apply thin layers of paint until you achieve a nice finish that you're happy with.
Note: You can buy the highest-quality acrylic paints at very affordable rates from Nova Color.
Let the Shoes Dry
Finally, let your shoes dry for 1 hour or till they completely dry up. To prevent the brushes from drying out, seal them using plastic wrap. Once the paint has dried, you can also put on another coat of paint if you want.
Image by artist Melany Meza-Dierks
Moreover, you should wait for 2-3 days before you start wearing your shoes as it will allow them to dry both from outside and inside.
Before using the shoes, peel off the painters' tape carefully and use an acrylic sealer spray to prevent the paint from washing away. The spray will make the shoe waterproof and protect the design from getting damaged.
Note: Don’t put your shoes in a washing machine to clean them, instead use a damp cloth only to preserve the paint.
Do Acrylic Paints Stay on Sneakers?
When used on shoes, acrylic paint is likely to crack a little in some cases.
However, you can easily prevent that by following these key points while working with Acrylic paints to ensure a long-lasting stay:
- Make sure that your shoes are dry before you paint them.
- Always apply the paint in thin layers.
- Avoid combining two or more paint brands.
- Seal the paint with the help of sealants.
Can you use Acrylic Paints on the Soles of your Sneakers?
Many people wonder if you can use acrylic paints on the soles of your sneakers, and the answer is yes, you can. But the thing is that the paint wears off after a while. The color will fade and eventually wear away.
So if you want to do this, do it before you wear them out, or else they will look bad. Also, make sure to use a couple of coats of primer before you start painting so that the paint will stick better and last longer. Also, use a sealant to ensure that the paint doesn't crack anytime soon.
Are Acrylic Paints appropriate for Leather Shoes?
Well, it is worth noting that acrylic paints are one of the best picks when it comes to painting your leather shoes. But make sure you test the paint on an inconspicuous area of your shoe before painting the entire surface.
For using acrylic paints on leather shoes, you will first have to clean the shoes well. Start by wiping down your leather shoes with some rubbing alcohol. This will remove any dust and debris from your shoes that often enter inside.
Finally, only use thin coatings of acrylic paint to get the best results. If you apply thick coatings, the paint will most likely start cracking as soon as you wear your shoes outside.
Once you are done with the process, keep in mind that you properly seal the acrylic paint for protecting your shoe design.
Are Acrylic Paints appropriate for Canvas Shoes?
Acrylic paint is made of plastic polymers, water, and sometimes a little salt. The polymer type used in acrylic paint makes it both durable and flexible. This is why it can be easily applied to canvas shoes and allowed to dry.
The plastic polymers in the paint create a thin, flexible coating on the surface of the shoes, making them long-lasting and resistant to scuffing or cracking. The plastic polymers are also durable enough to be applied to canvas shoes without damaging them.
Acrylic paints dry quickly, which is convenient when painting canvas shoes because they will not leave a wet or tacky surface on your shoes that could cause you to slip. Acrylics are non-toxic and safe to use for children, so you can let your children decorate their own canvas shoes using acrylic paints.
Are Acrylic Paints suitable for Vinyl Shoes?
The answer is not that simple. You need to know that acrylic paint is water-based paint, which means it needs a solvent or a medium to penetrate the vinyl. The solvent also helps the paint adhere to the surface of your shoes.
If you still like to go ahead with your project, you can start by applying very thin coatings of paint to ensure the success of your experiment. We suggest that you wait for at least 10-15 minutes and let every coating properly dry before you go on to apply the subsequent coating. Applying thick layers of the paint will not allow the paint to set on your shoes properly, and it will most likely start cracking.
Once you are done with painting your vinyl shoes, allow them to sit still for at least a day before you make use of a sealant. This will make sure that the color properly sets in your shoes and enhance the overall look. The sealant is also going to avoid any cracks in the paint.
So there you have it: all the secret details on how to paint sneakers with acrylic paints from all of your favorite sneaker designers.
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