Posted on: February 24, 2021 Posted by: Ola Akinlade Comments: 0

You’ve all been asking and who are we to deny you? Here is a beginner’s guide for those of you who are wanting to customize some shoes. Whether you’re bored from lockdown, and looking to get creative, or wanting to start your own hustle, we’ve covered the basics, and all you need to know to get started is right in here. 

Where to begin?

This part can be the most daunting. Luckily for us, we do a lot of pre-planning. This way, there is less chance of messing up or making errors, and you have an idea of what your final design is going to look like. 

A great resource for beginners is kicks art it has a wide range of sneaker template which you can use to mockup designs. If you’re feeling confident and ready to dive in, then feel free to ignore this step! Otherwise, we recommend getting a template of the shoe you will be painting.

For first-timers, we recommend a beginner’s kit that includes a variety of paint brushes, paints and most importantly, a deglazer.

Angelus and The Footwear Care offer reasonably priced starter kits with black, white, blue, yellow and red paint, a preparatory deglazer and a set of brushes in different sizes. 


What is deglazing and why is it important?

A deglazer is a preparatory chemical that is necessary to remove any dirt or grease from the shoe, as well as additional paint layers, that have been applied to it when it was being made in the factory. Removing these layers will allow the paint you apply to stick to the surface so much better.

Deglazer is more suited to leather, so if you’re wanting to customise a suede, rubber or fabric shoe, do not use a deglazer! These types of material require different types of preparation, most likely just washing with soap and water and brushing off any excess dirt! 

How do you deglaze?

If your shoe is dirty, you might want to give it a wipe down with a wet cloth or baby-wipe before deglazing.

If the shoe is relatively clean, all you will need to do is add some of the chemical mixture onto a cotton pad and use the cotton pad to remove the first layer factory finish. Let it dry, it will only take a couple of minutes, and you’re ready to start applying for your design work. 

The Process


Now, if sketching isn’t your thing, again, feel free to skip this step. 

But… sketching is the best way to ensure accuracy. A pencil is all you need. 


  • Don’t press too hard, you might poke holes, scratch or distress the material or make an imprint that can’t be rubbed off entirely
  • Don’t worry about sketching intricate details, when painting, you can refer to your template or go by eye to add these later. 
  • Don’t use pen as it can’t be rubbed off 


Masking tape will probably be your best friend, especially if you’re painting the panels of the shoe. Masking helps with isolating areas to paint or not paint and gives you nice clean lines and cut ins. 


Now for the fun part. Get painting! 

You can easily find leather paint on online e.g. eBay/Amazon or at craft shops.  We recommend Angelus leather paint and Footwear Care


  • Keep a rag or cloth at your disposal to get rid of excess paint on your brush or to dry it off
  • Tupperware is great for paint mixing and can also be reused after a wash and clean
  • Start with large areas i.e. your background then add the finer details later 
  • 2-4 layers of paint will give you the most accurate representation of the colour and the best results. Some colours require even more layers, like shades of blue and green. 
  • Take the laces out to avoid accidents 

Final Touches

I’ve painted them, what now?

You now want to add a finisher, it provides an extra layer of protection and brings the overall look of your design to another level. 

Make sure the shoe is completely dry before you apply the finisher – you don’t want to risk ruining all the hard work you’ve done. 

There are several different types of finishers for your desired look, these are the most popular: 

Normal (Acrylic), Matte, High Gloss, Satin

If you have an air brush then you can apply the finisher with that. If not, don’t worry, simply coat your shoe with the finisher using a clean paint brush.


  • To get the best results for a matte finish, add some duller into the mixture before applying

What about aftercare?

After some hard graft, you’ve now got your own personalised fresh kicks. You definitely want to protect them and make sure your wearable art lasts. 

If you’ve followed the steps and used the appropriate paints and materials, your artwork will remain durable and won’t crack or peel, as long as you’re not rolling around in mud or wearing them in the sea or anything.

But we understand that shoes can still get a bit dirty, simply wiping with some cold water should do the trick.

By Ola Akinlade

Ola Akinlade
Author: Ola Akinlade

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