How to paint a pair of rad shoes

A few weeks ago I came across this blog post by Amy Ratcliffe, all about the nerdy shoe crafting party she threw with some friends. The shoes they created had me drooling with shoe envy. I knew I had to try my hand at making something nifty for the many miles of walking at Comic Con.

Want to paint your own pair of geektastic shoes? The list of links I used to research and draw inspiration are at the bottom of this post.


The driving force behind my first trip to SDCC was sitting at home reading all of‘s coverage of the 2003 event, then realizing I lived a mere hour’s drive away – I’ve attended every SDCC since. With all the anticipation building for The Hobbit panel in Hall H this year, I determined to pay homage to the books and movies that I love so dearly.

To create the design, I used a couple of images as references. One was screen cap of Gandalf outside Bag End from the movies and this painting by Soreau Caroline. A quick sketch of the basic shapes on paper to figure out the proportions, then it was penciled on to the shoes. The finished product turned out even better than I dared to hope!

Two tips for painting your own shoes

  1. Don’t over stuff your shoes. Stuffing the shoes with newspaper made the canvas a nice stable surface to apply the paint, but I was a little over zealous with the stuffing in one shoe. Now that the paint has dried on the stretched out canvas, it wrinkles more than it should and I think it will be more prone to cracking.
  2. The cheap little bottles of craft acrylic paint work just fine. I was concerned that the $1.19-a-bottle paints in the craft aisle of Michael’s wouldn’t hold up as well as the bigger tubes in the painting aisle. They worked just fine and they saved me time in mixing paint colors from the standard red/yellow/blue/white/black.

It took about 5 hours to do all the painting (not including about 20 minutes of drying time, before I used an ultra-fine sharpie to draw in the details like the brick work). The total cost of the project was $34 for the shoes ($9 at Walmart!), paint, brushes, and a can of matte finishing spray. FWIW, after the matte spray, I also added a coat of the water proofing spray Vans sells. Not sure if the water proofing spray is a worthwhile purchase, my roommate had a can so I figured, why not?

I can’t wait to this again…in fact, everyone in my family may be receiving custom shoes for Christmas this year. 😉


Painting the shoes time lapse


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