Hello! I painted the shoes that appeared in this mailbag.
They're a pair of Nike Air Force 1 Highs that used to look like this. They were painted with acrylic leather paint and they took a few hundred hours to complete. If you have any questions about them, this is the place to ask!
I also made this this thread to provide some information regarding the painting process so that you guys can paint your own shoes if you're ever inclined to. First, you should check out the following videos by Jacob Patterson:
While you could watch Jacob's videos to figure out how to paint leather shoes, here's my own short version of the process.
You will need the following items:
- Cotton balls (thicker is better)
- Acetone (also known as nail polish remover) (get as close to 100% concentration as possible)
- Rubber gloves (the kind you use for cleaning around the house)
- A few glasses that you don't care about
- Towels that you don't care about
- Paint brushes (anything is fine, e.g. nylon)
- Acrylic leather paint (not normal acrylic) (buy it here or Google another shop)
- Leather shoes (be wary of the materials that make up the shoe)
- Finisher (aka varnish)
- Foam paint brush (to apply the finisher)
To start, you'll need to find a pair of shoes. The parts that you plan on painting need to be leather. If not, the paint won't bond properly and will be prone to wear and tear. Other than that, it doesn't matter what kind of shoes you choose. They can even be old ones that you'd like to revitalize.
Next, you'll need to prepare the shoes for painting. This involves cleaning them with acetone. Pour some of the acetone in a cup that you don't care about. Toss 6-10 cotton balls in the cup and put on your rubber gloves. Soak the cotton balls thoroughly. Squeeze them out each time you grab a new one -- you want it to be damp, but not dripping profusely. Firmly rub the areas that you plan on painting in order to remove dirt and paint. When the cotton ball gets too grimy, it'll start to smear. Throw that one away and grab a new one. You'll also need to try and remove any finisher that might be on the shoes. If you don't, the paint will not have a chance to bond -- the finisher will act as a wall between the paint and the leather. Don't scrub too hard, though, because you'll end up with bumpy leather! It takes some elbow grease to complete the preparation. Be vigilant!
After you've prepared the shoes, you can jump straight into painting. The paints work exactly like any other acrylic paints. You can mix them to your liking, and you can also thin them out with water. When you're painting, you should probably follow a design (even if it's simple). You can use this site to check for preexisting templates that are usable with Photoshop. When you're painting, you should pull the paint across the surface as evenly as possible. Use thin layers. Some of the colors are really shitty and will require tons of layers. If you paint your layers too thick, it'll look gloppy and ugly. Allow at least 4-5 minutes for each layer to dry. If you make any mistakes, you can lick your finger and quickly wipe up the last layer that you did. You can also use acetone to clean up stuff like the rubber soles.
Once you've finished painting, you should clean the shoes to the best of your ability with a damp cloth. If you wish, you can apply a finisher to make the shoes more durable. Finishers can increase the shine of the shoe, but there are matte finishers if you don't want that effect. You can find many varieties of finishers at craft stores. Apply the finisher in thin coats (just like the paint). If your coats are too thick, you'll get bubbles. You can pop the bubbles with a dab of acetone, but it's best not to have them appear at all! Apply as many coats as you feel are necessary -- I would recommend a minimum of two.
Above all, you'll need a lot of patience! Applying thin coats over and over again is really tiresome and meticulous. I like to watch stuff or listen to podcasts while painting shoes. It's too boring otherwise! If you feel like I've missed anything, I will gladly answer any questions. If you decide to venture forth with your own pair of painted shoes, please show us when you're done!
edit: I can't get this to format the way I want it to :( Moderators feel free to fudge with it!