News / How to paint leather shoes
Yesterday I finished up the Nike Air Max 90 Sneakers with the Desert Camo. I posted up some pictures on Instagram and decided I would put some of those up on a blog post for you to see. The shoes started out as the Black/Black Leather Nike AM90. I masked off the Midsole, Nike Swoosh, rubber eye row, socker liner and back tab. That all happens of course after you prep the shoes with acetone wearing rubber gloves using cotton balls to remove the protective wax layer that comes from the factory. Once the shoe is prepped with acetone, it lets the leather breath and the acrylic paints to soak into the leather. If you skip the prep step, you'll see the paint bead up. Thats how you know you've missed a spot.
Then comes more tape. This is where I mask off the parts of the camo pattern I want to remain black. I didn't need to go too heavy on this because there was already a lot of black on the shoes.
Next step I used my Iwata-Medea Deluxe Airbrush Set to paint the entire shoe sand color. At that point, all I need to do is add the brown and light green. There are different ways of doing this. And I use different methods depending on what look I'm going for. For these colors I created a stencil out of masking tape in the shapes I wanted and applied the paint where I thought it was necessary.
Let dry, remove tape.
Next, spray with Krylon 1311 Aerosol Matte Satin Finish Spray Enamel 11 Ounce as a protective coat. Make the homies jealous. Check out the pics below and let me know what you think in the comments!
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Everyday I get asked "what kind of paint do you use? Does it last forever? What do you need to do to prep the shoe for paint? How do you seal it?" I wanted to write this blog post to let people know what I do. This post should be good for both beginning sneaker artists and customers wanting to know that their shoes are painted and built to last.
First, let me tell you a little bit about the paints I use. Last year I teamed up with Jacquard Products and started using their paints on all my custom painted shoes. The paints come in a full airbrush line which don't require paint thinner like other company's paints. When I used to use Angelus, I would mix up their paint with the 2-thin, but that was so annoying. Seriously, why would I do that when other companies come with the perfect ratio pre mixed for you already in the bottle ready to buy? There are multiple different lines of paint Jacquard Products makes that can be used on shoes, but you really only need the following 3 types and they're all slightly different. Im currently using their Airbrush Color line, the Lumiere line and the Neopaque line.
Neopaque paints is what you want to use when you paint your shoes with a paint brush. The paint is the perfect consistency and is perfect for canvas, leather or suede shoes. These will replace your Angelus paints. If you want a metallic or pearlescent, you gotta get the Jacquard Lumiere paints which I talk about in the next paragraph. Jacquard Neopaque paints are essential for any sneaker customizer.
Get the Neopaque paints HERE.
Lumiere is a metallic line that doesn't crack or peel. It is made for flexible surfaces, like shoes. It's quality paint with high pigmentation so it goes a long way. I often use this on top of a white base when I want to paint my shoes gold. These are just like the Neopaque paints but shimmery.
Shop for the Lumiere paints HERE.
The airbrush colors that Jacquard makes are great. They flow through your airbrush no problem. I suggest airbrushing a few coats of paint to make it look bold. The bottle tells you to heat set, but honestly, you don't need to. I've painted thousands of pairs of shoes at this point, and they've all withstood the test of time. I'm wearing shoes right now on my feet that I painted with Jacquard Airbrush Colors. The paint looks as good as the day I painted them and I never heat blasted them with my heat gun. It's probably a better idea to heat set on canvas and cotton t-shirts, but again, I cut that out of my workflow a long time ago and haven't had any troubles.
Shop for the Airbrush paint HERE.
Don't have an airbrush or compressor? Amazon sells the same one I use HERE.
Ok let's talk about shoe prep. Specially leather shoes. All leather shoes come from the factory with a thin wax coat. The wax coat is there to keep the leather weather proof. You need to strip this thin wax coat so you can paint directly on the leather. I can't stress how important this step is. If you don't strip this coat of wax, you will notice your paints beading up when applied. Once this coat is gone, the paint will lay normal and actually sink into the leather making it permanent. The way you strip the wax coat is with Acetone. You must put on rubber gloves first, because Acetone is a really strong solvent. Simply wet the Cotton Balls with Acetone and rub the cotton balls all over the leather shoes. You won't actually see the wax layer come off, so you kinda have to just know where you have already applied the Acetone. It's really strong and fast acting, so you don't need to go too crazy with it. It should take less than 10 minutes to prep a pair of shoes.This is the tape I use: HERE
This is a stock image of the Black Leather Nike SB Stefan Janoskis I painted.
After the shoes have been fully prepped for paint using the Acetone, time for tape. In the image above you'll see blue painters tape towards the bottom of the midsole and then masking tape on top of that. The reason I do that is because the painters tape is less sticky and easier to peel off. And because it's below the Masking Tape, it acts as a wedge when I pull off the tape after I'm done painting. I wish I had figured this out earlier. I can now pull off all the tape going around the midsoles in one swipe and it leaves less tape residue on the midsole when the shoes are done. Which means less clean up at the end. In this particular pair I went crazy with the masking on the uppers because this was the design I was going for. Next step I lay down some paint. It's a lot easier and faster to use "Lazy Susan" to rotate your shoe while you spray. And they're cheap. I got mine on Amazon: here
The picture above shows the shoes after they have been hit with 2 coats of the Airbrush Metallic Gold and a thin coat of the Jacquard Metallic Copper.
This picture shows what the shoes look like after the making tape has been carefully pealed off. Remember that thin wax coat we removed using the Acetone? Time to put that back on. I use Krylon Matte Spray. 2-3 thin coats.
This is the final product! I can make you a pair too. Shop HERE.
Any thoughts, questions or concerns? Is there a method you're using that works better? The team at Jacquard Products and I want to hear about it. Let me know in the comments or send me an email email@example.com