May 9, 2012

How to Customize your Kicks & Trick Out Your Sneakers with Elmer's Painters

A few weekends ago, the family and I were in San Francisco and came across a few stores selling canvas shoes with custom artwork.  It was my youngest daughter who remarked, "Hey, we could do that!"  So when I had the opportunity to write a craft tutorial for Elmer's using their Painters Opaque Paint Markers, I knew right away what I'd be making.  I already use Painters on glass, plastic, fabric, paper and wood.  So, why not canvas shoes?

What I love most about Elmer's Painters is that I have much more control than I would with a paintbrush.  They're so easy to use, especially for those of us born without the Rembrandt gene.

Customizing your canvas kicks is easy, inexpensive and fun. 

Everything you need to make totally custom, rockin' sneaks can be found at your local Walmart store.

Here's how it's done...

Custom Painted Sneakers
with Elmer's Painters


A pair of canvas sneakers
(I purchased mine for $5 at Walmart.)

Elmer's Painters Opaque Paint Markers in colors of your choice
(Elmer's Painters come in different tip sizes and color collections.  There's a fine tip, medium tip and calligraphy tip.  I recommend the medium tip for fill-in.)

Elmer's Painters Opaque Paint Marker in Black, fine tip for outlining (individual makers can be purchased at Walmart for $1.97/ea)

A disappearing ink pen
(Found in the sewing department.  Use the purple side.)

Scotch Guard Fabric Protector Spray

Let's get started...

Step 1:  Decide on a design.  The shoes I made were for my daughter who requested a skull on the toe and flames on the side.  I found some pictures online that she liked, then printed them out to use as a reference.  Remove shoelaces from shoes.

Step 2:  Once you've decided on your artwork and how you want to lay it out, sketch your design on the canvas shoes using the purple side of the disappearing ink pen.  You don't have to worry about making a mistake or re-drawing because the ink will disappear (times may vary depending on brand).

Step 3:  Once you're happy with your sketch, go over your design with a fine tip Painter's marker.

Step 4:  Add color.  I love that Painters can be blended to create a gradient.

Step 5:  Fill in the background using a medium tip Painter.  Use the fine tip for the smaller areas.

Step 6:  Spray with a coat of Scotch guard.  Dry.  Repeat.  Re-thread shoelaces (or add some colorful ones) and enjoy!

You can stay up to date on all the creative happenings at Elmer's on Facebook and Twitter

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric


  1. Those turned out really awesome. Well done!

  2. Wow, nice work! Those turned out so awesome! I'm having a link party if you'd like to link them up! It's my first one.

  3. Those are some great rockin tennis shoes! love the design! visiting from & the SF.

  4. Those are like totally rad (both the shoes and the pens!).

  5. OMG those shoes are awesome! Love these paint markers.

  6. How fun! I would have loved these are a kid! Reminds me of the Keds I had when I was younger that you could color with colored pencils :)

  7. These are so great Jenn!! I thought they were black shoes! Teh design is so fun. Great job!

  8. Those turned out fabulous!!

  9. They turned out great! What a creative use for these Paint markers. I have only used them on glass, can't wait to try them on canvas!

    -Erin Spain
    DIY On the Cheap

  10. These are so cute Jenn! I have seen some really amazing painted sneakers, but have not tried them yet. Thanks for the step by step - definitely will be picking up some sneakers in the near future :) Already have several of the Elmer's Paint Markers, but will probably need to stock up!

  11. Your freehand drawing skills are impressive!

  12. Oh my goodness!! These are fabulous! Of course, my daughter would want us to add sparkle. . .going to give this one a try!

  13. These are great. I love the pic of your daughter modeling them - too cute. :)

  14. When my son was little his feet were too narrow for trendy trainers so I did something similar to what you've done,although much less artistic! I did add bright orange laces... at age 6 he loved them!

  15. Not a big fan of Scotch Guard, but I really like the way you've custom designed those shoes. Way cool! Looks like a lot of fun.

  16. Those turned out so awesome looking!!! I love that you daughter knew you guys could remake your own instead of buying ones!!! I totally thought you had painted on black shoes too!!! How fun is this!!!

  17. Those are super cool shoes!

  18. I actually have a pair of white tennis shoes and a textile marker that I, um, bought last June to do something like this. I should maybe get on that.

  19. What a great idea! I may have to try something like that for my girlie! I remember drawing all over my Chucks when I was in high school, this would have been much easier ;-)

  20. excellent work. I like it. I found it very useful. Love the final result. Thanks for the inspiration and the tips.
    Lorena Chavez


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