How to paint shoes for a Halloween costume

Need some special shoes for Halloween, cosplay, or just for wandering down the street every day? Here’s how I made these shoes with a geometric decoration, to dress as a HexaSexual character:

Materials needed:

  • Beat-up old shoes that are just barely comfortable enough to wear
  • Wide masking tape
  • Acrylic paints
  • Golden GAC-200 medium
  • 1″ flat paintbrush (nylon or taklon)
  • Tiny paintbrush (I used 3/0 size)
  • Paint palette
  • Watertight container
  • Marble
  • Water for washing brushes
  • Cellulose sponge or rag
  • Drafting template
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Cutting mat
  • Curling ribbon (gift-wrapping stuff), or coloured shoelaces, fabric ribbon, or yarn
  • Scotch tape
  • Scissors

This process is going to take a few hours, so start the day before your event:

  • Clean the old shoes.
  • Remove shoelaces.
  • Stick masking tape on any areas you don’t want painted.
  • shoes-masked-black-paint
  • For the background colour (I chose black):  Mix acrylic paint with Golden GAC-200 medium, which helps paint adhere to the non-porous surface of the shoes.  To easily mix a larger quantity of acrylics, combine them in a watertight container with a marble, and shake it up!   About half an ounce of acrylics would have sufficed for my shoes, which needed two coats to cover the original colour.  I mixed up a lot of heavy-body black paint, but it would have been easier to use a few drops of the heavily-pigmented Golden Fluid Acrylics.
  • black paint gac marble
  • Paint the background colour with the larger brush.  Use the tiny brush to remove paint from the eyelets, so you can fit the shoelaces in later.  I needed two coats to cover the original shoe colour.
  • Design your decoration pattern.  These instructions are for a geometric motif that requires masking:
    • Stick strips of masking tape to the cutting mat.
    • Draw shapes on the tape (I used a hexagon template) and cut them with a knife.
    • hexagon masking
    • Stick the shapes onto the shoes.  You can move them until you like the design.
    • hexagon masks on shoes
    • Carefully paint an outline colour (white) over the edge of the shape masks (hexagons) using the tiny brush.  Golden Fluid Acrylic was the perfect viscosity.
    • white paint small brush
    • paint over hex masks
    • Remove the shape masks, using the knife tip to lift up the tape.
    • white paint outlines
    • Fill in the shapes with paint (I used a purple mixed with white for opacity, then a transparent violet paint).
    • purple hexes
    • Touch up the outlines with white paint.
  • I couldn’t find purple shoelaces in a hurry, so I taped some ribbon to the original black laces, then curled the ends with the blade of scissors.
  • ribbon shoelaces
  • Pull gently when tying the shoes, or you’ll break the ribbon like I did!
  • finished shoes 4x7
  • Pack up your painted shoes and wear something comfortable to get to the party, convention, or other event.  You wouldn’t want to get mud on your new creations!


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