DIY Project: Custom Painted Vans

So I came across this amazing Tumblr, F Yeah Custom Vans, and got really inspired to own a pair of super cool custom Vans. Sadly these Vans are hard to find, and once you find them… well, they are really expensive (for Vans). So being a DIY-er, I decided I can make my own! I wasn’t entirely sure on the process or my ability to pull it off, so I did my first ‘test run’ on an old pair of TOMS I had laying around – just in case it didn’t work out.

Well it’s worked out for me so far, after a few trial and errors of course! Here’s what I did to my old TOMS. What do you think? Yes, I know… I’m a nerd. P.S. I haven’t finished the left one yet.

Here is how I created my own DIY shoes, and how you can too.


Shoes, obviously. These are my favorite Vans but you can pick whichever one you prefer. The color doesn’t matter, although if you are not good with a paint brush you can use a Sharpie on a white shoe.

Water based acrylic paint and fine point brushes. I prefer Liquitex Basics paint the most, and they can be found at any art supply store.

The last things you will need are Sharpies and Scotchgard. I used Sharpies for the blue and some detail you can’t get with a brush, but if you are using a white shoe you can ditch the paint and use all Sharpie if you wish. The Scotchgard is probably the most important step. This seals the paint and Sharpie so that it doesn’t wash or run. Scotchgard is sold almost everywhere.

You will also need a pencil to outline and a picture or idea of what you want to create on your shoe.


Step 1. Outline your drawing on the shoe with a pencil so that you can erase/wash off any mistakes in placement or scale.

Step 2. Start paining in the base color(s), and let dry. You don’t want the paint to thick or it won’t look as good, but be sure to cover it enough to get your desired color. Then let the base coat dry.

Step 2 if ONLY using Sharpie. Start coloring in your drawing. I find it easier to add detail after I color in the base. Then, color until you are finished with the shoe, let dry, and Skip to Step 4. The Sharpie version is easier since there’s no paint to dry, but it only works on white shoes.

Step 3. Now that the base coat is dry you can start adding detail with a fine point brush. For small amounts of colored detail I used Sharpies to make it easier, however I don’t recommend using them to much since the acrylic paint doesn’t play very nice with Sharpies. Only use the Sharpie in small amounts. After each layer let the paint dry so that the paint doesn’t mix.

Step 4. Now that you are all finished, let your painting/drawing FULLY dry for 24 hours. Then take them outside and spray the whole shoe with Scotchgard. The more Scotchgard the better. I’d even do a few coats.

Step 5. Once your shoes are fully dry after spraying them with Scotchgard you can go out and rock them! Oh, and showcase them on Buzznet 🙂

What are you going to put on your custom shoes?

bottom shoe photo via F Yeah Custom Vans