How to Paint Galaxy Shoes
Painting with fabric dye is a great way to add a custom look to your shoes. Here, I’ve been inspired by the night sky and decided to paint them in a galaxy style. You may be wondering what kind of paint to use on shoes--there are many types to choose from. In this tutorial, however, I’ll show you how to paint shoes using Procion MX Dye and DecoArt acrylic paint.
It’s a good idea to use a reference photo to decide on the colors you’d like to use for your galaxy-inspired shoes. The typical colors are a variety of blues, reds, purples and also a little bit of black. A quick Google image search of “nebula,” “galaxy,” or “universe,” brings up a whole rainbow of colors! I find it’s best to use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel for best results. It’s best to avoid colors that are opposites (such as green and red, or yellow and purple) as they tend to blend together and make muddy or brown colors. If you do choose opposite colors, just be sure not to let those two colors touch.
- White canvas shoes
- Procion MX Dye (cold water dye for natural fibers): Jet Black, Fuchsia, Lilac, Midnight Blue
- Soda Ash
- DecoArt acrylic paint: Snow (Titanium) White
- Foam brushes (1” & 1.5” or similar size)
- Detail brushes (for painting the “stars”)
- Gloves (optional)
- Small containers for each color of dye (I used 8 oz yogurt tubs)
- Painter’s tape (optional--to tape off the rubber part of the shoe. Or you can just have a paper towel or rag to wipe off any drips)
- Plastic table cloth or cover (to protect your surface)
Step 1: Prepare the Shoes and Dyes
Remove the laces from your shoes and set aside. Mix 1 cup of soda ash per 1 gallon of water in a bucket or plastic tub and soak shoes for 20 minutes. The soda ash is necessary for locking in the dye and producing more intense colors. Without it, the dye will wash out or come off onto other surfaces when wet. While soaking the shoes, prepare your dyes. Mix 2 teaspoons of dye in 8 oz of water in a small container (3 tsp for the Jet Black dye).
Mix 2 tsp of powder dye per 8 oz of water for most colors (3 tsp for Jet Black). See directions on back of jar to be sure.
Mix until all the powder is dissolved. You may see some bits of powder floating on the surface at first, just be sure to keep mixing until it is all dissolved.
Add water to powder and mix until it is thoroughly dissolved.
Step 2: Paint Your Shoes with the Dye
While shoes are still damp, apply your first color with a sponge brush. Use the medium size sponge brush for larger areas, and the small brush for thin or small areas.
Paint the dye on with the sponge brush.
I’ve started with Midnight Blue, but you can add your colors in any order. However, I found it best to go from dark to light or light to dark, but saving black for last, as you will just be using a small amount. Also, once you’ve used black, there is no room for blending other colors on top of it.
Add your colors from dark to light, or light to dark. Leave room in between for colors to blend.
If you choose not to tape the sides of the shoes, no worries. The rubber will probably not stain right away. Just be sure to wipe up drips immediately with a damp cloth. If staining occurs, use a bleach pen as the last step to carefully remove any stains on the rubber.
Next, add lilac. It’s ok to let these colors blend a little, you will get a more interesting look with blended colors. Be sure to leave plenty of room in between for fuchsia. Since it is the lightest of the four colors, it will tend to be overpowered by the others if not given enough room, since the colors will bleed and blend a little.
Be sure to leave some room for black. You can also go on top of the other colors with black.
Then, add in ribbons of fuchsia in between the lilac and midnight blue patches, leaving some small patches for jet black. You can also go back at this point and add more lilac or midnight blue to darken.
Add the black dye last.
Last, add small patches of jet black. Repeat steps on the other shoe. Wrap both shoes in plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let sit overnight, about 12 to 24 hours. First rinse with cool water, then with gradually warmer water. Rinse 3 to 4 times until the water is almost clear. Then prepare a soap soak with 2 to 3 gallons of very warm tap water and 1½ teaspoons of Synthrapol or other detergent. The shoes should sit in the soap bath for 5 to 10 minutes. Then rinse 3 to 4 more times with warm water. Allow time to dry.
Step 3: Add “Stars” with Acrylic Paint
Set out a plastic table cloth or something similar to protect your surface. Next, dip a small, detail brush in white acrylic paint. Hold the brush over the shoe with one hand and with the other hand, tap the brush while you move it over the shoe. This should give you some speckles and thin splatters that resemble stars.
Be sure to cover your surface before splatter-painting. Use different sized detail brushes to get various sizes of drips and splatters.
Add larger stars by dipping a brush in the paint and dabbing it lightly onto the shoe. Spread the larger dots around randomly or clump together to form constellations.
Use a detail brush to add dots or “stars.”
Prop up your shoe to get splatters on the sides.
Once the paint is dry, add your laces back in and you’re done!