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Can You Use Gouache On Shoes?

Painting a pair of shoes can transform them into something extraordinary, helping you create a custom outfit that stands out. Choosing the right type of paint for your shoes can be tricky, however. Can you use gouache on shoes?

Gouache can look very beautiful on some types of shoes, but it’s quite an undertaking to paint shoes with gouache. You would have to do a lot of preparation and would need to be able to seal the paint in really well for it to stay. If you were planning on putting your shoes on display as a decoration, the paint may stay for longer. 

If you want to paint shoes that you wear every day, gouache isn’t the best choice. There are ways to use gouache paint on shoes though, so let’s keep reading!

Can You Use Gouache On Shoes?

Technically, you can use gouache to paint your shoes and it’ll likely result in a nice finished product. What’s most difficult is making sure the paint actually stays, and the painting itself stays intact. 

There are many ways to seal paint on shoes, including my favorite sealers, Mod Podge. You can spray a layer of Mod Podge to ensure your paint doesn’t flake or chip off.

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The Properties Of Gouache And It Works On Shoes

Gouache is one of those paints that reacts to water regardless of how long it’s been dry. As such, the moment your shoes were to get wet, the gouache is going to start to run or fade. Gouache mixes well with other types of paints, so that could be an option if you like the color payout of gouache and want it to apply well to shoes. 

The one benefit of gouache is that regardless of what color you apply to your shoe, it’s going to show up. Gouache is a more opaque paint that doesn’t need layer after layer in order for your pigment to be pronounced, so it can be used on any color surface. That said, gouache does dry quickly and can be layered beautifully. 

My all time favorite Gouache Paint band is Arteza. Their colors are super vibrant, high quality and very affordable. I have personally used Arteza gouache paints on fabric like surfaces and with the right sealer, the paint did not chip or crack.

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The Suitability Of Different Types Of Shoes For Gouache Application

Most gouache doesn’t typically adhere to fabric very well. If you were to paint a pair of canvas shoes, for instance, your gouache is likely to start peeling off or cracking shortly after application. The only exception is gouache made specifically for fabric. 

Check out this Fabric Paint Set. It’s specifically designed to be used on any fabric surface.

Factors To Consider When Deciding Whether To Use Gouache On Shoes 

The material of your shoes will play a big role in how they handle gouache. You’ll want to consider whether you’re okay with potentially ruining your shoes. Shoes made with a synthetic plastic or faux leather material may allow you to wash off the paint if you don’t seal it, but gouache will likely stain fabric shoes to a certain extent. 

It’s always recommended to seal the paint on any project you are working on, to ensure the longevity of your paint.

How To Use Gouache On Shoes 

To have your best chance at creating a footwear masterpiece with gouache, you want to take the time to prepare your shoes for paint. Afterwards, you’ll want to add a seal to keep the paint in place as well as a shoe protector to try and reduce any damage that could occur if you take your shoes outside. 

As stated above, I highly recommend using Mod Podge to seal your gouache painted project.

Preparation Of The Shoes For Gouache Application 

There’s a lot of preparation involved with getting gouache to apply nicely to shoes and stay intact. For instance, if you have a pair of vinyl shoes to paint, you want to rub some sandpaper along the vinyl to make the texture a bit rougher. With leather, it requires a specific type of primer made specifically for leather shoes. 

I like to use Angelus Leather Primer and Deglazer to prepare the surface of leather shoes.

Your shoes should be both clean and dry before you start painting. Any kind of debris or dirt on your shoes can ruin the look of the gouache. It’s also important to cover up the soles and insoles of your shoes with a protective layer that will stay in place so you don’t accidentally get paint where you don’t want it. 

Techniques For Applying Gouache To Shoes 

A soft, synthetic brush is recommended for painting shoes. You’ll want to stick with smaller brushes, especially if you’re trying to create fine detail. You should also consider sketching out your intended design with a pencil or thin paint marker unless your goal is something organic and unpredictable. 

This Transon Artist Paint Brush Set is my top pick for gouache paint brushes. I have a set, and the quality is top notch. The bristles are very soft and durable. I purchased my set a little over a year and a half ago, and they’re still in tact!

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Tips For Creating A Design That Will Stay On The Shoes

If you want to paint a pair of canvas or fabric shoes with gouache, you may get better results if you mix your gouache with some acrylic paint. You can also find fabric-specific gouache that will adhere to the material much better. 

I wrote another article, Can You mix Gouache Paint with Acrylic Paint?, which shows you how to properly mix the two paints, plus answers many more questions.

Gouache doesn’t take a long time to dry, but it may take a little bit longer to dry of smoother shoes made from materials like vinyl, faux leather, leather, or plastic. Give the shoes ample time to dry before sealing the paint. Additionally, give that sealer a lot of time to dry thoroughly before you add any kind of weatherproofing protector to your shoes. 


What Kind Of Paint Can You Use On Shoes?

The kind of paint you use on shoes will depend on the material of the shoes. However, most people have success with acrylic paints or paint markers. 

Is Gouache Waterproof When Dry?

Gouache is not a waterproof paint, even when it’s dry. As a result, using a sealer to keep paint locked in is crucial. 

What Surfaces Can Gouache Be Used On?

Gouache can be used on a plethora of surfaces, including watercolor paper, sketchbook paper, bristol board, drawing paper, and smooth canvas. 

Final Thoughts

If you want to paint some shoes, there are paints other than gouache that can create just as nice of an effect that are more likely to last longer. If you want to create a piece of art to display in your home using a shoe as a canvas, using gouache isn’t a bad idea because it won’t be exposed to the elements. 

Both shoes and gouache aren’t cheap, so be sure you want to take the risk of potentially ruining a pair of shoes in a way that can’t be reversed. Also, you don’t want to skip priming and sealing your shoes to make sure your artwork lasts as long as it can. 

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your gouache project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!