gallifreyireland: (sing about my feelings)

If any of you follow me on Tumblr or DeviantArt, you may have seen this recently:

avatar shoe concept

After an entire summer of me putting off this project, my older brother basically jumped all over me for not making these shoes I promised him. So about a week and a half ago I sat down and spent five hours designing the things (see above picture) and then continued to procrastinate because I thought "no way the real ones will be this much fun or turn out this awesome".


Monday I decided enough was enough, and the shoes definitely weren't going to get finished if I never started.

What follows is the story of the time I painted some Avatar shoes and didn't completely ruin them. If you've ever wanted to be all individual and creative or whatnot by customizing your shoes...herein lies the proper procedure. (Or as much of a procedure as one can develop as a novice herself.)

I've never painted on shoes before, but I've got plenty of experience with acryllic paint on canvas so I figured it couldn't be all that different.
To prevent paint-crackage and other unpleasantness, I bought fabric medium, which "enchances the workability, color blending and flow for fabric painting- controls color bleeding and reduces stiffness". Basically it turns regular old acryllic paint into fabric paint, which is a lot simpler than going out and buying every color of fabric paint when I already have so much paint lying around the place...But you can use whichever you prefer. Or straight-up acryllic without fabric medium, if you're feeling adventurous.
An assortment of brushes is also necessary, since you can't paint detail with a fat brush and painting a whole shoe with a tiny brush would probably make you crazy.

Here's my work station all set up and ready to go- complete with iPod for motivational music and plenty of newspaper. Seriously. Newspaper is your friend.

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It's also helpful to have something big for paint-mixing. I used an old chip-and-dip tray which worked perfectly. And look! David is peeking!

The first thing you want is some canvas shoes, obviously. I've seen people who've painted on leather before, but its more complicated.

Using painter's tape (or masking tape, which is probably cheaper and works just as well in this case), tape off the bottom edges or any part of the shoe you don't want paint on (in this case, I also taped off these little tags on the side because these are pretty nice shoes, so why not advertise a bit?), and stuff the inside with newspaper (this holds the shoe's form for you which makes it easier to work with. Plus it blocks paint). Then you coat the whole shoe in a layer of white as a basecoat. (If you're using fabric medium, add about five drops to every color of paint and mix it in really well before use.) Canvas is notorious for sucking up paint, and its much more preferable to lose a bit of white than it would be to lose most of your beautifully colored design.

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one shoe with basecoat, one without.

Let it dry for a bit.

At this point, most people will pencil the design on the shoe to have a guide when they start painting. In my case, I was going to be painting the whole shoe with background color anyway and didn't want to waste time on a sketch I wouldn't even be able to see...so I just skipped that and went at it. (Regardless, its a very good idea to have your design sketched out on paper or something before hand, or at least have reference photos. Or both.)

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Tada! Magically painted. I wish it were that fast in real life. This color-blendy nonsense took  forever.
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You want to wait somewhere between 20 minutes- an hour for each coat to dry, depending on how much you painted and how thick the coat is. If you painted the whole shoe like I did, you'll probably want to wait overnight to be safe.

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and here's the left shoe...
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Let's time travel to this morning...er, Tuesday morning, shall we?

Once your base layer is good and dry, you can do any more pencil sketching you need to help with the next layer.

 I started with the smaller symbols for this design because I was absolutely terrified of screwing this up.
Thankfully, my freehand skills hadn't abandoned me this summer and I was able to do all four symbols with a minumum of touch-up paint.

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fire and air
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water and earth

I used illustration markers for this part, but Sharpie or any permanent marker works just as well. Or painting with a teeny brush for that matter.

Then, when I could put it off no longer, it was finally time to start on the bigger element symbols.

These I sketched out beforehand. Of course, against the darker colors my pencil lines weren't all that visible so I ended up winging it anyway.

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air and fire again...
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...and another water and earth!

Once you're completely done, you'll need to protect and set your masterpiece.
For this, I use Matte Fixative. It's a spray used to protect paintings and drawings and such, and works perfectly for our needs here. 
Spray that all over your shoes (but try not to coat like crazy or get any on the inside).

Let them sit for a while, about an hour maybe, and then come back and remove the tape and newspaper to reveal your finished shoes!

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From when I started taping these off to when I took the final picture, I spent about 13 1/2 hours on these. That's not counting the design time from earlier...but it was very worth it!

Of course, even with all the fabric medium and fixative in the world, these will probably end up cracking a bit over time. Since these are my first attempt, I have no idea how long they'll hold up. If they wear pretty well, I'm planning on making my own Doctor Who shoes (and my little brother wants some with Daleks on them...).

My older brother is coming by to pick these up tomorrow (or I guess later today considering it's now 2:30am). I'm all fidgety because I'm excited about how well these came out and I can't wait for him to see them in person! That's probably why I'm so wide awake and feeling like I'm on a sugar high right now. Post-Art Euphoria. I'm used to it after last year's hardcore design class at Uni...

Anyway, you don't need to have any sort of artistic talent to paint on your shoes! Even simple blocks of solid color will be more creative than most off-the-shelf shoes out there. Or you could take the Jackson Polluck approach and just splatter-paint like a boss :P