8 Tools Every Custom Shoe Artist Needs

8 Tools Every Custom Shoe Artist Needs

Customizing shoes is an exciting and rewarding hobby that allows you to express your creativity and personalize your leather goods uniquely. This artistic endeavor not only gives you the freedom to design one-of-a-kind pieces but also provides a satisfying sense of accomplishment as you transform ordinary shoes into extraordinary works of art. Whether you're a beginner just starting out in the world of leather painting or an experienced artist looking to refine your skills, having the right tools is essential for achieving professional-looking results. The proper equipment can make all the difference, ensuring your designs are not only beautiful but also durable and long-lasting. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the top 8 customizing painting tools every shoe artist needs in their arsenal, helping you elevate your craft and create stunning custom footwear.

Angelus Paint Best Sellers Kit

1. High-Quality Leather Paint

Investing in high-quality leather paint is crucial for achieving vibrant colors and long-lasting results. Angelus Leather Paint is the top choice among both beginners and professionals due to its excellent durability and extensive color range. This acrylic-based paint is specifically formulated for leather, ensuring it adheres well and remains flexible, preventing cracks and peeling over time. Angelus Leather Paint offers a wide variety of colors, allowing for endless creative possibilities, from classic shades to bold, custom hues. Whether you're aiming for a subtle, elegant look or a striking, standout design, Angelus Leather Paint provides the versatility and reliability you need to bring your creative visions to life.


Angelus Leather Preparer and Deglazer

2. Leather Preparer and Deglazer

Before you start painting, it's essential to prepare the leather surface properly. A leather preparer and deglazer is a must-have for this process. This product removes the factory finish, oils, and any dirt that might be on the leather, ensuring a clean surface for the paint to adhere to. By breaking down the existing finish, the Deglazer allows the paint to penetrate the leather more effectively, resulting in a smoother and more even application. This step is crucial for achieving professional-looking results and prolonging the lifespan of your painted design.


Angelus Paint Brushes on brush stand

3. Paint Brushes

A set of high-quality paint brushes is indispensable for detailed work on leather, or any other material for that matter. Look for brushes of various sizes to accommodate different types of designs. Fine-tipped brushes are perfect for intricate patterns and small details, while broader brushes are ideal for covering larger areas with even strokes. Synthetic brushes, like we carry here at Angelus, are often recommended for their durability and ability to maintain shape. They are also ideal for preventing visible brushstrokes once the paint dries. Maintaining your brushes by cleaning them thoroughly after each use will ensure they last longer and provide consistent results.


Peeling Angelus Masking Tape off of shoe

4. Painter’s/Masking Tape

Painter’s tape is an invaluable tool for creating clean, sharp lines and protecting areas of the leather that you don’t want to paint. It’s especially useful for designs with multiple colors or sections, as it helps prevent paint from bleeding into unwanted areas. When applying painter’s tape, make sure to press it down firmly to avoid any paint bleeding underneath. Once the paint is dry, carefully remove the tape to reveal crisp, clean edges that give your design a professional finish.

Angelus 4-Coat Finishers


5. Angelus 4-Coat Finisher

After completing your painting, applying a protective finish helps to preserve your artwork as best as possible, as well as change the sheen to your project. Angelus 4-Coat is a top-tier protective coating designed as a finishing coat on top of your paintings. This product helps seal the paint, protecting it from scratches, scuffs, and general wear and tear. It also enhances the durability of the paint, preventing cracking and peeling over time (please note durable customs start with proper prep and painting, skipping proper practices early on in the process cannot be made up for by simply adding a finisher.) 4-Coat comes in different finishes such as matte, satin, and gloss, allowing you to choose the perfect look for your project. Applying this finisher will give your painted leather a polished, professional appearance while ensuring longevity.

Paints on Palette


6. Palette

A palette is necessary for mixing colors and thinning paints to achieve the desired consistency and shade. A simple plastic or glass palette works well for this purpose. When using a palette, you can easily blend colors to create custom hues, add water or medium to thin the paint, and keep your work area organized. A well-maintained palette allows for smooth transitions between colors and helps you achieve the perfect mix for your design.


Pouring 2-thin into airbrush

7. Paint Additives

Paint additives such as Angelus 2-Hard and 2-Soft are essential for customizing the properties of your leather paint.

2-Hard: This additive is used when painting on hard surfaces such as plastic or glass. It helps the paint adhere better and makes it more durable. Adding 2-Hard to your paint ensures that it sticks to these non-porous surfaces without peeling or chipping.

2-Soft: This additive is an absolute must-have when working on fabrics such as the sock-liner of shoes and other soft fabrics. When heat-set properly, this Fabric Medium will help keep your fabrics nice and soft after being painted.

2-Thin: This additive is perfect for thinning out leather paint, it’s especially useful for airbrushing or when you need a lighter coat of paint. Adding 2-Thin to your paint helps achieve fine details and smooth gradients without compromising the paint's adhesion or durability.

2-Thick: When you need to add texture or create a thicker paint consistency, 2-Thick is the ideal additive. It increases the viscosity of the paint, making it suitable for creating raised designs or textured effects. This additive is particularly useful for creating embossed looks or adding dimension to your artwork.



Having the right tools can make a significant difference in your leather painting projects. By investing in these essential items, you'll be well-equipped to create beautiful and lasting designs on your leather goods. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and develop your unique style. Each tool in this list serves a specific purpose, and together they will help you achieve professional-quality results.

Ready to get started? Check out our full range of leather painting supplies at Angelus Direct and unleash your creativity today!