How to Customize Dr. Martens Boots

How to Customize Dr. Martens Boots

For our latest tutorial, we're happy to welcome the talented Tommy Nickerson (aka @beargallery) to Angelus Headquarters to teach you how to customize a pair of Dr. Martens boots. When it comes to colorful, vibrant and realistic paintings, Bear Gallery is one of the best in the customs game.

Follow along to learn how to prep and paint a pair of 1460 Smooth Leather White Dr. Martens with just a few basic tools and materials.

Let's get started.


First, it's important to note that we're using Smooth Leather Dr. Martens for this tutorial. Dr. Martens come in many different finishes, but the Smooth Leather is the best one for customizing as the paint will have trouble adhering to some of the other ones.

That being said, you're going to start the same way you'd start any other custom project -- with some prep work.

Use a cotton pad and some Leather Preparer and Deglazer to remove the factory finish from the boots so that the paint can stick to the shoe without flaking or chipping.


Before you start painting in the background color, you can cut circles out of some stencil material to place over the lace eyelets.

This step isn't completely necessary but will make things much easier once you start painting.

Painting the Boots

Next, we're going to start painting the background. For these customs, Tommy used Gift Box Blue to fill in the background.

Make sure to paint even layers and move quickly to ensure that there aren't any borders between the new paint and the old, dry paint.

Let each coat dry completely before moving on to the next coat. Apply additional coats until the background is completely filled in and there aren't any obvious brush strokes.

Also, you'll notice that Tommy is painting around the stencil of a parrot for this design. You can do the same for your design, or you can freehand your design if you prefer.

Painting in the Outline

After the background is filled in, it's time to paint the rest of your design.

If you want to replicate this design, you're going to start by layering your colors from dark to light. When painting, try to keep your brush strokes in the direction of the feathers (after the first few coats, you won't see them anymore).

Also, for some interesting textures, you can apply two different shades of the same color to each side of your brush.

Finishing Touches

To finish off this design, Tommy added a final drip effect.

To replicate this, use a Q-Tip to apply Leather Preparer and Deglazer only to the spots where you want to add this effect, then use a detail brush to paint in the drips.

Once your design is finished, use a heat gun to make sure all of the paint is dry before moving on to the last step.


Lastly, to protect your custom design and add a nice final touch, you're going to want to apply a layer of Acrylic Finisher.

For these customs, Tommy used our Matte finish for the background, a Sating finish for the feathers, and a Gloss finish for the beak.

How to Customize Dr Martens Boots | Realistic Parrot | Angelus Paint

For a more detailed walkthrough on how to create these customs, make sure to watch the full tutorial on our YouTube channel.

Don't forget to follow Angelus on Instagram for more great customs like these, and make sure to check out our online store to grab the materials you need to create these custom Dr. Martens.