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5 Best Sneakers for Customizing

Customizing a pair of sneakers is a great way to personalize your shoes to match your style and represent your taste, and the best part is that you only need a few things to get started -- some paint, brushes, and a pair of kicks.

But what sneakers should you choose for your next project?

While you can customize pretty much any shoe, certain silhouettes make things easier and give you more freedom to paint whatever you want.

From Air Force 1s to Vans Old Skools, here are five of the best sneakers for customizing.

1. Nike Air Force 1

Air Force 1

(source: Adidas); Price: $90

Without question, the white Air Force 1 is the all-time best sneaker for customization.

The all-white colorway, classic silhouette, and paneled layout create endless possibilities for original designs and color schemes. Not to mention, at only $90, the Air Force 1 is more accessible for artists who want to try their hand at making customs without coughing up too much cash.

Jay-Z Custom Air Force 1

(source: @bbizon)

These customs created by sponsored artist @bbizon are the perfect example of how you can transform a pair of AF1s into something completely unique.

Featuring artwork from Jay-Z's legendary discography, these Air Force 1s take advantage of the blank white canvas to create an incredibly detailed and original piece of artwork.

2. Air Jordan 1

Jordan 1

(source: Nike); Price: $115

As maybe the most important sneaker of all-time, it's not surprising that the Air Jordan 1 is also one of the most popular shoes for customizing.

Like the Air Force 1, the Jordan 1 upper features distinct sections that make it easy to paint custom colorways and designs, and while some colorways can be pretty expensive, the all-white Jordan 1 Mid is usually in stock on for a fairly low $115.

Custom Jordan 1

(source: @kingdom_made)

If you need some ideas to get started on your own custom 1s, check out these customs by sponsored artist @kingdom_made.

Featuring a red, white, and black color scheme, a clean wood grain finish, and a unique checkerboard pattern on the heels, these customs fully utilize the shoe's layout to create a one-of-a-kind design.

3. Vans Sk8-Hi

Vans Sk8-Hi

(source: Vans); Price: $65

The canvas Vans Sk8-Hi is an iconic high-top sneaker that features a canvas upper, a padded collar and heel, and rubber sole. The way the shoe is designed leaves you with a perfect picture frame in the middle that you can use to paint whatever design you want.

At only $65, the Vans Sk8-Hi is a cheap sneaker that's perfect for practicing new design techniques before trying them on more expensive kicks.

Sherbert Vans Sk8-Hi

(source: @swellguycustoms)

Vans Sk8-His are a perfect shoe for customizing, but since they're made out of canvas, there are a few extra steps to take to make sure your design sticks without messing up the fabric of the shoe.

To help you get started, sponsored artist @swellguycustoms created this tutorial to show you how to create these rainbow sherbet Vans, and how to properly blend and paint on canvas.

4. Air Jordan 3

Jordan 3 White Cement

(source: Nike); Price: Varies

The Air Jordan 3 isn't the cheapest or most widely-available shoe, but it's unique and instantly-recognizable design make it perfect for custom artists.

The patterned panels open up more unique design options, and the solid upper offers a perfect canvas for painting elaborate and detailed designs.

Animal Print Jordan 3

(source: @kendrascustoms)

If you're having trouble coming up with design ideas, you can always try creating your own take on an existing colorway.

Based on the Air Jordan 3 "Animal Instinct," sponsored artist @kendrascustoms created these custom 3s, featuring a white base, cheetah print on the toe panel and ankle collar, tiger stripes around the laces, and zebra print on the heel.

5. Vans Slip-On

Vans Slip-On

(source: Vans); Price: $50

Last up is the Vans Slip-On -- not the most exciting silhouette, but it is one of the best for artists that want a blank canvas to paint larger designs.

The solid white upper serves as the perfect surface for portrait work, large paintings, and similar, detail-oriented designs, and at $50, there's no reason not to pick up a pair and see what unique designs you can come up with.

Joker Vans Slip-On

(source: @lucha_loafers)

Vans Slip-Ons are perfect for larger, more detailed designs, like these Joker-themed customs by sponsored artist @lucha_loafers.

This artist takes advantage of the large blank canvas to paint portraits of the two most acclaimed Jokers of all-time: Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix.

Tip: Don't forget to use Angelus 2-Soft when painting canvas to make sure the paint adheres well and doesn't make the fabric become stiff.

To see more customs like these, make sure to follow us on Instagram, and don't forget to stop by our online store to pick up the tools and materials you need for your next pair of customs.

Custom Avatar Vans Tutorial + More Great Customs

Whether you're new to making customs or have been doing this for a while, there is always room for improvement -- that's why we collaborate with artists to create tutorials demonstrating a variety of design techniques and other tips and tricks.

This week, @mcvsso stopped by to customize a pair of Vans Slip Ons dedicated to the iconic show Avatar: The Last Airbender.

These customs feature some of the shows most popular characters, from Aang himself to his flying bison Appa, painted over a sky blue backdrop.

If you want to learn how to make these customs yourself, make sure to check out the full tutorial over on our YouTube channel.

David Bowie Customs

(source: @mache275)

Portrait work is one of the harder techniques to get down, but once you do, the results can be incredible.

Sponsored artist @mache275 painted these custom Jordan 1s, featuring portraits of the late, great David Bowie to match the cover art for his album Aladdin Sane.

Animal Print Jordan 3s

(source: @kendrascustoms)

Sponsored artist @kendrascustoms designed and painted these custom Jordan 3s, featuring zebra, cheetah, and tiger print panels.

If you want to learn how to apply these designs to your own customs, make sure to check out our tutorials on painting realistic zebra print and using stencils to create realistic tiger stripes.

Yeezy x Off-White x Dior

(source: @bbizon)

If your dream shoe collab doesn't exist, why not make it yourself?

Sponsored artist @bbizon created these Yeezy x Off-White x Dior customs, featuring Dior branding on the upper and Off-White branded overlays.

If the Dior x Jordan 1 is any indication, then a collab of this caliber would easily cost thousands of dollars, so do yourself a favor and learn how to make your own luxury customs.

Shattered Backboard Cleats

(source: @truebluecustoms)

With the MLB restart already in danger of being shut down, these next customs might not get much use, but they're still some of the cleanest cleats we've yet to see.

Sponsored artist @truebluecustoms designed these custom cleats based on the classic Jordan 1 "Shattered Backboard," featuring the same black, orange, and white colorway.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram to see more great customs like these, and stop by our online store to grab the tools and materials you need to create your own customs.

How to Use Angelus Neon Paints

Angelus neon paints are perfect for creating eye-catching designs and colorways, but only if you know how to use them.

To help you learn how to give your customs a neon pop, @kingdom_made stopped by to create a quick tutorial, breaking down some of the simple tips and tricks of getting solid and vibrant coverage with Angelus neon acrylic paints.

Materials Needed

Neon Paints

To get started using neon paints, you'll need these materials:

  • Angelus Neon Paint
  • Angelus Standard Paint
  • Leather Preparer & Deglazer
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Tape
  • Black Light (to see neon effects)
  • Detail Knife
  • Paintbrushes

Once you have all of your materials together, you can get started on your customs.

How to Use Neon Paints

Using Angelus neon paints is a lot like using our standard paints, but there are a few extra steps you'll need to take to make sure you get that bright, vibrant neon colorway.

Prepping the Shoes

Before you get started, you're going to want to use Leather Preparer & Deglazer to prep your shoes. Simply use some cotton swabs to apply the solution, and use a cloth to wipe away any leftover dirt or dust. This will help make sure your custom paint job adheres strongly to the shoe.

Leather Preparer & Deglazer

Once your shoes are prepped, use your masking tape to tape off any areas that you don't want to get any paint on.

Base Coat

Since Angelus neon paints are semi-translucent, it's important to apply an even base coat using a standard acrylic paint that matches your neon paint (for example, if you're using neon yellow paint, use a standard yellow paint as the base coat).

Without a base coat, you'll have to apply several layers of your neon paint to get full coverage, and it still likely won't be as vibrant as you were hoping for.

In the picture above, the top Swoosh doesn't have a base coat and you can still see the factory finish beneath the neon paint. The bottom Swoosh, though, uses a matching base coat and has much better coverage.

Using Neon Paint

After your base coat has dried and you've taped off your shoes, you can get started with your neon paint job.

Neon Paint

Use a paintbrush or airbrush to apply light, even coats to your shoes. Wait for each coat to dry completely before moving on to the next one.

Black Light

Since neon paints are very bright and semi-translucent, it can be difficult to tell when an area is completely covered. If you have one at your disposal, turn off the lights and use a black light to check if there are any spots that need an extra coat or two.


Repeat this process for each section of the shoe that you want to paint. Again, make sure to let each coat completely dry before continuing. Otherwise, you risk clumping and dripping which can ruin your custom design.

Final Touches

Lastly, switch over to your detail brushes to make any necessary touch-ups to your finished customs. You can also use a detail brush to outline your customs, giving them a little bit of an extra neon pop.

Final Product

Make sure to follow us on Instagram to keep up with our newest tutorials, products, and promotions, and don't forget to stop by our online store to grab the tools you need to create your own customs.

How to Paint & Dye Old Skool Vans

Suede can be a tricky material to customize. Keeping suede soft and smooth is extremely important, so you don't want to use the wrong products or techniques when working on it.

We typically don't recommend using paint on suede as it can cause the material to harden and lose its factory finish.

That's where Angelus Suede Dye comes in. Dye will change the color of suede by penetrating the surface without damaging it.


To show you how to do this, Enzo from @ehkcustoms stopped by to create a quick tutorial on some easy techniques to properly paint and dye a pair of Vans Old Skools.

Check out the key points below, and make sure to watch the full video for a detailed tutorial.

Prepping the Shoes

To get started, you're going to want to prep your Vans to make sure there isn't any dust, dirt, or grime left on them before you start customizing.

For the suede, simply use a cleaning brush to get rid of any excess dirt or dust sitting on the material.

Angelus Cleaning Brush

After doing that, prep the leather with Angelus Leather Preparer and Deglazer by applying the solution to the leather parts of your shoes with a cotton swab. This helps get rid of the factory finish so that your paint will adhere to the shoe.

Dying Suede & Painting Canvas

Now that your shoe is prepped, you can move on to customizing the Vans.

Dye Liners

To start, Enzo uses Dye Liners to cleanly dye the edges. These pens make it easy to use dye for fine detail work.

Take the foam piece out of the dye pen and dip it into the dye, then use the pen to carefully de the edges of your Vans.

Dying the shoe

After finishing the edges, use a paintbrush to apply one to two light coats of dye to the suede parts of the shoe. By using dye instead of paint, you'll be able to get your desired colorway without making the suede stiff.

Once you're done applying the dye, make sure to use a cloth and alcohol or water to wipe away any excess dye to avoid being left with an iridescent finish.


For canvas, we recommend mixing Angelus 2-Soft with paint in a 50/50 ratio. Like using dye on suede, this mixture will help make sure the canvas keeps its natural softness and flexibility.

Then, use a heat gun to heat set your paint for three to five minutes once. This step is important to ensure your paint sets correctly.

Shoe Protection

Once your customs are finished, it's important to use finishing products to protect the paint and dye from damage.

Water repellent

Water and Stain Repellent is a great way to give your customs an invisible coating that protects them from water and stains.

When your shoes are completely dry, apply two to three even coats of the spray to your shoes without about 30 minutes of drying time in between coats. Then, let them dry for at least 12 hours and your shoes will be ready to go.

To check out more customs and tutorials, make sure to follow us on Instagram, and stop by our store to grab the materials you need to customize your sneakers.

Tropical Sunset Air Force 1s, Mac Miller Converse + More Fresh Customs

From tropical sunset Air Force `1s to custom Mac Miller Converse, Angelus sponsored artists have been working hard over the last couple of weeks to create some truly unique and exciting new designs.

Check out the customs below to get some ideas for your next project and see how Angelus paints can be used to create one-of-a-kind customs.

Tropical Sunset AF1s

(source: @dejesuscustomfootwear)

These Tropical Sunset AF1s are perfect for some summer night vibes.

Designed by sponsored artist @dejesuscustomfootwear, these custom Air Forces feature a clean red, orange, purple, and blue color palette, a tropical floral pattern, and custom dripping Swooshes.

Make sure to check out DeJesus Custom Footwear on YouTube to see his latest tutorial on how you can use an airbrush to achieve a similar gradient effect as seen on these customs.

7-11 Air Force 1s

(source: @mache275)

Sponsored artist @mache275 came through with a pair of customs dedicated to everyone's favorite convenience store.

These custom AF1s feature 7-11s classic red, orange, and green color scheme, 7-11 branding, and custom Nike branding across the heel tabs.

Mac Miller Converse

(source: @bbizon)

Sponsored artist @bbizon worked with a customer recently to create an incredible pair of Converse dedicated to the late great Mac Miller.

These customs feature the artwork of Mac's posthumous album Circles and his classic 2014 mixtape Faces.

Make sure to pick up a 12 color assortment kit if you want to try recreating this complex design.

Kobe Jordans

(source: @truebluecustoms)

The NBA season is set to resume later this month, so it's time to get your basketball customs ready for the playoffs.

Sponsored artist @truebluecustoms designed these custom Jordan 4s dedicated to Kobe and the Lakers. The customs feature the signature Lakers purple and gold color scheme and Kobe's numbers, 8 and 24, printed across the tongues and ankle collars.

Sonic Vans

(source: @bbizon)

For this last pair, sponsored artist @bbizon threw it back to a childhood classic.

These handpainted Sonic-themed Vans feature a solid blue base, Sega branding, a portrait of Sonic himself, and a Vans stripe repurposed to represent the classic Green Hill Zone from the game.

Grab a detail brush set and see which of your childhood favorites you can bring to life on a new pair of customs.

Make sure to follow Angelus on Instagram to see more great customs like these and stop by our online store to grab the materials you need to create your own custom kicks.

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