"No Signal" Canvas Customs

Difficulty: 1/5 (very easy)

Estimated Time: 5 hours

The concept of these shoes is to do the “No Signal” pattern that used to be commonplace when there were broadcasting errors on antennae TV channels.  The actual graphic looks like the image below, but feel free to make it your own with your own color choices!  Also, this shoe only has the pattern on the front part of the shoe but it would look great on the heel or even the sides too.  Experiment by sketching on a piece of paper and adding colors to see what you like.

"No Signal" pattern.

To make these shoes, buy our DIY custom shoes kit here (adult) or here (kids).


  • Canvas shoes
  • Primer (gesso)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Palette
  • Finisher
  • Brushes


  • Palette
  • Painter’s tape
  • Cup of water*
  • Paper towels*
  • Pencil*
  • Ruler* (metal edge preferred)

*not included in the kits


1.  Mask the soles.  Paint on the soles will rub off or crack in the long run.  It’s best to not get any paint on these areas unless you understand it will only be temporary.  You may also want to mask off the two stretchy elastic parts and/or the sock liner if you don’t trust yourself to not get paint on those areas while painting.
Shoe with sole masked off.
2.  Apply gesso (primer) to any areas you will paint.  One thin coat will do.  The primer will help the acrylic paint stick to the canvas shoe.
Applying a thin layer of gesso (primer) before painting.
3.  Lightly draw in the pattern with a pencil. Start with the top row.  There are 7 columns, so each shoe should have 3.5 columns.  Measure the width of your shoe where it is widest (top of the toes) and divide that by 3.5.  For instance, my size 9 shoe measures 4.5”, so 4.5/3.5 = 1.29.  So, about every 1.3” I made a tick mark on the top portion of the shoe.

The 2nd row has the same columns, so continue those 3.5 columns down to make the 2nd row. For the 3rd row, you can just kind of eyeball where the marks go based on the picture.
Lines sketched onto the shoe with painting started.
4.  Paint the shoes. The “No Signal” pattern has 11 colors (white, yellow, teal, green, pink, red, blue, black, and fifty three shades of grey), but feel free to use as few or as many as you like.  If you need color ideas, we used the Color Harmony and Color Pal apps to view color combinations.

For a new person painting on customs the first thing you should realize is that you will need to paint in thin layers.  You can’t simply paint once and be done.  We recommend you do 2-4 layers, depending on how well your paint is laying down and the colors you’re using (light colors may require more layers).  Using thin layers will keep your paint from clumping and cracking. Don’t be alarmed if the first layer you apply is blotchy or has tiny gaps showing.  As you add more layers the colors will soak in evenly and gaps will be filled.  Below is an example of what it looks like as you add more layers.  Notice that after the first layer you can still see the red in the background.  After the second layer you can still see red but after the third layer you can’t see red at all in those areas.
Example of 1, 2, and 3 layers of white paint on top of red.

In order to use thin layers, don’t glob the paint onto your brush.  Just pull up enough so you can do a few swipes.  Use the brush as a spreading tool with the goal of making the paint apply thinly and evenly.  You can use a hair dryer or heat gun between coats to make it dry faster.  Be careful not to make it too hot or the paint may burn and change color.

I like to start out with big brushes to do large areas and then use smaller or angled brushes near edges.  It’s a good idea to reserve 1-2 hours at the end of painting to clean up all of the detailed edges (after removing the masking tape).

Now that you’re done painting you will need to let it dry.  I wait at least 1 hour after painting to let it dry before putting on finisher.
5.  As an optional step, write the “No Signal” words across the shoes.  The easiest way to do this is to simply print out the words onto a piece of paper, cut it out, and then trace it onto the shoe.  For other stencil options and directions check out our post here.
6.  Apply finisher.  Once the paint is all dry apply 1-2 thin layers of the matte medium finisher.
Finished shoes!


  • Thin layers are better. Thick layers can lead to the paint cracking, so put just enough paint on your brush to spread thin onto the canvas material.  If it dries with tiny gaps or faded looking colors it’s ok, you can put on more thin layers until it looks uniform.
  • Now is a good opportunity to get used to different brushes, angles, and brush strokes. For large areas, use the biggest brush you have, but make sure you are spreading it evenly and not too thick.  Angle brushes are perfect for doing fades.  Fades can be achieved by using two brushes with the paints you want to fade and blending them into each other.  Make sure the paint you are trying to blend is still wet.  Flat brushes are great for edges and everything else.
  • It’s a good idea to paint across the toe box (in the across-the-toes direction) because that area flexes more than anywhere else on the shoe. Having the paint flex in the same direction as the shoe will reduce chances of cracking.  If your pattern doesn’t lend itself to painting across-the-toes don’t worry about it, it’s a minimal effect.
  • Use those detail brushes at the end. The key to a professional looking shoe is having clean edges, artwork, and images.
  • Excess paint on the soles can be cleaned up with acetone (nail polish remover) or isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab or q-tip.
  • Proper brush care will extend the life of your brushes. Don’t allow the paint to dry on the brush.  Always put it in some water and rinse it around.  If you are switching colors, repeatedly rinse until nothing comes off while drying your brush on a paper towel.  After you are done working, brushes can be washed using a brush cleaner (we recommend Masterbrush Cleaner), soapy water, or shampoo.  Do not store your brushes head-down or in water or solvent.

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