Standards for Shoe Customizing: Mesh Material

Customs by @DeJesusCustomFootwear, @Astrotorfcustoms, @bbizon, and @mache275

It’s finally here, the complete guide for customizing mesh shoes!  It’s taken awhile because this is the hardest medium to customize on since it is the least forgiving for mistakes. Be warned that if you make mistakes, it will soak into the material and can’t be removed with anything, like you could with acetone or denatured alcohol on leather.  This tutorial is mainly based on DeJesus Custom Footwear’s YouTube video, so we recommend checking that out and subscribing to their channel.  As is for all of our standards, we will first tell you what materials you need, then show just the steps as a “too long, didn’t read” (TL:DR), go over the 3P’s (preparation, painting, and preservation), list our tips, include links to useful videos, and end with links to where you can buy products (and view prices).

If you are buying Angelus products from reading this article, please help us out and use this link:  For Jacquard products, please visit RemixYaKickz for great prices and fast shipping.


·Mesh Shoes

·Fabric paint or acrylic paint + 2soft or gac900


·Painter’s tape/ vinyl tape/ crepe paper tape


·Heat gun or hair dryer

·Cup of water

·Paper towels

·1oz jars (for mixing)




·Airbrush (recommended)

·Oracal 651 vinyl glitter edition (for stencils)

·Transfer paper (for stencils)

·Paint strainer (if airbrushing)



  1. Clean shoes.
  2. Mask off unpainted areas.
  3. 4-6 coats of paint with Angelus (plus 2-soft or gac900), Jacquard (airbrush ready, dyna-flow, lumiere, or neopaque) or DecoArt (SoSoft or other fabric specific) paint.
  4. Stretch material with one hand and paint in gaps with a brush in the other hand.
  5. Finish with a spray: Treehouse Matte Clear Acrylic Coating or Krylon Matte Finisher.

Watch these videos:


Before you start and project you should make sure the shoes are clean or new.  Shoe cleaners we recommend are Reshovn8r, Angelus Shoe Cleaner, and Jason Markk.  Before you start cleaning, remove the laces (you can clean them separately in a cup with some cleaner).

There is no preparation for fabric paints, so you can move onto the next section if you are using those.  Fabric paints we recommend are Jacquard brand Dye-Na-Flow, Neopaque, or Lumiere lines.

For Angelus paints, you will need to mix 1:1 of 2-soft or gac900 with your colors.  Make sure you use a paint strainer before putting the paint into your airbrush.

If you are airbrushing, use Jacquard Airbrush Colors or the same 1:1 Angelus mix.  For Angelus, there is no need for 2-thin since the 2-soft or gac900 should have thinned the paint out enough to spray.  But, if you find it’s not spraying easily, feel free to add some 2-thin.

There is no prep work for mesh material, like there is for cleats or leather.


We recommend using an airbrush on mesh for large areas because it will apply the paint evenly, whereas using a brush may result in blotchy spots where it soaked in more than other places.  Also, you can lay on thinner coats with airbrushing so that the material remains soft and not crusty with oversoaked paint.

Now that we’ve mentioned that, before you begin you will want to tape off any areas that you don’t want paint.  We recommend 3M Scotch #2060 and Protapes Crepe Paper Tape for the soles and vinyl tape for the rest.

Taping up the soles.  Protapes on bottom and 3M #2060 on mesh border.

Now that you have everything taped off, you will want to use a brush and carefully go around the edges with the proper color fabric paint (or Angelus+2Soft).

Lining the edges with paint prior to airbrushing.

Once you have your edges painted and your tape in place, go ahead and airbrush light coats, making sure you set the paint with a heat gun or hair dryer.  Wait 10-15 minutes between coats to let the paint dry.  Apply thin coats until there is full coverage (about 3-4).  You’re not done yet though; next you will grab a paint brush with paint on it in one hand and put your other hand inside the shoe.  With the hand inside of the shoe, push outwards to expose unpainted stretchy areas and then cover those areas with paint from your brush.

Spreading the shoe and painting in the cracks.

For stencils on mesh, you will want to use Oracal 651 vinyl glitter edition.  Check out DeJesus Custom Footwear’s How to Use Vinyl Stencils on Fabric for more detail.

If you want to paint fine detail be warned that it’s probably the hardest material to get clean lines onto.  This is due to bleeding of the material, stretchiness of the material, and gaps between weaves.  If you don’t have a base color down already, start off by laying 2-3 coats of white or light grey down.  This will minimize the bleeding.  For the detail work, you DO NOT want to use fabric paint or Angelus+2Soft.  Use plain acrylic paint (normal Angelus) for the detail work.


Applying 1-2 thin layers of finisher will protect your artwork, waterproof your shoes, and make them scuff resistant.  We recommend you use an aerosol spray because it will soak into the mesh better.  Brands we trust are Treehouse Matte Clear Acrylic Coating and Krylon Matte Finisher.  Tip: before spraying, always shake the canister and do a few sprays away from the shoe because it sometimes the liquid settles and gives a foggy effect for the first few sprays, which will ruin your shoes.

Allow your finisher to dry at least 2 hours but preferably 24 hours.

If you want a fresh layer of protection, use Crep Protect once every few wears or if they’ve been on the shelf for longer than 2 months.

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