The paranoia of using the wrong paints and messing up your time-consuming custom shoe project can be paralyzing. There is so much information out there that it’s hard to know who to trust and what to buy. And, you can’t be totally sure if you’re getting the best advice because so many shoe customizers are sponsored by big companies (not that that’s a bad thing). Well, here at Just1 Shoes, we want to un-freeze your mind so you can get started today!
If you’ve spent some time watching YouTube videos and stalking shoe customizers on Instagram (which are two things I suggest you do), you’ll realize that two biggest players in the industry for shoe paints are Angelus and Jacquard. So, which should you use for your project and what are the pros and cons of using each? In this article, we’ll break down all of the facts so that you can make that decision for yourself!
Why Angelus and Jacquard?
The reason Angelus and Jacquard are both solid picks is because their paints are flexible. Other acrylic paints that are not made especially for what materials you’re working on (canvas, leather, mesh, suede, and foam composite are the most common shoe materials) are likely to crack, chip, or flake after a few wears (see picture below). Basic (generic) acrylic paints can (sort of) obtain the characteristics of Angelus and Jacquard by either adding fabric medium or priming the surface before painting. But, why add products or perform extra steps to prime if it’s not necessary (hint:cost)? Below is a canvas shoe that was not primed and where Angelus or Jacquard was not used. It was created with cheap Artist’s Loft acrylic paint and cracked after 3-4 wears.
Cracked paint on canvas because it was not primed and the right paint was not used.
Angelus vs Jacquard
The difference between owning Angelus and Jacquard paints boils down to if you want to own a color that can be modified to work on any material or if you want to simply buy a bottle of paint that will work only on specific materials. The benefit of Angelus is that they have truly awesome colors and once you buy those colors, you can modify them later for whatever material you’re working with. The benefit of Jacquard is that you don’t have to be a mixologist and worry about ratios, filters, or anything else that can go wrong during mixing – just pick up the right bottle and you’re good to go. Also, one bottle of (Neopaque) Jacquard will cover a wide range of materials while Angelus will require you to add different things based on the material.
If you look at the Angelus bottle, you’ll notice it says “LEATHER PAINT”. It doesn’t say canvas, mesh, airbrush or plastic paint. That’s because it’s made to for leather first, but can be modified to work on other materials and other purposes. If you want to work on canvas, sock liner, or mesh, you will add gac900 or 2-soft. If you want to airbrush, you will add water or 2-thin. If you want to work on plastic or shoe tabs you will add 2-hard. For suede, your default paint (dye) can’t be modified and you will need to buy a specific line of dyes.
A small note: modifiers (2-hard, 2-soft, 2-thin) can also be used with Jacquard leather paint, but when I talked to Jacquard reps they said it's best to just buy the right paint line for the task.
Example of 2-soft being used on mesh by @astrotorfcustoms.
Example of 2-thin being used to airbrush by @feelgoodthreads.
Example of 2-hard being used on plastic parts by @queenofcustomz.
For the budget-minded, we also tested DecoArt Sylin line of leather paints. We approve their paints since it went on well and did not crack/ chip under wear. They don't have the astounding color line (or adaptability) of Angelus, but it's about half the price.
Conversely, if you want to use Jacquard you will use the Dye-Na-Flow line for canvas, sock liner, suede, or mesh, Neopaque or Lumiere lines for leather, canvas, plastic, or rubber, and the Airbrush Color line for, you guessed it: airbrush.
@Kickstradomis uses Jacquard paints.
@Backfistcustoms uses Jacquard paints.
A 1oz bottle of Angleus paints retails for $2.95 and a 2.25oz bottle of Neopaque Jacquard paint retails for $5.99 (or $2.66 per oz), making them about the same for the base paint. DecoArt Stylin line is $2.98 for 2oz, about half of price of Angelus and Jacquard. Working on something other than leather with Angelus paints will increase your per oz costs because 2-hard and 2-soft are $4.10/oz, making a 1:1 mixture of paint and either additive average to $3.53/oz. Strangely enough, using gac200 or gac900 instead of 2-hard or 2-soft, will decrease your per oz cost because 8oz bottles are $11.45 ($1.43/oz) for gac200 and $11.95 ($1.49/oz) for gac900. The mixtures of paint and gac200/900 average to $2.19/oz and $2.22/oz. It’s important to keep in mind that these additives won’t contain as much pigment as the pure paint so it may require more layers and, thus, more mixed paint to get the same result. So even though the per oz mixture may be cheaper, the amount you spend to paint something may not be. If you are airbrushing, Jacquard will save you some money because it’s $5.99 for 4oz ($1.49/oz) and you won’t have to spend additional money on a paint strainer and mixing jars. For airbrushing Angelus, 2-thin is the same price per oz as the base paint so it's $2.95/oz for the mixture. In conclusion, the costs are about the same but Jacquard is cheaper for airbrush.
As we alluded to earlier, the only reason you may want to deviate from Angelus or Jacquard paints is cost. Specifically, our DIY custom shoe kits come with primer and Sargent Art acrylic paint as substitutes because the cost is MUCH less and they will get the job done very well on canvas.
So, that’s it! Rather simple when all of the knowledge is in one place and not spread all over 100’s of videos and websites. Now that you know the facts, it’s time for you to decide which best fits your preferences. Do you want paint that can be morphed for any occasion or to buy bottles that are made exactly for what you’re working on? Maybe you want both -a lot of customizers will buy Angelus and Jacquard. I invite you to try both brands and see for yourself which you prefer and which gives you the best results. Please comment below with your preferences, experiences, and questions!
A Reminder About Proper Process
Before I conclude this article, I want to remind everyone that the key to a successful project is not just using the right paints, but also following the right processes. Canvas, leather, mesh, plastic, suede, and foam composite all have different processes you will need to follow in order to have an optimal end product that is both beautiful and durable. Before working on any project, read the proper articles linked below (coming soon):
- Foam Composite