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How to Personalize your own Shoes using Decal Paper

How to Personalize your own Shoes using Decal Paper


In today's tutorial, we will be using multi-award-winning Film-Free Waterslide Decal Paper, with W2 Glue to help transfer to the shoes correctly. This will allow us to transfer the image from any home or office Laser Printer, to the shoe, and peel off the film, making it look like the image was printed directly onto the shoes. Unlike using a sticker, this can create professional results.


It's a great way to transfer your name onto your shoes, sports team emblem, your favourite photo, or create a truly unique design.



Start by measuring the size of the shoes, and edit your images accordingly. You can print on a blank sheet of A4 paper and cut it out to preview the images on your shoes. This is a great way to check if you think the design and size are right for your shoes. Bare in mind the white parts of the image will turn out clear.



Materials Needed:


Step 1: Print


Make sure your Laser Printer Settings have been set accordingly:


PAPER TYPE: Label Paper (175g or more) / Thick Paper / Decal Paper.

DPI: 600 or above. We recommend higher DPI for miniatures / dioramas.

Maximum Photo Resolution.


We advise you to use the manual feed in your printer (not the paper tray).

Print on the glossy side of the decal paper.


Step 2: Cut out your images


Optional: If you are concerned about damaging the shoe, you can draw on the tape and cut the tape after removing it from the shoe.


TIP: If you have a scanner, you can scan these cutouts to get an appropriate guide when scaling your images in the editor.




Cut out the images. You can use Scissors, a Craft Knife, or Cutting Machine.


You won't see the edge of your cutouts, Film-Free Decal Paper is removed at the end of the process, leaving behind cured ink. All white areas will be empty.


Step 3: Glue

We are using W2 Glue designed for transferring Film-Free to rough and porous surfaces.


Please make sure the surface you are applying to is clean and free of any oils or dirt which could affect the transfer.



Shake the glue, and apply an even coating of glue where the image will be placed.
More glue is better. Ensure there is no missed areas where the image is being applied.


Step 4: Submerge


Submerge in lukewarm water until the image has separated from the backing paper.
You'll know it's ready if the two layers glide between your fingers. Don't leave in the water for too long as this can ruin the decal.


The backing is meant to slide, but do not take off the backing yet.


Step 5: Place the Decal face down


Place the decal face down against the surface (where the glue was applied), and gently slide off the backing paper.



You can now slide around the decal on the surface gently until you are satisfied with the position, then press down to start securing the image.


Step 6: Squeegee

Once the decal is in the desired position, gently remove any excess moisture by using a squeegee. A tissue is useful for wiping away excess glue & water.



You can gradually press down harder to squeeze out any excess moisture, while the adhesion starts to secure the image.

The decal will start to look dry if done correctly.


We strongly recommend using our squeegee or similar, as it has a large contact area, ideal for Waterslide Decals.


Step 7: Dry

Our glues can be heated or naturally dried.
We recommend blow drying to speed up the process and maximise durability, unless your surface can't be heated.
Please choose the best drying method for your surface material.


The film is removed in the next step.



Hair Dryer: 2~3 mins, start with low heat.

Natural Dry: Warm weather. 25°C (77°F) or higher for a minimum of 4 hours.
Dry longer to achieve better results.


Step 8: Peel


Once completely dry, carefully peel off the final film with fingertips or a craft knife.

Be careful not to make scratches as the transferred image is still weak.


Clean off any remaining glue with tissues or a cloth, dabbed in alcohol.

Ink does not dissolve in alcohol but scrubbing too hard can damage the image.


Step 9: Acrylic Coat

The final coat is important. It adds a layer of protection against dirt and cleaning products.



For this tutorial we used Angelus Acrylic Finisher, available in Matte or Gloss, but any Acrylic Coating should work. 

You can also follow this up with some shoe polish, depending on your style of shoe.


Step 10: Dry Again


TIP: You may want to apply and dry decals on one side of the shoe at a time.
This will make the shoe easier to handle and prevent mismatching your cutouts, should there be any slight inconsistencies between shoes.




Can I use this on other materials?

You can use Film-Free on most surfaces. Please click here for the complete Film-Free Tutorial. There are two specialized glues that are required depending on the surface.
W1+ Glue is for hard, smooth surfaces (ceramic, glass, metal, coated surfaces, smooth plastics).
W2 Glue is for rough and porous surfaces (leather, rough plastics, wood grain, powder coated surfaces).


How can I maximise longevity and durability?

We recommend choosing an appropriate finish for your project, that is compatible with your item's material. This will protect your decal from dirt, rain and cleaning. Also allowing you to make the finish glossier or more mattified.


How can I print white?

Domestic Printers are designed to print onto white paper, as such, white ink isn't included. You may need to use a White Toner Laser Printer, usually available at your nearest printing service.


How can I improve the visibility on dark surfaces?

600 DPI (Dots Per Inch) is plentyful even for transfering onto black ceramic. However if you want even richer colors and detail, a higher DPI printer will pack more pigment into an area with fewer gaps between the toner (dots). This is often unnecessary unless working on very tiny transfers (miniatures and dioramas), however is noticible side by side.


How can I clean it?

You can use alcohol to clean the exposed transferred image.
However if a coating was added to protect the image, please follow the guidelines for the coatiing.


I made a mistake, how can I remove the transfer?

To remove the Film-Free decal, you will require acetone.
Please consider if acetone will damage your material before use.
As you're aware we used alcohol to remove excess glue after the first cure. The finished trransfer is completely safe around alcohol.


Film-Free Waterslide Decal Paper Structure

If you have any questions, difficulties or need some advice, feel free to contact us. We'll be more than happy to help.