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How To Paint On Jeans

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Paint on jeans is a fun way to express your creativity. If you love painting, then you should try this DIY project. It’s a fun way to spice up old clothing in your wardrobe and reinvent your jeans rather than buying a new pair altogether. 

All you’ll need is an old well-loved pair of jeans, the right kind of paint, and an arty mind. Let’s look at how you can paint on your jeans to create a one-of-a-kind piece for your collection. 

Which Paints Should You Use? 

white jeans splattered in paint on a black background

Acrylic paint is a good option as it shows up on denim without having a background color painted on beforehand. This is because acrylic paints are very thick and bright, ensuring that your final product won’t fade too quickly. 

However, as you are going to be wearing the jeans and washing them over time, acrylic paints might start to crack and chip after a few uses. 

So, how do we get acrylic paints to stop cracking? We use a textile medium. This helps the paint become more flexible, allowing it to move with the denim as you wear it. Hopefully this will prevent cracking so that you can enjoy your painted jeans for longer. 

However, as you are adding a liquid to acrylic paint, it is going to water down the consistency and make the paint less opaque.

For this reason, we’re going to have to add a background color to the jeans to make the colors stand out and do your design justice. 

Painting Your Jeans

We have a seven-step process on how you can paint your jeans to make them look like an expensive item that you’ve had custom made for yourself. 

1. Prepare Your Idea

First, think about what it is that you want to achieve with your painted jeans. Do you want a detailed landscape scene? Or perhaps you’d like to write some words or numbers? You can choose to have a design as intricate or as simple as you want. 

Bear in mind that if this is your first time painting, you might want to err on the simple side. We would recommend drawing out your design on paper first. Cut a piece of paper to the width of your jeans leg so that you know how big you can make it. 

Draw out your design with a pencil so that you can perfect it with a rubber. Make sure that you’re happy with this before moving on to painting anything! 

A beautiful red-haired girl paints with multicolored paints on light colored jeans

2. Get Your Denim Ready

Before painting, it is crucial that your denim is clean and dry. Wash the jeans and leave them to dry thoroughly before thinking about painting them.

If your jeans are creased, it might be worth ironing them beforehand as well so that your canvas is flat and smooth. 

If you are only painting around a small area of the denim – such as the pocket – you can tape around it so that you don’t accidentally get paint anywhere else. 

3. Lay The Groundwork

Now you can start painting! A background is very important as it prepares the denim for the rest of your paint.

Denim is a dark color, so painting a lighter background onto the jeans beforehand will allow your colors to pop and prevent them from turning muddy due to the dark background. 

So, choose where you are going to paint and lay a white background color on.

We think that it looks neater if you tape off a square area before painting this so that you have straight lines. However, if you want a more imperfect look, feel free to skip this part. 

Paint the background color on the jeans twice, leaving it to dry fully both times. 

girl painting over pencil drawing on jean jacket

4. Use A Pencil First

Now that you have a white canvas to paint on, we suggest getting your pencil back out and drawing the outline of your design first. Pencils are much easier to fix mistakes with than paint, so this additional step of planning can save you some time. 

Lightly draw your design so that you can visualize the final product while you are painting. It pays to be prepared, so don’t be tempted to skip this part! 

5. Mix Up The Paint

Finally, we’re getting close to being able to paint the design on the jeans. The final step before we can do this, however, is to mix the paints!

 female artist holding a brush and mix color oil

This means that you need to add a little bit of black into the white paint to create darker or lighter tones. You can also mix two colors to create another color, such as yellow and red to make orange. 

Mix all of the colors you want beforehand so that you don’t have to keep pausing to make a new color. This will make your painting experience much more relaxing and enjoyable. Don’t forget to add the textile medium to all of your mixed colors! 

6. Get Your Paint On!

Now that you have fully planned your design and gotten everything ready, you can enjoy the experience of painting on your jeans. Use small strokes and build up color slowly so that you don’t get an uneven finish. 

Thanks to the background color, painting on your jeans shouldn’t feel too different to painting on a canvas. 

Make sure that you allow the paint to dry fully between coats to prevent colors from mixing and the paints from bunching and creating uneven textures. While it might be too fun to stop, it is best to take your time and be patient to get the best results. 

7. Finalize Everything

custom designed hand painted customized vintage denim jacket

If you taped around your design, wait until the paint is completely dry to remove it. Again, wait until it is all dry to wear your jeans. 

You can use an iron on a medium heat to seal the design onto the jeans. Wash the jeans on a cool wash after this before wearing to remove any of the toxins from the paint.


We hope that this article has been helpful and that you’re excited to start painting on your jeans.

Remember to use a textile medium to avoid the acrylic paints cracking, and a background color is going to make the colors pop much more on the final product.

Remember that patience is key and is going to leave you with the best painted jeans possible. We know that you want to show them off, but wait until they’re fully dry! And have fun!