Put those garments down! It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and learn how to decorate footwear with Brother’s Giulia Gallo

This month, prepare to be swept off your feet by how easy it is to decorate shoes using a DTG printer. Giulia Gallo, fashion and retail manager at Brother, created this step-by-step guide using canvas shoes and the Brother GTXpro DTG printer.

“The first big difference when printing on shoes rather than on anything else is, of course, the platen,” explains Giulia. Shoe platens may differ in shape and size, but they all allow the user to place the shoes in the correct position for printing, keeping the surface as flat as possible for a high-quality result.

A special camera can then be used to help the printer position the graphic in exactly the right place on the shoe. Alternatively, a projector tool can be used; this enables the operator to project the print file directly on the shoes and then adjust its shape, dimension and position as required. “Both systems are able to manage a double graphic, which means that a pair of shoes can be easily printed on one side at once,” says Giulia.

Before pressing print, every single part of the shoe not being printed has to be covered and protected. The most common way to do this is to tape the whole side of the rubber sole and the rubber toe, explains Giulia, as well as any other canvas parts which are not being printed, such as the tongue. The metal grommets can be covered with round paper stickers, or simply left uncovered and cleaned after printing because the water-based inks won’t adhere to them. It is important, she adds, that the laces are removed before printing on the shoes.

When curing, use the same dryer that you use for garments, providing it can accommodate the shoes, of course, and also that the temperature can be kept stable so as not to damage the rubber and non-canvas parts of the shoe. If not, you can use a temperature-controlled heat gun to cure the ink, taking care not to point the heat directly at the ‘gummy’ parts, Giulia warns.


(1) Place the canvas shoes on the shoe platen to ensure that the material is flat and ready for printing

(2) The projector tool, which here is the Envision System from Brain Industries, projects the print onto the shoe, allowing the user to adjust the size and position of the print so that it’s exactly as wanted

(3) Cover and protect all the parts of the shoes which are not to be printed with tape – paper tape works well

(4) The shoes are ready to be printed. Just press the green button and watch the magic happen

(5) The machine will follow the settings you choose while preparing your print file, so make sure they’re the best ones for the kind, colour and shape of shoes you are using

(6) Remove the shoes from the platen. Take great care doing this – make sure you do not touch any of the printed areas before they go in the dryer

(7) Remove the tape and other protective material, taking care not to touch the wet ink and spoil the print. If the grommets were left uncovered, clean them with a spare T-shirt or paper: they will immediately look brand new again

(8) To cure the shoes, either place in a DTG dryer, or use a heat gun. Brother recommends starting at 100°C and working up in increments to a maximum of 200°C to find the ideal temperature; the cure should take 1-2 minutes.

(9) If possible, leave the shoes overnight after curing to allow the ink to fully penetrate the fabric. Rethread the laces. The shoes are now customised and ready to go!