How To Paint Denim (15 Painted Jeans Ideas!)

Do you have denim in your closet that you don’t wear them anymore? Before throwing it away, consider these painted jeans ideas! Here are step by step instructions for how to paint denim in order to give your old jeans, shorts, jackets, and skirts a new chance to shine!

From embroidery to painting, there are many ways to easily revamp wardrobe essentials at home. Follow us at Fashion Wanderer to learn fun upcycled clothing ideas. Upgrade your closet with personalized and customized garments that are in line with the currents fashion trends. 

Before we jump into this denim painting tutorial, there are a few basics that you need to know. As a result, you will be able to create beautiful and long lasting artwork on your denim garments.


How do you paint on denim?

The process of painting denim is fairly straightforward. Select a design, and scale the artwork according to the denim garment you wish to paint.

The back pocket of jeans, pant legs and the back of jackets are a few common places to paint on denim. Make sure the artwork is sized appropriately for the area you have selected.

Start with a colored pencil or chalk, and lightly sketch your design onto the denim. Use a stencil or masking tape to section off the area and prevent the accidental painting of unwanted color on other parts.


What kind of paint should you use on denim?

 A combination of acrylic and fabric paints is best to use on denim. When painted on denim, acrylic paint provides pop to the color and also has great durability for long term wear. Adding a textile medium will prevent the color from cracking and flaking away.

Its best to mix acrylic paint with textile medium, one part acrylic paint with two parts textile medium. Textile medium helps stabilize the acrylic paints and prevents cracking. This is also crucial if you want the fabric paints to be washable.

When painting over dark wash denim, coat the area with white paint to make the artwork really stand out. The finished result will be much more vibrant.


Will acrylic paint stay on jeans?

Acrylic paint mixed with textile medium is the most permanent solution to paint denim. Completely dry the paint and heat set with a blow dryer or hot iron.

However, do not use washable acrylic paint! For obvious reasons, it will not be a stable coating to paint denim.


Does oil paint work on denim?

Oil paint is one of the original textile paints that have been used on fabrics for many centuries.

However, it is important to prime the fabric to prevent the oil paint from rotting away the denim. Apply one or two layers of acrylic gesso before painting, and then proceed with your design.


Can you use spray paint on denim?

Traditional spray paints are not designed for use on fabrics and will not hold up on clothing. As a result, you risk damage to the finished design.

Spray fabric paints are available and will dry much faster. Furthermore, spray fabric paints are much more durable for textile materials and also will not crack.


Can fabric paint be washed? 

For permanent placement, textile paint must be heat-set with an iron. Product descriptions suggest waiting up to 24 hours to let the paint dry before washing any painted fabrics.

However, it’s still recommended to hand wash and avoid machine washing when possible.


How do you wash painted denim?

Turn the painted jeans inside out to protect the artwork and always hand wash clothes in cold water.

When drying denim jeans, always let it air dry instead of putting the garment into the dryer with high heat. 


Can acrylic paint get wet?

Acrylic paint is generally water-soluble. Although acrylic paint is waterproof when dry, it will gradually deteriorate in water. Hot water and detergents are the most damaging.

When washing, stick to cold water and prevent scrubbing the painted denim with any detergents.


Does acrylic paint wash out of denim?

The cotton will soak up a fair amount of the acrylic paint, however it will eventually wash out. As a result, its advised to mix the acrylic paint with textile medium to ensure long lasting durability.

Avoid pre-soaking painted denim garments and stick to hand washing. Flip the garment inside out to protect the delicate artwork as best as possible.


Painted Jeans Ideas

Now you know a few tips and tricks to care for your painted denim, it’s time to choose a denim garment to play with. Wash the item and thoroughly dry it before painting. 

Try them on the item in case you need to shrink it beforehand. Shrink jeans quickly, and if necessary shrink a denim jacket as well. You really want to have a proper fit before going through this creative process.

Prepare the necessary materials and have your denim ready. Let’s get started!

Basic materials you need to paint on denim:

  • Acrylic Paints
  • Textile Medium
  • Paint Brushes
  • Chalk
  • Masking Tape


How To Paint Flowers On Jeans 

How To Paint Flowers On the legs of Jeans


Be creative and mix splash paints with cherry blossom to bring your flowery wardrobe to life! Pair with classic white t-shirt and sneakers to make the casual look appear even more feminine. 


Jean Pocket Painting Ideas

Jean Pocket Painting Ideas featuring artistic tsunami wave

source: @craftberrybush

If you want to keep paint to a minimal, try to use the back of the pocket as your canvas. The beach and detailed ocean wave are perfect to make your summer beach vacation dream come true!


Painted Denim Shorts

Painted Denim Shorts with dark green leaves

source: @parkandcube

It’s not easy to keep white denim shorts always white. The best way to re-wear your favorite white denim shorts is to paint the front with tropical palm tree leaves to cover any flaws.

It’s a great motif that any beginner painter can execute. Just remember to find a cute illustration to easily copy onto the shorts.


Painted Jean Jacket Ideas

Learn how to paint denim with these fun painted jeans ideas. The post is filled with inspirations and free design patterns for you to copy.

source: @whatdaymade

Are you Stranger Things show maniac?

Paint your oversized denim jacket with Stranger Thing’s theme to make a cool and vintage look. For this artwork, medium or light washed denim jacket works the best!


DIY Painted Color-block Skinny Jeans

DIY Painted Color-block on the legs of Skinny Jeans

source: @emerjadesign

If you never painted before, this DIY painted color block method is a great project to revamp your skinny jeans with.

Stick with cool hues such as blues, greens, and purple to elongate your legs and upgrade the casual look.


Painted Moon On Jacket Sleeve

Painted Phases of the Moon On Jacket Sleeve

source: @spaceosaur

The sleeve on a jacket is a great placement to experiment with.

Throw together the phases of the moon on the sleeve. As a result, you won’t need to donate your jean jacket anymore.

It’s so easy and all you need is white and black paint. Try for yourself!


Southwestern Hand Painted Jacket

Southwestern Hand Painted Design on Denim Jacket

source: @spirit.of.salt

The Southwestern hand-painted jacket with arrows and bows is not too overwhelming of an artwork for you to try.

The subtle design and color keeps your boho outfit unique and not crafty looking. 


Painted Tiger Eye On Denim Skirt Pocket

Painted Tiger Eye On Denim Skirt Pocket

source: @jennasjeansandjackets

The painted tiger eye on denim skirt pocket is so adorable. Draw one side and flip it over to have a mirror image.

It’s a bold and fun look to pair with orange graphic tees for back to school. 


Flaming Hot Painted Denim Jacket And Skirt

Flaming Hot Fire Paint Denim Jacket And Skirt

source: @cute_mistake

Do you have a matching black denim jacket and skirt?

Revamp them into these flaming hot painted denim jacket and skirt combo for a festival look.

Pair with a lace bralette and ankle boots to keep you rock n’ roll ready all week long. 


Painted Portrait Denim Jacket

Painted Artistic Self Portrait Denim Jacket

source: @__sensy__

Feel free to paint a portrait and doodle around. Explore your creativity on your oversized light washed denim jacket!

With dry acrylic paint and sharpie pens, everything is possible!


Painted Frenchie

Painted Frenchie dog on denim jacket


Show your puppy love by painting a Frenchie dog face on the back of your jean jacket.

Be creative and place phrases and other designs to add around the Frenchie. Make your denim jacket look super interesting.


Cloudy Moon And Stars

Cloudy Moon And Stars artwork Paint on back of denim jacket

source: @ivy_and_i_art

Ombre painting is a popular method that you’ll see all over Tumblr. Try to be different from red and purple ombre and floating clouds.

Add details with a gold glitter pen to draw outlines around the edges. This will keep you looking bling-bling all afternoon. 


So Will I

So Will I slogan on jean jacket

source: @kammmnix

Draw an outline of mountain, long hair, and “so will I” with white paint. Give accent with daisy flowers and colored paints.

Even though the artwork is big, it looks clean and crisp due to the primary color on the dark washed denim.



Constellations and stars on the back of jean jacket

source: @anaruizart

This is another design that I thought is super easy to execute.

Before drawing all the constellation, add dark and light night sky color to the background. Then, apply the constellation drawing with white paint. 


From small pocket drawings to back piece designs, there are many funs ways to paint denim jeans, jackets, shorts and skirts. Master your drawing and painting skills to try these denim decorations yourself.

Turn your old clothes into the trendy items without costing you a fortune! Try these no-sew projects and easily upgrade your capsule wardrobe. 

What’s your favorite painted denim designs?

Share your secret tips and tricks for how to paint denim with us!


How to paint denim jeans. This post is filled with so many fun artwork and design inspirations. From skirts to jeans, shorts and jackets, there are lots of fun jeans painting ideas to copy

Soonjoo Uh

I graduated with a bachelors of fine arts degree in fashion design. I worked in the fashion industry as a lead designer for major brand name labels such as Stitch Fix, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, and Dillards. Now, I am the founder of the website Fashion Wanderer where I share current fashion trends, style tips and how to build a capsule wardrobe collection.

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