It’s not uncommon for characters in movies, comics, and anime to walk around barefoot all the time. They don’t have to worry about glass on the ground or rusty nails on the ground (or just plain unsanitary conditions). If you want to go to a convention or event cosplaying as one of these characters, you probably want to be as accurate as possible to the original design. Most conventions, however, require you to wear shoes at all times.
In the past, I’ve tried following other tutorials that use shoe insoles. Unfortunately, I’ve found that these were way too thin for walking around at a convention. Not only did it feel like I had no actual protection, but the bottoms of my feet were also very sore (even bruised) after very little time walking around. I ended up switching to sandals that I could slip on and off.
That’s why I decided to make my own ‘invisible’ shoes that have a little more support. Instead of starting with a shoe insole, I used a cheap pair of sandals that I could cut down to my foot size. Overall, these behave a lot like a flip flop. They are comfortable enough to walk around in, but also they’re not easily visible unless someone is actually looking for them.
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Supplies needed for invisible shoes
To make invisible shoes that are comfortable and wearable for long periods of time, I started with a cheap pair of flip-flops. You can use a thick sheet of EVA foam too (8mm), but the flip-flops come with built-in traction on the bottom.
- Cheap pair of flip-flops (white is best so you can easily paint them)
- Sharp razor
- Nude-colored paint (try to find a color that more-or-less matches your feet)
- Clear ribbon
- Hot glue
- Optional: sandpaper (if you want the final shoe to look neat)
- Optional: Mod podge (or any paint finisher)
Step 1: Remove the plastic toe thong
Start by cutting through the plastic part that goes over your toe (also called a toe thong). I had to kind of saw through this part, so just be careful you don’t cut yourself. You can throw the plastic pieces away because we’ll be replacing them with our own clear straps. Once you’re done, you should be left with just the flat part of the flip-flop with three holes in it.
Step 2: Trace your foot
Now, place your foot onto the sandal. Make sure to line up the hole at the front of the flip flop with the gap between your big toe and your second toe. This way it will still fit later on when we add straps back onto the sandal.
Trace your foot on the sandal. You may want to do this with a pencil or light color. I just used a bright color in the picture so you can see what I’m doing. If possible, it’s best to trace around the two holes in the back so you can use them later. But it’s okay if you have a narrow foot and need to cut those sections off. You can also cut another hole in the sandal later.
Try to make your traced line as close to your foot as possible. The goal is to cut off the excess sandal so that what’s left is completely hidden underneath.
If you’re using EVA foam instead of a flip flop as your base, don’t worry about lining anything up. Just trace your foot. You can add the holes in later.
Step 3: Cut off the excess sandal
Using your traced line as a guide, cut off the outside of the sandal. The sandal was a little denser than I originally expected, so I had to take the time to sharpen my razor before cutting it. If you have a knife sharpener, that will work, or you can just switch to a new razor. Again, be careful and try not to cut yourself.
For the most part, the edge of the shoe shouldn’t be visible under your foot, so I didn’t bother to make the edges neat. However, if general neatness is something that you care about, you can sand the edges before moving on to the painting.
Step 4: Paint the sandal
Before adding the new straps to your invisible shoe, you’ll want to paint it. Use an acrylic paint that is similar to your skin tone and paint over the top and the sides of the flip flop base. Leave the bottom unpainted so that you can still have as much traction as possible. I used four layers of paint, letting it dry in-between layers.
Once you’re happy with the color, it’s a good idea to add a layer of a finisher or sealant. This will help to prevent the paint from rubbing off over time as you walk around.
Step 5: Glue the clear ribbon to the front of the sandal
Cut two pieces of clear ribbon that are the length of your foot. Put one end of both strands together and poke them through the front hole in the sandal base. Turn the sandal upside down and use the hot glue to stick the ends to the sole of the shoe. Then add more hot glue around the hole to better secure the plastic in place. Wait for the glue to cool down before moving on (it should only take 30-60 seconds)
If you are using EVA foam instead of a flip flop, you will need to poke a hole first. Make a mark at the point between your big and second toes and create a hole. It might be easiest if you use something sharp and thin, like a nail.
Step 6: Glue the clear ribbon to the back of the sandal
Now it’s time to finish attaching the clear ribbon. To measure it correctly, place your foot on the sandal with the clear ribbon coming between the toes. Pull the two strands back toward the holes on the sides of the sandal base so that they are comfortably tight over the top of your foot. Then make a mark to measure the length of the new straps.
Remove the sandal and thread the ribbon through. Make sure your mark lines up with the top of the hole. Cut off any excess ribbon and glue about an inch to the sole of the shoe.
You may need to poke new holes into the sandal at this point. Make the holes under the arch of your foot, just in front of the heel. Give yourself at least a half-centimeter buffer from the edge of the shoe to reduce the chances it will break while you’re walking around.
Step 7: Staple the ribbon to the bottom of the sandal
One last step for added security, you’ll want to staple the clear ribbon to the bottom of your shoe. If you have a stapler that’s big enough, you can push a stapler through the entire sandal. If you’re like me and only have a mini stapler, you can simply open it up and punch a staple in.
The sandal is thick enough that the staple does not even nearly poke all the way through. If you are working with a thinner sandal or thinner material, then you’ll want to make sure there are no sharp edges that are going to poke up into your foot.
And that’s it! Put on the invisible shoes and start walking around. You’ll find that these are way more comfortable than walking around with thin insoles, but they’re still more or less invisible for pictures.