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Ein Stein’s Leather Apron

This time, I’d like to show you how to paint the leather like I did on my Ein Stein.
Ein Stein (or Da Rock) is a beautiful bust sculpted by Alan Carrasco many moons ago.

This article is a remastered repost from my old blog twistedbrushes.

The bust was released by Figone under the name Einstein. In German, Einstein means Ein Stein, which translates to one stone; hence, Da Rock is on his plaque, and Ein Stein is on the back of his work overalls. I guess I was watching Sons of Anarchy when I was painting this bust… Trust me, it all makes sense, I promise.

As you can see, the leather apron Ein Stein is wearing is very distressed. It’s dirty and full of all sorts of discolourations and stains. Almost like he was working in some kind of Orkish motorcycle shop or something? Initially, I didn’t plan it this way; it was a spontaneous decision.

I don’t have any photos picturing particular stages of the process. So, I had to recreate the same effect on something different. I decided to use cardboard as a nice flat surface. It looks almost the same, yay me;]

The first step was basic. I applied more or less even layer of a base colour. It was some sort of mixture of Graveyard Earth (GW), Desert Yellow (GW) and ‘Jack Bone (P3).
The exact colours are not that important; you can use your own paints and mixtures. I’m listing them in case you find it helpful.
I’ve used an airbrush for this and the next stage, but you can easily do this with the brush. You don’t need an extra smooth surface to paint leather. In fact, some imperfections in the gradient will add more character.

For this step, I also used an airbrush and sprayed some Graveyard Earth on the bottom of the apron. I directed the airbrush nozzle from the bottom of the bust, making sure I hit all the recesses. Then I added a few thin layers of ‘Jack Bone on his shoulders to readress highlights.
I didn’t care too much about the shadows on the edges at this point. I was planning to take care of them closer to the end.

After blocking the first shadows and lights, I moved to glazing. I used various shades of brown, green, and black to create colour variations and more contrast. Then, I used more ‘Jack Bone and Dessert Yellow to brighten the top parts of the apron.
At this stage, I wasn’t really going for smooth transitions. In fact, some roughness, especially in ‘light’ areas, was deliberate. I used it to create a leathery texture of vachetta leather. It has no shine and is rather dull compared to grain leather).

After finishing step 3, I could move to the fun part. With a stiff brush and a toothpick, I speckled the apron with various paints. I used washes and diluted paints to ensure the specks were small enough. I concentrated them on the middle part of the apron, where they’re most likely to happen in real life.
This method is entirely random and seems messy. But with all the non-leather parts of the mini covered with Tamiya tape, I could go to town with it. And with a bit of practice, you can create great effects. And if it goes seriously wrong, you can always repaint it with base colours and start again. It not only won’t ruin the piece but can even add a bit to the texture.

It’s entirely up to you what colours you use for that step, but here’s the list of those I used:

  • ‘Jack Bone (P3)
  • Badab Black (GW Wash)
  • Agrax Earthshade (GW Wash)
  • Ogryn Flesh (GW Wash)
    Seraphim Sepia (GW Wash)

You can add some with the brush if you’re not entirely happy with the splashes and dots created by the toothbrush. I used diluted washes to create a ‘coffee print’ effect. But it’s really up to you how diluted paint you will use.

I used some Graveyard Earth, brown, and black washes to blend the whole surface. Then green, red and maybe even blue to add some colour nuances to the leather. After years of extensive use, some stains and discolouration were expected.
The effect on the photos is not exactly the same as on Einstein’s apron, but you got the idea of how I did it so far. Changes I was doing from now on are somewhat difficult to reproduce on the cardboard, so I will move back to the mini.

I then used a few more glazes to blend the whole surface slightly. After that, I reintroduced contrast with dark glazes. I put them on the bottom of the miniature and in the recesses. Then, I used light colours in the brighter areas. A slightly ‘chalky’ finish in the highlights added some texture and a worn finish.

With the middle of the apron more or less ready, I took care of the edges. I applied bright colours with the side of the brush to the apron’s sharp edges. Then, some glazes in the little holes and indentations under them did the trick.
The same goes for all little holes in the surface. I applied some dark/black wash inside and then highlighted the bottom edge with Menoth White Base (P3).

When the rest of the bust was fully painted, I reassessed the leather again. I added a few extra highlights and shadows to the uneven edges of Ein Stein’s apron to make it stand out more next to the intense orange of his jumpsuit.

And that’s it! With these simple steps, you can achieve a beautifully distressed leather effect on your miniatures or other projects.
You can use this method whenever the leather you are painting is worn in a place where it could get dirty.
Remember, imperfections and textures only add to the character of the piece. So, have fun, be creative, and happy painting!

If you want to learn more about painting different types of leather, you can check out my other articles.

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