Step 1: Gather Materials
Brushes: Use good brushes. Don't cheap out. Mine are for acrylic paints. Better yet would be to have brushes specific to classic oil painting. They hold up better, last your life time if taken care of, and paint beautifully. They can be used with any leather colouring products and clean up with a quick rinse in some turps (turpentine). They also hold up thru use with acetone, but I don't like sticking mine in acetone.
Rule for brushes: Don't ever leave your brushes soaking in any liquid container for long periods. Quick dip only. Otherwise the liquid (even water) follows the bristles up, soaking into the handle, which causes the handles to split. And if your using a really expensive brush, splitting the handle will ruin it.
Mixing Paints: You can use a cup type pallet if you wish. I do not. I work with one colour at a time. I mix my paints in a short glass cup so I can clearly see what colour is in the cup. I use a glass eye dropper for measurements/dilutions because the dyes don't stick well to glass. Doing it this way I can keep my pure colours pure without having evaporation issues, which can cause the paint to change colour over time. And I can mix colours accurately, (Eg 3 dropper yellow, 1 dropper red, 2 dropper water = orange.) every time.
Water: Every time there is a colour change, the water cup must also be changed. If you do not change the water, it will pollute the brush.
Water also affects the colour of the colour. For the mountain snow on this project I used hugely diluted coal black to get snow white. Seriously, I used black. Water on leather will cause a different colour from the one you may be wanting. If the leather is wet when you paint it, the colour will be drastically different than if you were to paint it dry. So if you come at this project with a classic water colour painting technic, your going to have an excellent day! Wet on wet, wet on dry, dry on wet, dry on dry, (brush on canvas) all applies to this protect.
Paper towels: Have a lot handy at all times. If something goes the wrong way and the paint is still runny there's a good chance you can catch it IF you've got a paper towel ready. You'll also be using them for cleaning your brush, and (un)loading your brush.
Super sheen: one of the last steps, and what seals in the paints. Not shown in this list is the antique black I used just after the super sheen dried. For this project I used 4 generous coats of super sheen as I didn't want the antique layer to stick to anything other than the cuttings I made prior to tooling. It still stuck in a few places I'd have preferred it didn't (inside of the gears and along the skyline), however I knew it was going to do that anyway, and it detracts nothing from the final image.
Good leather brush: not required but highly recommended. Don't know why it is with leather, but there's always little floaties everywhere, no matter how many times you've wiped the table/vacuumed, etc. A good leather brush keeps your work area nice, and can help get specs off the top so you don't end up with little specs/streaks. Use only when leather is dry. If there's specs on the top of the leather and you've just finished dousing a color in, don't wipe it or you'll smear everything.
Other: list of things you can also use for your project but we're not used in this one...
Straw: for pushing paint. Good for making bushes, trees, shrubs, and plants, and overall organic shapes.
Hard spray bottle (windex bottle): used for pushing/splattering patterns.
Eye dropper: dripping paint.
Sponge: excellent for blending, daubing.
Tissue paper: used like a sponge for blending paint, or giving hard lines.
Step 2: Tooling
Images shown are still drying, just after I finished all the tooling. im not going to talk too much about tooling as there are already excellent tooling tutorials.
Step 3: First Round of Painting.
First colour: 3 droppers yellow
Second colour: 3 droppers yellow, 1 dropper red, 2 droppers clean water.
Third colour: 2 droppers violet
Fourth colour: 3 droppers blue
Repeated these steps about 4 times to get everything blended.
Note: Try not to compress the leather to its max while tooling. If the leather is compressed too much it has a tendency to reject the paint. And for those who are more comfortable with leather tooling and do that cute little trick of glueing their leather down to their tooling surface, the glue also has a tendency to soak upward and will also cause the dye to not penetrate the surface of the leather. For myself I'll use painters tape in lew of rubber cement. It does pull the ruff side a bit more than I'd like, but it seems to get around the issue I get with using rubber cement.
Step 4: Totally Dried
Started blocking in colour in the background. I did this before going after the skyline a second time as this step was done dry on dry, (Dry brush on dry canvas [leather]). Birds at this point have a total of 3 rounds of paint for base colour and 2 layers of thinned down light tan to start creating the markings on the birds. I used the tooling marks for reference, just like a paint by numbers.
Always always always put the paint down in the thinnest layer possible, building up your layers. It will slowly start to pop out with detail all on its own.
Used the spray bottle more liberally, rewetting the skyline with a fresh layer of paint.
Step 5: Darker Colours
Also sprayed down the skyline and added in violet a little liberally.
Step 6: Border
More detailed work on the background. Extremely dry brush. Grass foreground final coat was done with coal black.
Note on perspective: the farther away an object, the less colour it will have, and the closer an object, the darker it will be. So the grass up near the mountains are going to be nearing the yellow spectrum, lots of water mixed into the mixing cup to thin it down. And the brush, when I pick up paint, I'll lightly daub a bit out on the paper towel to pull a bit out of the brush so it lightens the colour even more.
The snow line as I mentioned before I used coal black to colour the mountains white. To do this I picked up a goodly daub of coal black paint into my brush then rinsed it out in my brush cleaning cup. Tested on a scrap of leather until my brush water had the correct amount of coal black. Then I washed the tops of the mountain range with my brush water until it had just the right shade of grey to look white next to the yellow sky, and green fields. Do a test piece before hand, and let it TOTALLY dry before judging the final colour. Wet leather, wet paint looks completely different to dry.
Filled in more details using dry on dry method. This can be several layers over all, as it dries rather quickly.
Step 7: More, More, More
Layers layers layers... Lots of layering work.
Step 8: Super Sheen
4 coats of thick thick super sheen, drying in the sun. Probably used 1/4 of a bottle on this. Only wanted the next step to stick to the cuttings, so it needed to be nice and thick. Don't rush this step as its the top finish and you don't wanna mess with it until it's totally dried.
Step 9: Apply Antique
Final step was to add all the hardware and polish up the leather with a good coat of leather rub to bring it back from all the drying the tooling and painting took out of it.
If you've made it this far, thank you for looking. Have an awesome day!