So, you have created your armor or leather scabbard but it looks like a costume that you pulled off the hanger. That is because your work looks too new. It doesn’t have the age effects that a real piece of clothing that has been worn for years by a dwarf in many battles would have. Most cosplay costumes suffer from this, and even a lot of costumes in Hollywood films. So, let’s distress your leather work to make it look a lot more real.
Here is an example of how differently it can look.
The piece on the left side of the black mark is basically new. The piece on right was worn by a dwarf rancher for 13 years as he raised crops and fought goblins. Or at least that is how it looks. I distressed the right side.
This is a arm band that I just made last week.
See how new, and fake it looks? It doesn’t have any indications of age that dwarf rancher piece above has. On an actor, this would look like a “costume”.
First thing I will do is to remove the sharp edges. I use a bevel tool or edge tool. It shaves off the sharp “freshly-cut” edge.
This is a cheap tool you can find at Tandy Leather online, or any leather store.
The edges look softer, and more worn, and not new anymore. The next thing I did is to add some stains. I used some leather dye, and a small artist’s brush.
I painted small random stains with the black dye.
Next I abraded the surface. I roughed it up with some sandpaper.
Especially hit the high areas. This is what it looks like so far.
Next I brushed some acetone on the surface in random spots. Acetone will remove the finish from the leather, and leave it rough, and dry looking.
My next trick is brush on motor oil and sawdust.
Brush on the oil, then coat with sawdust.
This is dirt and grime from being on the range.
Now wipe it off.
You can leave some stuff in the cracks.
You don’t have to cover the whole thing with oil.
You can see the difference. The top is distressed, the bottom just has a few black dye stains.
I know the leather on the left which is new still looks good as well, but the distressed piece looks like it has many more years of service
Here is the rancher distressed piece on top of my brand new leather armor I am crafting.
In the above photo you can see what a heavily distressed piece looks like on top of brand new leather armor.
When leather is worn, a few things happen.
*Sharp edges get worn down.
*High spots get abraded or roughed up because they are rubbed so much during daily use.
*The finish gets rubbed off in places.
*When it gets wet, then dries out, the leather cracks and looks really dry.
*Dirt and debris collect in hard to reach spaces.
*The owner either neglects the leather and it gets dry, or the owner takes care of the leather which means lots of oiling, which makes it soft and dark. To show neglect or old leather, like goblin armor for example, try acetone to leave the finish dry. To show well-taken care of armor like the the King’s guard, use oil or vaseline to make a dark rich soft finish. Either way, leave some dirt in the deep cracks.
*Leather will get stains on it. Not even the King’s guard would throw away leather armor or a scabbard because it had a stain.
*Sweat or dirty hands will leave a mark on the leather. You decide if it is dry abrasion, or a well-oiled darkened area.
Here is an old leather saddle for some reference.
Notice the dark spots from sweat, and the dry abraded parts. Notice the stains, and how uneven the coloration is.
Go ahead, make a mess, add some years to your leather, have some fun.