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Exercise 49: Leatherworking Step by Step

By CGCookie

Check out and Download the Step by Step and Original Practice Sheet .PSD HERE.    

Artist: Tim Von Rueden (vonn)

Here's the Downloadable 49 Exercise Template:  Exercise 49 Practice Sheet: Leatherworking by CGCookie 

After  completing the exercise myself, I’ve realized how much detailing and precision can go into leather works. So take your time with this material and be patient with the execution! For the step by step I created, I went with the same leather material for each so that you can see different examples cut of the same cloth. Leather can definitely be different colors and how a various levels of sheen onto them. So know that this isn’t the only way to create leather, is just one of many!

For the exercise let’s break down each step and see how to build up those values.

  1. Refined Outline – Start with a clean outline and create a believable object that would be leather.
  2. Solid Base – I personally like to work dark and then build up from there, so here we’re starting with a solid dark base. 
  3. Build Up Values – From there, I grab a slightly lighter brown color and build up the values and give the object some form.
  4. Push Light Placement – Here is where you can further push that lighting placement based on where you paint on even lighter values.
  5. Remove Outlines/Refine – Once you remove the outline, clean up the edge and refine the details further. You want to make sure it “reads” without the lineart. This can be tough and I even darkened some of the areas where the lineart was to help separate the forms.
  6. Highlights – This step is what will really make your material “shine”. I choose a light level of reflection with my highlight and wanted to give more of a worn leather look that maybe got polished a few months ago. So be mindful of the highlight placements and I also threw on a soft light to give that brown some more color variation to it.

This is a great material exercise but admittedly can be rather tough. So take you time and remember:

  • Wrinkles and subtitles are key! The more worn and believable the leather looks, the better!
  • Think about how reflective you want your leather. Heavier shines imply smooth, oiled leather. No shines imply worn and rustic.
  • A Texture brush can add some nice variety to the surface and can give more of an organic feeling.

When you finish the exercise, remember to submit the result to the “Submissions” tab on CGCookie, you can see other submissions alongside your own!

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FatalDinazor's avatar

You Are Doing a Great Job My Friend :]

rousingRosy's avatar
The tutorial is so great... and I just can't get it right. It's so frustrating. Waaaah! 
Baredog's avatar
Excellent presentation Vonn.
Your step by steps are great; attention to detail top notch.
Thank you for your time and effort.

All the best to you, Barry:pencil:
Synchro-Style's avatar
This is extremly useful, thanks for sharing your knowledge!
madddalen's avatar
BaconFlower28's avatar
wow this helped :)
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powerwolf1's avatar
I've read this so many times and nothing ever happens

Keira3002's avatar
Thought it was chocolate
CranneBerry's avatar
FoxyBrush's avatar
mildninja's avatar
I've always drawn well, but paint not so much. I struggle with making the right color selections, and often end up with desaturated, mismatched, or just off-looking colors. Anyway, I love your exercises and have started using them for practice. Thanks for sharing. :)
junichan's avatar
Thank you for posting this! I've been struggling to color / paint leather forever 
J4B's avatar
OOh, nice one.
Skyght's avatar
This feels like a really good tutorial for painting.
Paper-Piper's avatar
You're an art hero!
Ahna-Ravenheart's avatar
Gotta love leather! ^^
RIGIOtaku's avatar
ana182's avatar
Ludwig1920's avatar
That could be useful ! Thank you!
Milkitalix's avatar
good god that leather highlighting is amazing!!! xD
SaskiaDeKorte's avatar
This is pretty incredible. Thanks a lot!
o-Oxalis-o's avatar
Super nice, as always. =)
SynthHej's avatar
I glanced at this and thought it was chocolate. Was not chocolate, it was leather. Anyways, beautiful work!
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