Leather dying tutorial. Picture intensive


Active Hunter
Here is a quick tutorial I put together to show how I'm dying my leather. For the most part this formula should work for most people but make the base color in the small formula as shown and test it on your leather with an airbrush and also with a dobber before mixing up the large batch.

The first picture shows all the dyes, solvent, and resolene that I use.


















Active Hunter
Now, this is exactly what I needed oh... about 2 years ago! :lol:

I ended up doing things very similar to you MonCal... my dye mixture for my skirt was different though... I think everybody's is. But that's okay. :D


Active Hunter
Sorry.. ;) .... I know I'm a couple years late. hehe I've always been a late bloomer

I like what I have come up with this time much more than my original method and a few people have asked about dye formulas etc. :) so here's one way of doing things. Y'all don't have to do it this way... it's just a suggestion or at least a place to start :)


Active Hunter
MonCal, are you not wetting the leather before dying it?

No intent to tell you how to do your job, youre one heck of a craftsman. I was always taught to wet the leather first, helps pull the dye into the leather give it a fuller look.

Again, no intent to be rude, I learned a few tricks for general dying by reading your tutorial and maybe learn something new!

Looks awesome! (y)


Active Hunter
I want the pieces to weather quicker. If it were dyed througout it would take 20 years of constant use to get a good weathered look to it. Our first Zam costume was perfect after a year of trooping. It is just a costume which doesn't get used like a pair of cowboy boots or a saddle so it will still last forever :)

Kay Dee

Thank you so much for the tutorial! You have made my life 10X easier with all of this info. I've saved it since I know I probably won't start my Zam until December or January.

sl tk8456

Active Hunter
Yeah thanks for this Cal. Very decent of you dude. I don't know where you find the time.

My thoughts on wetting the leather is helps the dye to go in plus, and this is quite inmportant too, it makes the leather look used ;)
It wrinkles up the edges and takes the sharpness out of all the pieces. Makes it look used


Active Hunter
Also just with the holster in particular (like you said John) wetting it, banging the blaster inside then leaving it to dry makes a lovely wetformed shape that seems to hold a lot nicer than just dry airbrushed leather in my opinion. (not preaching i just think mine came out nice like this it also puts less stress on the glue to hold it as the leather forms more to the shapes)


Active Hunter
Absolutely. Whatever you all want to do. These are merely suggestions. As long as you're satisfied with the end result, it doesn't really matter how you get there ;)

After Kathy trooped in her Zam for a while I was very happy with it because everything became worn, was soft... I form the leather around the blaster when I glue the holster so the blaster fits anyway either way and after a while it will certainly form to it even more.

Zam I Am

Well-Known Hunter
Yeah, actually, wetforming for the holster is the right thing to do in my opinion, just not the skirt - DCB and I did our holster the same way. Wetform, put your blaster in a plastic bag, let it dry out with clamps ( you have to place these really really carefully, or you will get clamp marks) , glue, dob dye, and airbrush. The holster has three or layers where it loops around the cumberbund, (not including the 10 oz strips and the front piece with edging that is glued).


Active Hunter
I wanted to add that in the midst of your dyeing madness and/or you find that your gloves have a hole in them (like I did today... :( ) there is a product called ReDuRan that is excellent for getting the purple off your hands! I bought mine from Dharma Trading Company when I was dyeing fabric for my daughter's costumes. But it works great for leather dye too! (Thank the Force! :D ) I don't have 1 purple hand now! :lol: :lol:


Well-Known Hunter
wish i saw this last week...it took me 4ever to get the dye off my hands...lol comet, with bleach and an sos pad!


Active Hunter
Yeah... been there, done that. This works better! Trust me! :D I didn't know about it either until I ordered the dye material for the fabric - didn't think about it until I took my glove off today! :eek: :lol:

Here's the direct link to the product: ReDuRan Hand Cleaner
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Active Hunter
Here is my recipe for the vest and veil:


We used the white pig skin for the vest, veil, cummerbund, gloves, and boot tops. Use this mixture for the vest and veil with an airbrush. I also mixed a little bit of brown to just touch some spots of the vest to add some color variations. The suede side of the veil and hood will have to be airbrushed heavily to get down into the suede. I airbrushed it from all angles and then wiped the suede to get it to lay different directions and airbrushed again and then lightly airbrushed with resolene.

For the cummerbund, gloves, and boot tops use the purple base color mentioned for the rest of the costume. With these different types of leather it will give you the right amount of contrast between the parts.

For the shins use the same purple base color mentioned for the rest of the costume and the skirt but airbrush it on heavily where you want dark spots. then take the brown / black mixture I mentioned for the belly and holster and airbrush those dark spots on the shins. Then dab a paper towel in the dye and wipe some of those spots as well. Then add some scuffs and such. Airbrush some resolene to seal it. The armor and gauntlets are the same as the shins.


Sr Hunter
chiming in on the weathering note... i used to do a lot of leatherwork, and whenever i want something to look aged, i hit the high points with some really fine sandpaper... 400 - 600 grit. and it i want it to look just flat out damaged, i'll use 320.

dye and sand, or dye, coat with supersheen, sand, and dye again (the dye won't soak into the supersheened parts, but will stain the sanded bits... gives a neat look too)

i wouldn't know a good zam from a bad, but figured i'd throw it out there just in case it was of use to someone.