View Full Version : Paint on leather.
09-27-2005, 09:47 PM
Ok gents, I'm an artist as some of you may know. I have thought about this many times and I have decided to try and paint on leather A-2's and other jackets that would be appropriate to paint pin-up art and other WWII insignia.
My question is what kind of paint works best on leather flight jackets? I know that paint was some what limited during the war but, I would like to know what kind of paint they used. Also, could I use pencil first and then fill it in or what? I have the talent to do it, just need to know what kind of paint to use. I'm not planning on producing the highest quality because I want them to look original. Most originals I have seen are crude in design. They weren't master pieces since there wasn't much time to spend on them. Colors were limited and I'd like to try and paint them as well as the original men did.
I have a friend that wants me to paint on a repop A-2 for him and when I do that, I'll post some photos of it to share. If any one here likes what they see, then I'm open for biz! Prices will come later.
09-27-2005, 10:10 PM
My question is what kind of paint works best on leather flight jackets?
I've always used a fast drying enamel. I've made a few wwii patches with great success. And I've talked with an artist who's uncle painted jackets and noses (aircraft that is) and said he used enamel.
I draw out with a pen as you can't really draw on leather with a pencil. Carbon paper might work well though.
Good luck! I only have one patch left that's on my sons A2 I'll take a pic to show you the results on a patch.
09-28-2005, 02:16 PM
I've seen good results with One Shot enamel - like pinstripers and sign painters use. The range of colours isn't great, but then neither was the palette used in war time.
09-28-2005, 02:41 PM
You can mix colours of course.
Most seem to use Artists' Acrylics after preparing the leather surface.
I've had good results with Signpainters/Pinstripers' hi-opacity Enamels and normal enamels- but if the 'build' is too high, the paint comes off. Repeated thin coats, or use a method other than a brush for putting the paint on...
You get much better coverage/opacity if you stipple the paint on, or use a foam pad or spray it on- but then that's a lot harder than brushing.
Check this guy's work-
09-28-2005, 06:22 PM
Wow, some of those on that link are really something! I'm not sure I can paint that well but, like I said, I want them to look like originals. But, those look super!
Thanks for the help guys! What do you treat the leather with before you paint the leather?
All the best,
09-28-2005, 06:41 PM
Yeah, that Japanese chap does simply the finest jacket art I've ever seen. Nothing else comes close. His "Home James" is just killer.
Incidentally, I made quite a fine income from the mid 1980's painting reproductions of Iron Maiden album covers and Frazetta fantasy scenes on our local redneck populations' denim jackets. I used acrylic paint, sketching the image in lightly with a brush and building up as I went along. I charged $50 a pop back then, but sometimes was paid in *ahem* foliage.
09-28-2005, 06:53 PM
I'll ask my buddy that painted mine. Painting is his specialty, especially jacket painting. Not only did my A-2 look great when painted it, but it's weathing beautifully. Many fine cracks through the paint with age, but no flaking. He brushed a glaze over it when he was finished, as well, which probably contributed to the durability. The thickness of the paint on the leather probably has a lot to do with this as well, I'd imagine that if you get the coverage too heavy, it'll flake off more easily.
09-29-2005, 12:17 AM
This Guy, Jerome, from Milwaukee uses artists acrylics- builds it up in thin coats.
09-29-2005, 12:45 AM
See the WWII Resource (sticky) at top of WWII page, there's a 'few' listed there, including Jerome (as shown).
Bellytank, thanks for the info on Jerome....He's only 20 miles away from where I live. How convienent, I'll get in touch with him.....Jake
09-29-2005, 09:41 AM
Make sure and tell him Martin from Denmark sent you- and say Hi!
03-16-2009, 07:32 PM
I've seen good results with One Shot enamel - like pinstripers and sign painters use. The range of colours isn't great, but then neither was the palette used in war time. hello i was told some time ago that One Shot paint has a Lead base to it so if anyone uses this brand be careful of this.
Hi, I've painted quite a few jackets, and experimented with a lot of different paint, I also monkey around with hot rods and pinstripe a bit. One shot is beautiful stuff to work with, but the very thickness of the paint makes cracking inevitable. I went so far as to make test patches, wad them up, put them in the freezer, etc. Acrylics held up the best every time. A buddy of mine was in Viet Namn and told me they painted jackets with Testors model paint, because they could get it at the PX. And yup, the key to longevity is keeping the paint layer as thin as possible. I use a emulsion with high pigmentation, so you don't have to build up too high a layer for saturation. You get this right away with One Shot, but like I said it seems to not penetrate deep enough to bond properly. One last tip; go to your local auto parts dealer and get some wax and grease remover, this will strip any oils or treatments from the leather so whatever paint you decide on will actually bond TO the leather. Good Luck Omar
Enamels! Acrylic rarely looks correct. You are right, do a great job but don't make it perfect as most WWII jacket art was theater made by talented non-artists ......... folk art really. The paint that as used in the 40's was lead-based enamel. Some of the Mediterranean stuff was painted with oils. I have not had any problem with paint coming off and have done the millions of experiments with patches and jackets.
My coolest WWII art painting gig was painting a large order of Med Theater/15th Air Force patches of various types/styles for the new George Lucas film "Red Tails" about the Tuskegee Airmen. Google it. This film comes out in Dec/Jan. I can't post those pics until after the movie comes out but here are a few pics of other projects (mostly photos already posted):
464th Fighter Squadron:
831st Bomb Squadron:
Added a few more photos to previous post.
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