How to Paint on Leather

Painting on Leather? Here’s What You Need to Know!

Have you ever wanted to make your leather handbag stand out with unique designs? Or maybe you’re looking for a way to personalise a leather jacket? If so, then painting on leather may be just the thing for you! Painting on leather is not only fun, but it’s also an easy way to take your leather goods from boring to beautiful. Here’s what you need to know.

What You Need

You don’t need much to get started painting on leather—just some paint, brushes, and the right kind of leather. 

When it comes to paint, use acrylic paints specifically designed for use on leather (not fabric paints). 

Acrylic paints are durable and flexible enough to withstand normal wear and tear. Plus, they come in tons of colours so that you can express yourself in any way you’d like. 

As far as brushes go, choose ones that have relatively stiff bristles so that they don’t bend or break when applying paint. 

Finally, make sure that the type of leather that you are using is smooth and not too thick; otherwise, the paint won’t adhere properly.

Preparing Your Leather

Now that you have all of your supplies ready, it’s time to start prepping your leather item before painting. 

First off, give your piece of leather a thorough cleaning with a damp cloth or brush and let it dry completely before proceeding.

This will help ensure that any dirt or debris doesn’t interfere with the adhesion process. Once it’s dry, trace out any shapes or patterns onto the surface with a pencil if desired (just make sure to erase them afterwards).

Then apply some painter’s tape along any edges or lines where you don’t want the paint to bleed through; this will help create crisp lines between colours if necessary. 

Finally, apply a thin layer of gesso primer over the entire surface of the item; this will help provide an even base coat for optimal coverage and colour vibrancy when painting.

Painting On Leather

Now comes the fun part—actually painting on your piece of leather!

Start by applying small amounts of paint at a time using short brush strokes in a single direction for best results (the more coats applied in thin layers rather than thick layers yields better coverage). 

Allow each layer to dry completely before adding another one on top (you can speed up the process by using a hair dryer set on low heat). After all coats have been added and dried fully, remove any painter’s tape used previously and voila – your masterpiece is complete!  

Frequently Asked Questions:

What kind of paint do you use for leather?


Leather paints are acrylic-based paints created specifically for work on leather and faux leather.

How do you prep the leather before painting?

The leather should be thoroughly cleaned with Isopropyl alcohol or Clean Spirit before painting to ensure there is no grease or dirt that can ruin the design or shorten the paint’s lifespan.

What is the best way to apply the paint to leather?

1. Prepare your leather object

2. If you see dirt on your object, clean it.

3. Let it dry

4. Apply the cleaner

5. Allow it to dry

6. Make sure you have your paints ready

7. Make sure anything that will not be painted is protected

8. Paint a layer

How do you seal the paint on leather?

You can seal your paint by spraying a paint finisher over it or dabbing a dilutable paint finisher on lightly. After applying the finisher, you should allow your design to dry for 24 hours. To complete your project, you may also choose to use a waterproofing spray.

What are some common problems when painting on leather?

One of the most challenging aspects of leather painting is leather tanning. Leather tanning is the process of soaking leather in a tanning solution, which alters its composition so that paint can better adhere to it. 

Tanning leather makes it resistant to water and wear, but also means that small cracks or blemishes in the leather show up more prominently when painted.

Additionally, leather has large pores that can be tricky to clean and fill before painting, or they may absorb the paint and create an uneven finish. 

Depending on the type of leather, thinner paints may need to be applied multiple times for opacity, creating an even bigger challenge with leather maintenance. Crafting leather-adorned products is a labour of love, as careful prepping prior to painting is essential for success.


With some basic supplies and a bit of creativity, anyone can turn their ordinary piece of leather into something extraordinary by simply taking up painting on it! 

Whether used as an accent detail or as full-on art canvas mode – painting on leather can add unique style elements that perfectly reflect its owner’s personality while still being able keep up with everyday wear-and-tear without issue. So go ahead – grab your supplies today and start letting out your inner artist!

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