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Not a big fan of unicorns, but I can do dragons all day long.  For my first foray, I chose something relatively simple.  This is the imperial crest from the Elder Scrolls series of computer games, of which Matt and I are both big fans.  I figured it would make a classy cover design and, unlike the minor X-Com flub with my little brother, I know Matt would recognize it because it’s been in all of the games for years and years.

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First, a stencil pulled from a how-to-draw-stuff site.  (Unfortunately, I lost the link.)

IMG_2563Traced with a modeling spoon and then cut with the swivel knife.  Despite the plethora of curves, this actually turned out pretty good.  I am getting better.
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This is not my best tooling. There are some unfortunate places (mostly around the outer edges) where you can see individual strikes and tool marks in the leather; I did not blend it as well as I normally do.  That said, I’m pretty happy with where I created some softer angled surfaces on the curves, particularly around the neck and interior of the wings, using the modeling spoon.

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And then skip ahead a few steps.  This used the Eco-Flo dark cocoa dye (now discontinued, but I have a BIG bottle) with the gold frost hi-lite over it. If anything, this is even more striking an effect than over the forest green.  Unfortunately, I was again unable to fully capture the richness of the color with my camera, though this one comes fairly close.

IMG_2593The striations and imperfections in the leather grain really come out using this color combination.  I will definitely use it again.

Since doing this, I visited Tandy Leather again for their end-of-the-year sale and picked up a few more tooling stamps (half-off, huzzah!) that are beveling shapes but without the texturing (i.e. smooth heads).  If I were doing this piece again, I would use those on the outer edges to make a sharper relief, rather than try to blend the shading into the background.

For all of my complaints, I really do think this turned out pretty well, and I’d be happy to carry it around myself if I hadn’t just wrapped it up for Matt.  Maybe next time.

On that note, I just picked up Oblivion with all of the expansions for less than $7 (thanks, Steam), so I think I should go play with that some more.

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