Turn EVA Foam into Leather
Updated: Feb 14
No bullshit tutorial, straight to the point because I hate writing.
Introduction (skip this section)
Advantages of using foam instead of leather
✅ Quick and easy
✅ Does not require expensive equipment
❌ Not durable at all. May rip if not careful
❌ Will have to be touched up after a few outings
❌ Will not work with super dense foam
2-3mm foam - Craft foam for best results, CF65 will work too.
Lots of tin foil
Hexflex (optional but recommended)
Hexart (optional but recommended)
Dremel (optional but recommended)
Dremel Flex Shaft (optional)
Dremel Stone Tip (optional but recommended)
Leather hole punch (optional)
Step 1 - Think ahead, plan your shapes
There are advantages and disadvantage of creating the leather effect before or after shaping the foam.
Before shaping the foam:
Easier to work with as the pattern can be applied on mass with a rolling pin.
Don't have to worry about warping the foam.
Could be ticky if complex bends are needed later on as the leather pattern may level itself with additional heat.
To combat this, only heat the bottom of the foam gently.
After shaping the foam:
Just stamp the leather pattern on with gentle heat
Overheating will "unbend" the shapes that are formed
Can't work on a large area at once
Please use a bloody ruler if you're cutting straight edges. Nothing worse than a straight edge that looks wonky.
Step 2 - Heat the foam then stamp it
Roughly scrunch up the tin foil. Make sure the pattern isn't too uniform. You can create a stamp shape so you basically beat the foam with a ball of tin foil or alternatively a rolling pin can be used to roll onto the foam.
Heat the foam gently until it is a little soft. You'll see the foam change colour on the parts that were heated. Difficult to explain exactly how long you need to heat it other than "don't go crazy". Good luck.
Step 3 - Clean up edges
Tools (with affiliate links)
No leather edges are completely 90 degrees. Soften the edge with a stone tip to avoid taking chunks out.
Step 4 - Base coats
Seal with 3 layers* of Hexflex
Base coat with Hexart Leather Brown
Don't over-seal the foam as you want the foam to absorb some of the paint still.
Step 5 - Finishing
I sprayed it with a light layer of gloss varnish. Apply a very thin layer so it's not too shiny. Satin varnish aerosol also works well.
To sell it a little more, I used some weathering techniques I found on youtub on how to weather.
Using a leather hole spacing tool, I stamped some holes in for stitches to really sell the look. you can buy a cheap kit from Amazon with all the threads and everything. You can simply press the holes into the foam and it should go through. A hammer is not necessary for this step. I put a bit of card board down so I don't make holes on my desk.
The side of a leather piece is normally worn and a light shade than the main parts
Dry brush some lighter colours on the sticky-outy bits to create highlights. This emulates the leather being rubbed
Don't stick to one colour. Use a range for a more natural look
Don'overheatat the foam or it'll leave a burn mark that would be difficult to get rid of
Do it in a well-ventilated area as foam fumes are harmful
You can stamp the tin foil on a completed build but be careful not to warp the existing build
If you need to remould the foam piece, heat from the back to avoid removal of the foil pattern
If the piece of foil gets too smooth, try re-scrunching the pattern or get a new piece of foil
Rolling pin is nice for a large area but it does smoothen out the foil quickly
Here are some photos, weather is not great as I gave up and rushed the finish but it is what it is. You get the idea, good luck!
Please drop me a tag on Instagram for any feedback or to show your creations from the tutorial!