There are seven steps to the greaving process: design, cutout, tooling, shaping, dying, hardening, painting and strapping. OK, that's eight steps, but it is pretty close to seven.
1. Design. These 1350s guys were probably wearing hardened leather greaves. My suspicion is that the greaves in England and France were tooled just as ornately as the Italian ones, but the effigy carvers painted that level of detail on rather than carving it into stone like the Italian effigy carvers, so the Italian examples survived and all of the others look plain. But I could be completely wrong about that.
and fancy greaves:
My design for these greaves uses a modified version of my previous greave pattern and this artwork. I created the artwork based on a comparison of features on effigies and the detail in one surviving English rerbrace. It is comparatively simple and if I was working with a skilled illuminator to create my design I would want to do something more ornate. (HINT: Work with a skilled illuminator to create a great design for your leather tooling, customized for the shape of the piece you are making!)
3. Tooling. The first tooling step for this project is to mark a border around the piece and to bevel the edges for later burnishing. I use an adjustable groover for the border and a #5 edge beveler on the top and bottom of the edges.
Next I case the leather (wet it enough to take an impression but not enough to be soggy) and transfer my design using a stylus. Medieval craftsmen may have free-handed this or used a stencil or pounced it. I use a transparency page printed in my ink-jet printer. I think the vines are a little skinny so I will fatten them up at this point by tracing just outside of the lines.
Now it is time to carve and stamp the design. I use a hand-forged carving knife rather than a modern swivel knife because it is more authentic, fun to use and I made it myself, cold forging it from 1060 steel rod and grinding the edge.
The textured, sunken background is done with a small stamp used repeatedly.
My final tooling step is to burnish the beveled edges. This compresses the leather at the edge for a smooth finished look, reduced wear and tear, and comfort. I burnish all edges of vegetable-tanned leather pieces I create. This time I got to use my new burnishing tool.