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  1. I thought I would start this thread, as I've had a few questions about how I make the decals for my airliner builds and this will hopefully explain the whole process from start to finish! My main interest at the moment is the British Airways 'Utopia' livery. I started to create my own decals for these designs about a year ago, after buying some online which turned out to be both the wrong size and generally incorrect! This was the one which started it all, from my 747-436 Tribute Build: I should explain that I am not an expert my any means. There are mistakes and defects on most of my models, many of which can be seen the the above picture! However, I am improving slowly and will point out any known pitfalls along the way... My objective at the end of this thread is to have a model 727, with a bespoke design on the fin. This may take a while, as the kit needs building too! The kit is from Airfix: And the tail design will be the 'Scotland' tartan livery, shown on the bag below: At this point I will admit that the design process for this particular model has the potential to go badly wrong for two reasons. Firstly, the tail on the 727 is very complex, with more curves than a normal fin due to the air intake for the centre engine... The second potential problem is the geometry of the intended design - the tartan artwork is all straight lines and right angles, so getting it to conform to the tail fin/engine intake/rear fuselage whilst not looking distorted will be a real challenge. If it becomes too much of a problem I will resort to a different design from the above selection - probably the 'Waves of the City' design at the top centre - this one will be much more forgiving! The first step is to get the design into a digital format. I scanned the bag (at 600 dpi) and opened the design in Photoshop: I played around with the colours, using reference photos from the internet. The blue is now darker and the green, red and yellow are more vibrant. If this was not done, the printed decal can look dull. I needed to scan the 727 kit (also at 600 dpi for commonality), to create a template for the tail: These two images were then combined. You will notice that the tail fin has been flipped over, as that better suited the diagonal lines on the tartan design: As this livery is completely fictitious, I can have the latitude to amend the design as much as I like to try and create something that looks suitable and attractive, whilst being practical to apply to the model. This version was not my first attempt and it may get amended as the process continues! Once happy, the excess pattern is removed, leaving the bit I need: I'm already concerned about how easily (or not!) this will apply to the model! Which brings me nicely onto the next stage of the design process - making very rough paper copies to see how well they fit: These are then dry fitted, using clips to hold them into place: I can see four immediate issues, most of which are not a surprise...! The areas marked in blue need to be extended, to allow them to wrap around the top of the fin and engine intake. There is a gap (marked with the red line), where the decals do not conform to the curvature of the model. The third issue is more of a problem regarding the practicality of applying the decals - the joint between the fin and the rear fuselage has a very complex design, with multiple colours and shapes. If the entire design was moved down slightly, this would make it easier to apply. Finally the design on the fuselage is not level; it is sloping down at the front... The first issue is simple to fix, the others are more of a challenge!
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