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hendie

Creating Custom Decals - Advice needed

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I am working on my current project which is going to need some custom decals. This is something I have never attempted before and thus, I am looking for some advice as to the do's and don'ts of creating custom decals.

I have a decent Epson inkjet printer, and most of the graphics I am going to need. I am well versed in Paint Shop pro etc so don't need any help there.

I am looking more for suggestions on decal film, what to watch out for, and recommendations on the best way to apply and get the decals set down nicely.

All input appreciated.....

Edited by hendie

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There are several threads here on how to make decals with inkjet or laser printers, a search for these will bring a lot of good information !

Regarding paper, in my experience I've had very good results with Bare Metal's Experts Choice film. They have both clear and white sheets for both inkjet and laser printers.

As the inks used by home printers are not opaque enough, the number of decals that can be printed on clear film is relatively limited as any red or yellow or light blue will not show on a dark background. Here's where the white sheet becomes useful. Alternatively, a white background on the model can do the job nicely.

With this film, any artwork printed with an inkjet will need a protective coat to prevent water from dissolving the ink. Microscale's Micro Decal Film is maybe the best but other modellers use other clear varnishes. Of course these must not contain water themselves...

With the Experts Choice sheets, the decals work very well with the usual Microscale liquids and apart from being more fragile, you can use these decals exactly like the commercial ones. The sheets are very thin but the decal film or varnish coat often makes the decal thicker than ideal... not much to do here, apart from trying a laser printer (that is what I use today).

Last but not least: the settings of the printer affect the overall result, some patience is needed to try different settings. Personally when I used an inkjet I found that the "best photo" setting was not the best for printing as it seems to use too much ink, with smearing as a result. My best results were with "photo" only. There's no clear solution here, settings depend on the printer, the paper and sometimes the artwork too... just try and try again.

If at the end of all the tests you've not decided to give up and throw everything in the bin, these techniques will open a lot of possibilities for many types of markings

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+1 on the Experts Choice decal paper. I've been using it for ages and never had any problems.

Steve

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I use paper from 'Mr Decal Paper' on eBay - they also sell the proper sealing spray, that is vital for turning your design into decals !

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Luckily, the a/c the decals will be going on is white.

Thanks for the info guys - I shall certainly look into all your suggestions.

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One more aspect I forgot to mention that is however very important: always check the size of what you're drawing against the model on which the artwork will be applied !

Here's one of those situations where the accuracy of the kit is important ! Let's say I'm printing decals for a 1/72 Spitfire, I know that the regulation stated the roundel to be X diameter and the code letters Y tall and Z wide, I might be tempted to just scale these numbers down to the proper 1/72 size. Then I apply these to the Hasegawa Mk.IX kit and guess what ? The decal will look too long ! The decal of course is right, it's the rear fuselage of the kit that is short and as a result the decal will not fit.

In this case I will have to modify the artwork accordingly so that the proportions will be the right on the shorter fuselage. This is even more important for artworks that cover specific structural parts for example a nose art fitting on a specific panel or, even more critical, a decoration fitting on the rudder.

A material I find very useful for this is the kind of clear plastic used for overhead projections. Before printing the final artwork on the decal paper I print a copy on a sheet of this material. I then cut the various artworks and check them on the model to see if the proportions look right. This has saved me quite a lot of decal paper in the past

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the a/c is 1/50 scale and no current decals exist as far as I know so I will be creating them all from scratch - as such I had intended to print them all off on paper first to do a test fit to check sizes and adjust as necessary

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