Home made decals

Discussion in 'Painting Questions, Tutorials and Guidebooks' started by dirkpitt289, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    I recently had to custom build some of my own decals. While the process is tedious at best the real problem is in the printing. The decals come out light and somewhat translucent. Is there any way to fix this?
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Short answer is no!
    The problem lies with the density of the printer ink. It's fine on paper, or on white decal paper, but lacks enough density to cope with the transparent film of 'clear' decal paper. Having said this, the end result depends of course on the colour of the background the decal is going to be used on, and the colour(s) of the home made decals. Some will look very pale, whilst others will go darker. For example, Medium Sea Grey code letters, on a Green/Brown camouflaged background, will turn out as very dark grey, almost black.
    The only solution here is to paint-over the decals to increase the density - not too difficult for simple decals, but can be tricky or impossible for complex, small designs.
    Alternatively, if it is possible to trim the decal sufficiently, the design can be printed onto white decal paper, given that there are no 'clear' areas, and the edges where any white still shows then touched-in with the appropriate colour after application, setting and clear coat sealer.
    The density from a laser printer is marginally better, and sharper, than that from an ink-jet printer, but still not to the expected standard of commercially produced litho or screen printed decals. It is possible, however, to produce decals of a more than adequate quality, including printing white (onto clear) by using an ALPS printer from the PC, which uses 'inks' fed from coloured tape cartridges - but these are relatively expensive!
     
  3. Dr. Wartenberg

    Dr. Wartenberg New Member

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    Sorry, quick question.
    what brand of decal paper do you use? and where do you buy it?

    If I want to make a Ghostbusters logo small enough for a hot wheels car, using just red, white and black colours on a white background, I can just use White decal paper. Right?
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    #4 Airframes, Dec 3, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
    Yep, use white decal paper, and trim as required. I have been using white and clear sheets branded 'Experts Choice', from 'Bare Metal Foil Company', who produce the metal foils for bare metal applications. However, I recently discovered a supplier here in the UK, who specialise in virtually all computer papers, and tried theirs. Lo and behold, it's the same stuff, at a third of the cost!
    If you're in the USA, then the decal papers from BMFC, as mentioned, and those from Testors, will be the same stuff - different package. But, have a look for a computer supplies company, check their 'Papers' listings, then 'Decal Papers', as you'll probably find a company who can supply at better prices.
    EDIT: Forgot to add - not sure where you are, but the only mail-order/internet outlets which come to mind in the USA, apart from local model shops etc, are Squadron, and Sprue Brothers, although I'm sure there will be others. Alternatively, from the UK, there are Hannant's, or direct from Crafty Computer Papers, the latter being my now current source.
     
  5. Dr. Wartenberg

    Dr. Wartenberg New Member

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    GREAT!
    I'll try squadron and Sprue brothers after looking up for something local here in California.

    Thanks a bunch!
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    You're welcome. Don't forget to get a spray can of clear (acrylic) varnish too. The printed decals, once dry out of the printer, should be given two coats of this, before use as normal, allowing each coat to thoroughly dry first. (Otherwise you'll get a 'pebbled' effect - as I found out accidentally!)
     
  7. Dr. Wartenberg

    Dr. Wartenberg New Member

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    yea, i saw some videos on youtube last week on how to do it, my problem is finding someone with an inkjet printer i can use...:shock:
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Maybe there's a copy shop/office services place near you? If so, put the designs on a CD or USB pen, and take it there, with the decal papers. They'll only charge a nominal amount to print them - but make sure you have ink jet decal paper for an ink jet printer, or laser decal paper for a laser printer. The two will not work in the opposite system!
     
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