Making your own decals?

Discussion in 'Questions on Kits, Decals, Tools and Pilots' started by dneid, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. dneid

    dneid Active Member

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    Ok, so I have been out of the hobby faaaaaar too long. I ran across a post on the LSP forum (I believe). This post was talking about making your own decals. I guess with what inkjet and laser printers can do now days, it makes sense. However, this post gave little information on the how tos.
    So, can anyone talk about this? Just how feasible is it? What is involved? Are there any How Tos or tutorials? I did a search or 12 and could not find anything that resembled a How To. Just how good are these "make em yourself" decals? Do they last? Can they survice Micro Sol/Set?
    Thanks in advance for the help.
    Dale
     
  2. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    #2 Wurger, Nov 29, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
    First of all... what is a decal marking. It is nothing more but a colour picture printed on a paper sheet covered with a water glue and a clear coat. Knowing that it is quite easy to make your own decal markings just from scratch. But to make the process easier many decal manufacturers started offering sheets with the clear decal film. If you have a ink or laser printer at home you can print your picture on a such decal sheet instead of the ordianry paper sheet for printers and you have the decal . However there are limits to the way. Unfortunately most of home printers can't print a white colour because there isn't a such ink there. It is because the white colour in a picture is achieved by using a white paper. Both printers and computers treat the one as a clear, "transparent" layer. You might ask if there can be done something for that... yes it can. The white background can be applied either on a model at area where the decal has to be put on or on the clear decal sheet before printing. Also you have to remeber about a scale for the decal markings. But setting of correct dimensions is done at a graphic program you can use for making your markings. The printed in the way decal markings have to be covered with a clear coat in order to protect the inks against a water that can melt them. When all is done, you have to cut out these markings as close as possible to them limiting the clear film to the thin outline. This will let you to avoid or just limit the silvering effect. Because a such printed decals are quite thin there is no problem with applying them on a model. The Mico Set/Sol liquids work with them as well.
    To sum up.... for making of your own decal markings you need to have... a printer, a sheet of clear decal and a graphic soft installed on your computer. The graphic soft can be the Photoshop for instance. But there are other programs that can be used and are for free, the GIMP for example.

    Here you are a link to a thread where the way of making own decal markings was used. Start with post #211 and check a few next pages....

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/14...ntry-modern-aircraft-spitfire-gb-32637-6.html
     
  3. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    #3 Crimea_River, Nov 29, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
    Great explanation Wojtek. To counter the white-printing issue, you can also get white decal paper instead of clear. This can be convenient when the decal is an easy shape to cut out, which admittedly in my experience is not very often. The other thing that can be tried is to print the background colour of the model onto the white paper which creates, for instance, white numbers. I tried this technique but it's very tricky to get the colours right. Here was the process I used for the white WNrs on my Me 410 and the finished product. The 9K MN decals are also home made.

    120106 Screen Shot.jpg
    120107 Side 1.jpg

    Once ready to print, what I do to save decal paper is to first do a test print onto normal paper, noting carefully the direction of the paper feed. I then cut a blank piece of decal paper to cover the grouping of decals and tape the blank right over the just-printed figures on the test shot. Then I feed the paper in again and run another print which this time goes onto the decal paper. You have to experiment with your printer settings to allow for the thick paper and glossy finish but once you get it right, they come out well.

    Home made decals using inkjet or laser printers tend to not get you the same colour density as commercially available decals but they're not too bad. Decal paper is availble at good hobby stores and Testors sells a kit complete with paper and a rattle can of sealer.
     
  4. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Excellent , Andy. :cool:
     
  5. dneid

    dneid Active Member

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    #5 dneid, Nov 29, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
    Hey, All,
    Thanks for the information. I did see clear, blank decal paper at my LHS. I sat back that night and though it all through and I have to say, I do like the idea in concept. However, as I can see from you all, the devil is in the details of execution from printing to application to sealing. This could allow the modeler to develop markings for just about any aircraft (assuming I would want to go whole hog on a complete set of decals).

    I will probably get some paper and mess around a little at some point in the very near future.

    One last question.... inkjet or color laser? What are the pros and cons of each? I have both formats at home and I am a mac guy at home with all the SW I could ever need for this; both Photoshop Elements and Apeture 3.

    Wurger, thank you for the link. Read through it and that certainly helped me better understand the process. Now, I just maybe be bugging you later for some graphics. :p

    Dale
     
  6. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    The biggest issue I would think of between the two are an inkjet uses liquid dye and a laser fuses the toner to the paper so getting inkjet decals wet might lead to colors running if your not careful. But that's just my thought as I've actually never done the process before and may be wrong.
     
  7. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    In my humble opinion, the main problem is a quality of printing. Both the inkjet or color laser can print with HQ. But the significant meaning has a resolution of a picture. These images of low one have blurred edges or , what happens more often, are with the pixelize effect.. Therefore shots of high resolution should be used only. It can be obtained in a quite easy way, it is enough to set a correct resolution using the graphic program menu when creating a new project. I would suggest the 320 DPI and more ( 380, 400, 420 ).
     
  8. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    I only have an inkjet so can not comment on differences. I have had issues with colour loss with overhandling the decals so limit this activity. I also don't use setting solutions for this - makes me nervous. Lately, I'm making sure that I get plenty of sealer on the decals and that I allow it fully cure before use.

    I agree with Wojtek that a good quality scan is great but it is not essential. I've just finished a set of decals for Karl's 109 G-10 and had a very pixelated scan to work with. With Photoshop though, it's relatively easy to get a good, crisp 1/48 scale decal using a 1 pixel brush at 300 DPI to erase the unwanted pixels and touch up the areas you want to keep.
     
  9. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I agree with all the above. It must be remembered that, ink jet or laser, the decal might look great when printed, but you will not get the density of colour you'd expect to see from a commercially produced, litho or screen printed decal, once the decal is transferred to the model. Also, as Andy pointed out, ink jet-produced decals, in particular, are not particularly stable, and the printed image can very easily be degraded by excessive handling, even when sealed with a good quality acrylic varnish.
    However, the density and stability of laser-printed decals tends to be slightly better.
    Clear and white decal papers are available for both types of printer, and each will not work in the other. There is also a 'press fix' type of decal paper available, which, in theory, could produce better density, but, of course, has slight limitations in actual use, as the decal must be placed accurately before 'pressing' into place.
    All of these materials are best purchased from a specialist paper supplier, where the price per sheet, or per bulk pack in particular, will be considerably less than the same material through a modelling outlet, particularly those products with a modelling brand name. I use a company in the UK, who will ship overseas, although there are sure to be equivalent companies worldwide.
    If you wish to check on prices and avilability (in UK currency), go to craftycomputerpapers.co.uk
    Hope this helps.
     
  10. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Great stuff lads! :thumbright:
     
  11. dneid

    dneid Active Member

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    Hey, All,
    A rather timely article in Fine Scale Modeller talks about making your own decals. I can see a set of refills for the color laser in my near future.
    Dale
     
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