Question on making decals.

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Staff Sergeant
Dec 6, 2005
North Delta BC
This Airfix He 177 I'm doing at present is going to need decals. I've given up trying to source them out local but I did get a sheet of decal paper so I thought I might print my own up. Has any one tried this with any luck ? Also is there a site where one might download German fonts and insignias ? I made a bunch of crosses no prob with the paint program but when I print them for some reason they come out skewed. Is there a program that can be downloaded to do this ? I found a couple of links that claim you can download fonts but they (site) looked kind of sketchy, I just recently fixed my computer from a virus and adware, don't want to go through that again !
I've made a number of decals in the past, without much problem. Remember of course, that unless you have an 'ALPS' printer, you can't print white. Also, on clear decal sheet, light colours lose a lot of density once transferred onto the model, so overlaying two or more of the same decal sometimes works. Even black can look a touch 'thin' sometimes, depending on the background colour it's applied to.
For German crosses, I've scanned existing decals, re-sized the scans as required, and then printed them onto white decal paper, trimming close around the design before use.
I've used an existing font for such items as Werke Nr, although I can't remember which font it was, without trolling through the lot!
For Luftwaffe code letters, I've used commercially available sheets, possibly more common in 1/48th scale, although again I've also scanned decals or art work, if the colours needed have been dark, such as black, red, blue, where some have needed a two-decal overlay. When this hasn't worked very well, I've painted over the decal, or just hand-painted the characters.
Remember, when printed, to allow the sheet top dry for at least 15 minutes, and then spray a good quality acrylic varnish over the design, to seal it. Note that 'Future' is NOT suitable as a decal sealer on the printed sheet.
Thanks I will check it out. I've got to figure out something. I have a lot of old kits that will need suitable decals. There's hardly any hobbie shops left here in Vancouver or the lower mainland for that matter that cater to this hobby, in fact there are only two places that sell RLM Testors Model Master Paints which I swear by and both are a sizeable traffic headache to get to !!
When I was a kid I was outside playing road hockey and if it was raining I was inside building models. Now if your a kid I guess your hooked up to your smartphone. It's no wonder so many hobby shops have shut down. There used to be some very good ones here !! The few that are left seem to just cater to gaming and RC stuff.
Terry has summed it up well. I have found that making decals takes a lot of trial and error at first. The paper setting for your printer needs to be played with to adjust for the right stock thickness and sizing the decals with your software can be tricky (I use Photoshop). Once you get the printer settings correct, it's advisable to print some trial runs on scrap paper to make any necessary tweaks to size, colour, and resolution rather than wasting expensive decal paper. I can claim varying degrees of success but can not claim to have ever achieved a decal that rivals a good commercially available one. You will find that you you will not get deep blacks, nor vibrant colours. To see what I mean, here's a selection of home made ones I've made to give you an idea of the quality you might expect:

The black serials are home made.
101031 R6595 Port.jpg

This cat decal was done by printing onto clear paper and applying the decal to a white painted circle on the model. Mediocre quality in my opinion.

The 9K and MN on this Me410 are home made. So is the Werke Nummer. I'm pretty happy with the codes but the W.Nr. was done with a different method that did not turn out well. Because these were white, I could not print them so I photoshopped the numbers with the background mottle camouflage and printed the file onto white decal paper.
120107 Side 2.jpg

Here's a picture of the file on my Photoshop screen which better explains what I did.
120106 Screen Shot.jpg

Good luck!

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