Everything You Need To Know About Making Your Own Decals
Part I What Are InkJet Decals?
The simple answer here is InkJet Decals are images printed on Clear or White InkJet Decal Paper using an InkJet Printer.
The same information will apply here for LaserJet Decals printed on Clear or White LaserJet Decal Paper.
InkJet Decals printed on Clear InkJet Decal paper are just like Stained Glass Windows, they are printed with transparent inks whose colors can be affected depending on the surface color of the object they are applied over.
InkJet Decals printed on White InkJet Decal Paper are completely opaque and can be placed over any color without any interference from underlying colors.
Both Clear and White InkJet Decal papers have their own distinct advantages.
All my Decal Paper comes from Papilio.com
There is no White basecoat behind InkJet Decals like on the Decals that came with your Models you built as a kid.
InkJet Printers do not contain White ink, so they will disappear if placed on top of very dark colors like Black.
InkJet Printers see the color White, on your images, as a blank space. After all Printers use White Paper so there is no need for White ink.
With varying degrees of color appearance in your applied Decals, you can place Clear InkJet Decals over White or SnowWhite Pearl with perfect results, over Silver with a very slight change in color, over Yellow and light Pastel basecoats with a slight change in color, over Gold with a slight change in color, beyond that on darker colors the Decals suffer a heavier degree of color change.
Light Metallic colors or colors with Pearl Powders in them will have an amazing Neon effect to the colors of Decals applied over them.
The Cyan, Yellow and Magenta of InkJet Inks suffer the greatest change over very dark colors but the Black Ink will show up on anything other than Black paint.
However, I have come up with ways to apply Clear InkJet Decals over dark colors, later in these tutorials.
If you own a Laser Printer, stay with me, everything is the same except you print on Clear or White Laser Decal Paper.
By far the best Graphics Program I have found for making Decals is Photoshop.
I have tried and used nearly 2 dozen other graphics programs and none yield the results or are as easy to use as PhotoShop with its Layer abilities.
Something for those of you interested in making your own Custom Decals------------------
“Decal Fixative Alternative”
For coating my Decal sheets as they emerge from the printer I've tried lots of products with good to excellent results.
I started out using cheap Painters Place Enamel #20014 in the aerosol can from the spray paint department at WalMart.
It wasn't bad and only cost 90 cents.
Then I used Duplicolor Clear Lacquer DAL #1695 also in an 11 oz. aerosol can from AutoZone.
This was a better product that dried much quicker and thinner for $4.59.
Then I used DEFT Clear Gloss Varnish in the 11 oz. aerosol can in the Paint Stain Dept at Walmart, about $5.
By far, this is the best of the aforementioned and makes the edges of the Decals disappear after final ClearCoat.
However, all I've used for the last 10years is House Of Kolor InterCoat Clear.
InterCoat Clear is a product used to protect your art as you lay down progressive layers.
It's used to coat an existing layer so it can be taped off without fear of raising the paint.
It's also used as a carrier to lay transparent colors or pearl powders over basecoats.
Well the results are fantastic.
One 1/4 oz. AirBrush cup filled 2/3 way with a 50-50 mix of InterCoat Clear and RU311 Reducer is enough to coat a full page of Decals.
It dries to an almost negligible thickness in a matter of minutes.
With this InterCoat Clear the edges of the Decals disappear as they are laid down.
The extra control of applying the InterCoat Clear through your AirBrush instead of blasting some other product out of an aerosol can gives you the ability to lay down just the barest minimum needed to seal the ink on the Decals.
The Decal film remains just as thin and pliable as if there was no coating at all.
Nothing is wrong with the DEFT but this InterCoat Clear is giving far better results.
I started taking the Pearl-Ex Powders to DieCast Shows and Conventions to introduce them to other Customizers and today, like many of the products I use, they have caught on to enhance the paint on these tiny 3" cars.
Pearl-Ex Powders are colorfast and weather resistant but not UV resistant.
PaintWithPearl Powders however are of automotive quality and are UV resistant.
This slight difference in craft quality and automotive quality Pearl Powders is not much consequence to us airbrushing scale DieCast or Models since our builds do not see extended stays in direct sunlight.
Anything you paint with Pearl Powders, regardless of the brand, needs to be seen in full direct sunlight to appreciate what Pearl Powders do. You will never see the full effect of Pearl Powders unless you view them in bright direct sunlight.
The same Model that looks great displayed indoors becomes an entirely different and sparkling piece when taken outside. The intensity of difference is phenomenal. It actually explodes in bright color.
PaintWithPearl Powders are a bit smaller in size (microns) than Pearl-Ex and come in many different colors.
Either can be shot through a .3 AirBrush needle.
Quantity of powder doubles with PaintWithPearl and so does the price per unit, about $10, but shipping is very cheap, about $3 combined shipping.
The benefits and ways to use Pearl Powders, either of the two brands, are numerous.
Needle sizes as small as .3 will adequately disperse either brand. These are very fine Powders and not Flakes.
I'll list a few random uses and results,
You can mix Pearl Powders into your ColorCoat but they will most often sink below the surface unless used in large ratios to the amount of paint.
The full effects of Pearl Powders are best achieved with the Pearl floating in the Clear or Candy and not just laying on the surface of a ColorCoat.
Pearl Powders, as minute as they are, are actually individual platelets with two sides.
Just like tiny broken pieces of a mirror, but in powdered form.
You always want to use a lighter color of Powdered Pearl than the underlying ColorCoat.
Using a Pearl Powder that contrasts with the underlying color allows the Pearl to peek in and out of the color.
Pink Pearl on top of a Black ColorCoat, Blue ColorCoat or underlying Blue Candy, shifts to Purples and Lavenders.
If you want to use a dark Pearl on top of White or even Yellow you need to test because the Powder might show up as very tiny specs and you don't want that.
But, you can use a Brilliant Gold Pearl Powder over White as I do often, to make your job explode in direct sunlight.
The uses and combination of colors is endless.
Interference Pearls are available from both links listed that give a White background the chameleon effect of shifting from White to Iridescent Pink, Blue, Lavender, Gold, etc.
Using any Pearl Powder on top of a Gloss Black Colorcoat will always give you fantastic color changing effects.
Also check out the Duo Pearls in both Pearl-Ex and PaintWithPearl,
Duo-Green/Yellow, Duo Green/Blue, Duo Red/Blue
These Powdered Pearls are different colors on oppostie sides of the platelet.
They have color shifting qualities built right into them and are just one more way to get out of this world effects for a penny's worth of Pearl.
The amount of Pearl you use can slightly enhance or completely change underlying colors.
You can very nearly create the same color shifting effects of expensive chameleon paints by using contrasting Pearls on top of Candies or in your ClearCoat.
You can simply mix a little Pearl Powder with Reducer alone and dust a Satin effect directly onto a colorcoat.
This method is applied directly on top of a ColorCoat and changes the color dramatically.
You need the thickness, as minimal as it is, of a ClearCoat to allow the Pearl Powder platelets to disperse at different levels within the thin layer of Clear.
This allows the platelets to place themselves at different angles to each other forcing light to bounce around from platelet to platelet.
Picture this, the game Plinko where a ball is dropped down through multiple pegs and bounces all around, up and down, till it hits the bottom, like on The Price Is Right Show.
The ball represents particles of Light and the Pegs are the Powdered Pearl Platelets within the ClearCoat. You get omni-directional reflection of Light, trapped within the Clear, resulting in a burst of electric color.
Again, the amount of Pearl used can slightly enhance or completely change the underlying color.
Here's a Black car with some of my Flame Decals that is ClearCoated using a little Emerald Green Pearl.
The Decals are hardly affected but the Black background suddenly changes completely to an Electric Emerald Green.
Here with the Purple version using Lavender Pearl Powder over a Black background,
And another Emerald Green Convention car I created,
A little Pink Flamingo Pearl in the Clear over Purple,
Shimrin Gold Pearl in Clear over HOK Tangelo Pearl,
You can see how the Pearl show more intense at different light angles,
The same Gold Pearl in Clear over Tangelo Pearl combination showing how the colors shift,
HOK Zenith Gold and Limetime Pearl ClearCoated with a drop or two of Pagan Gold Intensifier and Aztec Gold Pearl Powder,
Here's another of my NASCAR Passions.
This one is done a little different than than the previous Frank Bandy NASCAR Passion.
" NASCAR Passion RaceCar "
Here's something I've been making for my regular Passion Collectors.
SnowWhite Pearl Passion emblazoned with the Confederate Flag, racing logos and scallops.
Inlaid RhineStone Headlights, Custom Wheels, Rims and Center Caps, Interior, and it is all packaged in a ClamShell ProtectoPak with a Custom 2 sided Glossy Photocard and personalized folded bubbble insert.
HOK Urethane Clear with Aztec Gold Pearl Powder.
This one went out to Passion Collector Scott Peterson.
Collectors order these with their own Custom changes to make them a very Personal Passion for their displays.
All Products Used Are Exclusively House Of Kolor, Of Course!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Decals are printed on Clear InkJet Decal Paper from Papilio.com