Making your own decals -- instruments and logos

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I don't think the main problem with decals is creating artwork. It's outputting the things as artwork you can transfer to your model (I'm deliberately not saying "decals" because I hope there's some out of the box thinking out there...)

Most of the professional decal designers _I_ know (YMMV, obviously) use Illustrator, because they are creating (in black and white) colour separations for screen printing solid inks. That's not an option for most of us, obviously.

What I'd like to hear is your recommendations, tips and tricks for the right products (eg paper, film, varnish) for printing out home-made decal art.

Especially, my single biggest problem is to find a way to print metal/chrome logos. I have no way of printing silver ink, although I've seen some arty "ink-jet foil" (http://www.craftycomputerpaper.co.uk/.Laser-Transfer-Foils_FOIL-LAZ1M.htm) which might do the trick but I'd like to hear from anyone who's tried it.

I have both clear and white decal paper, but it's quite thick, especially when you have the varnish layer on it. The colour density on the clear film is very poor, and the white film ends up with a border (if you don't cut well outside the printed area, the ink bleeds when you put it in water to release the decal). I've had some success with printing artwork on clear and applying it over a cut out plain white decal to back it up. That works OK for simple shapes (eg race number circles) but try cutting out a Vargas pin-up nose art for a bomber...

I'd love to hear how anyone manages this without an ALPS printer (and boy, do I wish 1/10th of the effort that's gone into 3D printing had been devoted to a hobbyist 2D printer than can deal with silver, white etc inks...)

bestest,

M.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Chrome logo decals:

I don't have the technology to do this myself, but I know it can be done, because I've supervised professional artists who can do it.

- Take your artwork from its black stage and reverse it to white with proper outlining (in paths), then place it in a color box that is as close as possible to the body paint, maybe a couple of shades darker.

- Print it out on clear decal paper to the desired size (dry it, clear it, etc), then apply it to BMF or similar.

- Trim as tightly as you can and glue in place.

Harry P. can probably describe this better, or figure it out. But there is a limit to how small you can go and maintain resolution.

Practice on plain paper first, of course.

Edited by sjordan2

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Posted (edited) · Report post

For example, you would want to figure out a way to turn this art into plain black-and-white logos, then reverse them into white and place over a body color square. It can be done by an experienced Photoshop person.

3500gt-GTInameplatecopy_zps9368953c.jpg

3500gt-iniezionecopy_zps05bf2010.jpg

3500gt-Superleggeracopy_zps6076d731.jpg

Ideally, you could just trace everything in black ink and turn it over to a custom photoetcher, but I've never found anyone who can do that or any reliable aftermarket etcher.

Edited by sjordan2

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Posted · Report post

Nearly any Font you see is available online and easily loads into your PC and PhotoShop at the same time.

The Maserati logo is easily recreated and then turned Chrome using a Chrome style, (one click of the Mouse)

Your second image can easily be cut out, cleaned up and also Chromed.

Just lay them down over White or SnowWhite Pearl.

CadillacPat

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Posted · Report post

You will have better results in AI vs PS as your dealing in vector images, not raster. Scaling down will work with a raster file, but you really want vector files for smooth edges

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Posted · Report post

You will have better results in AI vs PS as your dealing in vector images, not raster. Scaling down will work with a raster file, but you really want vector files for smooth edges

Vector images won't hurt but they are not necessary.

At these scales manipulated high resolution images will look just fine and of course tiny text will appear perfect.

CadillacPat

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Posted · Report post

Re instruments, do they need to be decals?

I have a sheet of speedos and revcounters printed onto plain paper in various diameters and sealed. When I want one I cut it out, stick it in place and then drip a dob of clear or future over it.

I've done the same with headlights behind a mesh grille on a custom van.

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Posted · Report post

I print gauges onto photo paper and use a punch to knock out a specific piece. The piece is glued in from the rear of the dashboard with Micro Krystal Klear. When that dries, I dribble some clear Hodge Podge to the front to work as a clear bezel.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Another thought for gauges that I'm going to try on my Mercedes SS is inspired by the way gauge decals and lenses are done on the 1/12 Bentley.

- Drill out the gauge faces on the dash.

- Create the gauges and print them out to scale backwards on clear decal paper.

- Apply the decals to clear styrene, let dry and set, then paint white over them to provide the necessary white part of the gauge.

- Glue to the dash panel from behind.

The advantage is that the clear styrene gives you an instant flat gauge glass without having to add any clear, etc., and you reduce the possibility of the ink bleeding.

Edited by sjordan2

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Posted · Report post

Here's an example of a door sill decal I'm making for my Mercedes SS. The photo from the actual car was cleaned up in Photoshop, then turned into vector graphics.

MB-Mercedes-Benz-sillscriptcopy_zpsaebf5

Picture3_zps2b75de15.png

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Posted · Report post

The only way I've seen of doing a true metallic look on a decal is using an ALPS printer. It's not an inkjet, it uses cartridges more like an old style printer ribbon. The up side to these is they can do any color including white.

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Posted · Report post

The only way I've seen of doing a true metallic look on a decal is using an ALPS printer. It's not an inkjet, it uses cartridges more like an old style printer ribbon. The up side to these is they can do any color including white.

Alps printers can do a metallic gold and silver color very well; some models can do a gold and silver foil also. They can do a lot of colors, but there are dramatic limitations due to their 600dpi resolution. A typical inkjet printer handles most tertiary colors much better than any Alps. The capacity to print white is the Alps "killer app." I have printed through a lot of Alps white cartridges over the last several years!

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Posted · Report post

Another way of doing it is using heat transfer foil to make stickers (I use Papilio). I made some nice chrome Mercedes star logo horn buttons on cream paper using this process.

This requires printing your art at correct scale size on a laser printer that uses black toner (Staples, Office Max, etc). The foil is taped over the printed-out black artwork and either run through a heat laminator, or using a regular clothes iron at 330F or slightly above. The art should be printed on colored bond paper stock that closely matches the color of the surface where you want the script or whatever to be placed, and trimmed as tightly as possible.

Look for heat transfer foil on Google.

For example, the reversed mercedes logos I posted above in the black bars were intended for use on black paper stock for the chrome foil heat transfer process.

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