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dr vanski

Making Your Own Decals...

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I've posted this tutorial on other forums, and thought I would post it here as well to help out my Australian slot-brothers:

 

The approach you take in making decals depends on the equipment available to you and the colour of the car you want to relivery. I'll try to show an overview of how I go about it. I have an HP Colour Laser printer, but you could use the same technique with an inkjet. I'm also going to assume that anyone reading this how-to has a working knowledge of an image editing application. I like to use Photoshop since that's what I use at work (I'm a video tape editor). I know it's not a realistic expectation for everyone to know Photoshop, but to include step-by-step what to do in Photoshop would take an even longer explanation than what I present here.

 

Generally, there are three types of cars that would get reliveried:

  1. silver, multicoloured, or metallic coloured cars
  2. cars of a solid colour
  3. white cars.

Silver Cars

 

Silver and multicoloured cars are tough to relivery unless you have an Alps printer. These printers allow you to print white as a colour on clear decal film. They use a technique called dye sublimation which deposits material onto a clear film. The advantage of this method is that it allows an opaque layer of white to be built up on clear films before other colours are applied. This technique can allow for complex fades of tranparency on the decals. There are Alps cartridges for the aforementioned white, as well as silver and gold metallics. If you don't have access to an Alps you can use off the shelf decals. The Monogram decals are a great starting point for metallic coloured cars if you live in an Alps-free zone. They have contingency sponsors available on their sheets as well as numbers and rondels. You can get these at your friendly neighbourhood SCI sponsors. Pattos in Australia offers hundreds of decal sets as well. I always shoot a few coats of Krylon clear on ready made decal sheets before applying them.

 

Solid Colour Cars

 

For a car that's a solid colour, I'll first photograph the car from different angles and make 1:1 printouts with the image partly ghosted out. I'll draw on that in pencil to get ideas.

 

IMGP2245.jpg

 

The other thing you'll need to do is match the base colour of your printouts to the colour of your car. To do that, I printed out the Tamiya colour chart on decal paper to see how the colours reproduce.

 

ts_color_chart.jpg

 

It's a bummer to waste a sheet of paper on this, but it is a really important step. You need to know how colours will reproduce on your particular setup. It's best to do this with a sample of white decals with the white paper background. The blue papered decal paper won't help you calibrate your colours as everything will have a blue cast (from the backing paper - decals printed on blue backed decal film are fine). When you make printouts onto decal paper, tell your printer that you're printing transparencies. This setting in my printer's control panel seems to work best for me.

 

With your colour chart printout in hand, compare the colour on the chips to the colour of your car. Then use the colour picker in Photoshop to choose the colour closest to that of your car. The McLaren was a combo of Orange and Camel Yellow. You can use the transparent layer function in Photoshop to blend colours and print test shots on plain paper.

 

Once I've done my sketches and matched the base colour of the car I'll load the car images as a background in Photoshop and start pushing pixels.

 

mclaren-f1-gtr.jpg

Photoshop lets you turn layers on and off. I turn the background layer off when I'm ready to print and add my base colour as a background. I might also spend some time to rearrange all the decals in such a way as to more efficiently use each sheet of decal paper.

 

mclaren%20f1%20gtr%20decals%20sheet.jpg

 

When you're working with paint or decals and ready to apply them, make sure your hands, work area and tools are really clean and free from oils.

 

Once I print the decals out, I spray the output with a layer of Krylon clear which is available at art supply stores. I'll let it dry for about fifteen minutes and apply another coat. I usually do 3 thin coats of the stuff applying each before the previous is totall dry. I like to get the acrylic soaking into the laser decal media and paper. The ink on the decal paper is really fragile, so anything I can do to bind it better is good. I've also had good results with Tamiya clear and Testors decal sealant.

 

I let my final coat of clear dry for an hour or so. When cutting the decals apart, cut with the blade of the scissor that you can see on the outside of each graphic being cut out. This will keep the pigment at the edge of the decal from flaking.

 

Once the decals are cut out, I dip them in water for 30 seconds (less for smaller decals), then set them on a paper towel to soak up excess water. While that's happening, I dab the area of the car about to receive a decal with Decal-Set. This helps the decal wrap around curved surfaces. By now the decal will have separated from the backing paper. I'll position the decal carefully with either tongs, a paintbrush or my finger, slide the backing paper out, and blot up any excess water. Once the decals dry I'll dab some Decal-Sol on to help them suck down into panel seams.

 

IMGP2408.jpg

 

IMGP2411.jpg

 

IMGP2410.JPG

 

IMGP2404.jpg

 

Once the car has dried I'll clean up any water stains and fingerprints and then brush on a three coats of Future acrylic floor polish with a sponge brush. This is done with the body off the chassis. I'll dab any accumulations of polish along the rocker panels. Future dries in about 15 minutes.

 

Here's another example of a car that has a solid colour paint scheme. You can see how I had to match the body colour with the printed background on white decal film.

 

DSC0090.jpg

 

GPR_DECALS.jpg

 

Notice how the graphics are printed on the same colour as the area of the car they are going to be applied to.

 

DSC00104_001.jpg

 

DSC00075.jpg

 

DSC00083_002.jpg

 

The white lines are invisible when viewing the car on the track. It's interesting how photography exaggerates the smallest flaws. Decal Set helped Fernao's name settle down on that complex curve around the driver compartment. Decal Sol helped any bubbles lie flat.

 

DSC00089.jpg

 

White Cars

 

White cars are the easiest to do custom liveries for since the white of the decal paper matches a pure white car quite well. I'll often print a test shot on plain paper and cut the graphics out to see how they fit on the actual model they are destined for.

 

martini%20monte%20carlo.jpg

 

I had to shrink the size of the Martini logos, the roof #5, as well as paint in the holes and kill switch markings in the hood stripes for the final version of the Montini's decals. I used a scan of a couple of Pattos Martini Porsche liveries to stitch the Martini Monte Carlo livery together.

 

martini%20monte%20carlo%20decals%20sheet_001.jpg

 

Some alternate liveries for my McLaren above on that sheet as well. I try to fill each printout so I don't waste any decal paper as it's a little pricey at $4 a sheet for the Bare Metal Foil stuff. Once I'm ready to apply the decals, I cut them all out and gather everything I'm going to need to apply them.

 

IMGP2477.jpg

 

Check out the Future-istic shine on the Montini:

 

IMGP2810.jpg

 

The the pigment on the area around the hood pins on the Montini kept flaking off the decal paper. Rather than pull off the decal, I just laid another exactly over top the first. The colours get really saturated when you do this. The third layer of decal finally held fast.

 

The most important thing about this whole process is patience - especially when applying your home made decals. Since you're printing your own, if you mess one up when you're applying it, you can always cut another from your printout and try again.

 

I hope this explanation of my approach helps readers create their own custom liveries.

 

DV

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A few cars later...

 

...I've noticed a few things that I'd share with you guys.

 

I've had a couple cars lately that have yellowed a bit when using Future to clear coat. It's probably not enough to bother some people, but it bugged me when I saw it. This happened with white cars. I'm sticking with Tamiya clear spray from here on in. I've had really good experiences using Tamiya paints, and their clear spray is totally compatible with all their finishes.

 

I recently got in a batch of BEL decal paper and the stuff is the bomb! (ask you kids: that's good!) I did my first printouts on clear film for some names to be applied to cars as well as printing up some black stripes to be used as racer's tape. The BEL decal paper worked out great!

 

DSC07363.JPG

Racer's tape on the headlights of this car, as well as the 1's in the number 161.

 

DSC07353.JPG

Racer's tape holding down the square number 21.

 

The BEL paper has to soak a bit longer than usual (maybe 15s) and needs a little nudge to get free from the backing paper but settled onto the models' surface great using the usual Decal Set/Sol combo.

 

Keep on customizing,

 

Van

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excellent tutorial Doc. I have been decalling for longer than I like to think about and have to say thats the best explanation I have ever read.

great work bloke.

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Thanks for the kind words, Oldslot. I've wasted enough sheets of decal paper and set out to figure a way not to waste any more. I thought others could benefit from what I've learned. This way we all have more money for toy cars!

 

Van

Edited by dr vanski

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This may be a silly question, but how do you reproduce the photo's 1:1 in photoshop????

And how do you ensure the decals stay to scale during the whole process.....

 

Mine seem to print in a different scale to what I had them setup in photoshop as....

 

Yes I know I sound stupid... :lol:;)

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If you can get acopy of Corel Draw it works better than photo shop and gives abetter result on very fine print. You can see the scale on the top of Corel,not sure about Photo shop never used it for decals.

 

Phil

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Great work DV and thanks for the 'how to'. :unsure:

 

I have PS and if I ever get a decent printer I'll be sure to try this out. This tread is going straight into my 'Tracked topics'.

 

Cheers Manic

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Thanks Doc,

 

That is a very well prepared tutorial!

 

 

So.... Do any slotters in Vic have an ALPS printer? :unsure:

 

 

 

@datto16: You can set photoshop to show the dimensions of the image in cm's... go to 'Edit' menu > Preferences > Units & Rulers

 

Set 'Rulers' to cm or mm

Set 'Type' to cm or mm

 

Then create a new image using the 'A4' preset.

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Thanks Doc I have been thinking about having a go myself some time and this is the perfect opportunity. I have pinned the topic so it is easily found.

 

Vince

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Hi Datto,

 

This may be a silly question, but how do you reproduce the photo's 1:1 in photoshop????

And how do you ensure the decals stay to scale during the whole process.....

 

Mine seem to print in a different scale to what I had them setup in photoshop as....

 

Yes I know I sound stupid... :D :(

The only stupid question is the one you don't ask. To reproduce my 1:1 photos I used to include a measured grid or ruler in the photo. Then it occurred to me that if I just take all my plan view photos and then measure the car across its various dimensions that I can scale the various images using the rulers in Photoshop.

 

Even though Canada uses the metric system, our paper sheets are still 8.5" x 11" so I work in inches when creating decals. To ensure that one's decals stay the correct size one has to decide which resolution to work at. I generally work at 300dpi (dots per inch). So, when I create a new document in Photoshop I specify that resolution as well as the document size in the 'File - New -' dialogue box.

 

If you can get acopy of Corel Draw it works better than photo shop and gives abetter result on very fine print. You can see the scale on the top of Corel,not sure about Photo shop never used it for decals.

 

Phil

Corel or Adobe Illustrator are better choices for this kind of work. They use a system called vector graphics as opposed to the bitmaps used by Photoshop. They also reproduce solid colours differently (better). I have greater familiarity with Photoshop since that's what I use at work - so that's what I use for toy cars.

 

I'm glad you guys have found my tutorial helpful.

 

Thanks for your interest,

 

Van

Edited by dr vanski

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So.... Do any slotters in Vic have an ALPS printer? :D

 

as far as I know alps have gone out of business at least not avalable in oz.

which is a shame as three of my freinds have them and they are brilliant

they are now concerened that the ribbons will no longer be available

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Ooohhh how I love the internet :D:D

 

And I love this forum, I have found so much useful info on here....

 

Thanks to the ppl who are willing to post this stuff and follow up the silly questions (well mine anyway).. :D :( :)

 

Excellent work Dr V

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Some hobby shops have it. Micro scale market it in one and 3 sheet packs. More expensive but if you are just starting or only want a couple of sheets it is O/K. You can also try some of the better model train shops.

 

Phil

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A quick question, what do you guys use to coat the inkjet sheets after printing and how many coats do you use?

Edited by blue95

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So.... Do any slotters in Vic have an ALPS printer? :lol:

 

as far as I know alps have gone out of business at least not avalable in oz.

which is a shame as three of my freinds have them and they are brilliant

they are now concerened that the ribbons will no longer be available

 

Oldslot,

 

Do you know if the cartridges are still available?

 

I may have the chance to pick up an ALPS.

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Do I win the weekly award for thread-dredging?

 

Can somebody suggest

a) an alternate decal supplier to Pattos - looks like he is shut for the forseeable future.

 

of

 

B) Somewhere better than "brands of the world" for nicking logos which have a transparent background so I can at least print some myself on decal paper for ink jets - not ideal, but doable since I already found I have the paper still sealed.

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Hi Slots NZ i can recommend C & C over here his name is Colin Hughes or Wraith on Slot Forum he does a range of decals and also does made to order does all my 111. s for me and specials, if you PM me your E mail address will show you some of his work as i can't put pictures on Auslot mate

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There is a guy just setting up in Queensland that will print custom decals. He has just invested over $30,000 in a Printer.

You can find Geoff on FB at Custom Hobby Decals. He has just moved to Queensland and is setting up his business.

 

What is wrong with Brands? Best place for good logos.

But if you want any old stuff you will need to redraw most if it.

I do have a pretty big library of Logos. But most are now converted to Corel Files, so you would need to download Inkscape to use them.

I often try Google Images for Vector logos of what I am looking for, often find a good image to save redrawing it.

 

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Can anyone recommend a good bang for buck supplier of decal sheets? Is there any particular type I should be using for good results? I have a laser jet colour printer

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