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  • dr vanski
    started a topic Making Your Own Decals using the DrVanski Method

    Making Your Own Decals using the DrVanski Method

    I started what I thought was going to be a short answer to a question on how to make decals in another thread, but ended up adding to it until I had a full blown tutorial. I thought I'd re-post that information here for anyone else interested in how to go about making their own decals.

    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.



    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.



    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.


    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.



    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.









    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.





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







    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.



    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.



    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.



    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.



    Check out the Future-istic shine on the Montini:



    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
    Last edited by dr vanski; 07-08-2007, 02:44 PM.

  • joe88
    replied
    Wow. Great info

    I have been wanting to do custom cars like a princess car for my daughter or an Army Ranger car.
    Following your method would make it easy to do that.
    Thanks for the great idea and step-by-step directions.

    Leave a comment:


  • GT47
    replied
    Hobbycal p7 is an inkjet printer paper that will dry to a white background, or can be kept clear if you want, there are others for laserprinters and I think the laser printers have a sharper resolution, 2400 dpi instead of 300 or 600 and will make some great looking fine detail decals.

    This is a great thread and the tutorial is great. A few things have changed over time and the details that can be captured are much greater, but there is no substitute for the work that has been put into the tutorial. All of the pre-production work is as valuable today as when it was written seven years ago.

    Leave a comment:


  • DynoDon
    replied
    Phil,

    I don't know about that or if you are even talking about the same toner, when it was tested, or what process, paper, printer or whatever was used; as there are different ones out there.

    I do know that several companies are currently using it for decals.

    As I said, I used to be in the dye sublimation business and I did use the toner. I simply got out of the business because I couldn't compete with the online and big box stores.

    The decal sample I got worked great and I will be ordering some decals. There are some who may want to make their own and If people wish to know more about it, they can do the search and contact the company - they have an 800 #.

    I don't have a horse in this race, so it doesn't make any difference to me. Like I said, I was only passing the info along. People can make their own choice.

    Don

    Leave a comment:


  • Phil Kalbfell
    replied
    Don this product was tested and reported about on the Alps Group, we though it may have been a great replacement for our aging Alps. But the results were disappointing on decal paper, I can only go on what was reported there.

    Leave a comment:


  • DynoDon
    replied
    I'm sorry but I disagree with you.

    The toner I am referring to can be used on dark colors and color can be printed over it. This is not the toner offered by OKI.

    I have printed with this product on shirts and hard substrates - I have not personally printed any decals but have seen the product.

    I suggest that those that are interested talk to Al, the owner of the company.

    Let me also state that I have affiliation with this company. I just know of if it from a past business and was simply passing along the information.
    Correction: Meant to say I have NO affiliation with this company.
    Don
    Last edited by DynoDon; 10-28-2013, 06:07 AM. Reason: correction

    Leave a comment:


  • Phil Kalbfell
    replied
    Before any one gets too excited,tests indicate that the coverage of this toner is not great, will not cover on dark colours, it also cannot be printed first and then the colours put on after for better coverage.
    Unfortunately the Alps printers and process is still the best for printing decals.
    Hopefully some one will come up with a solution to printing good white on decal paper.

    Leave a comment:


  • DynoDon
    replied
    Another option

    Here is another option for printing white/color decals. I won't mention the company name but you can find it by doing a search for "white toner" (no quotes).

    This is the company that makes this toner. It can be used with most OKI printers and some other laser printers..

    While it isn't cheap, it is available. I do know that a lot of water slide decal companies use this toner.
    Might be an option for somebody who wants to offer this as a service.

    I believe they also supply decal paper.

    I know of this company when I was in the dye sublimation business - ask for Al. Just a thought - Al might also be interested in printing decals for you.

    Don

    Better search result - White Sublimation Laser Toner for Clear Decals
    Last edited by DynoDon; 10-27-2013, 03:10 PM. Reason: Better search result

    Leave a comment:


  • 1ToyTruk
    replied
    First time inkjet decals



    THE CAMARO WAS MY FIRST ATTEMPT , FERRARI 2ND, MASERATTI 3RD & CUDA MY LAST ONE TO DO, I INTIALLY HAD ISSUES BUT TRIAL & ERROR FIGURED THE WAY TO GO THANKS, VAN & OTHERS THAT GAVE ME ADVISE

    Leave a comment:


  • noddaz
    replied
    Great info. I really need to make some decals. After I order some decal paper...

    Scott

    Leave a comment:


  • csxgrafix
    replied
    Here it goes again......to the top. So much GREAT advice in one spot it has to be read by anyone wanting to do "their own thing". Dr V your inspiration alone keeps people in this hobby....thank you!!!

    I have one small tidbit of information to add to anyone new to graphic design. Using Dr V's advice on taking pictures of your cars.....which I highly recommend.....if you make, on a piece of masking tape, a small scale such as 0-1/2-1" and stick it to the side/top of car before snapping pics you will instantly be able to size your work by drawing 3 guide lines at what ever your tape scale measurements are then re-sizing photo so they line up perfectly. I use this technique all the way up to 1:1 vehicles. And if you have the knowledge of a good drawing program you can then vector a template to be used for future projects.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Leave a comment:


  • bibbster
    replied
    You're welcome...but thank you more for the how to!

    Leave a comment:


  • dr vanski
    replied
    Great tip, Bibster. Thanks!

    Leave a comment:


  • bibbster
    replied
    Just a tip to add...if you don't want to burn a sheet of decal paper to print out the Tamiya color swatch or your test shots, use photo quality glossy paper.

    My printer, Epson NX305, printed exact colors on the photo paper as it did on the decal paper.

    Plus, this will give you the glossy look of decal paper that you can't get with standard printer paper.

    Leave a comment:


  • 1ToyTruk
    replied
    Hi
    I'm making a Carrera, Stevenson Camaro Grand Am #57. I know the basic's of decals, Ive screened alot in my time as printer, never printed them on a inkjet yet? My ?? problem is how to angle the graphic's from one side to the other. I think that the best way would be to do them as 3 piece's sides & top and line up to meet? Any help would be very appreciated Thanks

    Leave a comment:

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