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Creating and Sizing custom graphics - Ghost Flames example

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  • Creating and Sizing custom graphics - Ghost Flames example

    As posted to my local club site : HSARC.net

    Using the Testors Decal System and having experimented with the decal paper, here is what I did to create some custom decals.

    Tools Used:
    Graphics Software (Adobe Photoshop 7.0)
    Testors 9201 clear decal paper
    Digital Camera (Canon Digital Rebel)
    Color Inkjet Printer (HP Photosmart 7960 8color photo printer)

    Process Explanation:
    You can do decal graphics several ways.
    One way is to measure with a caliper or ruler the length and width of the area you will be placing a graphic in, write that down then go for it.
    OR
    You can go a little overkill and see what the graphics will look like BEFORE you print them and use up a decal sheet. (This is the method that I use and is explained below)


    Step 1:
    Take some pics of the car your want to work on. Make sure you get the side (I used the drivers side), front, rear and top of the car. I recommend shooting the pics so that the camera is parallel to the surface you are shooting and is level with the bottom of the chassis (you don’t want to be working on a surface that was shot at an angle)

    Step 2:
    Measure the car with a cheap caliper in cm or mm (cheap digital caliper at Harbor Freight for less than 20.00 and you will get lots of use out of it in modeling or scratch building slot cars.)
    Measurements that I used were
    * the length and height of the surfaces that was going to work on
    * the length of the wheelbase (center of front axle to center of rear axle)
    * height of the car from the bottom of the body to the top (on an F1 car from the bottom of the chassis to the top of the side pod...on a full bodies car, from the bottom of the chassis to the top of the bottom of the window opening on the side).

    Step 3:
    Open up the picture of the car in your graphics software. Your best bet will be to start with the picture of the side of the car first. You will need to re-size the picture of the car several times to get the image you are working with on the screen.
    This is where some of the measurements come in handy...
    The first measurement that I use is the wheelbase measurement (center of the front axle to the center of the rear axle)

    In Adobe Photoshop; you can utilize the cropping tool as a measuring tool as well, if you turn on the "info" toolbox on the screen. It will show you the width and height of the crop box as you drag a box over the area.

    I keep resizing the picture till I have the dimensions in the crop box that are within a couple of mm of the wheelbase measurement.
    Once I think I have it, I also use the crop box tool to measure the side of the car from the bottom of the chassis up to the top.

    If both measurements match, I save the picture as carname_top (substituting the car name for whatever type of car you are working on...in this case, dallara_top.jpg)

    Now then, if you are doing graphics on the hood, roof or trunk, do the resizing activity again for the top shot. NOTE here, if you go back and look at the image dimensions of the side picture you just saved...you can probably match the image dimensions there for a good starting point on your first image resize...

    Step 4:
    Now that you are done resizing and saving images, its time to think about a couple of things...
    * what color do you want your graphics to be
    * what graphics do you want to use

    Some suggestions for graphics links:
    SpeedGraphics.net : http://www.speedgraphics.net/index.htm
    - I use this place for some flames and accents
    - Sponsors : http://www.speedgraphics.net/cgi-bin...ry=aftermarket

    Brands of the World : http://www.brandsoftheworld.com/
    - Logos galore for your racing teams or sponsors

    Step 5:
    Get your graphics and lets go to work.
    NOTE: for step 6, I do the graphics one at a time, then open up all of the finished graphics at once, create a new transparent backgrounded graphic that is 5.5" x 8.5" sized (same size as the decal paper) and lay them out on that graphic then print them all at once on one sheet.

    Step 6:
    Remember, I do this for each one of my graphics, one by one...

    Let’s get started with a graphic.
    In this case, I took a picture of a flame pattern that I liked, but I didn’t like the color inside the flame
    <img border=0 src="http://www.houstonscaleautoracing.com/images/reviews/decals/flame1.jpg" />
    because I wanted something subtle on the car...
    So I masked out the flame with the Photoshop mask tool
    <img border=0 src="http://www.houstonscaleautoracing.com/images/reviews/decals/flame2.jpg" />
    then changed the color of the flame to white. (Remember...an inkjet printer cannot do white!)
    <img border=0 src="http://www.houstonscaleautoracing.com/images/reviews/decals/flame3.jpg" />

    Next, I used some of the built in image filters in Photoshop, in this case a "neon glow". Using the picture of the car, I used the Photoshop eyedropper to select the color that I wanted to use for the flame. (in this case, I selected the yellow from the wheels.) Applied the filter to the flame and I got this.
    <img border=0 src="http://www.houstonscaleautoracing.com/images/reviews/decals/flame4.jpg" />

    Keep in mind that I am working with an image that is MUCH larger than the car at this point....now I have to resize this image down to the area that I want it to fit in on the car (still working in mm)
    Once the image is resized, I copied the flame image and pasted it over onto the picture of the car...and now you can see what it should look like once you apply the decal here.
    <img border=0 src="http://www.houstonscaleautoracing.com/images/reviews/decals/flame5.jpg" />

    The only unknown for me at this point, is that I know I am working with a clear decal, with a bright yellow, inner neon glow on a CLEAR flame (remember, inkjets can’t print in white!!!)
    <img border=0 src="http://www.houstonscaleautoracing.com/images/reviews/decals/ghost_flames.jpg" />

    So I finished up the decal sheet and printed it out.
    The next morning, I took the sheet outside and sprayed the Testors 9200 Decal Bonder on the sheet and brought the box I sprayed on back into the garage so set in an out of the way place for a few hours.

    Once the decal was dry, I cut it out and applied it.

    Hey, this CLEAR flame with a yellow neon glow has a really cool look to it!.
    Yep, since the inkjet cant print in white… and I did this on clear decal media…what do you get with a WHITE flame with a neon glow?
    ---- a GHOST FLAME!



    If you want to see the flame in person, just catch me at HSARC one night or on a Saturday at the shop when I am there and ask me to let you see the car.

    Try it yourself and get creative!

    Later
    Greg

  • #2
    Re: Creating and Sizing custom graphics - Ghost Flames examp

    Awesome tutorial...very cool! Your car looks GREAT!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Creating and Sizing custom graphics - Ghost Flames examp

      Thanks K, my next RecklessRicer I mean Racer, is going to look a lot better after that how-to!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Creating and Sizing custom graphics - Ghost Flames examp

        You could have made the background color the same as the color of the car body and printed it on white decal paper. It is a good idea to clearcoat decals that you have printed yourself, they rub off very easily.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Creating and Sizing custom graphics - Ghost Flames examp

          Yes very nice job and tutorial. Will have to get that saved here and stored for reference.

          Thanks!!

          Larry LS

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Creating and Sizing custom graphics - Ghost Flames examp

            If you print on white decal paper you can do some wicked graphics, but you spend a ton of time on decal border trimming unless you are applying it to a white car.

            If you print on clear, you have to think very carefully about what effect you want to have on the car. Then think in terms of reverse graphics layers to get that effect.

            Some one at my club suggested printing on an ALPS printer because you can print in white, but I dont know how well that adheres to decal film designed for an inkjet.

            The other thing that i discovered between the white and clear decal film, is that the white for some reason tends not to be as flexible when working on surfaces with extreme contours or angles.

            Going to try my hand next with utilizing some polymer based adhesive chrome sheeting designed for RC airplane wings.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Creating and Sizing custom graphics - Ghost Flames examp

              That's a really nice job, especially with the absolutely crappy decals Testor's includes with that kit. Well done!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Creating and Sizing custom graphics - Ghost Flames examp

                Some one at my club suggested printing on an ALPS printer because you can print in white, but I dont know how well that adheres to decal film designed for an inkjet.
                Better than ink, in every case I've seen. The ALPS (no longer marketed as such, but still available -- last I heard -- in Japan under the "Citizens" brand) uses a thermal wax-transfer process like some older color copiers.

                Inkjets are better than they were (so is decal paper), but you're still squirting microdots of liquid ink on a fairly glossy and impermeable surface. The thermal transfer process (ALP's trade name was/is "Microdry") imprints what is essentially molten wax, which cools and is completely dry immediately after it hits the paper.

                The pros: can print not only white, but (try THIS on an inkjet!) metallics -- silver, gold, copper, "chrome." Non-smearing, much less vulnerable in handling, archival. Prints in CMYK (+ metallics), a color space I find easier to work with than RGB. Especially good at limited-tonal-range images like typical aircraft nose art. Finished decals are VERY thin, and disappear under a gloss coat like Future floor wax.

                The top-of-the-line MD5000 has what it implies is a dye-sublimation "photographic" setting, but, though it isn't half-bad at continuous-tone images, it's NOT dye-sub, and most mid-to-high-end modern inkjets produce better "photographic" prints. Not really a consideration for car decals (the only exception I can think of are the "CLK Sportswear" boy & girl livery for the Mercedes CLK-GTR, but even there, the ALPS is better than silk-screen). The bottom-of-the-line MD1000 is exactly the same as the MD5000, except for the "photographic" option -- the MD1000 is the better and least expensive choice for decals.

                The cons: "ink" (actually tape) cartridges are expensive, and there are at least four of them. The "four-color" printing process is fairly bizarre, as the printer tightly grips the paper to keep everything in register: first it will do a yellow pass -- the paper will look like it's coming completely out of the printer, but then it whips it back in again for the magenta pass, and keeps repeating until the black pass is finished (black prints over all, traditional in CMYK printing). Though it *looks* dicey, I've never seen an out-of-register image from the ALPS (knock wood).

                The following applies to all "printer-made" decals:

                Like any decal made by the "printer on decal paper" process, the entire sheet must be coated with a binding film (like MicroScale's "Liquid Decal Film," which is also great for saving old, dried-out decals). As the entire surface of the sheet is then decal film, you must cut close to the image for best results. As I noted before, these (and inkjet) decals are very thin on the substrate, so at least two coats of liquid decal film is a good idea. Also, because they're thin, they conform to surfaces very well, so don't go nuts with decal solvent: MicroSet is fine, MicroSol (much more active) can give you dissolved decals in short order.

                Hope this helps!

                Bart

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                • #9
                  I have artwork for modern and vintage drag sponsors if anyone needs decals for a drag car. Decal sheets can be made to order.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I also have an archive of flames and pin stripes for hot rod applications. I work in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator so there are no compatibility issues.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      That Great Paint job...

                      The Elusive Paint job...the one that I am not able to do...Okay guys. I am very serious here...
                      I want to paint a white body Slot.It McLaren. I'm not very good painting flat cardboard much less a car with all these bumps and indentations...

                      I WILL LISTEN/READ every post, even if you give me a bunch of manure, I am serious about trying to do a decent paint job...myself...not sending it off...unless you have seen my work already or talked to my wife, I'm not even allowed to finger paint with kids on the big craft tables...and I'll tell you the truth, I don't have any of my paintings on my own walls because I'm not allowed. I usually make big mess...

                      I did look at McLarens and I did see soething beyond my skills but beautiful...it was Yellow and had a Dark Green Stripe and a very thin Dark Green stripe on each side of the main wide one down the center of the car.

                      Red is way overdone, except for Ferrari's, and I already have a black Loctite McLaren.

                      Ideas? I will listen, and not attack anyone...

                      Lindsey "Kansas" Angell

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Great and thorough explanations, this could be very useful to have. Thinking of refreshing some of my cars now

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