Elmore reveals a cheap way to produce you own decals.
by Model Collector Magazine February, 2002
the introduction of printing to die-cast toys and models, the signs,
emblems and adverts more often than not took the form of decals
or waterslide transfers.
restoring a die-cast model to its former glory, surely one must
be as accurate as possible; so if the original model had decals
then the restoration, if possible should also.
reproduction decals on offer from model suppliers such as Steve
Flowers are excellent and well priced, but for those who have an
artistic streak it is remarkably easy to reproduce your own replacements.
Alternatively, you can create your own individual model, like my
MODEL COLLECTOR Routemaster pictured above.
A Blank Canvas
am adding decals to an old Corgi open top bus that I found in my
dad's strange collection. I have no idea why it was 'sans decals'
but it was and just meant I had a blank canvas to work with!
are many suppliers of decal paper designed to work with a standard
home inkjet printer. For information on acquiring some of this
paper see the details at the end of this article. All paper used
here was kindly provided by Mcgonigal
Paper and Graphics.
types of paper are available, clear and white. Clear decal paper
leaves all uncoloured areas transparent. This paper is excellent,
although it cannot produce designs with white in the colour scheme.
However, there is also a white decal paper that leaves all uncoloured
areas white. For this step-by-step I will be using the white decal
paper, as I require a white background for some of my designs.
Test sheets and printouts
with the labels produced in the first part of this article it is
paramount that the size of the decals is worked out precisely before
they are applied. Firstly, design the decals in any presentation
or art package (as shown in the January 2002 issue of MODEL COLLECTOR)
and print out test sheets that can be cut out and checked against
test sheet was made up of the MODEL COLLECTOR logo already used
on the Model A van and a long banner for the side of the bus stating
the obvious:Britain's BIGGEST Selling Diecast Magazine'!
banner was a simple dark blue-bordered rectangle surrounding a
Lucida Casual text with a slight shadow. The designs were produced
in various sizes and printed out on an A4 test sheet. When sizes
were finalized we printed the designs onto the white decal paper,
making sure we set all print options to print at best quality.
Then the decals were left to dry for about ten minutes and cut
into more manageable sheets with a couple of extra designs printed
out just in case!
Spraying and cutting
a vanish-like layer that will stick to the design and act as a
carrier film for the ink.
The spray I used came with the decal
papers from McGonigal as part of a DIY Decals set.
is important when spraying the decals that you create a balanced,
thin and thorough coating to the surface.
sprays an a steady hand best produce this cover with the can held
8 inches away from the paper and moving in a slow side-to-side
motion. Make sure that the room where you spray is very well ventilated
and try not to get any of the spray on your hands. When all relevant
decals have been covered, leave them to dry for 10 hours or as
paper decal paper instructions.
best results keep the decals at room temperature.
kit suggested a drying time of between 2 and 12 hours but use your
the decals will not suffer by being left to dry for too long, better
to be safe than sorry!
Knives and Tweezers
the decals have completely dried they can be cut, soaked and COLLECTOR
emblems and side banners. The best way of cutting them out is to
use an artist's scalpel or knife, metal rule and cutting board.
method, if your knife is sharp, should produce a much straighter
cut than scissors and there should be minimum finger- printing!
With the benefit of hindsight, the knack of cutting these decals
is to not leave any outline to the decal at all, an unwanted outline
may distort the overall appearance and give an effect that looks
a bit like the white border bleeding into the colour.
cut decals must then be soaked to allow separation of the carrier
film and backing. Before soaking starts make sure that you have
the model, some tissue and an old, soft paintbrush handy, ready
for the application.
decals need to be fully immersed in a bowl of slightly warm water.
It is my opinion that using tweezers eliminates the struggle of
removing the decal from the water and thus helps to eliminate any
separation before final application.
on the paper you use, the soaking should only last a matter of
seconds. My decals needed to be soaked for approximately 15 to
20 seconds. A good way to check if the decal is ready for application
is to simply remove the decal after the allotted time and very
gently rub between your fingers to see if backing and film.
the decal is ready, quickly yet carefully transfer it to the model.
(My first decal was for the front of the bus, as shown.) On application
it is important to keep the decal relatively wet so that it can
a slightly damp, soft, old paintbrush, this will work as a moisturizer
and will help to move the decal into position. With the damp paintbrush
in hand, gently pry the backing away from the carrier film.
the decal is in a satisfactory position, lightly dab it with a
small piece of tissue- This will help the decal to dry. Leave the
positioned decal for a couple of minutes to allow the adhesion
to become secure, and then apply a layer of Decal Coat which is
a solution that improves adhesion between the decal and the surface,
it also helps eliminate the decal shine and improve any visible
Coat should be applied all over the decal in a thin layer, continuing
the application to about 1 mm past each edge, thus providing a
'Coat border'. This application process can be repeated for as
many decals as your model requires.
MODEL COLLECTOR bus has a smaller emblem on the back and one on
each of the sides, along with an advertising banner. These are
applied in just the same way and fixed in position using Decal
Coat as well.
you can see from the final shots the decals work quite well against
the light blue backdrop of the bus. However, on close inspection
there is an apparent white border on each decal that seems to bleed
into the blue decal.
would not happen if I had used the clear decal paper, although
I could not, of course, have produced the striking white backgrounds
of the side banners.
reason for the bleeding effect is that, however close I thought
I had got to the precise cut of the decal, I must have left a minuscule
white border in places.
paper and spray film are good enough to not allow any actual bleeding
of colour, but the decals do seem to give this effect visually.
The way round this. I believe, is if white decal paper must be
used, simply print out the background colour of the decal design
far larger than needed.
I had had a larger area of the blue surround, then I would have
to cut through blue on all sides and would not have been able to
leave that annoying white border!
again emphasizes how the restoration of models is in no way an
exact science, one must try, and fail sometimes, in order to learn!
Now go design those decals!
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