Printing Own Decals

I was wondering if anybody is printing their own decals. I see Micro Mark has the paper, but wondering if their is a PC program for it. I have a few older kits and have the decals but a couple of sheets are yellowed and dry. Thanks in advance

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Tagging for answers. I’m in the same boat with some old kits.

Yes, I’ve printed my own decals.
It depends on what you want to do. So if you have an image that you want to print then you can do so via Word or some other similar program. If you are talking about creating your own artwork then you will need a drawing program and there are free ones via the internet. I use Corel Draw, which I use for drawing my masks. There will be a learning curve to getting the best/easiest results.
Remember that a printer doesn’t print white so you need to allow for that. You can use white decal paper but then you will have to cut close to the image if you don’t want a white border. Or you can use clear decal paper and apply the image to a white area.
Printers are designed to use white paper to supply the white for an image and as such the image printed on clear decal paper is not very bright.
Laser printing is far better than inkjet printing for printing your own decals.
I don’t do it because the results are not good enough for what I want, I use paint masks.

I’ve only ever done black text for a kitbash/scratchbuild Star Trek TOS era ship, but going back a few years now. I was able to get the hull graphics from the Polar Lights kit I used as a base, but I had to make the registries and names. Used some old software on my old laptop.
I remember having to seal the decals with varnish as I’d used a water based inkjet printer. A non water based ink or a laserjet would be much better.
They worked fairly well.

If you have yellowed decals, an easy option is to scan these and electronically remove the yellow with software such as adobe photoshop (horribly expensive) or affinity (much more affordable)
Affinity Photo – award-winning photo editing software (serif.com)

What I usually do is to scan all my decals of all my models (before cutting them up) . This is a vast source of perfect decals in case I ruin one.

Another source is airshows. Taking detail pictures of the markings on a plane is always useful.

The important point is to anticipate and make sure that you have a library of interesting pictures.

I have printed many decals for lots of projects. They are easy to design and print using graphics programs and a home printer with printer decal paper. Make sure you get the right decal paper for your printer though. They make both deskjet and laserjet decal paper.

The main limiting factor is white. Home printers don’t print white since they assume you are using white paper. In order to print white, you have to have an Alps or similar commercial printer that does print white. To get around it, you can either use white decal paper and try to match the surrounding paint or use clear decal paper and paint white where the white decal is to go, again attempting to match the surrounding color.

Another issue is that home printers do not lay down a lot of ink and tend to make somewhat transparent decals. If they are going over a light color (white, sand, gray) it is not an issue. If you are applying them over dark colors (dark green, black, etc.) they will tend to disappear into the dark background. You can try to counter this with multiple decals layered over each other, but then get visibly thick decals. You can also run the decal paper through the printer multiple times, but this tends to blur the decals as it is difficult to get them to line up perfectly every printing.

I say give it a shot and see what you can do. They can come out great and really add personalization to your models.

Something else: using white background paper has the disadvantage that you need to cut out your decal perfectly to avoid that there is a white border around your final decal on the model. One way to deal with that is by adding to your picture a background in the same color as the surface of the plane. Doing that makes cutting out the decal much easier.

Right. I find no matter what you do, the white decal paper will show a little and you have to paint the edge of the decal with the surrounding color to hide it.

I have done a few and found transparent decals on light surfaces ok, not so good on dark surfaces, at least with inkjet.
image
image
The numbers are decals printed on decal paper using inkjet, as you see the first pic on the white area is good, the second on the blue less so. I need add the numbers to the front of the bridge but to do that I will have to paint the bridge front white and use a decal for the whole area. Then is probably won’t match the bridge sides…. I use the Gimp or Libre Draw to create decals, both are free software.

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