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Tom Ward
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I'm building a model of a 100 year old air compressor,
based on some photos I got from the net. 

I'm using my 3D-printer to make the parts. 

The photos show a very nicely done,
hand painted manufacturers name on the side of the tank,
and I'd like to reproduce that with a decal. 

I plan to clean up the image using Photoshop,
to get rid of the glare on the sign. 

I don't know how to go about making a decal from the photo though. 
Any suggestions? 

I did look around this forum for ideas,
but didn't see anything.

- Tom





Sean W.
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Hi Tom,

I believe what I've seen people have a lot of success with,
is printing the desired design out and sanding the paper down thin,
until all you have left is the ink and just a little diluted white glue to put it on the model.

Good luck!


Tom Ward
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OK Sean.  Thanks. 

I'll give that a try.

Tom


slateworks
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Tom

The simple way is to print your final photo on to water-slide decal paper such as this:

Waterslide Decal Printing Paper

Follow the instructions regarding "sealing" and it works fine.


The signs on Updah's buildings, for example the gas station,
were all done like this using an inkjet printer.





Tom Ward
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Doug - That looks perfect! 

Just what I was looking for. 

Muchas gracias.

- Tom


slateworks
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Glad to help.




Steven B
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Tom, I too concur with Doug.  

I've made many watersilde decals, with both laser jet and inkjet printers. 
They work very nicely. 

The only problem that I have had,
was on the clear decal sheets they are a bit translucent,
and you may have to put more than one on. 

The white film, when trimmed, will leave a white "ring" around the edge. 
I have fixed that with either weathering or paint around the edges.  

Use the sealer and they will not run. 

Keep up the great work.


Tom Ward
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Thanks Steven.

I ordered a set of the clear decal papers but was unsure about the white ones. 
Thanks for the advice on that. 

I'm working in Photoshop to clean up the photo I'll be using for the air compressor,
and have plans to make some decals for the boiler washout system I'm building also. 

- Tom


slateworks
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Tom

You're right to use the clear version,
as it does not leave a white ring around the decal.

Any "edge" that might appear when the decal is laid,
can be eased out with gentle brushing of MicroSol

Make sure the surface you apply the deal to is glossy rather than matt,
as this helps with adhesion as does a light brushing with MicroSet.

I use Klear floor polish
(I still have a bottle of the "old" recipe, which I believe is better than the latest!)
on the local area that the decal is to be attached to for this purpose.


Tom Harbin
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Tom,

It hasn't been mentioned in this thread
(or at least I missed it if it was),
but standard printers do not "print" white.

Your image has some fairly intricate white in it.

The hobbyist solutions for white artwork include:

- Printing on clear decal sheet and painting the area behind the decal area white.

- Printing with a white (ghost) cartridge on a laser printer,
  I've read reports of great down to worthless, so hard to say how good it is.

- Printing on an ALPS Micro-Dry printer.
  (obsolete and hard to get but used by many custom low-volume decal makers).

- Print on white decal paper and trim very tightly.

- Print on regular paper and sand thin.

I'm sure there are others I don't know about.
 
In looking at the image you want to print,
and at the fine quality of the 3D-printed compressor you designed,
I would be tempted to try a two-part decal.

Print the "ORO" and the "AIR COMPRESSORS" ribbon on white decal paper,
and trim it very closely, then print the red scroll outline on clear paper.

I bought an ALPS over 20 years ago (before we thought of using them for decals),
and I still have it, but I've never printed decals with it.
I have all of the supplies for printing decals, just no skill.

There are a number of custom decal makers out there that use them.
If it is something you plan to do on more than a casual level,
it may be worth hunting one up.

Tom

 

Tom Ward
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Tom

I had read about the problem of ink jet printers not printing white,
and was initially concerned about what to do with my decal. 

I'm using Photoshop to clean up my print and realized that the white,
was actually yellow that had been over exposed by the flash. 

I went down to pixel level and removed all the flash glare,
restoring the original colors. 

I'm still waiting for the water slide decal paper to be delivered,
but I think I have the image ready to go. 

I appreciate your input on this. 
This whole decal thing is more complicated than it appears on the surface.

- Tom Ward


Tom Ward
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The image I'm using for the air compressor decal comes from a color photograph,
of the restored Oro air compressor I based my model on. 

I spent a lot of time using Photoshop to clean up the photo,
to remove flash glare and reflections. 

When I thought I had it ready to print as a decal I reduced the image 93% to get the correct size,
and was relieved to see that the detail of the image carried through. 

I then printed it out on paper to hold up against the compressor tank for final evaluation.
That's when I realized the background maroon color from the prototype didn't match my model. 
Bummer! 

Using Photoshop I tried to match the background colors but finally realized the only way to get it to look right,
I would have to eliminate the background maroon color on the decal so the painted tank would show through. 

Below is a photo showing the image on paper before a removing the background color.

I'm posting this as an update to explain what I've been doing to prepare the decal,
and to show the need to remove the background coloring. 

I'll post a photo of the completed model with decal in a few days.

- Tom





Tom Harbin
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Tom, I'm speechless.

Tom.



Tom Ward
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Tom Harbin wrote
Tom, I'm speechless.


Hey Tom, thanks for the nice comment.

Below is a shot of the decal. 

I removed all the maroon background color from the photo,
to allow the painted air tank to show through. 

The decal is only 5/8" wide,
reduced from an original image that was about 4.5" wide,
and I'm pleased with the sharpness and detail. 

Since my printer insisted on placing the image in the center of the page,
and I didn't want to waste an entire sheet of decal paper. 
I printed the image first on paper,
and cut out a small piece of decal paper about twice as big. 
I taped the edges of that directly over the paper image,
and ran that through the printer.
Worked like a charm. 

I just ordered some "decal set" so I'll wait until that's delivered,
before applying the decal to the air tank.

One more thing. 
I'm using a sliver of cassette tape for the belt on the compressor. 
Any suggestions for giving it a dull finish?

- Tom Ward





Tom Harbin
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That is really nice Tom.

Great job in Photoshop.
I'm no expert with Photoshop but I've used it more than enough to know,
that what you have done takes time and talent and patience,
lots of patience.

I can't say that I've ever used cassette tape as a scenic element.
In fact I'm not sure I even still have any, but if I had to guess,
I would think that an acrylic Matte Varnish would probably work very well.

Vallejo makes a nice one that is easily available
(I know Hobby Lobby usually stocks it).

Tom


slateworks
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Impressive Photoshop work Tom and a great result.
I'm looking forward to seeing the decal in place now.

To save some frustration, I'd print a couple of spare copies,
as it's not known how the decal will sit when applied to the model,
and you might find an edge turns under,
particularly if you've cut it out very close to the image.

I'm thinking of the "tails" at the bottom,
and they might need a little practice to get them to sit properly.

On the other hand,
with careful application they might set down right first time!


Tom Ward
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Ah, good advice Doug. 
I'll do that. 

I really appreciate the input I get from this forum. 

Since I've joined Freerails I've taken on a number of new challenges,
things I haven't tried before,
and have always been able to get past the learning curve,
with the help I've gotten here. 

Really appreciated. 

Great resource of information and inspiration.

- Tom


Tom Harbin
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Tom,

Great advice on making spares.
Since you will be doing that, I'll add another wrinkle.


I don't recall you mentioning your printer.
There are four main home printer types:

1. Lasers use heat transfer and are generally waterproof.

2. Standard inkjet uses dye-based ink and is generally not waterproof.

3. Some inkjet printers use pigment-based media and is generally waterproof.

4. ALPS, some prosumer printers and some converted inkjets use dye-sublimation,
    and is generally waterproof.


Bottom line:

If you are printing on an ALPS or a Laser, you are all set.
If you have a dye-sub printer you know it, as they are not cheap.
If you are using an inkjet you should test a print in water to make sure it holds up.

No matter what printer is used give the decal ample time to dry.
It takes longer on decal sheet than on regular paper.

If it is dye-based it may have an issue with running,
if pigment-based it will probably be fine.

If not, Testors makes a decal spray for their decal sheets,
that can be sprayed over the decal before wetting to help protect it.
I would not use it though if you don't need it as it adds another film layer,
and slightly affects the quality of the decal.

You probably know all of this stuff,
but I figure it never hurts to put it out there as some may not know,
and I hate to think of someone ruining a lot of hard work with a smudged decal.

Tom


slateworks
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Yes, as Tom says, it's important to "waterproof" the decal before submitting it to liquid.

The decal paper pack probably has instructions in this respect but in general,
after the print has had time to dry, two or three passes with Testors Dullcote or the like,
leaving further drying time between each spray should do the job.

Do the spraying at a distance too, I reckon at least half arms length,
to get a fine coat each pass.


Thayer
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Lovely decal Tom, well done.
It complements your compressor work perfectly.

When it comes to printing off center,
I often create a blank image close to the size of the paper,
then position the graphic element I want to print wherever desired.

If that is confusing, imagine printing a stamp on a blank envelope.

By default the image would be centered,
but if you make the background white and the size of the envelope,
you could then position the stamp's image in the upper right,
to get it to print where you want it.

Thayer


Sean W.
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Looks sharp Tom!

Tom Ward
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Thanks for the encouraging comments and recommendations.


Thayer - I'll give your suggestion a try. 
Sounds like a good way to locate the image where I want it. 
Thanks.


I couldn't wait until next week for the decal-set solutions,
and went ahead and applied it to the air tank. 

I immediately realized that the great colors all disappeared,
and the decal might as well have been done in black. 

I'm thinking this situation calls for white water slip decal paper,
and have ordered some of that. 

Why do all my projects snowball?

- Tom





Tom Harbin
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Yes, the white component is missing from the colors,
as most ink printing systems use somewhat translucent colors,
and rely on the white base.

If you look at commercial decals,
many have a white layer under the color layer.
White decal paper will fix it.

Because most of your projects are stuff that many of us can only dream of accomplishing.
If it was my scene, I'd have a hot dog shaped compressor in some grimy color,
with no manufacturers logo and think I had done something great.

Pioneers always have to slog through the mire to reach their goal.
We all benefit from your hard work.

Tom


Tom Ward
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Tom - Thanks for the explanation. 
I wasn't sure but suspected that was the problem. 

Also thanks for the comments about my snowball project. 
I'll keep slogging. 

Luckily for me I enjoy the learning process as much as the final product.

- Tom


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Hi Guys  :wave:



Thanks for all the top tips on doing DIY decals !  :dt:

I'd love to have a go myself.  L:



I'm not sure if my humble Canon is up to it ?  ???

But it might be.  :us:



A reasonably good 2-cart inkjet bought a couple of years back.  :P

Mmm ...  L:



GREAT results on the compressor & decals Tom !  :bow:

And of course the ever intrepid backwoods Updah Sign Writing Dept.  :mex:



:moose: :moose: :moose: :moose: :moose:



Si.


Tom Harbin
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Si,

Today almost any fairly new inkjet can do good decals.

Just be sure to use INKJET decal stock (it is different from laser decal stock)
as ink from an inkjet printer is absorbed into the media,
whereas the ink from a laser is fused to the media surface.

Dye-sub is somewhere between them, the ink is vaporized and infused into the surface.
Also put a clear coat over the finished decal, as most inkjet inks are water-soluble.
The spray clear coat and the carrier film will embed the ink protecting it.

The big "gotcha" with decal printing is that printing inks are not like paints.
They are designed to blend on the media so they are almost all translucent.

If you are making a decal for use on a dark object,
you will need to use white decal paper or really play with the colors to get it right.

Try printing something in color on colored paper to see what I mean.
Each of the colors (normally Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) is semi-transparent,
and relies on the white paper base for some of the color and most of the vibrance.

Easiest is to make decals for light-colored backgrounds, then you can just use clear decal media.
Almost all of the standard inkjet profiles are based around having a white background.

If you look at the pull down for paper selection in most printer drivers,
you will see multiple possibilities.

Some of these deal with resolution and drying time
(smoother papers give better detail but take longer to dry)
and some deal with the luminosity of the paper used
(brighter or duller whites). 

Tom



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