Home made decals tips and tricks...or..."It worked for me!"

Started by Tom Birky, December 02, 2017, 01:24:09 AM

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Tom Birky

Any tips, suggestions or questions about making your own decals.


I have made a few using different methods.  Primarily I use Testor's paper because it is available at Hobby Lobby.  I used to have a program on my Windows XP  that allowed me to do all types of things with font and using different fonts and colors, but it has gone by the wayside and I haven't found a good replacement.  Most of the stuff I have done is in Microsoft Word.  I use their resizing to get it to the correct size.  Once I have it where I want it I print in the lowest quality possible (to save ink) then cut the pieces out to make sure they will fit the model.  One issue with MS Word is it will not allow you to do smaller work (i.e. contingency decals) beside a larger item (company logos).  To get around that I get everything in some order, print it at high quality on plain paper, the cut each piece out place it on a my copier so everything will fit on the decal sheet, load a decal sheet and hit print.  I have found many company logos by going to their website and doing a cut and paste on their logos.  There also used to be a website that sold racing contingency decals and you could do cut and paste on there, but I have not been able to access it for a while - it had several of the older ones (Pure, Wynn's Friction Proofing, etc.)  Hope this ramble has helped you in some way.
When I win the Powerball I will switch to the real ones.

Big Orange

I've done some work of my own using older CorelDraw software and a HP photo printer that I have. I use white and clear water slide decal film, (forget where I sourced it from), and clear coat spray. You have to be creative in creating your artwork to print on the white paper (printing on white produces the best coverage results and color) while allowing trimming to eliminate color differences with what you have to work with.

CorelDraw allows full text editing, offers over 1000 fonts and has a plethora of clip images for fun, imaginary stuff. Because of its age, CorelDraw 6, I was able to find it pretty cheap.

I created the numbers, all stripes and the CAM2 decals on my Evans Cavalier build, you be the judge.
My worst day of building STILL beats my best day at work !!


If you are looking for a vector graphics program,  the main players in the marketplace are Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw.
Illustrator is the industry standard, at least in the US. Corel Draw is a great program for about 1/3 of the cost.

If you want to get started without spending any money, you can download the FREE program Inkscape  - just ask Ms. Google.
It is an Open Source (sort of a Community Build by enthusiasts) project, and has been around for a long time.

Vector Graphics are scalable without any loss of quality. CAD systems are a good example of this.
Picture files like JPG's are made with dots. Vector Graphics are based on points, lines, arcs and a scaling factor.
You can create a vector drawing of a car number by tracing a picture, then scale it to anything between 1/64th size up to
Full size.

Once you understand how the concept works, it's not that hard to learn the basics. But I've been using Illustrator since about 2003, and I still learn how to do something new almost every day!


David Bogard

Wow Greg, I feel like I just came from a college class! This is exactly why the really sharp guys like you do these decals and not guys like me! I can cut, glue and shape with anyone but the tricky graphics stuff is something I leave to you experts.  :)
I appreciate people that actually build and post models.