Homemade Decals -- What's the Best Method?

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by sabretooth47, May 9, 2007.

  1. sabretooth47

    sabretooth47 Member

    I want to make my own decals for the USF Holland/Reddaway trucks (as I work for them) and I'm also toying around with the idea of making custom decals for a fictional RR. The reason I'm hestitant is due to several bad experiences with homemade decals. Since my printer is inkjet, I get nothing but a runny mess. :cry:

    What do you's guys use or recommend? Has anyone had decent quality decals come off an inkjet? Am I just doing somthing wrong? :confused:

    Any help here would be much appreciated! :mrgreen:
  2. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I'm still trying to figure that out.
    I suck at decals.

    I wonder if you can get the paper to print dry transfer decals?
  3. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I've used Testor's decal paper with some success on my ink jet. There is a Testor's spray fixitive for the paper that is intended to help with ink jet printing. I'm happy with black lettering but the orange lettering for my freelanced road came out a bit too washed out and doesn't look orange on my blue freight cars. Testor's has white decal paper for printing white letters but it can be tricky matching the colored background you need to make the letters show with the color of the equipment you are applying the decal to.

    Here's an example of a black decal using clear paper and white lettering made on Testor's white paper. It took me a long time to match that blue color on the loco.

    Best wishes!

    Attached Files:

  4. Trainiac77

    Trainiac77 Member

    I know that the pros use Alps printers because they still use dry ribbons. My on-line hobby shop has one all I have to do is send the file.

    Hope this helps.
  5. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    I've had real sucsess making decals on my inkjet.
    Might be because you are getting a runny mess is you're not spraying the decal sheet with a fixative(Krylon Krystal Kote is an inexpensive one that I use)before soaking(Warm water...not hot, this will also run the ink..personal experience.)
    Here's a pic I did using Vita-Cal paper and Krysatl-Kote fixative.

    Attached Files:

  6. sabretooth47

    sabretooth47 Member

    I'm not so sure about that...athough I've never used a fixative (which I didn't even know existed until recently) it seems that the ink beads up and the color becomes faded within seconds after coming off the printer. Should the fixative be applied immediately after coming off the printer?

    Maybe I'm using sub-par quality decal paper?

    A while back, I did have Kinko's print a sheet of decals for me using one of their laser printers. They came out much better than inkjet, but again, the color faded over a couple weeks. I may try that again and apply the fixative...I'm guessing this would be the best way to get good quality...but I hate giving someone $2-3 just to print something for me, ya know?
  7. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I have the same problem when I print black stuff and I'm using Testor's decal paper. Every other color looks fine but black crackles and beads something fierce.
  8. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    I did this:


    (the logo and the reporting marks only)

    using an HP "All in One" inkjet on paper made by Bare Metal Foil Company (I will try to edit in the exact brand name). It's very important to make sure that you have the ink jet version-- as I found out the hard way!

    I used a very generous amount of Krylon Krystal Klear to seal the decal sheet. So far, no fading...
  9. sabretooth47

    sabretooth47 Member

    Thanks for the reply...and thanks for giving me a great idea for a logo to put on my blank cars! I've been trying to think of something to put on a few of my box cars and I never thought to use a Timmy Ho's logo! :oops:

    Tim Horton's coffee is like liquid cocaine :LOL: :mrgreen:

    Now I definitely need to get me some good decal paper :twisted:
  10. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    If you're going to do TH's you need to find the logo on white paper to scan from... not so easy...

    I lucked out in that there was a promo flyer about something which was printed on white paper and was of the right size to scan in.
  11. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Could be that you might be using the wrong paper. You have to be careful when ordering decal paper. Make sure its specifically made for ink-jet printers. Printer manufactures doesn't relly matter, as I use a Compaq Ink-jet.
    Some decal paper, like that sold by Walthers and Micro-Scale are for silk screen printing.
    Testors paper is good. Vita-Cal, and Bev-Bel are better and come in 11" x 8 1/2" paper, which is good for making a lot of copies of one design, good for doing unit trains.
  12. mikey0598

    mikey0598 New Member

    Vita Cal decal paper


    I've recently purchased this decal paper to make home made decals on my Canon ink jet printer.
    So far, once I print, spray and soak, the decals disintigrate as I slide them off the backing.
    The instructions that come with the paper do not specify how long the decal must sit after spraying with the decal coating before soaking. Someone asked in a previous post, but I did not see the answer. I'm excited about being able to make my own decals, but the instructions that came with the decal paper are obviously not detailed enough for me.
    Any additional tips on how I can get the hang of this would be most appreciated.
    Many thanks. Mike
  13. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Best bet...Let it sit over night.
    Let the fixative take effect. Vita-cal and Testors suggest giving the fixative at least a twelve hour drying time.
    Use warm water, not hot. This will also make the ink run. Its also a good idea to let the decal dry on the model before applying Micro-Set, or Micro -Sol.
    Since my Compaq printer died, and I have an Epson, my first attempt at decal making was a bust. I fear the ink was not compatible with the fixative.
  14. puddlejumper

    puddlejumper Member

    I intend to order some custom decals from Rail Graphics. I feel that the professionally printed decals will be better than anythingI can do, and they will do custom artwork. For the price, I think it will be worth it. When I decal my first freight car I will post up photos for all to see.


  15. Packers#1

    Packers#1 Ultimate Packers Fan

    Thanks for asking this question, sabretooth. Should save me some frustration.

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