Paper Decals

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by sabretooth47, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. sabretooth47

    sabretooth47 Member

    Does anyone have any experience using plain paper as decals? I'm toying with the idea of making a faux-business on my RR and I want to make billboard, building signs, truck logos, and the like. I read something about folks using paper to do stuff like this, but it was some time ago. :thumb:

    Any ideas? :confused:
  2. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    Do you mean making signs out of paper (for example) and then gluing them to buildings? Sure, it's possible. I use Powerpoint and sometimes Word to create signs and print them out on a good quality ink jet printer. The nice thing about Powerpoint is that you can measure the size you need and then create a box of almost exactly that size right on the slide. (Zooming in to about 200% doesn't hurt either!)

    I print on standard office copier /printer paper I like to make a fairly thick black border around the sign in order to disguise non-straight cutting. I generally mount the signs with white glue or "school glue" applied in as thin a coat as I can manage. When it makes sense, I will press the sign into the building to try to make the pattern of the underlying wall come through; although in N Scale that usually isn't that noticable.

    Here are some examples:

    Billboard on the Roebson Process Company. The billboard is from Athearn and the sign is pasted right over the State Stamp that was there. Good deals on these billboards can be found here and there.

    Sign facing the camera on the Acme Fine Loophole Company. Note that the sign along the long wall was done with Woodland Scenics Transfers, one letter at a time, since I cannot print white effectively!

    The red and yellow signs on Otto Stock's (get it?) Farm Supplies, including the "Entrance" over the door. I think that "Entrance" is in about 4 point type. The logos are MicroScale decals.

    The billboard of Lucy and Snoopy on the building is from a billboard photo that I found on line... another source for good signs if you don't want to create your own. Billboard is from Athearn again without the supporting structure.

    One of my favorites, and if you know your Looney Tunes, you know exactly where the billboard advertising "Friz" comes from. The AutoLite sign is a decal from MicroScale. I think the paper sign compares favorably!
  3. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Nice signs umtrr-author.
    I'm not at the phase of detailing the structures on my N scale layout yet, but I'm interested in the topic.
    I remember reading ( sorry I can't remember where ) an article or a book where the author mentions the following procedure before gluing the paper sign on the structure:
    1) To age the sign, lightly buff the face of the paper ad using steel wool
    2)Lightly sand the back face of the ad with very fine sandpaper to make the paper as thin as possible.

  4. myltlpny

    myltlpny Member

    I use the computer to create signs and such all the time. I suppose a paper sign on the side of a panel truck would look OK, but for something more realistic I would use inkjet decal paper.
    There was a product available a few years ago which, when brushed on a paper picture and allowed to dry, would remove just the top layer of paper with the picture and allow you to transfer it to a model. I couldn't find it to create a link here, however.
    If you do try to use a paper cut-out on something flat where the edges would show, try sanding the back edge of the paper (all around the perimeter) which will help it blend in better.
  5. roch

    roch Member

    Great idea! :thumb: I hope it will work on my trains. They need a bit of a change.

  6. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    I remember reading this too, my guess is that it was in a magazine more than 20 years ago. I believe this was the same piece that mentioned making small signs out of the "album cover stickers" that used to come with junk mail ads for Columbia House and the like. If I recall correctly, one of these examples paired the photo of an "easy listening" singer with verbiage for tobacco... and a pipe was literally drawn in!
  7. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I once made some paper emblems to go onto the side of one of my older locos and it worked well. I simply designed this on my computer (a Mac) in InDesign and printed it onto some laser paper, which I used. I think I could have printed these onto spell decal paper and done even better, but this process works well for now. Rob
  8. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I think this would work fine for signs and structures, but paper won't work too well on non-smooth surfaces like the side of a diesel. The "decal" will be too obvious. Maybe on a perfectly smooth surface like the side of a steam engine tender - but the edge will still show up.
  9. jimbogibbo

    jimbogibbo Member

  10. jimbogibbo

    jimbogibbo Member

    disregaurd discount mugs . look for water slide decal paper
  11. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    I have used Kodak Photo paper for inkjets, making signs for buildings and store fronts.
  12. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Could you please elaborate a little more eightyeightfan1 ?
    What kind of software are you using to create those signs ?
    Could you recommend a decent inkjet printer ?
    Some pics of your signs wouldn't hurt :smile:


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