Printing decals

Pfunk Sep 6, 2022

  1. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    Was not sure which board to put this on so if it needs moved please do.

    I need to start printing some waterslides for my buildings and such, and I can't find what I need so am asking the pros. As in, all of you!

    • I need to get a new printer, so is a good time to address all this. I know with a Laser you don't have to seal the decal paper after printing, what about a photo inkjet? I would love to get a laser but cost is an issue.
    • is there a free software for resizing images that doesn't distort like mad? I have never used Photoshop or Corel, but I know MS paint likes to pixelate when you shrink stuff.
    • is there a manufacturer that has inks that work better than others for this? Sometimes brand XX is better than YY at certain tasks, etc. Likewise, does the paper matter? Are there brands that are that much better than others?
     
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  2. Moose2013

    Moose2013 TrainBoard Member

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    Moose thoughts:
    1. Laser printers costs less in long run. Toner lasts much longer than ink cartridges and don't have issues with ink drying out or fading...
    2. Moose gas a Brother brand laser oriented that works quite well.
    3. Moose uses Inkscape vector graphics software for designing decals. Highly recommend using it. Images don't distort when resizing them.
     
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  3. wvgca

    wvgca TrainBoard Member

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    lasers are less money over a LOT of decals, and colour lasers are even more money to buy.... as far as sealing, all inkjet printers require this, wait eight hours or so after sealing to allow the sealer to cure / dry .. and as far as inks are concerned i used brother inkjet and lasers [black] to do decals, and i just used manufacturers ink in them ..
     
  4. Pfunk

    Pfunk TrainBoard Member

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    was planning on putting it on my Best Buy card but the only color laser they have available on the entire website is more than I want to spend (it's more than my monthly mortgage!) so had to go the inkjet route after all. Ended up ordering a package deal with an EcoTank printer that has liquid ink vs cartridges so is supposed to last much longer and a copy of Adobe Photoshop. Seemed to solve all the solves. Should be here next weekend.

    I also downloaded the free version of Inkscape - can never have too many tools!

    thanks for the responses, will likely have more lol I keep doing Google and YT searches, seems like everybody has their own take on things, which usually leaves me with more questions than answers!
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2022
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  5. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

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    I have made lots of decals over the decades for game miniatures. An inkjet will work just fine. I have made them using several brands of cheap inkjet printers. Sealing the decals is a no-brainer, just use a couple of light coats of sealer and let it dry thoroughly. Make your first test print onto regular paper to make sure the size, color, font, etc all are "right" for what you want. With your modeling skills, you will have no problems.
    I am currently making some for ACME Explosives and Wolf Wiz Ale for some cars.
     
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  6. Todd Hackett

    Todd Hackett TrainBoard Member

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    Little late at this party...keep in mind you can print white but it is a hoop jump. With laser look into Ghost Ink, or Ghost cartridges. With color laser ya just replace the toner cartridge that you won't use which will limit the colors you do print. With mono laser, white in it's own cartridge will work, kinda. I say kinda as I have not tried it when it comes to running the decal paper through the thing again and getting the registration perfect. I get to play with this in a couple of weeks. I do not know about inkjet stuff for that as I have not looked at the latest and greatest of them.
    Inkscape is a vector graphics design tool which allows you to size the image without pixelating and is pretty easy after you figure it out. Think in layers!
    If all of that bugs ya, do your design, then take to a print shop that does dye-sub and your problems are solved for the most part. You can design in all the colors you want. I checked into these types of shops and the price was not bad for onesy/twosy stuff. Don't have one local to me so I'ma doing the laser. Besides, with the smallness of the graphics I will print, I believe that a laser will have better resolution.

    You wife needs a laser printer to do pix....right?

    Later
     
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  7. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

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    I'm the same boat, I want to do some decals for the INDIANA RAILWAY, but just not sure which way to go. Print 'em myself or get a PROFESSIONAL printing job. Since I have converted to Laser printers, I will NEVER go back to an inkjet printer. Have had a BIG HP Color Officejet Laser, was OVERKILL at it's best. Just didn't need one that big. Found an HP Laser Jet Pro MFP127fn for a bargain price, years ago, AMAZON Open Box, and it does GREAT. Black and white printer, copier, scan and fax in one. The little workhorse does all I need it to. Now I am looking into decal printing and wondering about trying it to see if it can do the job. But I will want WHITE printing at least. Let's see what we can do.
     
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  8. Todd Hackett

    Todd Hackett TrainBoard Member

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    check out www.ghost-white-toner.com ( I think that was it ), if not google ghost white toner. Kinda a kludgy site but the only game in town that I can find.
     
  9. Todd Hackett

    Todd Hackett TrainBoard Member

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    Was in Ace Hardware yesterday. Low and behold the service desk guy was replacing the paper and ink cartridge on their photo printer. I had never thought about this type of printer, but it is a dye-sub printer that will do 8x10. I think my daughter has a smaller version ( 4x6 ) and want to play with it when back home.
    1st question I have: Is it really printing white or using the white background of the photo paper?
    2nd: Can the paper cassette be taken apart and other paper installed, then put back together properly?

    Sublimation needs that special photo paper to work properly so I have no clue if decal paper will even work. Might be something to look at if you only need one or two sheets of decals. If you haven't seen or used one of these, you connected your camera ( or usb dongle ) and tell it which JPG you want printed. In the case of pix, my camera does 4000x3200 or something like that; which means the printer software compresses the image to the paper size. Not good for small graphics if you have to send it a huge JPG export from Inkscape. If you can make a 1:1 at 4x6 and send that, it will be interesting to see what shakes out.

    Amazon has 4x6 photo printers from $50 up so the hardware looks to be cheaper that any bubble jet or laser. Supplies are more spendy though. I guess that once it is figured out what to send to the printer, you can just go and just use the Ace one and pay the freight. Bunch of other places have these too.

    [edit] using Ace's printer probably won't work as you would need to swap paper cartridge's. It was a thought.

    Later
     
  10. thetramp

    thetramp TrainBoard Member

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    Where do you get paper for decals. I have designed some graffiti and would like to print them out. Doesn't seem to be any at office depot. I have an officejet pro 8710 printer by HP.
     
  11. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

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    I get mine at Hobby Lobby. Also, Walmart used to carry it online and I am sure Amazon does. If you want a white background for the decals, you will need to order the White paper, but then you have to cut carefully around your print or you will have the white slipping around the edges. I usually use the clear paper and if I need some white behind, i just put a little paint on the model beforehand. Good luck!
     
  12. Carl Sowell

    Carl Sowell TrainBoard Supporter

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    Some of you may have seen this image before now, but here it is again to show what is possible with a desk PC and a simple HP Office Jet Pro 8600 side printer using standard HP inks. This first decal is printed on white decal paper and is one solid piece from top of flatcar to the flat top of the container and of course end to end. Not too bad as this car is a resin 3D print :
    [​IMG]

    Here is an image that shows on both containers how I printed each piece of the decals on white decal paper :
    [​IMG]

    And one more, I'm on a roll here, that shows how a picture can be reproduced on decal paper. In the case of the bottom container I printed it on clear decal paper :
    [​IMG]

    Hope this shares some ideas and I thank you for looking !

    PS: this is all N Scale !
     
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  13. thetramp

    thetramp TrainBoard Member

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    I am looking for free graffiti makers. Anybody know one. I lost the ones I had.
     
  14. Todd Hackett

    Todd Hackett TrainBoard Member

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    Nice job!
    Couple of questions if I may.
    1. What did you use to create the image for the decal?
    2. Did you create artwork that spanned both sides of the car?

    With #1 and you 1st image, it looks like there is some bleed over on the edges, or some pixilation. The size of the image on my tablet is bigger than the actual car, so at 2ft most people probably would not notice. Might be the inkjet can not do the resolution needed, or the graphic application is not delivering crisp edges. Only see it when the camera is up close and personal.

    #2 how in the world did you get the decal (wrapped or not) on the car? I would have to many thumbs that would get in the way!

    I can't wait to start playing with this sorta stuff! 2 more loads and we are going home for good!

    Later
     
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  15. Carl Sowell

    Carl Sowell TrainBoard Supporter

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    Todd,

    I will attempt to answer your questions and concerns :

    I do a lot of searching on the internet to find images that I can save into my pc, then I use a program (?) not sure what it is to pull in the ends and top, bottom to show just what I want. Then I import that image into Excel where I can adjust the image to fit where I want it.
    Here are a couple of images that show my 1st image to start the process:
    [​IMG]

    Next one I will do some day:
    [​IMG]

    Here is what I get after cutting out all that I do not want such as the flatcar image;
    [​IMG]


    Here is the same car after I weathered it heavily:
    [​IMG]

    I do not understand your comments regarding pixilation and that the image is larger than the car on your tablet. You do understand that this top shell sits on top of the flatcar and yes it is a tad longer than the car. Also, being a 3D print it, as is typical, is less than perfect.

    The decal is not one wrap round piece but rather each side has one decal and each end has one decal as well as the flat top of the container. You think you would have too many thumbs just thing what my 82 year old hands and fingers would have been like. Nope, actually 5 individual decals on this car and the container with the New Mexico scene as 4 individual decals.
     
  16. Todd Hackett

    Todd Hackett TrainBoard Member

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    I was trying to say that the image of the car on my tablet is bigger than the actual car.

    Excel is a spreadsheet program. Did not know you could import images and manipulate them. If you can manipulate them they would probably save as a raster image. For good crisp edges you would need a program that saves as a vector image. Google raster vs vector and you can read about it.
     
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  17. Carl Sowell

    Carl Sowell TrainBoard Supporter

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    Todd,

    Thanks for the heads up. I have GIMP on my PC and I was just looking at Coreldraw and I shall continue checking this out in Adobe as well, after our State Fair show that starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. I did see the difference in some of the samples that I watched.
     
  18. Todd Hackett

    Todd Hackett TrainBoard Member

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    Take a look at Inkscape; it is free and saves stuff as a vector file. Might work for ya although you need to design the graphic or search for "svg" files to load into it. I use Gimp also, and I don't remember if you can export a file in vector format "svg".
     
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  19. tabraiz123

    tabraiz123 New Member

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    Printing waterslides for your buildings sounds like a cool project! For inkjet printers, you might want to seal the decal paper after printing to protect the ink. As for resizing images without distortion, check out free tools like GIMP or IrfanView; they're pretty handy.

    When it comes to inks and paper, some experimentation might be in order. Brands do play a role, and it can vary based on the printer model. For a more specific recommendation, consider checking forums or reviews. Also, infill gyroid patterns might add an interesting twist to your designs.
     
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  20. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    I finally got the film and printed my first attempt at decals. Have not tried applying them yet so more to come at some point.

    I appreciate all the tips and advice everyone. Thank you! (y)(y)(y)
     
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