how to make decals

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how to make decals

  • Ok, I'm tired of trying to find squadron markings that are not available, or are in the wrong scale. I'm looking for some help before I go crazy, so a couple of questions.

    1. Can anyone give me a link to read up on how to make my own decals?

    2. What type of equipment and or software is needed?

    3. Is there a way to make copies of decal sheets that are 1/48 scale and reduce them down to 1/72, if so , how?


    Thank you for your time.


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  • There is already a thread on this in this forum- look further down the page.

    Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Guess I'am blind as I did not see anything that addresses any of the three questions, but thanks for the info.

  • You can start here.... Make Your Own Decals 101

    After that, read the threads to get more details/tips on the steps.  Everything you need  is scattered all over the Decaling forum.

    Do us a favor; once you figure it out, and I hope you do, please post how you did it.  Just in case others are wondering the same thing you are.  Good luck bud!

    Also, this is a good source for water-slide-decal paper.


  • First thank you for the link, and then I like your optimism. Well I will research it and will see what happens. I would only be to happy to post my findings to help others. This is why I love this forum, so others can learn. thanks again. 

  • I can help you with the graphics side of the house.  Please don' hesitate to ask for help.  I will do what I can.

    One day maybe I'll tackle decals myself.  Right now I am just supper exited about building.


  • Okay, fair enough- that other thread basically only covered decal paper, which you specifically did not ask about.

    So, will cover items two and three.

    You need a computer and inkjet printer for inkjet decals- I'll let someone else cover Alps printing, which is becoming rarer and rarer.  Almost any inkjet printer can be used. You need some sort of graphics software.  If you are using Windows, a simple paint program comes with the OS, which is basic but can be used for simple decals.  Regular paint programs do not resize very precisely, but it can be done pretty well with some trial and error.  CAD programs allow precise resizing, and rescaling by scale (paint programs do too, manually, but with use of some math). Cheaper CAD programs may have less colors, and fewer fonts, also fewer graphics tricks like drop shadows, gradient fills, etc.

    Adobe photoshop elements is a popular graphics program with decal makers- I use Paint Shop Pro myself.  Both still under a hundred bucks.

    I have scanned and resized decals to a new size several times.

    One big gotcha is that inkjet decals work fine for darker colors. If the decals have white or very light tones, and are to be applied over dark colors, you have a problem.  You must then use white decal paper.  This means you must cut out the decals precisely, or you will get white borders around them. I have had some success with setting background color in the graphics program to the paint color the decals will be applied over.  This works well with black, but with other dark colors you may have a color matching problem.  Computer systems can be color calibrated, but it is a lot of work, and some expense.  I have not calibrated mine, and have a lot of problems matching common paint colors other than black and yellow.

    Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • 1. Can anyone give me a link to read up on how to make my own decals?

    Don't have a link, but I did it by printing them on an inkjet printer.  Using white or clear decal paper, available at Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon applies) just make your artwork a bitmap using MS Paint.  Once they've printed, spray them with Testor's Decal Bonder. Tis is a must.. The ink will wash ff if you don't..

    2. What type of equipment and or software is needed?

    Just a computer and inkjet printer.

    3. Is there a way to make copies of decal sheets that are 1/48 scale and reduce them down to 1/72, if so , how?

    Yes... Take them to Copyworks or Kinko's and have them copied at  66.67% of the original on a color copier... Or do it yourself if you have a printer/copier...


  • thank you that is helpful, now to get into making decals.

  • As far as software you don't have to buy expensive Adobe and Microsoft products:

    Gimp is a free replacement for Photoshop (photo editing)

    Inkscape is a free replacement for Illustrator (Vector graphics)

    BTW, you can also use the free OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office.


     Some folks that have been trained to use the expensive products don't like these because they have to re-learn, but if you aren't fluent yet (or don't mind unlearning), these free products are all mature and as fully capable as the costly software.



  • Ok Dave, Thanks for the info, Im not into any of them yet so I won't need to unlearn. Very hepful and I appreciate your time and response.