SEARCH FINESCALE.COM

Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

How do you get exact positioning of decals?

1400 views
29 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
How do you get exact positioning of decals?
Posted by ManCityFan on Monday, June 12, 2017 9:19 AM

Not sure the heading gets at what I am asking.  When I place decals, I will use panel lines as a guide, and "eyeball" the correct position.  This works to a degree, but really kicks up my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and I think there must be a better, more exact way of placing decals where they belong.  I have thought about using a pencil to create guide lines, but worry the pencil lines will show when I am done with the kit. 

Decals cause me the most anxiety when building a kit due to the "get it right now, or you are screwed" nature of the process.  It also feels to me like the step that has the highest potential for ruining the hours of work it took to get to the decal stage.

I am still fairly new to kit building, and I would be grateful for any suggestions.

I apologize if this has been covered before.  I tried a forum search, and couldn't find a post that fit my question.

Thanks,

D

 

 

 

Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 

 

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Monday, June 12, 2017 9:44 AM

I just use marks on the kit as a guide. As long as any corresponding decals are in the same place thats my main concern.

''I am a Norfolk man, and i glory in being so''

  

On the bench: Hasegawa 1/32nd Fw 190D-9    

  • Member since
    April, 2004
Posted by Jon_a_its on Monday, June 12, 2017 9:56 AM

Use the colour painting guides in the box.

Most/some(?) Tamiya planes have a paint guide the same size as the model.

Photocopy the guides so you can cut them up & tape them to the model, leaving spaces for the decal placement.

If the guides aren't the same size as the plane, the can be enlarged/reduced as needed. Google Frank Krenshaw Scale Calc if you want to easily calculate the ratios needed.

http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/calculatorfc_1.htm

 

  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Monday, June 12, 2017 10:06 AM

Bish

I just use marks on the kit as a guide. As long as any corresponding decals are in the same place thats my main concern.

 

Thanks Bish.  I may be overthinking this.  Wouldn't be the first time.  Big Smile

Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 

 

  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Monday, June 12, 2017 10:09 AM

Jon_a_its

Use the colour painting guides in the box.

Most/some(?) Tamiya planes have a paint guide the same size as the model.

Photocopy the guides so you can cut them up & tape them to the model, leaving spaces for the decal placement.

If the guides aren't the same size as the plane, the can be enlarged/reduced as needed. Google Frank Krenshaw Scale Calc if you want to easily calculate the ratios needed.

http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/calculatorfc_1.htm

 

 

I am definitely going to try that.  Thanks for the reply!

Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 

 

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Monday, June 12, 2017 11:35 AM

ManCityFan
Thanks Bish. I may be overthinking this. Wouldn't be the first time. Big Smile

You're talking about me, right, D? Stick out tongue

Ok, I can relate to your question 100%. I'm actually using model-building to help overcome my perfectionism this time around. It's helping.

Bish and Jon already covered the methodology, use whatever references you have (I always use the paint and decal drawings on the instructions because they are there. You can look at other pic references or even box art. Then just eye 'em in using panel lines or whatever you can.

Here's something that may help you. Remember, the kit designers didn't go back in time and use some fancy method to get the placement perfect. All they have to go by are the same crappy photos we have. So all we are doing is trying to get as close to thier best guess on proper placement as we can.

In summary, far as I'm concerned we are trying to place something perfectly to reproduce an original that doens't exist. Have fun. Nobody is going to come over and tell you "hey, that decal is a few scale inches off".

Again, I'm getting windy because I can associate with your feelings so well.

Does this help at all?

-Greg

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, June 12, 2017 11:57 AM

To go in a slightly different direction, I look at prototype photos where possible.

Also, as noted, try to be consistent on the model.

I also work at keeping the decal background white primer, or as close to white as possible. That means pre-positioning the decal area during the painting process and putting a tape decal substitute until finished painting.

  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Monday, June 12, 2017 12:43 PM

Greg
 
ManCityFan
Thanks Bish. I may be overthinking this. Wouldn't be the first time. Big Smile

 

You're talking about me, right, D? Stick out tongue

Ok, I can relate to your question 100%. I'm actually using model-building to help overcome my perfectionism this time around. It's helping.

Bish and Jon already covered the methodology, use whatever references you have (I always use the paint and decal drawings on the instructions because they are there. You can look at other pic references or even box art. Then just eye 'em in using panel lines or whatever you can.

Here's something that may help you. Remember, the kit designers didn't go back in time and use some fancy method to get the placement perfect. All they have to go by are the same crappy photos we have. So all we are doing is trying to get as close to thier best guess on proper placement as we can.

In summary, far as I'm concerned we are trying to place something perfectly to reproduce an original that doens't exist. Have fun. Nobody is going to come over and tell you "hey, that decal is a few scale inches off".

Again, I'm getting windy because I can associate with your feelings so well.

Does this help at all?

 

Hey Greg,

That does help put things into perspective. 

Let's see if this sounds familiar to you.  Place decals.  They look good. 

Re-visit the bench the next day, and convince yourself that one is "crooked". 

D

 

 

Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 

 

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • From: Meridian, ID
Posted by modelcrazy on Monday, June 12, 2017 12:48 PM

Ditto to all.

Panel lines and best guess.

ON THE BENCH

1/25 Monogram 57 Chevy Bel Air
1/144 Trumpeter Kawanishi H6K5-L Mavis

Completing a kit is like cutting the head off a Hydra. Two more replace it in the stash.

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Monday, June 12, 2017 12:49 PM

Yep, I get that.

As Bob Newhart said in a very old SNL skit that was a parody of him playing a psychologist (or psychiatrist) in his sitcom.......     "STOP IT!!!!!"

Wink

 

-Greg

  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Monday, June 12, 2017 12:55 PM

GMorrison

To go in a slightly different direction, I look at prototype photos where possible.

Also, as noted, try to be consistent on the model.

I also work at keeping the decal background white primer, or as close to white as possible. That means pre-positioning the decal area during the painting process and putting a tape decal substitute until finished painting.

 

Ooh, my obsessive-compulsive senses are tingling.  This is something I never would have thought of on my own.  This would also allow me to work out the orientation of the decals before laying them down (so they aren't "crooked"). 

This sounds like something that would work for me, and will try this on my next project. 

Thanks for the look and reply,

Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 

 

  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Monday, June 12, 2017 12:57 PM

Greg

Yep, I get that.

As Bob Newhart said in a very old SNL skit that was a parody of him playing a psychologist (or psychiatrist) in his sitcom.......     "STOP IT!!!!!"

Wink

 

 

I LOVE that skit. 

Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 

 

  • Member since
    December, 2013
  • From: Orlando Florida
Posted by route62 on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 7:13 AM

A technique I use when placement is an issue is I will scan the decal sheet into my computer and print a copy of it insuring that the printout is the same size as the decal sheet.

I cut out the copy of the decal from the print out that I want to test placement.

Using a tape that I know won't pull the paint or clear coat ie Tamiya tape or similar, I will, with small pieces of tape that I cut and had on the ready prior to test placement, tape down the decal copy once I find the placement I like.

 Typically I have the model in a stand so I can use both my hands.  I tend to work with a tweezer in each hand for this.

I will then take another piece of tape and run it along the bottom of the decal copy as if to underline the decal copy.  With a pencil or fine tip drafting pen I will make position/reference marks on the tape under the decal copy.

You can place the tape in any fashion around the decal copy to make reference marks, underlining it is not the only option.

Remove the decal copy, pull all the tape off save the one with reference marks and now you can use your normal procedure to apply the decal using the reference marks as your placement guide. 

Once the decal has set for a few minutes, you can pull the reference tape away carefully and your decal is set just where you wanted it.

I don't do this with every decal, just the ones where placement is important.  Most decals I just eyeball and use panel lines as mentioned already.  I have displayed my models at countless shows and no one has ever told me my decals were in the wrong place.

  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by Drifter on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 8:00 AM
You guys!!! Me, I eyeball, use panel lines as reference, and stick the damn thing. Who is going to notice 1mm. Try it, quite a liberating feeling.
  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 9:03 AM

I have, in a few cases, made paper templates to position decals.  This was in cases where I was concerned about getting the same position on either side of a model, more than an absolute accurate position.  Still, such paper templates, keyed to some reference points on model, do accurately position the decal.  But again, I think the viewer's eye is more sensitive to relative positions than absolute ones.

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 10:12 AM

Don Stauffer

I have, in a few cases, made paper templates to position decals.  This was in cases where I was concerned about getting the same position on either side of a model, more than an absolute accurate position.  Still, such paper templates, keyed to some reference points on model, do accurately position the decal.  But again, I think the viewer's eye is more sensitive to relative positions than absolute ones.

 

 

Hey Don,

Your post addresses what I was trying (poorly) to get at.  I am much more concerned with relative position and orientation than I am about getting the decal in the "exact right spot" on the model.  Part of the reason I put out this question was due to a post from someone who was in a contest, and got a knock for one of his decals being "crooked" on the fuselage, and not in line with the others.  I have no plans to enter a contest, but it got me thinking that maybe "eyeballing" was not the only method for decal placement.  I was wondering how other folks do their decals.  It appears most "eyeball", and do an excellent job.  So excellent that I thought they must be doing something more.  I am only on my second plane, and I am sure that "eyeballing" gets better with experience, just like every other skill.

Thanks to all who replied to my post.  It was a much more lively disucussion than I was expecting.  Your responses have given me some additional tools to try.  I will likely continue to eyeball most decals in the future, but will use these methods occasionally. 

Happy modelling!

D

Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 

 

  • Member since
    January, 2013
Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 2:27 PM

Usually, I eyeball my placements as close as I know how. Panel lines also helps too.

  • Member since
    January, 2006
Posted by Paul Budzik on Sunday, June 18, 2017 4:13 PM

I find careful trimming makes a huge difference ... here are a few techniques starting a 4:45 ...

 

 

 

Paul

  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Sunday, June 18, 2017 9:02 PM

Paul Budzik

I find careful trimming makes a huge difference ... here are a few techniques starting a 4:45 ...

 

 

 

Paul

 

Thank you for replying.  That video is incredibly helpful.  Had to subscribe to your youtube page.  Watching those videos will keep me out of trouble for a while.  Big Smile

D

Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 

 

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 9:07 AM

I use the Mk I eyeball, and line decals up as best I can with panel lines or other marks on the subject.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v233/HansvonHammer/Humor/th_MonogramMafia.jpg?t=1296972087

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Friday, June 23, 2017 1:08 PM

Hi;

 All good advice . What I do is use the MK-1 eyeball and create an imaginary line from the center of the side of the Cowl on prop jobs and work that way . On Jets , well , I use the same with modifications .

 This isn't really hard and I just make sure the decals are to the centerline of the side of the plane , Up , Down or whatever , remember , the decal will look crooked on say a Corsair because of the curve of the surface .

      You are basically putting a colored marking on a surface of more than one dimension . Distance , shape and color all play a part in what you see . T.B.

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Sunday, June 25, 2017 10:09 AM

"Here's something that may help you. Remember, the kit designers didn't go back in time and use some fancy method to get the placement perfect. All they have to go by are the same crappy photos we have. So all we are doing is trying to get as close to thier best guess on proper placement as we can.

In summary, far as I'm concerned we are trying to place something perfectly to reproduce an original that doens't exist. Have fun. Nobody is going to come over and tell you "hey, that decal is a few scale inches off"." "

Greg hit it on the spot. Just because the model company shows it a certain way doesn't mean it's correct. How many times have we discovered color references to be incorrec? 

It's like some Modeler asking which shade of RLM66 is correct? Too many variables around so just have fun and go with what your gut says.

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Sunday, June 25, 2017 10:47 AM

the Baron

I use the Mk I eyeball, and line decals up as best I can with panel lines or other marks on the subject.

 

Ditto

Problems can arise though...when the panel lines on the guide are different than what is actually on the kit...the lines could be on the guide, not on the kit or vice versa, or they could be in different locations. When that's the case, I look at actual photos.

Th only time I really get particular is when you have the same marking on either side (star-n-bar, tail codes, etc. Get the one side set. When it comes time to do the other side, getting it lined up perfectly with the 1st side is a bit tedious...viewing from every angle (above, behind, below) making tiny adjustments along the way.

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Sunday, June 25, 2017 12:51 PM

See !

   This guy ( You ) thinks just like me . I just didn't want to gobble up the thread .Thanks Fermis !  I will be decaling very soon . I told Humper what's going down . Five planes ,1/144 , all with a large amount of decaling necessary . T.B.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 9:06 AM

I have a related problem- the anti-glare area ahead of the canopy on jets.  This area typically has double curvature, and decals usually create a lot of problems going down over such surfaces.  If a decal is provided, I find I often have to make slits in the decal, which can make sudden jags in the edge, and color variations due to overlap at the slit.

So, I prefer to paint my anti-glares.  But then I have a problem similar to accurate positioning of decals- masking the anti-glare area so it is identical on both sides (symmetrical).  Paper patterns do not work that well- they do not go down on double curvature areas either.  Folks who do paint the anti-glare, how do you mask it out to be symmetrical?

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Thursday, June 29, 2017 5:11 AM

Don Stauffer

  Folks who do paint the anti-glare, how do you mask it out to be symmetrical?

 

I always paint mine too. I'll cut a narrow strip of Tamiya tape (about 1mm wide), lay down one side...then use a little trial-n-error for the other side. The thin tape seems to make it a lot easier to see if things are "off". Once satisfied, mask off the rest of the area with bigger tape.

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Thursday, June 29, 2017 7:29 AM

I paint mine too. I cut thin strips of masking tape and use panel lines as reference to alaign the design. It takes a few tries to get things even. If the radome color has a circular starting point as in some F-14s and F-4's, I use something round like a bottle cap or a small container to mark the pattern  on the tape then I use a #11 blade to make the curved mask as I did for this F-4 with that rounded pattern. I also have a set of French curve templates that come in very handy with some designs. 

 

  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Thursday, June 29, 2017 2:32 PM

plasticjunkie

I paint mine too. I cut thin strips of masking tape and use panel lines as reference to alaign the design. It takes a few tries to get things even. If the radome color has a circular starting point as in some F-14s and F-4's, I use something round like a bottle cap or a small container to mark the pattern  on the tape then I use a #11 blade to make the curved mask as I did for this F-4 with that rounded pattern. I also have a set of French curve templates that come in very handy with some designs. 

 

 

Holy cow, PJ!  That bird is gor-ge-ous!  Bow Down

Had to comment when I saw that.

D

Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 

 

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Thursday, June 29, 2017 3:42 PM

Thanks D. That's the Academy 1/48 F-4B that is a real jewel. The only thing that drove me mad was the almost 400 decals and stencils I had to put on over several evenings.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, June 30, 2017 9:38 AM

I applaud kit mfgs who give you three views same size as model.  That sure makes measuring decal positions easy!

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

JOIN OUR COMMUNITY!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

SEARCH FORUMS

SUBSCRIBER-ONLY CONTENT
FREE NEWSLETTER