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What software should I use to make my own decals?

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  • Member since
    February 2013
What software should I use to make my own decals?
Posted by hasbeen on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 9:35 PM

i would like to make my own decals but have no idea what kind of software to use.

i am trying to use "pictures" as the basis of the decals but need a way to remove the background and move the image around. i would also like to be able to draw images and turn them into decals.

i need something simple to use and since i don't have that many decals to make something cheap/free would be great.

thanks for the help.

hasbeen

Tags: make decals
Moderator
  • Member since
    September 2011
Posted by Tim Kidwell on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 8:22 AM

Hi Hasbeen,

In the January 2013 FSM, Don Stauffer (also a member on the Forum) wrote an article about making decals at home. He recommends Corel PaintShot Pro x3, or shareware programs like GIMP or IrfanView. I'm sure Don will weigh in with his expertise and steer you in the right direction.

By the way, welcome to the Forum!

Tim

--

Timothy Kidwell
Editor
Scale Model Brands
Kalmbach Media

 

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 9:20 AM

Another one I recommend is Adobe Photoshop Elements.  While the full-blown Photoshop is the gold standard of image editing programs, it is very expensive and its cheaper cousin, Elements, is fully adequate for decal design.  At the time I wrote the article, Paint Shop Pro X4 was out, but full of bugs, and I couldn't recommend it, so I recommended trying to find X3.  However, they have since come out with X5, which got rid of the bugs in X4, so I can now recommend the latest version.  Both Elements and PSP X 5 are in the sub-100 buck range, typically about 60 to 100, depending on store and whether they are on sale.

Another option is a cheap CAD program, like TurboCAD, but they do not handle imported pictures as easily.  The advantage to CAD programs is that they are easier to do a precise resizing to fit the scale of your modeler.  Image editors do allow good resizing, but it is just a bit easier in CAD.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Cameron, Texas
Posted by Texgunner on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 10:34 AM

When I made my first and only home-made decals, for my CSAF Mirage F-1, my son, who is a CAD draftsman, downloaded a free trial version of AutoCAD.  I think it was good for 30 days.  At the time, we had an HP inkjet printer that worked fine for the decals.  Now, I've replace that printer with a Canon and I've read that the Canon printers don't work so well for decals.

 I'm thinking of doing a Republic of Texas  "what if" build and I'll need some home brewed decals for that for sure.  My son works at Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions in Austin now and hopefully, he can use software, and hardware, there to make decals.

Gary


"All you mugs need to get busy building, and post pics!"

  • Member since
    February 2015
Posted by Bick on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 12:17 PM

Texgunner

<snip> At the time, we had an HP inkjet printer that worked fine for the decals.  Now, I've replace that printer with a Canon and I've read that the Canon printers don't work so well for decals.<snip>

Gary

Gary,

Don't believe everything you read about printers. I have a Canon Pro 9000 inkjet printer (large format for photos) and it does fine for decals. It uses the same ink as other Canon printers. Just use 'photo quality' printing and coat your printed decal with a clear acrylic or varnish or etc  and it will work fine. And, now the disclaimer - I like my inexpensive Epson with DuraBrite ink even better because of the ink but the Canon works fine. Here's an example of a decal I just did for a friend on my Canon printer. Looked great on his freeflight model.

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, February 7, 2013 9:01 AM

I also had a Canon 9000 printer and made a number of decals with it.  I used Micro Mark paper.  Yes, like many brands of ink you must be careful in the overcoating process.  The FSM article Tim mentioned goes into detail on how to overcoat the details.  The Canon went belly-up, and I have an Epson now, but have not tried decals yet with the new Epson.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    April 2005
  • From: Montana USA
Posted by heepey on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 12:25 PM

I have started exploring the graphics editing features in M$ Word2010 for making decals. I can import /place clip art and photos and use the "Insert>shape" function to make stripes for some recent civil aircraft builds.

I use Testors paper and for now a HP photo printer to print them. I am using generic refill ink to refill the carts in the printer. I have also used an Epson printer successfully with the Testors paper and clear coat.

  • Member since
    January 2010
Posted by CrashTestDummy on Thursday, February 28, 2013 3:58 PM

heepey

I have started exploring the graphics editing features in M$ Word2010 for making decals. I can import /place clip art and photos and use the "Insert>shape" function to make stripes for some recent civil aircraft builds.

I use Testors paper and for now a HP photo printer to print them. I am using generic refill ink to refill the carts in the printer. I have also used an Epson printer successfully with the Testors paper and clear coat.

If you're just resizing existing images to print, M$ Word works perfectly well.  I recently resized a picture of the instrument panel on my wife's 95 Z28 for a project I'm working on.  I printed it on our Canon Pixma MP620 and it was perfect.  If I have to do any image manipulation, I use GiMP (on my MacBook).  If I have to do so on my Windoz laptop, I use Paint.  For the simple stuff I'm doing, it's fine. 

And yeah, Don, it's odd how Paintshop Pro goes with updates.  Many years ago, I got a copy for my wife to use for some graphics work she was doing.  It was like version 1, or 2.  They came out with an updated version.  I got it, and it was a miserable update.  The next version was orders of magnitude better.  It's weird how that works. 

Gene Beaird,
Pearland, Texas

G. Beaird,

Pearland, Texas

  • Member since
    April 2005
  • From: Montana USA
Posted by heepey on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 9:27 AM

I used the Insert>Shapes>Edit shape to create the stripes for this 1/48 Super Cub. The shape started out as a star.

At the same time I did the same for this 1/72 Bird dog on floats.

A different shape was used to make the side stripe for this 1/72 Beaver.

  • Member since
    March 2013
Posted by gopher22 on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 6:25 PM

I was going to ask the same question as I am a newbie in the Decal world. My first trip into decal land was the recent purchase of Micro-Mark Clear Decal sheets for Inkjet printers and a can of Testors Decal Bonder.

My next challenge was to find the best (for me) software to produce the artwork. My needs at least in the short term are for numbers and lettering. I tried a free (for 30 days) copy of Papilio, but it was not for me. It did not seem to be suitable for 1:76 or 1:87 scale models which I am into.

I was looking for opinions on which software (free preferred) would be most suitable for work in these scales. I am running XP Pro and Windows 7 Pro, and, Office 2003 and 2010. Then today I stumbled across HERMA. They are a European company and produce software for making labels.

One can do them on line, or download the software. They have over 870 templates which can be downloaded. Downloading the app to a PC, gives you menu and a ribbon for Word 2010. It works with lots of different software.

It took me all of a few minutes today to make some samples on plain paper of decals that I needed, and if I can do it, anyone can. I was going to post some screenshots of HERMA's website but could not figure out how to do that, sorry.

The link may work. www.herma.co.uk/.../free-software.html

Does anyone on the forum have any experience with HERMA?

Peter B.

  • Member since
    August 2007
  • From: back country of SO-CAL, at the birth place of Naval Aviation
Posted by DUSTER on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 8:59 PM

GOPHER22 That looks to be a good program.

There is a question you may wish to consider; type font , does this program have or access to, outside fonts?

As most  aircraft and military vehicles  use a specific fonts for their letters and numbers 

example: US Air Force uses a font called  "Amarillo" 

See: http://www.bobsyouruncle.net/utilities.htm  (scroll down to military fonts for a free download to your MS Word ) 

Toast

HTH  Good Luck 

Steve

Building the perfect model---just not quite yet  Confused

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, April 4, 2013 8:58 AM

For a free program for Windows, GIMP is a very popular program.  Do a google search for it.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    March 2013
Posted by gopher22 on Thursday, April 4, 2013 4:51 PM

Hi Duster, I have not tried adding fonts, my test decals used MS Word 2010. I am sure additional fonts can be added to Word. I have not had time to look into this, but will do so in a few days if not sooner. I will post back and will let you know.

My samples printed on plain paper, then I printed them on glossy photo paper as a test. What a difference that made. So I am hoping that when they are printed on decal paper they will be as good.

Big Smile

  • Member since
    March 2013
Posted by gopher22 on Thursday, April 4, 2013 6:35 PM

Hi Steve (Duster)

I installed the Amarillo font on my PC from Control Panel\Fonts and it works just fine. With HERMA you can use Word on your PC to create your decals.

Best regards,

Peter B. Smile

  • Member since
    August 2007
  • From: back country of SO-CAL, at the birth place of Naval Aviation
Posted by DUSTER on Friday, April 5, 2013 12:20 AM

Peter

Thanks for the update

I was sure it could be done ....

...... (now the you, have done it  )

good luck with the decals; give us a look at your build when you're done 

Steve

Building the perfect model---just not quite yet  Confused

  • Member since
    March 2006
Posted by daiguma on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 3:25 PM

For programs, you can pick up back dated versions  of CorelDraw, Illustrator, Photoshop, Pagemaker, Painter and many others for around ten bucks each. They work great with current computer systems because they were design for systems that were state 10 years ago.

"Live life to the fullest and die without regrets"

  • Member since
    March 2013
Posted by gopher22 on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 4:46 PM

I too was looking for opinions on which software (free preferred) would be most suitable for work in 1:76 or 1:87 scale models which I am into. I am running XP Pro and Windows 7 Pro, and, Office 2003 and 2010. Then I stumbled across HERMA. They are a European company and produce software for making labels.

One can do them on line, or download the software. They have over 870 templates which can be downloaded. Downloading the app to a PC, gives you menu and a ribbon for Word 2010. It works with lots of different software.

It took me all of a few minutes today to make some samples on plain paper of decals that I needed, and if I can do it, anyone can. I was going to post some screenshots of HERMA's website but could not figure out how to do that, sorry.

The link may work. www.herma.co.uk/.../free-software.html

Since I found HERMA I discovered that Adobe had provided a download page for all kinds of superseded software along with activation codes. They had/have taken their activation server out of service.

Peter B.

  • Member since
    September 2016
Posted by chuckkelley on Friday, September 23, 2016 4:44 AM
Mediaface from NEATO or fellowers is great software for all types of labels and make your own decals- I have used MEDIAFACE for years Dr Kel
  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: United Kingdom
Posted by docipaul on Sunday, October 9, 2016 11:37 AM

I use photoshop. I made the artwork big first then reduce it for scale. Dont make the artwork small as you try to enlarge it, it will be pixelated.

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Monday, October 10, 2016 8:43 AM

gopher22

I too was looking for opinions on which software (free preferred) would be most suitable for work in 1:76 or 1:87 scale models which I am into. I am running XP Pro and Windows 7 Pro, and, Office 2003 and 2010. Then I stumbled across HERMA. They are a European company and produce software for making labels.

 

Some folks like to use CAD software for decals, because CAD generally does a better, more exact job of changing size, or controlling size of not only the overall design, but the size of individual parts.  However, graphics programs such as photoshop, gimp, paintshop pro, etc. generally have more color selection, fonts, and various effects such as drop shadow, etc.  So, some say first choose between CAD and graphics, and then select within that category for best program that meets needs.  In both categories there are some very expensive packages (AutoCAD, Photoshop), but also there are cheaper, non-professional packages.  And, in each category there are even shareware or freeware ones.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    January 2016
  • From: Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada
Posted by iSteve on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 1:39 PM

The best type of software for decals would be a vector drawing program like Illustrator, CorelDraw or some of the CAD software out there. Vector drawing allows you to perfectly scale your work without any loss of resolution - both up or down scaling. These programs can be a bit pricey, but I imagine a Google search of "free vector drawing" might turn up some options. If you are looking for drawings already made, you would want to ensure they are in .eps format as typically that's how vector drawings are saved, other than their proprietary file extensions like .ai for Illustrator.

Photoshop is fine for photos, but as others have pointed out get big file sizes or you will run into pixelation when sizing up. Photoshop can also be used to open vector drawings.

  • Member since
    October 2021
Posted by Ktsmms84 on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 6:54 PM

I'm new to this forum so please forgive me if this thread is closed. I'm in need of v-22 decals in 1/48 scale of my son's squadron.  I'd like to try creating my own. Is there a newer software system than the few that have been previously mentioned ?  I'm also looking for a descent printer any preferences. Thanks for any help

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