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Old Dec 02, 2014, 10:58 PM
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Building Micro WWI Using the Print-to-Foam Method. Subject: Sopwith Camel B 7270

Well a few people have requested a build thread to show the methods I use, so here it goes. If there doesn't seem to be much interest I won't push it.

I usually start by choosing a plane I like. I am a WWI aircraft junky so that is almost always the subject type. I then try to find a good card model of the particular plane.
Fiddler's Green and ecardmodels.com are good places to look.

mtyflyr and speedy01 have shared the method they have used to view aircraft skins in the game Rise of Flight. A great game and the skins open up a large library of great graphics of WWI aircraft of high quality.

Card models are easier to use, even though they are usually never accurately scaled, they are designed to be physically built from flat material. The Rise of flight skins have to manipulated by putting together some of the smaller components into larger pieces, then they can be scaled properly. With a little experience and effort I believe it will become easier and well worth it.

My subject this time is Roy Brown's Sopwith Camel B7270. I didn't start with this one, but I ended up here not because of the pilot, but more because I like the color scheme of this camel. It is not too intricate, but it is not plain either, as many british aircraft were pretty plain.

In this process I use very simple common computer programs because they are easy to use and readily available. Plus I am not a graphics designer by any stretch.

So I first downloaded the free program DXTBmp to open the skin file which is a .dds file, then convert to a bitmap. (.bmp files)

Once converted I open it with microsoft office picture manager to lighten the file as they are usually pretty dark.

Once I am done fussing with it and deciding what I like I save the changes then close and open it with good old Microsoft Paint. Now in paint I modify the program to show rulers and go into properties to set them up to be in inches. this makes life easier when scaling.

This is where the fun begins.I start moving the parts around to make whole pieces
Once that has been done I transfer a piece into Microsoft Word .There I do the scaling to size while referencing 3-view drawings.

With a wing, the top and the bottom side will be printed on and I want it to be as close as it can be. this requires a file in Word for the top of the wing, and a file in Word for the bottom of the wing. The bottom one needs to be flipped from side to side and spaced to the other or right side of the page also to make them line up when printed.

The top and bottom of each wing get there own files, so does the elevator. the rudder gets a left and right and the fuse is the one part that doesn't get printed on both sides.

The next subject will be prepping the foam with InkAid.
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Last edited by dcwwcp; Dec 07, 2014 at 10:05 PM.
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Old Dec 03, 2014, 01:06 AM
Flying Models for 51 Years!
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dcwwcp Great Info I'm in the process of Drawing up plans for a Micro WWII Fighter. I'm drawing it in MS Paint. I didn't know that you could go into properties and change the Scaling Grid to Inches! Anymore Tips on using MS Paint would be appreciated

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Old Dec 03, 2014, 06:36 AM
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Old Dec 03, 2014, 07:08 AM
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Old Dec 03, 2014, 11:38 AM
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Look at mtflyer( Pete)builds along with speedie01(Gene) they make some cool scratch WWI Planes using the same methods. Pete just did a Jin Sopwith Triplane kit and made it into a Sopwith Pup. Their builds are here on this site somewhere.
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Old Dec 03, 2014, 10:56 PM
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Prepping the Foam...

I am familiar with mtyflyr and Speedy01s work. Both of them build some great stuff. Their techniques are similar to mine.

One thing to take into consideration when cutting foam is the “grain” of the foam. Basically it is like wood in the fact that it is stiffer in one direction than the other. I like to cut my pieces so that the stiffer direction is along the span of the surface whether it is a wing or tail surface. I also like to select the stiffer direction to be the length of the fuselage.

I always use a fresh #11 blade and spray it with dry silicone spray when I am cutting foam. This will reduce friction and make the blade last longer. My favorite brand is sold at Westlake Ace hardware.

In the past I have tried to align several 2 sided components in one word file. This is frustrating and just not worth it in my opinion. That’s why I have one 2 sided component with a file for each side of it. I arrange examples of these file sizes in cut pieces of paper on the foam itself, or now as colored blocks in MSpaint with a file in MS paint of the same size as the foam stock. I then come up with a large piece of foam that will be cut up later into the different pieces to be printed on, after the ink aid is applied. Sounds complicated when described, but it is really quite simple. The fuselage is always its own piece of foam.

InkAid is a liquid much like paint, that can be applied to a wide range of surfaces with the intention of making it possible to print , or apply ink to the surface. It makes a thin film on it that is like paper, but much thinner and lighter.

The main thing to remember to do is to wipe the foam clean with denatured alcohol before attempting to apply InkAid!

The denatured alcohol will NOT melt the foam. It does a great job of removing dirt, oil and chemicals from manufacturing. If you skip this step the results are very poor.

I cut the inkaid with clean bottled water. About 40% water makes it thin enough to spray in my airbrush at approx. 30 psi. I mix some up and put it in a water bottle with the pull top. This makes it easy to use and store. I use a Paasche dual action I picked up at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon for a good price. I use the #5 tip and needle it comes with. I purchased some fittings and connected it to the air compressor in the garage and turned it down to about 30 psi.

I set up a table top covered with newspapers and tape them down. Then I tape the foam down. I just tape the corners of the foam. I use light coats, spraying one direction then the other, across the first coat. After spraying one coat I use an old 1800 watt hairdryer to speed up the drying process as it takes way too long without it ! you will see the foam turn flat white instead of shiny white. If you look close, the spots that look “sparkly” are places that did not get enough yet. I usually spray 3 coats using the hair dryer in between each one. I usually use about 1 ˝ ounces, or approx, 1 ˝ jars of the mix when doing a plane.

Now the foam is prepped and ready for printing!
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Old Dec 04, 2014, 10:14 AM
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I've never tried spraying InkAid, but find it goes on easily enough if applied using a small piece of bath sponge. You'll immediately spot any areas not taking it well and a slight scrubbing action over them soon removes whatever was preventing it taking. Then just use the sponge to 'lay off' the InkAid to get a thin, even coat. Maybe a little heavier than spraying, but not by a lot because you can work the coats really thin. Certainly thin enough to give good results on the Depron Aero I'm slicing and, because the surface has been sanded, it's surprising how much you can thin the InkAid you apply.

Looking forward to seeing how this model progresses since I'm just awaiting the gear for a 12" span profile scale Sopwith Pup. Finished weight should be in the region of 9 grams ready to fly.
What ink are you using? I've used both DuraBrite and cheap aftermarket ink in my Epson printer and both seem to work equally well. Good enough that I can read the white 'Lift Here' stencils near the tail.
Pesumably you'll get to the heat shaping of the wings later on. Looking forward to that because it's something I'd like to try if it results in a more predictable camber than drawing the foam over the edge of a table. I imagine it's a lot more permanent too.

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Old Dec 04, 2014, 10:17 AM
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Good thread....

I have often thought that RCG should have an entire subforum for card model plans, since they can be nicely adapted for scratch building, especially micros.
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Old Dec 04, 2014, 10:33 AM
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subscribed , I too am a WW1 junky, I also have the WW1 disc from Fiddlers Green so have lots of models to choose from, as well as Ecardmodels. Ah so many models so little time
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Old Dec 04, 2014, 11:37 PM
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Peter thank you for your input! I never had results I liked from brushing it on, however it sounds like I need to try your technique. spraying makes for a very, very thin layer, and very even right off the get go.

Yes the heat molding is coming up shortly! It stiffens the foam considerably.

Thank you to everyone for their interest!

On to it,

So the time has come to print on the foam. I use a cheap little canon MP250 that cost about $40. Basically the printer is free and the ink is $40 that comes with it. Lol I use regular canon ink that is recommended for this printer.

After cutting the foam into the exact size of the files that were made in word for the components, I double check the alignment of the files by doing a test run on paper. I usually just use grayscale printing for this so as not to waste as much ink. But! Make sure you turn off grayscale before you print on the foam! (yes I printed a wing in black and white.)

Then I take my fingernail and run it along the edge of the foam where it is going to feed into the printer so as to smash it down and thin it out a bit. This helps it feed into my printer . I don’t know that it is necessary on other printers.
I go to the file chose to print it and go to print preferences and slecet a custom paper size and put in the size of my file. Example: the wing files are 4”x 18”. Then I select print preview to double check it.

Click print and watch the magic!

Now I let that piece set and dry before printing the other side of it. Otherwise I seem to get the occasional smudge. Especially in darker areas of the print. I just move on to a different piece until they all have one side printed and then come back to the first piece.

From the last picture of the top wing you can see through the foam and see the alignment is pretty darn good.

Tomorrow I can start cutting the parts out.
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Old Dec 05, 2014, 03:52 PM
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Great work as usual! I tried a while back with Gene (Speedy01) doing what you've got down. I have the Ink Aid, the foam and a Cannon 250. For me it was hard to align the top and bottom prints the ink would rub off and the 1mm foam would kink each time I'd try to bend it. So I gave up trying. I think mostly because I just could not work with the thin foam any planes I've done with 1mm have not held up very well to any whack-ins, for me 2mm is the best with the e-gear I use.

You've been able to advance this to work and I still love the Dr.I you did excellent.

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Old Dec 05, 2014, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by dcwwcp View Post
Tomorrow I can start cutting the parts out.

Gene K
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Old Dec 05, 2014, 09:45 PM
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Hinckley, Ohio
Joined Nov 2008
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I am very interested in your scratch building. I have built simple profile 1S AR6400 models from 1mm and 2mm Depron. I would love to print color on foam. All my planes thus far are stark white. I have a HP ENVY 5530 print that feeds paper horizontally in from the front and then bends the paper around a roll (like typewriter) and sends the printed page horizontally back out the front of the machine. Will 1mm foam process through this printer? This is intriguing to say the least. I have attached a photo of my latest scratch build.
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Old Dec 06, 2014, 05:03 AM
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From my experience I'd say it's highly unlikely that any 180 degree feed printer will work well with 1 mm foam - if any foam at all. A 90 degree feed doesn't cause major problems but actually doubling back on itself would crease the foam or jam the printer.

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Old Dec 06, 2014, 02:54 PM
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Agreed. I don't know of anybody who has had success doing that. I recommend buying a cheap canon printer if your already own a printer that won't work.

Like I said, I paid $40 for a canon MP250. it has about a 60° bend from feed to output.
and for sure works with 1mm foam.

I have kids basketball games and the like today but I am going to try and get a wing in the oven and do the write up on it.
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