Inexpensive scale decals for any model type. - RC Groups
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Mar 26, 2010, 03:42 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar

Inexpensive scale decals for any model type.

I do not know if this has been done before, but I developed a process that works real well for me. I surfing some threads I was asked how to do this method, so let's get into it.

I use cheap domestic tissue paper for the decal material. This is not just for tissue covered aircraft. When they are done I have used them on all types of aircraft structures. They are perfect for foam, fiberglass, balsa, tissue/silkspan, silk, and yes, even monokote.

We just apply them different depending on what you are working with.

Tissue paper, white usually, domestic gift type acceptable.
Krylon Crystal clear spray paint, or similar.
(Sometimes Krylon White, when mounting decals on dark backgrounds).
Glue stick.
Clear 3M type tape.
Heavy paper stock, 60# perfect.

Printer, ink-jet or laser.
Computer, with web access, grafic or photo program, word proscessor, etc.
Hobby knife.
(Scanner, not required).

Photos, clipart, user defined drawings.
Web downloads.

We will talk about mounting your great decals at the end.
Last edited by Freddie B; Mar 26, 2010 at 04:25 PM.
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Mar 26, 2010, 03:49 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
We start by cutting tissue sheets into sizes slightly larger than the paper stock we will mount it to. I'm using letter size paper this time, 8 1/2" x 11". So I cut the tissue just larger than 9" x 11 1/2".

I like using "flyer/brochure" paper stock, usually 45-60 lb. stock. I also like gray because it's easy to see the differance from the tissue, and is a good base color to see your work, sort of like primer.

I can and do make 4-6 decal sheets from one peice of domestic tissue at one time. REALLY inexpensive and you will use them, trust me. Make several now.

Last edited by Freddie B; Mar 26, 2010 at 04:40 PM.
Mar 26, 2010, 03:52 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
I apply glue stick, brand does not matter, to the very 1/8" or so of the heavy paper stock. You gan be slightly sloppy and get it almost 1/4" in from the edge but try not to do more than that.

Mar 26, 2010, 04:03 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
This is done so much easier than said. Lay the tissue over our glued paper, aligning it with faily equal overhang on all sides. Tissue is light so it floats on top real easy.

With domestic tissue I mount the 'shinny' side up. If you have any trouble with the tissue sticking pre-maturely, just use a couple of sheets of copy paper in-between your sandwich as you do the following.

Take and press the tissue to one corner. Stretch the tissue to an opposite corner and press in place. You may have to smooth it down about an inch or two on these corner edges to keep it in place.

Stretch it and adhere it to a 3rd corner, at this point you can also run your finger down 2 edges to get them to lay nice and flat. Do the final corner the same way, Rub along all the edges until you know they are stuck.

Flip the paper over, apply glue stick to the backside tissue overhang and a little on the edges of your backside mounting paper.

See the photos below. the first is the finished back side, the second if the front side tissue mounted, faily smooth and flat, few wrinkles. If you look close you will see that 1/8" glue line on the front side.

Mar 26, 2010, 04:19 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
I found this step is critical to success on feeding our decal paper stock through a printer reliably. Almost 100% no tears, wrinkles, etc by doing this.

I take 3/4" wide shinny 3M tape for this step. You can start on the front or the rear whichever you perfer. I like starting on the front side.

I unroll a piece of tape about the length of the side I'm working on. On the front I pull and place the tape on the tissue/glued outside edge, no more that 1/4" in. I then rub and fold it over onto the backside sort of tlike puting tape hinges on a foamy.

Keep it as smooth as possible, and the fold as close to the edge of the paper as pratical. It's never perfect, but you do get real good at it quickly.

Repeat for the other 3 sides.

The tape keeps the tissue from hanging up upon being picked up with the priner feed device, and keeps it stretched nice while printing. The 1/4" or less boundry on the front is because most printers have a 1/4" to 1/2" margin that does not get printed on. We don't want the printing to get on the tape, especially inkjet as it won't stick, dry, and will smeer.
Mar 26, 2010, 04:24 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
Now it's time to create your graphics. Most of us have done this before so use the programs you like the best.

I'm using Printmaster here ($10.00 or less for an older version on CD). You can use Print, Printshop, Paint, Word Processer, Photo printing program, etc.

I am making tiny decals here for micro models, but large decals work great too. Coolest thing is we can even make decals from photographs, old War Poster art, insignia, lettering, downloads, clipart, etc. Your imagination is the limits.

Mar 26, 2010, 04:36 PM
I eat glue
Tissue works great for making markings to put on models, also to do lozenge patterns with the computer/printer.
Mar 26, 2010, 04:39 PM
Addicted to building...
Freddie B's Avatar
Now I simply print them onto my tissue sandwich.

I use both ink and laser printers. Yes laser is nice, but sometimes my brand, HP, is hard on the tissue. You will have to use a sheet or 2 to do some setup test, but by adjusting quality, paper type, and even paper weight (laser), you will come up with what works best with your printer brand.

I have never had a straight thrugh printer since the 1990's, and mine feed the paper around a roller when feeding. The sandwich works. In rare instances I've had the tissue tear and jamb a printer, but I can always get it out by opening the cover.

Some tips: Inkjet probably works best on less than high-quality settings. We do not want so much ink that it bleeds. My laser likes me to pick a medium paper setting. Doesn't hurt to ruin a few at the cost of this decal stock getting your setting right. I've ruined many expensive waterslide sheets just trying to get it right, that I could have bought an ARF or something.

Mar 26, 2010, 04:45 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
The next couple steps are quick and easy. We will use lots of tape so buy yours at a dollar store or Walmart!

I take a straight edge and we cut all the way through our sandwich from the top side. Cut about 1/4" in from the edge. Try to cut beyond the glue line, but leave some space to your decals.

Mar 26, 2010, 05:07 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
Now, before moving your decal sheet, tape right back over the cut we just made, topside, decals up. You do not need to cover the cut with a continuous piece of tape, 3 pieces per side should do it. One at each end, and one in the middle.

Place these over the cut so you almost, but do not touch the printed area, but extend them over the edge of the sandwich.

I think the photos will clarify this step.
Mar 26, 2010, 05:10 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
Remove the center piece of heavy paper backing that was cut 2 steps ago.

You now have the tissue decal sheet mounted to roughly a 1/4" 'picture frame' of heavy paper, tape extended over the edges.
Mar 26, 2010, 05:19 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
Next I take the sheet and use that extended tape pieces to adhere it over a frame for painting. A box makes a great mount.

VERY MPORTANT: Mist on several coats of Krylon. MIST COATS. Several with drying in-between. Drys real quick so it will not take long. If you put on heavy coats the ink may bleed a little, even on laser prints.

I usually do 3 to 4 mist coats. By the final one, it is a little heavier, and that last coat appears to have an even 'wetness' when applied.

This will seal the inks or toners well, but we are not done just yet!

Mar 26, 2010, 05:24 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
Now we have to flip the sheet over, remount on the box and repeat the last step on the underside, or backside of our decals.

Please note that if you are making decals to mount on dark surfaces, after this step you will need to mist on a few light coats of white Krylon now. Only needed for dark backgrounds. Enough light coats so that you do not 'see' the decals through it very well. (White, Backside only, only if mounting on dark surfaces!!!!)

This set of decals is for light colored aircraft so I skipped the white coat.

That is how we change the type as if you were making decals on clear or white waterslide paper.

Mar 26, 2010, 05:28 PM
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Freddie B's Avatar
Let the paint seal coat dry now for at least 1 hour, longer better, but we want the 'smell' to be mostly gone.

While that is going on, I need to take my daughter shopping and to a Girl Scout function. When I get time we will finish this up and cover application of your inexpensive, cool decals!

Mar 26, 2010, 07:26 PM
Single-task at best...
tim hooper's Avatar

tim (drumming fingers)

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