Pager Staggerwing: Printed Tissue Tutorial/Build - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
Thread Tools
Jul 29, 2004, 08:50 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar

Pager Staggerwing: Printed Tissue Tutorial/Build


This thread is a sort of tutorial and build thread on doing profile or semi-profile sport scale micro planes. My hope is that it will help people who have wanted to build some sport scale planes but haven’t yet. Possibly they are intimidated by the daunting task of doing a full 3D fuselage micro plane. Why profile planes? Well, they are easier in many cases. The equipment can be on the outside of the plane where it is easy to get at. Creating graphics for a profile view is easier. And, with something like printed tissue covering can achieve a certain degree of realism. Planes with 3D fuselages are nice. But, sometimes getting the equipment installed can be a bit like building a ship in a bottle. However, printed tissue covering techniques I’ll explain can be adapted to 3D fuselages pretty easily. In fact, most of this thread will not deal with printed tissue covering. That’s actually the easy part. Here’s what this thread will cover.

(1) Creating graphics for a profile model from a 3-view and using Corel Draw. (done)
(2) Printing out and covering the model with printed tissue. (done)
(3) Planning the model ahead of time and determining its size. (still to come)
(4) Basic Depron building techniques. (still to come)

Along the way you will see me build the Staggerwing Beech.

I should mention up front that I did not invent the printed tissue technique. Paul Bradley wrote an article on this method for the Ezone a few years ago and I’ve adapted his method slightly. Paul also took the time to help me learn Corel Draw, as did Dave Wulff. I’d used vector based drawing packages before, but getting up to speed on Corel went faster with their help.

Here are the “rules of engagement” as Graham refers to them. Please feel free to ask questions or comment in this thread. However, periodically I’ll go back through and delete posts to keep the flow of the thread going. It may be that I’ll take an answer to a question asked and adapt that into one or more of my posts, and delete the original question. The intention is to end up with a more compact thread that can be read by someone down the road without having to wade through lots of extraneous posts.

When I’m cutting and pasting a series of posts for a section, please don’t post till I’m done. If you post in the middle of a series of posts I’ll delete your post as soon as I come across it. Sorry.

Ok, here we go. First with creating graphics.
Last edited by Gordon Johnson; Jun 22, 2005 at 09:13 AM.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Jul 29, 2004, 08:52 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
Three-Views and Graphics

Top and side view drawings of some planes can be obtained in books. If you can find one, and you like it, you can simply scan it in, and print that out as your printed tissue. If the plane you want to model is available from and you are willing to build a 3-D roll-up style fuselage you can use these graphics. If your plane is not a pager plane you may need to resize the graphics larger. Fiddlers Green ( also has 3-views for most of their planes. And, these are on their site available for download. Simply right click on the 3-view and save it somewhere. It will be a gif file in most cases. There are sites that have 3-views for many planes. I don’t want to list them out in this thread. Do a search on the forum to find some of them. Free plans from places like the Plans page can also serve as 3-views. And, finally, don’t forget books. The source of 3-views for my Staggerwing came from the book “The Staggerwing Story”. These are the original drawings for the plane. You do not need 3-views this detailed.

Shown below is the fuselage 3-view I used for the Staggerwing (cleaned up from the original which had interior details and dimensions).

Also shown below is a free 3-view from Fiddlers Green for the Laird Super Solution, which would be fine for creating graphics for that plane from. I've posted it simply as an example of a typical Fiddlers Green 3-view (they don't have a Staggerwing). I have not used it in this tutorial
Last edited by Gordon Johnson; Jul 29, 2004 at 09:53 AM.
Jul 29, 2004, 08:53 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
Creating the Graphics in Corel Draw

Open a new blank graphic in Corel. From the Layout/PageSetup menu change the orientation of the page to landscape. Here are the three main tools you will use in Corel, circled and numbered in the screen shot below.

1. This drop down button is the “zoom tool” and allows you to zoom in or out in the drawing and work on a particular part of it. If the size you need isn’t there, you can type in any size you want, like 2000%.

2. This is the “Bezier Tool” and allows you to draw line segments and connected line segments.

3. This is the “Shape Tool” and allows you to drag a corner of a shape created with the bezier tool, or convert a line segment to a curve and then shape that curve. This is the tool you will use the most
Last edited by Gordon Johnson; Jul 29, 2004 at 09:42 AM.
Jul 29, 2004, 08:54 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
Now that you are familiar with the basic tools, let’s create the outline of the fuselage. Click on the zoom tool and choose 200%. Next, click on the Bezier tool, hold down, and see the “fly out” tool bar. Click on the second icon, which is the bezier tool (other choices are the freehand tool, etc, which we won’t be using).

Starting somewhere on the plane, begin clicking around its perimeter, sort of like making a connect the dots fuselage outline. They don’t have to be spot on, just close. You can move them later easily. Where there is a curve, create a line segment break on either side so that segment can be converted to a curve. Each time you click, a line segment break is created. When you get back where you started, carefully click on the starting end point and it will join them. If you don’t get these connected, you can always join them later. If they are not joined, you cannot fill the object with color later. In the screen shot below I’ve turned the bezier tracing line object red to make it easier to see. Each small square is a line segment endpoint which can be pulled and stretched. I’ve omitted the menu bars etc in this screen shot to focus on the drawing.
Last edited by Gordon Johnson; Jul 29, 2004 at 09:06 AM.
Jul 29, 2004, 08:57 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
Notice that I allowed the perimeter tracing to cut through the vertical stabilizer, with a line break at the top and bottom. This is the first segment we will convert to a curve. Since we are working just on the tail, we can use the zoom button to zoom to the size of the tail, in this case 400%, to make it easier to work just on the curved portion of the tail. Next, click on the shape tool button, and then the outline. Notice that it changes slightly to indicate you are in shape mode. Click on the line break square at the top of the tail and drag it down till it is exactly on the top edge of the tail at the highest point (I’ve labeled this “A”). Do the same for the bottom of the tail/fuselage (labeled “B”). You can see how I’ve done this in the picture below.
Last edited by Gordon Johnson; Jul 29, 2004 at 01:19 PM.
Jul 29, 2004, 08:58 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
The next step will be to convert the line segment between point A and B to a curve. Still in shape tool mode, click on the line segment anywhere between these two points, and then click the right mouse button (right click). A dialog box comes up, with one of the choices being “To Curve”, which you will select. You can now stretch this curved segment by clicking anywhere on it to stretch it into a curve. Notice in the picture below that I’ve stretched it part way out to where it needs to be. Also notice the blue lines extending from the end points, with squares at the end. These are “pull handles” and can be used to shape the curve, by rotating them or lengthening them. This is worth playing around with.
Jul 29, 2004, 08:59 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
After stretching and adjusting this curved section to lie exactly on the perimeter of the rudder, it’s time to move on to the front of the rudder. One other thing that can make it easier to trace a graphic is to use the View/Wireframe menu to view as a wire frame. This makes any fill colors not show up and the imported jpg graphic will be gray. I’ve done this in the next screen shot and you can more clearly see the curve at the back of the rudder. I’ve also moved the line segments at the lower front of the rudder to lie on the outline. This is where the curve transitions from convex to concave. We will convert both these segments to curves, and then stretch the top one to be convex, and the lower one to be concave where the tail meets the fuselage.
Jul 29, 2004, 09:01 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
In this next screen shot I’ve converted both segments to curves, and stretched them to fit the outline.
Last edited by Gordon Johnson; Jul 29, 2004 at 09:03 AM.
Jul 29, 2004, 09:02 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
This process is continued all the way around the perimeter of the fuselage or wing, or tail, etc. The screen shot below shows this completed for the fuselage. If you find you need a line segment break where you don’t have one, simply double click on the line there with the shape tool and it will create one. If you discover you have a line segment break you don’t want, double click on the square where the break is and it will go away. If you made a segment curved, and want to convert it back, right click on it with the shape tool and choose “To Line”.
Last edited by Gordon Johnson; Jul 29, 2004 at 09:05 AM.
Jul 29, 2004, 09:07 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
At this point we start drawing details. We can zoom to a larger size and use the bezier tool to trace the windows, doors, luggage door, body panels, etc. Corners can be rounded for windows etc by creating a line segment break near each corner, double clicking on the actual corner to remove that break point, converting the short line segment between them to a curve, and then stretching it. I’ve done this to the bottom edge of the door in the screen shot below.
Last edited by Gordon Johnson; Jul 29, 2004 at 09:09 AM.
Jul 29, 2004, 09:16 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
Objects can have their fill color and outline color changed a number of ways. The way I use most often is to right click on them, choose “properties” from the dialog box that comes up, and then choose colors for fill and line color. I also duplicate the outline of the fuselage, wing, etc, so I have another perimeter shape. I position this back over the first one, and then stretch it in all directions so it is outside the true perimeter. This is the one I fill with the color, yellow in this case for the body. It’s larger to allow wrapping the printed tissue over the edge of the fuselage, wing, etc.

For interior shapes I color them as I go. For something like the graphics on the side of the plane I go by a picture and keep working on it till it looks right. I do this in zoom mode for the part of the detail I’m working on. For letters I trace letters in zoom mode and then make them one at a time. The “Beechcraft” logo on the tail I made by downloading a graphic on the official Beech web site, importing it, zooming in to about 3000%, tracing each letter one at a time, then reducing it and pasting it on the tail. This was reasonably time intensive but got faster as I went.

Objects can have their order changed using the “order” command. Here’s what the fuselage looks like when done. Note that I have the fuselage outline in black. But I’ve drawn a slightly larger outline which is colored yellow (this object is moved behind the other objects using the order command. I print out this graphic in black and white to make a template for cutting out the fuselage. I cut out the paper template using the inner black line. Then, I click on the true fueslage ouline object and delete it and print in color on printed tissue the drawing without the black fuselage outline. This gives me a larger graphic that I can wrap around the edges of the fuselage. And, I don’t want a black line around the edge of my fuselage. I do not save the file with this deletion done, so I can always go back to the original.

The drawing process is repeated for the wings and tail, and in this case, landing gear.
Jul 29, 2004, 09:18 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
Resizing Graphics

When it’s time to print out your graphics you will need to resize them. Zoom your view to 100% and then click anywhere away from your drawing objects. Now go to the Edit/SelectAll/Objects menu from the top menu bar. This will select all your objects, and a new pair of boxes will show up with 100% in them. These are highlighted in the circle in the screen shot below. If you want to enlarge your graphics by 50%, type 150% in both boxes and the press return. For now leave your graphics as they are as you don’t need to resize them till you know how large your model needs to be.
Jul 29, 2004, 09:19 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
Additional Techniques Worth Mastering

There are other techniques that make this process easier. If you read about them in Corel’s help file you should be able to figure them out. I’ll briefly describe them and how I use them.

Once the graphics have been resized they may not all fit on one page any more. It’s often convenient to break them up into different “pages” in Corel. Additional blank pages can be inserted by going to the Layout/InsertPage menu and choosing how many pages to insert and whether before or after the current page. These can be renamed using the Layout/RenamePage menu. Break up your model and put wings on one page, fuse on another, etc depending on size and how they fit.

Style sheets are memorized sets of attributes for objects. If you are going to be using the same color scheme over and over this will speed things up. If I click on a drawing object that is yellow for the Staggerwing, I can then right click on it. This brings up a pop-up menu and Styles/SaveStyleProperties can be chosen. In the dialog box I type a name like “StaggerwingYellow” and then save it. Whenever I draw a new object that is to be that yellow I right click on it and the choose Styles/Apply/StaggerwingYellow where the last one is a saved style I’ve created. Use of styles insures consistent colors between different objects. In addition, if a different color is decided on, it can be changed in one of those objects and saved again and all objects with that style will all change at the same time.

I’ll probably put some more additional techniques here as I think of them.
Jul 29, 2004, 09:39 AM
Registered User
Dave Wulff's Avatar

Excellent tutorial, particularly with the screen captures. There are many good Corel books available, but the ones written by Foster Coburn are the best, IMO. He has close ties to Corel and is privy to some good inside information. It will probably be a $25 list price book, but the good thing about Corel is that they have made many updates and older versions, such as CorelDraw 8 are just as good as the latest (12) for our purposes, and can be had very cheap along with the books deeply discounted as they are considered out of date.

Sep 07, 2004, 10:31 AM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar

After a long wait I'm now writing the section of this thread on printing out the tissue and applying it to the plane. The emphasis here is covering models built from sheet foam or balsa. Printed tissue can be used with stick and tissue airframes. Notable examples of this are the Micro Invent planes which are all printed tissue over open balsa airframes.

I'll use some of the pictures for the Staggerwing here. But, even more pictures of the printed tissue covering can be found on my Staggerwing page.

Last edited by Gordon Johnson; Jun 20, 2005 at 07:36 PM.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Tuskeegee Printed Tissue Profile Foamie Build Along Allan Wright Scratchbuilt Indoor and Micro Models 6 Oct 25, 2005 02:59 PM
Is there Interest in a Profile Printed Tissue Thread? Gordon Johnson Scratchbuilt Indoor and Micro Models 24 Aug 01, 2004 11:32 PM
Pager Staggerwing Beech Gordon Johnson Scratchbuilt Indoor and Micro Models 30 Jul 02, 2004 03:08 PM
computer printed tissue Jim Drissell Scale Kit/Scratch Built 3 May 12, 2002 09:09 PM
Pager motor retract servo, how to build? JonB Scratchbuilt Indoor and Micro Models 1 Apr 04, 2002 02:29 AM