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How to make homemade decals

RELATED TOPICS: DECALS
Q: I am interested in making my own decals with decal paper. How do I go about this?  

Joe Eisch
Silver Spring, Maryland


Ken: Joe, the quality of homemade decals is directly related to the quality of  the printer you use.  

Decal paper, available from Testor’s and Micro-Mark (to name just two sources), is made specifically for two types of printers: inkjet (your typical home printer) or laser.   

Inkjet printers do just that: they jet little microscopic blobs of ink onto a sheet of paper.  

Laser printers rely on a static charge that pulls ink onto a page and adheres it through magic (not really, but it would take several pages to explain. Google “How Laser Printers Work” for more scientific detail).  

Creating a decal is the same as creating any document that will be printed on paper. The design you create can be simple text manipulated through a word-processing program, or a design created in a photo or art program.  You’re just going to print it on something other than plain paper.  

Decal paper comes in clear – which, as the name implies, is transparent – or white, where you print on a white background that will need to be trimmed.  

In my opinion, inkjet images work out better “white” decal paper; inkjet ink is not as opaque, and the color below shows through the decal.

Making decals is another one of those areas (like working with a motor tool) where experimenting is the only way to get a grip on the technique.  

Personally, I’ve never had much luck with it; then there are guys like Randy Derr, who make it look simple.  

Perhaps a few readers would be willing to share their favorite techniques. We’d like to hear them.

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