Custom Decals

Using Microsoft Word to create and print custom decals

Intro

Custom decals are sometimes the only way to create the emblem you want on a Star Wars model (or any model for that matter). Laser jet printers produce the best decals, but are expensive, particularly for color. I use an inkjet printer, which creates fairly good decals. For examples, look at the pics to the right. The open circle emblem on the Republic Charger Frigate and the plaque on the Rehtna P. Hovertank were created and printed by me.

 

Using Microsoft Word

There are many image editors available, as well as decal software, but I find that I can get the best results by using MS Word. I have Microsoft Office 2010, so this will refer to that version of Word. The following is based on the Testors Decal paper 5.5” x 8.5”. Other decal paper will require different settings. I would highly recommend testing the layout by printing the images on basic printer paper to ensure that the images are not cut-off.
  1. Click on the Page Layout tab. Click on the Margins box and then on Custom Margins. Top/Bottom margins of .2” and Left/Right margins of .25” will ensure that any image flush with those margins will print accurately. Anything less my cut-off the edges of the image.
  2. Click on the Size box and create a custom paper size that is 5.5” x 8.5”. In the picture, I saved the specifications as “Decal Sheet”.
  3. Click on the Align box and select Grid Settings. Untick the option to “snap objects to grid”. This will allow more freedom in moving the images around.
  4. Now you can import images using the Insert tab and Picture box. This will create a new tab at the top (Picture Tools/Format). From here, you can change the size of the picture using the options within the Size section.
  5. Alternatively, you can click on the down arrow box in the Size section to access the Format Picture menu, which will give you more options. Be sure that the “Relative to original picture size” box is ticked or the resize may skew the picture.
  6. Now return back to the Page Layout tab and reselect the image. Click on the Position box and under the Text Wrapping section, select the “Behind text” option. This will allow you to move the image around anywhere you want without hindering other images or text.
  7. Finally, click on the Align box and use “Align” options to move images to edges of the margins (make sure that “Align to Margin” is selected). Don’t manually move images to the edge without using these options, as the image may be cut off.
Please note that steps 4 – 7 require the image to be selected. Also, you will have to redo those steps for each image you import.
For printing, it’s best to use the standard settings. Don’t print in picture/best DPI mode, as too much ink will ruin the decal. Lastly, let it dry thoroughly before clear-coating it.

   

Sealing Decals

Once you have printed decals, you have to seal them with a clear coat so they don't dissolve when you put them in water. I have used both Krylon Clear and Testors Decal Set. The object is to spray 1-3 light coats of the clear, letting them dry for a few minutes in between. If you spray too much, then the decal colors will run and/or the decals will come out too thick.

Then you have to cut out the edges of the decal, since after a coat of clear, the entire page is essentially a decal. Use sharp/small scissors or an Xacto blade to cut around the decals. If you are using white decal paper, you must cut exactly around the edge of the decal, or you will have white edges where you have cut the decal.

Since printers don't print white, you may notice that some decals have different colors or look washed out if you put them on a darker model. Imperial logos work fine, but a Republic emblem needs a white area to apply the decal to first. It's easiest to paint a small circle of white where the decal will be applied.

 

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