Making Custom Decals

Custom decals add a bit of uniqueness to my modeling. They make it so that I can display a model and know that few (if any) other models exist of the same subject in the same markings. I like that. They also add almost unlimited latitude to my modeling as I am no longer confined to using whatever markings the decal manufacturing community has decided to produce.

Ever since my A-4E Skyhawk was posted earlier this year using my own custom decal markings, I have gotten quite a few e-mailed questions regarding the creation of the custom decals that I applied to the model. I decided the best way to fully answer these questions was to create a posting on the subject.

There have been other postings and articles written on this topic. FSM wrote an article (in the Nov-99 issue) on using the ALPS printer to create custom color decals. Most articles and postings that I have read, including the FSM article, left me wanting more. I'm hoping I can fill in some of the holes for anyone else with the same feelings.

At the end of this posting is a section discussing specific considerations of the mechanics to using the ALPS printer to create full-color decals. This is the subject where the majority of the e-mailed questions were directed, but I felt I could not just speak about the ALPS printer without first running through the whole custom decal creation process. So, here goes.

Finally, before I get started, I have a little disclaimer. While I am going to try to be as complete as I can about my custom decal creation, I will no doubt miss some things. What I write is specific to "my way" of doing this process. I make no bones about being right or wrong here. Every modeler (and artist) has there own tricks and styles. No tricks or styles are wrong as long as the modeler is happy with the outcome of their labors. While I am always looking to improve my abilities, I am satisfied with the results I get using the procedures I am going to outline here.

This article was reprinted with the permission of the author, David W. Aungst. All material 2001 David W. Aungst.

About the Author

About David W. Aungst (DWAungst)