Decal Making with Model Builder

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Decal Making with Model Builder

Postby treadhead1952 on Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:02 am

Hi All,

While Model Builder is great for making up your own designs for buildings of all sorts, sizes and scales, I found out that I can also use it to make up custom decals for my projects. Having the Graffiti Add in, that was one of the first angles that I wanted to try. It has worked out quite well. Then came the project that I am working towards now, a Peabody Coal Company Coal Train and Layout. I need some numbers for the coal hoppers as the original ones I am coming up with from Trix, an older maker and Model Power, the latest company to produce these cars all are relagated to a series of three or four different numbers on the cars. Since I want to make up a 20 car coal drag, having those same numbers would be a problem. Then there is the matter of custom lettering to be able to convert an engine from its' original paint job and line to the Peabody Coal Company locomotive that I have found pictures of on a couple of sites.

I am using Word from Office 2007 to get the fonts, all though there are tons of different fonts available free on the internet if what Word carries doesn't suit your needs. Making up a sheet of Letters and Numbers with a specific font with them all repeated over and over in rows gets it started. Saving this as a PDF on the computer, unfortunately, you can't save them as a JPEG in Word, that would elimiate a couple of steps. Opening the PDF and converting it to a JPEG is easy with any of a few conversion programs, also available as free. As a JPEG you can import it to the Model Builder Software and then manipulate it even further as to size and number of copies on a page. While making a sheet of alphabet layouts is a first run to see how it worked out, it is by no means the end.

Making up a list of the numbers I want to use, in the color that I need is the next step in this progression. Also on this same sheet are the lettering codes, specification tables and other bits for the hoppers as well as the name lettering blocks for the locomotive and its numbers as well as the number boards that go behind glass panels in the nose. All of this is printed out on clear Decal Inkjet Paper rather than white, it would be a bear to trim out around all of those shapes. Much easier to cut out a block and then hide the edges with an application of clear gloss paint or Future Floor Finish on the models' surface, apply the decal and use some Walthers' Solvaset or similar product to make it conform to the surface. Then overcoat it with more clear in gloss or flat, what ever your choice. This effectively seals the lettering and numbering on there, hides the edges of your decal and makes it all look like a painted on job.

While this works quite well for my railroading endeavors, it could also be used for any of a number of other genres of modeling from ships, those depth marker lines on the bow and stern, ship names and homeports; to armor, stars, or other national markings as well as numbering and unit specific marks and graphics; to aircraft, again more national markings, numbers and graphics. This can allow the modeler to make up any sort of markings for any nations aircraft, ships, and vehicles. This is one of the things I see quite often on modeling forums, questions about who makes this set of markings or what nations markings are available. It can be quite useful in coming up with markings to model a specific item as a gift or a commission from an individual for a vessel or vehicle that they served or crewed upon.
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