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Questions about printing decals


ianc911
01-10-2013, 08:51 PM
Hi Folks,

I recently decaled a Starter's McQueen\Revson Sebring 908 and had one of the thin pinstripes break up on me during application. Best would have been to apply some Micro Set Liquid Decal Film to the sheet before starting, but live 'n learn I guess.

At least I had the foresight to scan the decals before starting, so that I was able to attempt printing out the sheet on some decal paper I purchased at my local hobby shop. While I was able to print the decal out and apply it, I had mixed results with it.

Here are some shots of the results. In this first shot, note the contrast between the kit-supplied headlight pinstripe decal on the left and my printed replacement on the right. The printed decal is wider and fuzzier, composed of small dots:

http://cdn1.share.slickpic.com/u/IanCampbell/Starter90848/org/IMG_0496/web.jpg

Here's another close up view of the printed decal borrowed from another thread of mine (ignore the red arrow). Notice how jagged the edge of the pinstripe is:

http://cdn1.share.slickpic.com/u/IanCampbell/Starter90848/org/Bad Wash/web.jpg

This decal was printed on an HP laser printer at work, but in researching commercially available decal paper, I notice that ink jet paper is also available. Would ink jet paper give better, finer results than laser jet if printed on a photo grade printer? Are there other advantages of the one over the other?

Would be happy to hear from anyone who's had experience with both and what their experiences have been. Thanks for reading!

ianc

935k3
01-10-2013, 10:21 PM
What reolution was the scan done on. Always scan and print decals at the highest resolutions possible. Also you have the decals greatly magnified if this is a 1/43 scale. I am sure it looks better in person.

stevenoble
01-11-2013, 11:41 AM
I've tried both laser and inkjet. Depending on your printer the print resolution is usually much better on an inkjet than a laser. But you can get excellent results from a laser (image posted below, all decals home designed and printed on a Canon LBP 5000 colour laser printer, at photo quality)
The key is what you work from. All the decals on the Subaru were realised using Adobe Illustrator and saved as a high quality EPS, or taken from a vector image from the internet. If you use a high quality image to start with and a pretty decent resolution printer you will get an excellent final product. If you work from a low resolution scan you will end up with a poor final result, so you only get out what you put in..
The advantages of laser are that you don't have to seal the decals before use as the powders used in the printing process are waterproof. The decals are very tough and can be handled and positioned on the model easily. No real disadvantages with laser apart from maybe lesser quality. The inkjet will usually print with better resolution, but one big drawback is the need to seal the decals before use as the ink will dissolve if you put them into water without sealing. Microscale liquid decal film is perfect for the sealing.
Disadvantages for both. You can't print white, but you can print onto white paper and leave a coloured edge around your design the same as the background colour to alleviate this problem, tricky sometimes to pull off but does work. Both print very transparently. Over a white background they are perfect, but over dark colours pretty much impossible using clear paper. Although again using white paper is a good fix if going over dark backgrounds.

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b61/stevenoble/Subaru076.jpg

ianc911
01-11-2013, 12:16 PM
Thanks for the replies guys!

I realize the results of the printing will depend on the quality of the image and initial scan. I should have mentioned that I scanned the original decal sheet to a .jpg at 1200 DPI (the max my scanner can handle), and printed using HP's ImageREt 3600 setting, which is supposed to provide up to 3600 DPI. Is 1200 DPI sufficiently high resolution to (theoretically) provide good quality? Is .jpg a good enough format? Not sure what else my Epson scanner can produce. I read briefly about vector graphics formats, but it looked a little heavier than I wanted to get into, so I opted to just try .jpg's for a start...

It's true that the above images are considerably magnified, but the difference in quality is still noticeable (to me anyway) at 1/43...

I ask about the difference between laserjet and inkjet because I'm thinking of ordering up a batch of paper and need to go one way or the other. Based on your comments Steve, it looks like I should be going inkjet for the better resolution. I don't mind using the liquid decal film, although it is a bit of a PITA to cut the decal out neatly afterwards...

As far as suppliers, I am basically seeing decalpaper.com (Bel USA), and papilio.com. I am totally unable to reach a live person at Bel; their site lists a phone #, but when I call it I get a recorded message. I leave a message, but no one calls back. Papilio seems a little higher quality. Any opinion as the relative merits of these firm's products?

Thanks again guys!

ianc

Kjenjak
01-11-2013, 12:19 PM
How does the line look directly after you print it out? If it come out of the printer like this, it won't get any better after you apply it.
Did you cover this print-out with Liquid Decal Film before putting into water?

I have used both white and transparent inkjet decal paper in a colour laser printer and in an inkjet printer, and always the decals applied on the model looked exactly as they did on the paper. And they didn't change their appearance even after clearcoating.

Foxerjr
01-11-2013, 12:26 PM
I sounds like you're doing things right, so sorry I can't answer your question fully. I use an Epson R1800 printer for most of my decals but almost any inkjet printer you can buy now should work fine.

Here's a close up of some decals I photographed with a 1.5 megapixel camera long ago that are readable on this 1/25 model. The decals are about 1/2" long.

http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc105/Foxerjr/83%20GMC%20Van/reardecalsDSC_0805.jpg

stevenoble
01-11-2013, 12:32 PM
Thanks for the replies guys!

I realize the results of the printing will depend on the quality of the image and initial scan. I should have mentioned that I scanned the original decal sheet to a .jpg at 1200 DPI (the max my scanner can handle), and printed using HP's ImageREt 3600 setting, which is supposed to provide up to 3600 DPI. Is 1200 DPI sufficiently high resolution to (theoretically) provide good quality? Is .jpg a good enough format? Not sure what else my Epson scanner can produce. I read briefly about vector graphics formats, but it looked a little heavier than I wanted to get into, so I opted to just try .jpg's for a start...

It's true that the above images are considerably magnified, but the difference in quality is still noticeable (to me anyway) at 1/43...

I ask about the difference between laserjet and inkjet because I'm thinking of ordering up a batch of paper and need to go one way or the other. Based on your comments Steve, it looks like I should be going inkjet for the better resolution. I don't mind using the liquid decal film, although it is a bit of a PITA to cut the decal out neatly afterwards...

As far as suppliers, I am basically seeing decalpaper.com (Bel USA), and papilio.com. I am totally unable to reach a live person at Bel; their site lists a phone #, but when I call it I get a recorded message. I leave a message, but no one calls back. Papilio seems a little higher quality. Any opinion as the relative merits of these firm's products?

Thanks again guys!

ianc

My Canon laser is 600x600 dpi and that gives excellent results. Inkjet is 9600x2400 so a fair bit higher..
That Papilio paper is pretty good, I've used that before. But I use paper from Crafty Computer Paper now and it's really good quality and a good price too..

http://www.craftycomputerpaper.co.uk/default.aspx

jaykay640
01-11-2013, 12:44 PM
The problem you're having here has nothing to do with the paper.
The result with the laser printer should be the same with either "laser" or "inkjet" type paper. ( At least i haven't noticed one ).

Your scan resolution sounds o.k. It looks like the printer is to blame.
When you look at your picture it seems that the printer is trying to represent the blue colour the data is "telling" him with a mix of cyan, magenta and yellow, but doesn't manage to put the different colours in the same place. There's an offset. As a result the line looks wider and blurred.

Now the recommendation i'd normally give here is, create a vector file, using the scan as an underlay. This will always be a better starting point for the print than a pixel type file.
But...if the colour you give that vector line is the same blue, the printer might run into the exact same problem.

Two things you might try with the scan befor getting into vectors:

- Check the scanned line. Does it look like your print (blurred)? Clean it up in Photoshop ( or whatever you use )

- change the colour saturation for magenta and yellow to "0" and just play with cyan and black. The original decal is a pretty dark blue so that might work. This would mean less colours have to be in the same spot on your decal paper and there's less chance the printer doesn't match them.

ianc911
01-14-2013, 03:22 PM
Hi JayKay,

It's hard to say whether the image looks blurry. At 100% size it doesn't, but if you keep increasing the magnification, I guess about anything will.

I did do some cleanup with Photoshop prior to printing, but my bet now is that it's the printer, so I'll try using an inkjet photo printer next time and see if matters improve. I'll report back here, but it might be awhile though.

Thanks again all!

ianc

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