I had a lot of positive comments on my homemade decals and decided it would be great to provide a How To.
Here are the steps for making your own decals.
You will need:
any type of "paint" program
Testors decal paper (I got mine at Hobby Lobby in the model building/rocket section) It's about $10 for 6 sheets. You have the option of white or clear. I recommend clear (more on that later)
Rustoleum high gloss clear coat
Now for the hardest part - Finding high resolution logos. Somewhere online, find the logo you are interested in using. Use the "images" search feature. Try and find a logo with a white background.
Copy and paste that logo into your program or import a scanned image.
The key with logos and text is you want white space around the outside. Since computers don't print white, this will be the area that you will cut out around your logo. If you didn't have that space, you would have to cut your decal out perfectly around its edges and that would be pretty hard to do. This way, you just cut a big rectangle out around the logo.
Next, you need to print the logo onto the decal paper. Follow the included printing instructions for which side, etc. You may need to print a few regular paper samples to make sure you are centered on the paper. Also, collect as many logos, etc. that you need and print them all at once on the single piece. The goofy thing about the decal paper is it is an odd size so you need to make sure you are printing where there is paper. I messed one sheet up and actually ended up taping the decal paper to a regular 8 1/2 x 11 to get it right. Save any screw ups because you can practice with them.
Once your logo/text/whatever is printed on the decal paper, let it dry for a while. I waited an hour to be sure. Next, you need to clear coat the finished sheet with the clear gloss. One coat is enough since all it is doing is binding the ink until you apply it. You will probably be using the same clear coat again once it is on the bike. Now let this dry at least 2 hours. I waited overnight.
To apply your decal. Cut as neatly as possible around your logo. Try not to leave too much excess space. You want a uniform rectangle/square around your logo. This will help with application and it will also be slighty visible under the clear coat.
I applied my decals over the fresh paint but before any clear coats. I think you could apply them over a clear coat and then just add another clear coat when done.
How to apply:
Get a bowl of water big enough to put the decal/s in. Have some paper towels on hand. a small paint brush helps sliding the decal around. I used an exacto knife to slide them around also.
Hopefully your bike is clean and the surface is smooth.
First, hold the decal suspended in the water. I usually count to 80. Remove from water and (the hard part) place the decal on the bike. You want it to easily slide off the decal paper and onto the frame. This is the trickiest part. Do it slowly and try not to get any wrinkles. If so, use the exacto knife or a paint brush to remove them. As long as the surface is wet, you can slide it around to where it needs to go. Once it is in the exact position, carefully dry it with a paper towel. Do not use a lot of pressure as the force may move it before it is dry. Once the decal is dry, do not touch it. Let it dry overnight. Clear coat it along with the rest of the frame and you are finished.
I made a few practice decals and applied them to a broom handle painted the same color as my bike. This lets you get the feel of what you are doing before you get to the bike.
If you use the white background decal paper, you are going to have white in block form as big as you cut out your decal.
I tried to apply a green decal over my black fork and you couldn't see it. For best results practice with your colors before you apply them on your bike. Dark decals work best over light backgrounds.
I will try and add some pictures of the process when I can. Someone (moderator?) may need to make this into a sticky.
Good luck and take your time!