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Make your own Decals

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Make your own Decals

Old 03-16-09, 04:06 PM
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Make your own Decals

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:
inkjet printer
computer
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.

Tips:

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!
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Old 03-16-09, 06:35 PM
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Thanks for sharing that.
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Old 03-16-09, 06:49 PM
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I've read that decals made this way fade very quickly.
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Old 03-11-10, 12:14 PM
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It's been over a year and decals haven't faded one bit.
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Old 03-11-10, 12:16 PM
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pics?
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Old 03-11-10, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois
I've read that decals made this way fade very quickly.
Depends Largely on the Printer and Ink used. Some ink is more UV resistant than others.
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Old 03-11-10, 12:20 PM
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The hardes part for me is finding the correct font for the text. Still have not found the right one for Colnago.
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Old 03-11-10, 12:31 PM
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Thanks for the information. I have just gotten a color laser, and may try to make some of my own.

I still let the pro's do the major stuff.
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Old 03-11-10, 04:11 PM
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I work at OfficeMax and we have a print shop (of sorts). I'm going to try to make my own out of clear shipping labels & run them through a laser printer. I'm just doing a black font on the clear. So I'll see how that will work out.

As for the Rustoleum high gloss clear coat, is that a lacquer or what? Do you know, offhand?
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Old 03-11-10, 04:33 PM
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I tried multiple times to make my own, basically following the same procedure described above, including the Rustoleum clear. I always got some bleeding and the decals faded after drying. I gave up and had some professionally made when I redid my Holdsworth. I also bought some laserjet decal paper but haven't tried it yet.
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Old 03-11-10, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by KDTX
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.

Lots of good vector logos on these sites. We use them when someone comes in and says "I need a 6 foot banner. Can you scan the logo from my business card?" Um...yeah sure.

https://www.seeklogo.com/
https://www.brandsoftheworld.com/
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Old 03-11-10, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by SJX426
The hardes part for me is finding the correct font for the text. Still have not found the right one for Colnago.
https://www.seeklogo.com/search.html?q=Colnago
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Old 03-11-10, 08:06 PM
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I did it many years back with limited success. The colors looked washed out. It was a fun project, though.
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Old 03-11-10, 08:12 PM
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I did my Motobecane S.T. decals like this a few years ago, had to double layer a few of them. Including the Vitus decal.
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Old 03-12-10, 05:07 AM
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Home made art has issues...

Clear decal paper will offer very poor results if you attempt to apply the decal over a dark surface. Some printers will print white (only one that I know of). Use a laser printer is you can. The clear coat sometimes will make inkjet ink blur slightly.

I would suggest that you use a laser color printer to print with. I have not done this yet but I do plan to do so next time.

As for fading, I have not seen too much problem here. The bikes I am showing with my homemade art work were built years ago.

After my most recent experience with some of the poor decals offered for sale on-line, I have decided to stick with a fellow who has supplied great vinyl decals in the past or make my own. The decals I got for a Cheapo Buildo Contest bike did not work at all. Sadly, I had to finish the build without the decals since there was not enough time to wait for another set (which would probably not work either).

CambioRino2000aRtSideTQFullPlusDTDecal.jpg

CarltonFlyerRestoredDecalDownTube.jpg

CambioRino2000FinishedDecalHeadTube.jpg

CarltonFlyerRestoredDecalSeatTube.jpg
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Old 03-12-10, 07:41 AM
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Jwgd, That site works great for the logo, but they don't offer a text font. I need to spell out "Superissimo". Colnago works fine but I'm a short a key label.
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Old 03-12-10, 08:47 AM
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At the time the Gitane foil decals were too expensive for my taste, and the wait time too long, so every decal on this bike, except for the 531 and Campy decal, were made at home with basic tools.

But they are not like the original foil ones, just an "interpretation".

And I've done other bikes as well. The white is by far the best background for homemade decals





And if the pics disappear, as they have been from WJ sometimes, click my sig and look at the Gitane TdF.
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Old 03-26-10, 09:31 PM
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You're giving me flashbacks to my model building days. F14s, SR-71s & formula 1 race cars mmmmmm...
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Old 03-26-10, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by gvonne
.... & formula 1 race cars mmmmmm...
Another one of my pastimes... 1/20 scale.... I took 3rd in a Regional contest with a 1/20 Tyrrell a couple years ago. I've got stacks of kits that I've yet to get to.
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Old 03-26-10, 10:20 PM
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Anyone know if a phaser printer would work better than laser for this purpose? Would it even work with the decal paper?
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Old 03-26-10, 10:39 PM
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The only printers I know that work well are dye-sublimation printers or the plotter printers that pro sign shops use. I don't know what a phaser printer even is.
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Old 03-27-10, 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by SJX426
The hardes part for me is finding the correct font for the text. Still have not found the right one for Colnago.
Many commercial text applications are customized...it's branding. There's a program called fontographer that allows you to get the vector points from a similar font and then tweak them to make near exact copies. A little graphics experience helps running this software.
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Old 03-27-10, 07:31 AM
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I've had pretty good results making decals, but I invested in an Alps printer which is, I believe, the only consumer printer that can print a white background and metalic inks. I've also printed on white decal paper with an inkjet, but you're limited in what you can do that way. I made all the decals for an old Peugeot using Adobe Illustrator and my Alps printer.



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Old 03-27-10, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by frpax
Another one of my pastimes... 1/20 scale.... I took 3rd in a Regional contest with a 1/20 Tyrrell a couple years ago. I've got stacks of kits that I've yet to get to.
Cool! I'm not sure but I might have made that same Tyrrell back in the day. I don't have any of mine left any more sadly.
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Old 03-27-10, 10:49 AM
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This might work if you use UV resistant ink or spray the applied decal with Krylon UV resistant clear coat. Otherwise, they will eventually fade.
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