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Scale Aircraft Modelling|December 2020
Andy McCabe describes how he makes his own decals at home.
Andy McCabe

Sometimes there are either no decals available for your project, or you just can’t get that vintage sheet anymore. At this point making your own decals becomes an option. To do this you need some form of graphics programme on your computer. I use Corel Draw and have done for many years, but there other similar programmes available that can be used to do the same job.

Vector and PIxel-Based Graphics: A Bluffer's Guide

Corel Draw is a vector graphics programme. Put simply, it uses measurements to create artwork, which means they can be scaled to any size without a loss of detail. If you import photos to these you need to ‘vectorise’ the details you want by drawing around them. Programmes such as Adobe Photoshop use pixels. These are fixed at a certain size when you create them (the ‘resolution’ or ‘dpi’ - ‘dots per inch’) so scaling them up can lead to a loss of quality. If you don’t use a vector based programme, you should try to work at the final size you want the decals, at a minimum of 300 dpi to ensure you don’t have jagged ‘lo-res’ results.

Simple decals such as roundels or national insignia are easier to create as there is plenty of historical data and dimensions available online. The same goes with their colours, so if you are new to home-made decals then roundels are a good place to start practicing. Colour photos of roundels and the like can be copied and pasted into your workspace as a guide and, using the programme’s eyedropper tool, their colours can be sampled and matched quite closely, although you may need to tweak these when printing to get an acceptable result.

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