Making Your Own Decals

by CaboWabo

Let’s start off by answering a few of the more common questions.

What type of printer should I use?
Ideally, you would want to use a laser printer – they print cleaner, easier, and more precise than inkjet or bubble jet printers. Laser printers print in better detail and don’t leave “dots” of ink like inkjet or bubble jet printers do. However, color laser printers can be quite expensive and you may not have access to one, so you’re left with the inkjet or bubble jet. Using inkjet or bubblejet will only add an extra step or two to the process.

Do they sell specific decal paper for these printers?
Yes. You can get clear or white sheets for either laser or inkjet and bubble jet printers.

Most printers don’t print with white ink, what should I do?
You can either use white decal paper or use clear decal paper and put your decal on a white background.

Do I need to add a protective coating after I print my decals?
Laser printed decals do not need a protective coating, though one could never hurt. Inkjet or bubble jet printed decals do need a protective coating, otherwise you run the risk of having the decal’s ink “bleed” and run. They sell protective coating specifically for decals, though you could use the same clear coat finish you would use when painting your car body, it works just as well.

So what steps do I follow? How should I make my decals?
First, you’ll need a good graphic. Find or make your graphic, vector based graphics are much more crisp than rastor based graphics. You’ll want to size your graphic to the size you’ll need. Do a couple of “test prints” on regular paper so you can see if you need to make any adjustments.

Once you have your graphic ready and have made your test prints and are happy, just put your decal paper in your printer and print away.

Once the sheet is done printing, let the sheet sit out for awhile before you touch it, or you could smear the ink. Once completely dry, if using inkjet or bubble jet printed decals, you should add a clear coat of some sort to help protect the graphic and make it easier to apply. You can use thin coats of clear coat paint just as you would with your cars. They also seel decal clear coat specific for decals. On inkjet or bubble jet water slide decals, it is a must that you coat the “water slide” decals or you will get bleeding.

Once the clear coat is completely dried, you’re ready to cut out your decals and start applying them.

Are there any tips for applying “water slide” decals?
You bet, click here to learn how.

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