Author Topic: Waterslide decals - my learning experience (n00b)  (Read 3056 times)

Dito

Waterslide decals - my learning experience (n00b)
« on: January 19, 2016, 06:24:18 PM »
For the last two days, I've been burning through Testor's waterslide decal paper. It's not cheap: it comes in packets of six half-size sheets. And learning to work with them has been... well, a learning experience. But I'm finally getting there. These will be only my second and third builds, so please indulge me. I thought I'd write this up for any other newbies.

The "priority" project is a Krampus bass overdrive; building for a friend. It's a kit from General Guitar Gadgets, but I ordered a pre-drilled and pre-painted enclosure from Mammoth. I wanted a nifty design, so I started researching. I studied this guide from the Build Your Own Clone forums in detail.

It took me forever to figure out the difference between Micro SET and Micro SOL. Micro Set is your friend. It works great. I was afraid it would have a bogus chemical smell, but it smells kinda like vinegar. And it tastes just like Diet Mountain Dew. Actually, no, but the smell isn't bad.

Here's a quick rundown of how I (finally) got this to work. All the supplies are from Amazon.

- Scanned enclosure on flatbed scanner
- Placed in Adobe Illustrator at 1:1 scale
- Marked out edges and holes, leaving plenty of space for knobs and washers
- ART HAPPENED
- Figured out how to manually feed paper into my printer (derp)
- Loaded up Testor's Decal Paper, Clear (9201)
- Printed on an ordinary home inkjet printer (Epson 3640)
- A quick spray with Krylon 1306 Workable Fixativ
- Several hours of drying, just to be safe
- Trim with scissors
- Standard water decal application process: soak, slide, carefully position
- Applied Micro Set with a small artist's brush, carefully stroking the edges flat
- Continued applying Micro Set to the edges, trying to get them flat
- Applied even more Micro Set until, at last, the edges were flat and smooth
- Once dry, punctured the holes with a very sharp hobby knife
- More Micro Set
- Folded cut segments of hole "covers" into the holes
- You guessed it, even more Micro Set to secure the bits of flap to the the inside
- Spill bottle of Micro Set all over dining room table while admiring my handiwork
- Still to do: seal with Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic coating

It came out looking pretty good (click for full size):



Much more professional than my first pedal.  :icon_biggrin:



Brushing those little holes was time-consuming:



Things I learned (the hard way)
- Design for the whole face of the enclosure. Individual sections look like junk
- Enough Micro Set really will allow you to peel off an already-dry decal
- Print and cut a test page on regular paper before printing on expensive decal paper
- Just because your inkjet ink won't smear on paper doesn't mean it'll adhere to decal film
- In other words, don't skip the spray fixative unless you want to watch your design float away
- Don't tell your wife you spilled Micro Set all over the table

While I think this turned out well, it's nothing like some of the true works of art I've seen here. But once you get the hang of it - and have enough patience - I think there's a lot of potential, and doesn't require any particular skills or special equipment. If you don't have a flatbed scanner, you could make your template by measuring carefully and doing test prints - on regular paper.

I hope you enjoyed my little presentation. Maybe you chuckled or even learned a thing or two. If you have questions or comments, fire away.


-Dito
"All that's left of me is slight insanity / What's on the right, I don't know." - Sugar (Bob Mould), Hoover Dam

GiovannyS10

Re: Waterslide decals - my learning experience (n00b)
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2016, 08:12:46 PM »
Really nice Dito. I have no experience with waterslide, because is too hard to found it here on Brazil. You know you can make arts like this on your pedals using thermal transfer? Is very easy and cheap if you want a good result without spend much money. And you can't need to scan you box to make the decals on the correct size. You can adjust all it on Photoshop. I use PS to make my pedal arts. If you want to know much about thermal transfer, let me know.

Normally i print the art and make thermal transfer, but when i paint my pedals, normally i use decals (cause i don't have waterside :( ) And after pass no color varnish upside to decal dont unglued and to appear more professional. Sometimes you cant see its a decal.

I loved your post and your work. Seems so fine. You is making good pedals, i hope the sound is too good like the enclosure. Hahahaha.
Nice man! Loved it!
That's all, Folks!

"Are you on drugs?"
-ARSE, Duck.

www.instagram.com/allecto

Dito

Re: Waterslide decals - my learning experience (n00b)
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2016, 10:44:53 AM »
I scanned the box just to make it easier on myself. Plus, the scanner is just sitting there, not getting much use, so...

I'll have to check out the thermal transfer method. What do you heat it with?

Have you tried Amazon for waterslide supplies? That's where I got all of my initial stuff. But after my little spill incident, I stopped at a local hobby store and they had plenty of Micro Set. It's the kind of place for serious model builders: cars, planes, military vehicles, etc.

I also bought Micro SOL while I was there. I think it's short for SOLvent, since it seriously softens and "goo-ifies" the decal. I brushed it on too hard in one spot and the decal warped and rippled. Luckily it'll be covered by a knob (mostly).

I was trying to use it to even out a decal. This one ended up with a minor "texture", which I didn't want. You can kinda see it here, reflected in the light:



I'm not sure where that came from. It's either an uneven (or too heavy) application of spray fixative, or minor irregularities in the paint. But now I'm just being picky - it looks fine unless you really study the thing.
"All that's left of me is slight insanity / What's on the right, I don't know." - Sugar (Bob Mould), Hoover Dam

GiovannyS10

Re: Waterslide decals - my learning experience (n00b)
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2016, 01:30:15 PM »
Quote
What do you heat it with?
Hahaha, i used a clothes iron, but now i use my girlfriend's hair tongs. (Without she knows, course) Hahahahaha. I print on the paper below the adhesive paper.
Quote
Have you tried Amazon for waterslide supplies?
Really no money, my friend  :-\ I only continue building because someone here helped me. Hahahaha But really no money.

I am not sure about what is microset and microsol.

Quote
I was trying to use it to even out a decal. This one ended up with a minor "texture", which I didn't want. You can kinda see it here, reflected in the light

Its because i apply varnish upside the decal. When everyone says, think is painted. Not an adhesive. The varnish really change the visual. When you apply the adhesive, you need to continue pressing with a clothe, and continue ever and slowly, for not make this bubbles.

Very nice work!
That's all, Folks!

"Are you on drugs?"
-ARSE, Duck.

www.instagram.com/allecto