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Building Decals for Federation Ships
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Rick Smith
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 02 Sep 2008
Posts: 266
Location: Silver Spring, MD

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scoutdad: Thanks for the tip. I'll try that on a "scrap" hull before I step to the real thing...just
to make sure I can manage.

So I'm currently in the process of roughing out decals for all my UFP ships - converted or other-
wise. I figured the best place to start was with a Connie Class CA. Then mutate the AI file from
there for anything else I come up with.

What is shown below is REAL rough, mind you. I still need to move a few things around and fix
some scaling issues (the saucer decals are obviously WAY too big), but I wanted to share what
I was working on.

Please let me know what you think! Wink
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Last edited by Rick Smith on Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:32 pm; edited 4 times in total
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OGOPTIMUS
Captain


Joined: 10 Nov 2006
Posts: 981

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good work there. I still prefer to paint a lot of those details, but decals make things uniform a lot easier than paint does.
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Rick Smith
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 02 Sep 2008
Posts: 266
Location: Silver Spring, MD

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OGOPTIMUS: Thanks! I agree though...there's just some stuff decals can't do that paint can. Wink
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Davec_24
Commander


Joined: 16 Jul 2008
Posts: 596
Location: England

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's looking good. With models in general, I prefer to paint detail where possible, especially when to do it with a decal would mean arranging it over a complicated shape where it is likely to mess the shape up or bend, break, etc.. That said, there are some things that decals can do much better than paint, such as the saucer numbers and letters - I would definately want decals for this rather than trying to hand-paint it.
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Vanguard
Lieutenant SG


Joined: 11 Apr 2008
Posts: 147

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One nit, the font for the ship and registry seems too tall and bold, almost looking like 'Impact' rather than as USAF variant. Aesthetics will vary, of course, but you could look at my 'Constitution Class Hull' font and see what you think of it.

http://www.pixelsagas.com/fonts/Font_Table.php?cmdFile=Font_Star_Trek.idx
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Rick Smith
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 02 Sep 2008
Posts: 266
Location: Silver Spring, MD

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Davec_24: Definitely. Wouldn't want to hand-paint registry numbers. We'll see how
these turn out. I'll finish these up, get some paper and then do a "test drive" and
post the results. Should be interesting - could work well. Or be a complete disaster.
We shall see...

Vanguard: Thank you for the nit! I was frustrated with that as well. The hull font I
found was too think - and it looks like the one you passed along will do nicely. Thanks
for that!
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Vanguard
Lieutenant SG


Joined: 11 Apr 2008
Posts: 147

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the one you had was based on the AMT kits... at least it looks a LOT like the old one. I was concerned that when you shrink down that the letters would blurr on the mini.

If mine is still problematic, you could try to find 'Amarillo', which is what ENT used for the NX-01. It's not a perfect 'Connie' match, but it is nice and clean.
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Rick Smith
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 02 Sep 2008
Posts: 266
Location: Silver Spring, MD

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanguard: Thanks for throwing out all those options. The one I tracked down was
called "Federation Hull." Going to check out these new ones you passed along. I'm
excited to see how they look.
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Vanguard
Lieutenant SG


Joined: 11 Apr 2008
Posts: 147

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I remember right (and, it's been awhile, so I could be off), the "Federation Hull" font was traced from the old AMT kits, and will have a lot of the same issues that you already had - letters being bold and narrow.

I strongly recommend that when you draw the lettering, that you do so without using the stroke pen, only the fill pen. This will keep the letters somewhat crisper, and will likely lose some of the blurring effect.

Edit: I speaky the Engrish good!


Last edited by Vanguard on Mon Oct 13, 2008 6:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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OGOPTIMUS
Captain


Joined: 10 Nov 2006
Posts: 981

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm looking at Amarillo myself and then there is also Ariborne and Airborne II that look similar.
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djdood
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Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 2926
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like OGOPTIMUS said - Amarillo, Airborne and Airborne II are all pretty good and ever so slightly different from each other.

I'll also second Vanguard's advice to use fill-only on your letters (and turn the boundary lines off). It does make most software put out a crisper shape (it certainly does in FreeHand).

Your decal art is looking really good. It's certainly inclusive (you even added the "rust ring").
Some suggestions:
- Leave the phasers off (they're in different spots and sizes on each of the different saucers [plastic CA, metal CA, metal CC]).
- Delete the grid line running straight aft (which would run up over the "linear accelerator" forward of the impulse engines - that feature is different on all the various saucers too).
- Since you've added lots of cool little details (like the three circles on the aft underside rim), you might want to add the red arcs that are located just inboard of those circles.
- Make sure to give yourself window blocks for the saucer edge. I forgot these on my first sheet and had to add extra later.
- Beware the different shapes of the saucer "neck" on the various minis. It's quite different and the shape of the window-block decal needs to be tweaked quite a bit to make it work. You could either do different ones for each type, or just make one big enough to work for all and cut away un-needed windows before applying.
- Add a double red pin-stripe for the top of the engineering hull (make it longer than you need [it's easy to trim before applying]).

I'll be curious to hear how it goes with applying the big "all in one" decals for the saucers. I've seen it done for the plastic model kits and heard they are a bear to apply because of the size. At our smaller scale they should be more manageable. Also, I'll be curious to hear how printing the grid lines goes for you - I've had mixed luck printing gray shapes and fine line-work.

Certainly plan for using a laser printer for yours. Your grid lines will get mushed by an ink-jet printer (unless you have access to a professional photo printer).
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Davec_24
Commander


Joined: 16 Jul 2008
Posts: 596
Location: England

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's going to be interesting to see how these come out, I'm looking forward to some pictures to follow your progress. Smile I presume you'll eventually be doing custom decals for your Pompeii and Balson class ships as well, Rick - be sure to post pics of these if you do, too!
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Rick Smith
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 02 Sep 2008
Posts: 266
Location: Silver Spring, MD

PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My fellow hobbyists: Well, I did a test print and sadly - as djdood anticipated - very fine,
gray lines do indeed get "mushed." Even with the very nice, photo-printer that my wife
and I purchased. So...the deflector grids must go! However, the bright side of this is that
the decals won't be as much of a bugbear to put on now. So that's a bright spot.

This also alleviates the logistical nightmare that was lining up the deflector grids that I
was doing for the secondary hull. It would have looked nice I think...if I could get it all to
work and the printer could do it justice, but oh well. I still have quite a few decal details
that I'm really excited about...like the hanger lights beneath the shuttle bay door.

I'm going to clean up the sheet that I did in Illustrator and post that shortly.

Vanguard:
The "Amarillo" font worked perfectly. I'm very much in love with it and its
definition. There's only fill color in there - no outline. I think that some of the blurriness
that you noticed on the previous post was due to the image being a jpg. So everything
will be clear and crisp. Thanks for the tips! You too OGOPTIMUS. Thank you.

djdood: I think I actually can still include the "rust ring", which pleases me to no end. It
will go on in one piece along with the ship name and registry numbers. And since I already
did all the work sizing the grid to fit the saucer, the ring will fit fine as well. Phew.

I've also decided to leave the phasers off entirely. That also means sanding them off as
well. I know...this sounds like sacrilege. But I was doing research - and in the TV stills and
the remastered footage, the only weapons that are noticeable when not being fired are the
photon ports. That also means that a certain ship can stand in for another or even an
uprated version - like when the CA gets its rear-firing photons!

Thanks for advice on the doubled-up red pin stripes as well as the other
markings. I appreciate it.

Davec_24:
Oh yes indeed Dave. All my conversions will get their own custom decals
as well. Don't worry about that!

Thanks again guys for all your advice. This has been an interesting project so far, as I'm new
to making my own waterslides. I'll post the newest version shortly and then I'll get some
good paper and get started on the ACTUAL work!

If anyone has some advice on the best quality decal paper, please let me know!
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OGOPTIMUS
Captain


Joined: 10 Nov 2006
Posts: 981

PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rick Smith wrote:
If anyone has some advice on the best quality decal paper, please let me know!


I'd like to second this. If anyone out there has some recommendations for the best paper to use, or personal experience with what they've used, please speak up.
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Starfighter Decals
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 66

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:31 pm    Post subject: Best decal paper. Reply with quote

Hear are your choices:

Microscale. The best. The most expensive. Hard to find locally in any size other than 5X7" can be ordered direct. Also sold under Detail Master label.

Bare Metal Foil. Very Good. Can be expensive unless you order in large quanties. Also sold by Walthers and others repackaged. Very good customer service.

Tango papa. Good luck. Great stuff, poor customer service. Nice price. Long wait.

Beldecals. Stay away! Junk, garbage. Sold all over the internet under various names.

Paplino. Very nice. No white backed paper available.

Not all paper is compatible with every printer. Lots of trial and error is required. Be prepared to spend some money to get quality results. Spend the time fiddling the printer setting, toner or ink deposit rates. The higher dpi dosen't always mean better results. Many many times it the sofware drivers that are causing problems or color shifting.

Printer Dithering is what caused the "fuzzy-ness" of the output. This is also a software issue.

Be prepaired for lots of trial and error in finding the mix of ink/printer/artworks that works for you. Keep this in mind, what works for one, dosen't nessasary work for someone else. Your local humidity and tempature can affect output as well.

Good luck!
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