Making Decals - By Alan Paterson

I've received a few enquiries about how I go about making decals for certain cars. Without giving away all my secrets, I'll give you a brief run-down of what I do to get my cars looking like they do. Obviously this has taken quite a number of "botched-up" jobs before I got the hang of it, and still, every time I do a car, each car represents it's own set of challenges...

In this example, I've used the latest F1 I've recently done as an example. The request was for a new BAR Honda, built on a customized Ninco Stewart Body. The guy had already built some very impressive side cooling fairings and fins, so it was always going to be a good looking replica once finished.

I start by getting as many images of the car as possible, and also doing research on the Net for the official Teams Sponsors and Partners. I try to download as many images of the Logo's as I can, but regularly, the images are not good enough to replicate clearly, so I end up re-drawing them and creating them from scratch on my Computer.

Once I have all the images for the car done, which usually takes about 6 to 8 hours, depending on the car, I then print this out of Imported White, waterslide Decal Paper, bought from a Company in the States. No I won't tell you which Company I use.

I then coat the printed out decals with a coat of Acrylic Spray, also from a Decal Company. This is needed to "seal" in the ink so that it doesn't smudge off or run during the water dunking process. Once the decals have dried 100%, I then have to carefully cut each one out, including the very tiny decals like for example, tyre sponsors on the sides of the front wing, or something similar in size. This is extremely time-consuming to do this accurately, and often, I've had to re-print a set because I've messed one up in the cutting out process.

Once they're all ready, I get to work, and start placing each decal on the car, closely sticking to my existing car images of the real car. Sometimes it's not possible to place a decal where the real car has a decal, or I need to hand paint a small part somewhere on the car that I couldn't spray, or make a decal for, which also takes time.

After all the decals are put on the car, I then use enamel paints and perform touch-ups, to seal the sides of each decal where the white paper is showing, and if necessary, to cover parts of the decal where the colours are wrong. Using White paper doesn't allow you to put decals anywhere on the car, you have to create the same colour background as the cars sprayed colour, which can also take a while to match up 100%.

The finished car is then left to dry thoroughly for 24 to 48 hours, before I then clear-coat the entire car by "hazing" as I like to call it, a number of clear coats of enamel lacquer. The nice thing about this decal paper is it doesn't react to lacquer, unlike a number of other Water-Slide Decals available on the market.  I usually coat the car lightly about four or five times, enough to make 100% certain the entire car is sealed, and the paint is covered, and won't peel off or chip.

The completed project, now awaits it's chassis and running gear, and there you have a one-of-a-kind Slot car of the BAR F1 Team.

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