Ask a Daft Question: What can I do if transfers are not available for a livery I want on my locomotive?

A number of years ago, I started experimenting with printer decal paper to make my own transfers for models that I could not get hold of lettering or transfers for, writes Matt Wickham.

These can be quite simple from names, letters, or complex shapes with various layers of lining which, if you’re quite new to modelling and also painting, a kit can put quite a few people off or seem too challenging.

I did a bit of research into the materials I needed to make transfers, as well as programmes and transfer paper. I started with small projects on models I already had, for example a model of a Bluebell Railway ‘Terrier’ Fenchurch, but the problem was that I couldn’t get hold of cream shaded letters in the same style as what was on the locomotive.

I visited the Bluebell Railway and took a photo square on of the side of the locomotive so I had the name and lettering style that I needed for the model.

Measuring the kit up ready to make a working area.

After returning I also took a photo of the side of the model, and measured the area that I was making the transfer for.

The two photos that I’d taken of the real loco and model were merged together and I cut up the photo of the name, resized and colour corrected the surrounding area, then pasted the name on to the photo I took of the model.

This was then resized to the measurements I had taken and printed out at the highest-quality
photo paper.

Top left: original image borrowed from Hornby’s website. Top right: selecting the area to copy and paste on to the working area. Above left: transfer taking shape, overlaying segments to create a tank side. Above right: Overlaying the edge of the tank ready for colour fill.

The paper I use is from a company called Crafty Computer Paper whose products are available from my local model shop Upstairs Downstairs here on the Isle of Wight; they both supply various types of transfer/decal paper for laser-jet or ink-jet printers.

The ink-jet paper types are slightly different in the way you use the paper so make sure you read the instructions for these carefully.

The black and red lining around the outer edges of the model, applied using paint and HMRS red lining from the LNER lining sheet

Laser-jet decal paper is a bit more straightforward. I use white-backed decal paper; you can also use clear paper but the model will need to be primed in white, as normal standard ink-jet or laser printers cannot print white.

The transfers and tools of the trade.

But for ease of use I use the white-backed decal paper, again read the instructions before printing. Once printed, cut out with scissors or a sharp craft knife, use like a normal water-slide transfer, and seal with varnish.

For the full article, see January’s edition of Modelling – available now!

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