Do it yourself labels for prototypes and models

To all the mightly model masters of CORE,

I was wondering if there is a kit for laser or inkjet printers that allows you to print your own rub-on labels. I have tried the Super Call water slide decal system and have been very unhappy with the results. I am contemplating having the labels silkscreened or performed by a professional, but I don’t have the means neccessary.

Is there any method that you can suggest?

I am attempting to add a one color label to a painted RP model. Small labels and details really seem to make models appear that much more real, and I feel that this is a neccessity.


I have been using water slide decals from bel inc. for a few years now and with a high quality printer, the proper amount of topcoat and some practice at applying them, i have no complaints.

they offer clear and solid white decal paper to account for darker models

it gets a little tricky when you are dealing with compound curves but like i said, with some practice you should be able to match a production level look.

also, DIY silkscreening for single color is not hard at all, get a frame, some screen, some photo emulsion, and some duct tape and then search the internet for a good set of instructions.

Why bother, find a quality low-price printing vendor. I have one who prints my 2-3 color rub-on graphics for under $200 for a full 11x14 in sheet of rub-ons. The look great, and I never have a problem. 1 color 8.5x11 sheet usually cost $25-50 depending on their work load and when I need them.

The building looks like ****, and they only accept cash and check upon pick up, but the quality is great and at that price I have better things to do with my time.

I appreciate all the great input.

Bryan, I guess I should give the water slide system another chance before I write them off. My problem is that even when they look good, you still have the halo of clear or white material. It will give me a different finish and contrast too much with the finish of the model. Have you ever been able to eliminate the halo completely with clear coat? Do you use the Super Cal clear coat or a Krylon, or some other brand’s clear coat?

I will search for some good instructions for silkscreening. Do you happen to have any good links?

Designer, if you don’t mind me asking, who is your source for custom rub offs and how did you find them? I did a search for a vendor and came up with nada.

Thanks for the help.

the halo is eliminated by using as little top coat as possible when sealing the decal and then once it has been applied to the model topcoat the model also.

I use krylon topcoats

you don’t have to use high gloss

between the krylon highgloss, satin, and matte finish crystal clear topcoats
i am usually able to come up with something that suits what i need

so far as silkscreening goes:

i would recomend buying a small starter kit from speedball or dick blick
and a small batch of speedball photo emulsion

both come with pretty simple directions

for small run labels,

you can find a small frame (crosstich frames work great)
or you can make one from cardboard or some rigid material

stretch some screen over it (you can get screen at a fabric store much cheaper than at an art supply store, you just have to know what you are looking for, because the clerks rarely know what you are talking about)

apply your photo emulsion (as per it’s directions)

expose it with your negative image under it with a simple shop lamp

then you are ready to rock

Designer, if you don’t mind me asking, who is your source for custom rub offs and how did you find them? I did a search for a vendor and came up with nada.

I fond them by contacing my normal print vendor, he recommended a series of 3 located in the St Louis. The first gave me a price of $750, the second $120, and the third was $350. Obviously I selected the second. The problem with all of these is that you have to pick up the final prints in person and pay the balance then. I have located one in the new york area that will fedex the labels out however they quoted me $400.

Don’t silk-screen, get rub-downs made.

They go by the names:
“Dry Transfers”
“Chromatec” ← What I’ve always known them as
“Letraset” (brand name)

i just found this

u can get sticky backed stuff called Saff Matt, only a £1 or so for to copy on to a A4 sheet.

Thanks for all the great input. It looks like I have several more options that I originally thought. I think that my general preference is for the Dry Transfer decals, but I am going to have to reinvestigate the silkscreening process, it seems to add the best quality finish details.

Depending on the “rub-down”, “dry-transfer”, “rub-on”, or what ever you want to call them, they are silk-screened to the transfer substrate. Just when you contact the vendor ask what method they use to create the graphics. For instance my key vendor will produce low-cost inkjet versions on an hp professional proofing printer for my client presentation models. Then 1,2,3, or 4 color offset prints for the focus groups, store intercepts, and preliminary marketing photo shoots.

The price I gave you earlier were for the offset print graphics. I just remembered how I was put in contact with my best vendor. Call the professional printer (Not Kinko’s or Office Max) in your area who has the best reputation for quality, they may be able to put you in contact with someone who can produce the rub-ons.