From time to time, I’ve wondered about “cheating” when printing white decals by getting some white decal paper then printing around where the white should be. Well, I’m here to tell you today that it doesn’t work… at least with the printer & decal paper that I used for my experiment.
The idea seemed simple enough. Create “white” decals by first drawing the artwork on my computer using black & white… One could start with a black background and create white lettering OR start with a white background, use black lettering then simply turn the artwork into a negative image where the two colors are reversed. That part was simple.
The next step was a bit more difficult but still relatively simple. I scanned the car on my scanner, blurred the image to blend the colors then picked an area where I thought the color was closest to the actual color of the car. I then created a strip of color in my software program and had a slight variation on each shade, some lighter & some darker. I printed this then picked the color that looked closest to the actual car color. This sounds difficult but probably only took about 4-5 minutes to get a pretty good match. (Note that in the photos, the color looks more red than it does to the naked eye.)
Art work is done, color is matched… time to print decals. I substituted the selected color for the black on my artwork and all looked ready to go. Fire up the laser printer and run the decals… and about 45 seconds later, I had GREAT LOOING DECALS! Hey, this might work after all. But then the whole project came crashing to the ground…
No matter how sharp the scissors were, when I cut the decals apart, the toner easily flaked off near the cuts and I was left with white showing through around the edges. Straight cuts, diagonal cuts, curved cuts, corner cuts, it made no difference; the toner flaked off way too easily. Simply just handling the decals caused even more toner to come loose. My goose was cooked.
When I went to apply the decals, the other shoe fell. The decal paper did feel kind of thick but I attributed that to the backing paper… WRONG! The white must require a thicker layer of film to make it more opaque because I quickly learned that the decals were very thick… a’d guess about the thickness of clear packing tape and there was no way that they were going to settle down into and around the car’s details. To make matters worse, I was using a wood sided car with external bracing that I had been experimenting with recently. As I was dipping the decals in the water, holding them with tweezers, I noticed even more flaking. Things were simply going from bad to worse.
Someone once said that we learn from our mistakes and this turned out to be a pretty good sized one. The money spent on a few sheets of white decal paper is pretty much wasted but at least now I know that my grand idea doesn’t work at all. I thought about spraying the paper with some flat clear spray to see if the toner would stick any better but that would mean that the decals are that much thicker. The same would be the case if I sprayed them after printing… extra thickness. I don’t think I’m going to make it a habit of trying different papers as I just don’t think the concept works and there’s no use in throwing good money after bad. Usually, I like to report successes here; that’s not the case today. Onward & upward…