Decals question...

Dumb question relating to decals. I am just wondering how one can tell original decals from computer printed ones? For example, if someone wanted to
sell me an original decal sheet supposedly from a 1970's kit, how can I tell that it is actually from the the 70's and not just some computer copy?
Thanks.
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com
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I can think of a few of the top of my head...By the 70s most original decals were seperate,but most printed at home are solid sheets.And most decals(except maybe some odd brands or maybe from behind the iron curtain)usually had some kind of info on the back.Manufacturers name,model kit #,copywrite date etc.
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To elaborate, the clear carrier film is printed in seperate spots with the color portions printed upon them.
You also have to watch for chiselers who will give you a color copy of the decal sheet hoping you don't look too close. Of course you can make your own decals from that but it's still hornswoggling. hth
The Keeper (of too much crap!)
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That happened to me. I got (a couple of years ago now) an Aurora Ragnorok Orbital Fighter, built the kit nicely and went to decal it. Boy was I surprised when the "decals" wouldn't come off the sheet. Was a nice copy, though... 8-P
-- John The history of things that didn't happen has never been written. . - - - Henry Kissinger
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Were you able to make decals with the "sheet?" Cheers,
The Keeper (of too much crap!)
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No. The only ones I wanted to use were the Red-White-Blue for the tail. That (left side) was the first that I tried to mount. By the time I got done, the paper was ruined. The other decals were ordinary star 'n' bars or USAF mounts that I have plenty of spares for. Since then, I scan ALL of the old decals sheets that have unique sets, "just in case".
-- John The history of things that didn't happen has never been written. . - - - Henry Kissinger
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side by side comparison MIGHT work. a really good copy won't reveal itself.
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If the "suspect" decal sheet was a scanned copy, it would be in some bitmap format and would not have any white printed areas. Since most model decals have at least some white in them somewhere, that would not work. The only way to print white is with an ALPs printer and that does not just "print" white. It has to be done with a spot color layer and a scanned image won't do it. Also probably has a rather noticeable dot pattern throughout the sheet. Commercially printed decals also have a very fine dot pattern from the screen print process, but the scan and print decal will be much more noticeable.
Having said all that, the only way to properly do the job is to completely redraw the whole decal sheet using a drawing program like Illustrator or Corel Draw. The scanned image of the old decal sheet is placed on one layer and the artwork is completely redone on the layers above the old decal. It is an involved process to say the least, but the end results can be better than the old decal because colors can be corrected and more details added if desired.
I have reproduced or redrawn a lot of decals over the last few years and my experience tells me it ain't no simple thing.
This myth that you can just scan and reproduce acceptable decals is just that-a myth.
If you are a competent model builder you probably have decent eye sight. A quick glance should be about all it takes to determine a decal copy done via the scan-and -print process.
Norm
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You can scan decals but as you correctly stated above, No printers print white colours and almost all decals have white in them somewhere. It just requires a little more thought and preparation when it comes to using these so that you can get white in the relevant areas. Tricky but it can be done.
Regards...........Mark.
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On Wed, 15 Sep 2004 20:15:39 +0100, "Mark Stevens"

Quick correction/clarification:
Alps printers can print opaque white--you just put in the white cartridge, and print only white. For most decals done on an Alps, the entire silhouette of the decal is laid down in white, then the colors are layered over.
When done correctly, the results blow away most screen printed decals, but there are limits.
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wrote:

A scanned image *will* do it, if you use Photoshop's filters & level controls to enhance the difference between the white of the decal and the near-white of the paper, to get an image suitable for printing a white spot-color layer on an ALPS. I've done it, and it only takes a few minutes.
In the rare case where the white of a decal matches the paper exactly, one could either dampen the paper so the decal is more visible, or transfer the decals to a painted plastic sheet and scan from that. (Some people might not mind doing this to a rare old decal sheet if they would've used the decals anyway and just want to make better decals, or if they hope to make even more money than the decal was worth by selling lots of copies.)

ALPS printers have a rather noticeable dot pattern, except when printing certain solid colors like red, magenta, black, and white. But modern 6- and 8-color inkjets have such fine dot patterns that you can't see the dots from more than a few inches away.
Original decal sheets can have very noticeable dot patterns if they were halftoned to simulate more colors. Hi-res scans & printouts of decals will reproduce these halftone dot patterns, or can be cleaned up in a graphics program to turn the halftoned areas into solid colors.
A decal sheet produced with a color copier will be made up of very fine lines, if you look closely.

Depends on your definition of "properly" and "acceptable". If your goal is to reproduce the markings of the real aircraft/tank/whatever as accurately as possible, then yes, it can take a lot of work to trace or draw them in a vector graphics program.
But if your goal is duplicate the appearance of the original decal sheet as closely as possible, and it doesn't have any white, you can get acceptable results by just scanning & printing with modern hardware that's been color-calibrated. If a direct copy isn't good enough, a little work with Photoshop's filters can smooth out & correct the colors, sharpen the edges, etc. I use the trace-in-Illustrator approach only when I want scalable artwork, or when I'm working from a poor-quality original that simply cannot be cleaned up sufficiently in Photoshop.
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On Wed, 15 Sep 2004 20:37:45 GMT, "Wayne C. Morris"

Can you explain how to do this in more detail? How do you convert, for example, the entire area to be printed into a solid white layer so the Alps can do the background? I use both Corel and Photoshop, and am trying to improve some kit decals by scanning/cleaning up.
Also, has anyone ever tried printing the white background on an Alps, then the color on an inkjet? I mean this: Print the color background sheet on the Alps, the print on a Inkjet waterslide sheet the color, producing two sheets of decals. I suspect there might be some sizing issues, resulting in and out of register look, but how bad can it be? Seems to me the best of both worlds--put down the white background, put the color over it. The decal Paper I get is thin enough (I think) for dual layering...
Mark Wilson
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On Thu, 16 Sep 2004 11:40:19 GMT, Mark Wilson

Try using the 'Cutout' tool in Photopaint. It's easiest if you convert the background color to transparent first.
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To print a white undercoat on an ALPS, you need a negative image. Use the magic wand tool to select the background, Select-Modify-Expand by 2-3 pixels, and Edit-Fill with white; then use Select-Inverse to select everything *except* the background, and Fill with black. You may need to adjust the magic wand's tolerance so it selects more, and/or use the various Select menu commands to adjust the selection. Select - Modify - Smooth is especially useful when there are stray unselected pixels in the middle of the selected area.
(Expanding the background selection ensures that the white undercoat will be slightly smaller than the decal's colored layer; it'll be barely noticeable on the finished decal, and reduces the chances that the white will stick out past the edges if the layers are printed slightly out of register.)
To make the white of a scanned decal stand out from the paper backing, use the Levels controls. Drag the black input-level slider towards the right; at a certain point, the paper background should become a lot darker than the white of the decal. The white slider will brighten the lightest parts of the image. Once you've enhanced the difference betwen white & paper, you can repeat the process and/or use brightness & contrast until you have a stark b&w image. Then use Invert to get the negative image needed for spot-color printing on an ALPS.
Areas which should be a solid color can be cleaned up by selecting them with the Magic Wand selection tool and using Edit -> Fill to fill with the desired color. The Select menu commands are useful for increasing or descreasing the selected area, especially the Modify submenu.
It's best to use the Duplicate Layer command to make several copies of the original scan, so you can work on one thing without affecting others. For example, use one copied layer to extract the white of the decal, another layer to clean up the background to pure white, etc. Deleting a selected area in one layer will expose whatever's in the next layer.

You mean, print two separate decals, one all-white on an ALPS and one color decal on an inkjet? It ought to work. Some modellers do almost the same thing by cutting an all-white layer out of white decal film, but that requires careful trimming; using an ALPS to print a white decal on clear decal film would be easier. Misregistration shouldn't be a problem if you undersize the white by a few pixels as I mentioned above.
If there's a significant size difference between the two printers, it should be consistent, so you could do some test prints and calculate a scaling factor to be used for one printer; for example, if you find that the inkjet prints stuff 4% larger than the ALPS, you could print on the inkjet at normal size and print on the ALPS at 104%.
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I would have thought 70's decals would have some yellowing on the clear bits by now, this should be able to spot even if they have been copied on a computer, The originals will also be very brittle by now too compared to fresh computer copies.
Still if the computer copies are good enough, why not use them...???. I back up all my decal sheets on computer now just in case I ever need a new set.
Regards.................Mark
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I always felt that way, too. Until I pulled some ABT decals fro the '60s and '70s to check on something. They looked as good as the day they came out. Same with some HisAirDec decals and soe beautiful A.I.R. sheets.
Trying to use the, however, may be different. Some of the ABTs broke up in the water, but then some of them did when they were new. Less of a proble with the HsAirDec and A.I.R. sheets.
Now I coat old decals with a clear coat and use decal setting solution and Future if the decals are more than a dozen years old.
Good luck,
Tom
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Have you tried MicroScale's Decal Film? It's great stuff. hth
The Keeper (of too much crap!)
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light kills paper. apparently decals too.
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Some His Air Dec decals looked like they were painted freehand on scotch tape. Scanning them thru a printer could only improve them. Kim M
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LOL! I've seen some modern after-market sheets that look just like that, too.
RobG

and
tape.
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