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What is the best decal program?

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I currently don't have any program that will create custom decals for me. So i'm wondering what is the best that is easy to use and afford?

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It really depends upon how hard you want to work. I and several of my friends use some version of Photoshop. It has a lot of options which recommend it, such as ease of selection and adjusting the image, but they are not really intuitive. I really had to work hard and read a couple of books to figure out how to make them work. Once I got that down though, it has proven easy to work with. Kind of like learning to ride a unicycle. Once you have it, it is easy, but getting it ain't so easy. Also Photoshop Elements does all I want and it was only $80. Not bad for a professional program.

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The cheapest is Microsoft Paint and Microsoft Word which most people already have on their computer. Use MS Paint for artwork, and MS Word for fancy lettering (Word Art), and you can make a table to help lay out the sheet for printing.

 

Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo Paint and similar programs can also be used.

 

The "best" would be to use a vector based program like Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator. Unlike the other programs I mentioned these do not use pixels, so you can change the size without distortion (pixilating). I have Corel Draw and am quite happy with it although there was a learning curve to it. One of the nice things with it is I can draw something in a large size that is easy to work with, then shrink it down for making a decal.

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Non pixalated programs like Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator are ones I'm trying to find. But there aren't any programs geared specifically for model decals?

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But there aren't any programs geared specifically for model decals?

 

None that I know of. Any computer art program can be used to produce artwork for decals, so decal-specific software is really not necessary. What you need is a vector program with a large selection of color libraries, including the Pantone colors used by just about every printer, if you intend to produce decals commercially. Adobe Illustrator is my recommendation.

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But there aren't any programs geared specifically for model decals?

 

None that I know of. Any computer art program can be used to produce artwork for decals, so decal-specific software is really not necessary. What you need is a vector program with a large selection of color libraries, including the Pantone colors used by just about every printer, if you intend to produce decals commercially. Adobe Illustrator is my recommendation.

 

I'm not trying to do it commercially but just so that I can resize it without having the problem of the image being distorted.

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I'm not trying to do it commercially but just so that I can resize it without having the problem of the image being distorted.

 

Well, I'd still suggest Illustrator, but if cost is a consideration, here is where you can get a free, open-source vector drawing program that runs on Linux, Windows 2000/2003/XP, and Mac OS X:

 

http://inkscape.org/

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Photoshop is over-kill. Photoshop Elements is a "light" version that is a highly capable and incorporates all of the features of Photoshop that most peopole would need.

 

I am using Microsoft Digital Image 2006 and find it incredibly useful. It was discontinued a few years ago, but if you do a web search you will find it on the MS site as a free download.

 

There is also a slick piece of s/w called Paint.net available free on the Internet. It is very much like PS Elements but with an obviously better price.

 

Also, be aware that if you opt for PS-Elements, Adobe has announced their annual new version (10) will be released soon if not already. If you have already purchased it you may be able to make a call to their customer service and get a free or low cost upgrade. Watch Fry's, NewEgg.com and Costco. Good prices at each.

 

A consideration also is your colour printer and the ink it may use. Some inks are waterproof when dry. Make sure of that when choosing. Watch out for re-fill ink because it may not be to mfr spec's. OK for normal use but may not be for decals.

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You don't want Photoshop or any pixel-based program; you need a vector-based program such as Illustrator or Corel Draw.

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Illustrator retails for $599. Pretty pricey for an occassional decal. On the other hand if the topic starter is going to be designing his own for commercial production ....

 

Corel is good software.

 

I haven't ever tried to make a decal, but do use the MS Digital Image and also MS Publisher to make posters for community activities. Also for photo editing and printing from gif, jpg, and others with no problems. Just my personal exsperiences to relate.

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You don't want Photoshop or any pixel-based program; you need a vector-based program such as Illustrator or Corel Draw.

 

Question about pixilation: Even if a vector-based program tells the printer "Red No.499124", or whatever, isn't there gonna be some intrinsic pixilation in the image, based on how a printer "mixes" and applies a field of that particular color from the Cyan, magenta, Yellow & Black inks?

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You don't want Photoshop or any pixel-based program; you need a vector-based program such as Illustrator or Corel Draw.

 

Question about pixilation: Even if a vector-based program tells the printer "Red No.499124", or whatever, isn't there gonna be some intrinsic pixilation in the image, based on how a printer "mixes" and applies a field of that particular color from the Cyan, magenta, Yellow & Black inks?

 

You may see some halftoning (i.e, a dot pattern resulting from the way the printer mixes the basic colors to achieve the desired result), but this is not the same as pixelation. There are no pixels in a vector-based program because the objects created in such a program are described for the printer mathematically, much like a CAD program.

Edited by SkyKing

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You don't want Photoshop or any pixel-based program; you need a vector-based program such as Illustrator or Corel Draw.

 

Question about pixilation: Even if a vector-based program tells the printer "Red No.499124", or whatever, isn't there gonna be some intrinsic pixilation in the image, based on how a printer "mixes" and applies a field of that particular color from the Cyan, magenta, Yellow & Black inks?

 

You may see some halftoning (i.e, a dot pattern resulting from the way the printer mixes the basic colors to achieve the desired result), but this is not the same as pixelation. There are no pixels in a vector-based program because the objects created in such a program are described for the printer mathematically, much like a CAD program.

 

I think the point was that the printer itself will introduce pixelation because it generates fixed-size ink dots, and in fact must use multiple dots to generate colors that aren't pure ink colors. I know in general an ink-spot of a pure ink color is too small to see with the naked eye, but I'm not sure about half-toning; presumably the printer driver decides how to render a particular color (and this must be a pretty tricky thing to do if its trying to render a varying color/intensity.

 

I'm curious about the vector programs - how good of a job do they do of importing a scanned raster image and vectorizing it? I'd guess its at least a semi-manual process. , Can they represent color/intensity gradients in the vector-data?

 

BTW, for basic scaling to adjust the size of an image I've found Word does a surprisingly good job (of course you wouldn't want to use it for serious image editing).

 

Don

 

 

Don

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We need to put this into perspective, guys. Mr. Tate asked an easy question for a simple task. Now we are giving him a discussion of $600 software, pixels, pixellation, dpi, scaling and more.

 

Good information and thoughts though.

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We need to put this into perspective, guys. Mr. Tate asked an easy question for a simple task. Now we are giving him a discussion of $600 software, pixels, pixellation, dpi, scaling and more.

 

Good information and thoughts though.

 

The task is not as simple as it may seem, and I speak as a former editor for Squadron/Signal Publications who was intimately involved in these sorts of things. There are a lot of technical details to printing, especially color printing, whether printing a book or printing decals, and mastery of the details is important to achieving the desired result, even if only printing a simple decal at home using your computer.

 

As to software, please see my message of 10 January.

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I'm curious about the vector programs - how good of a job do they do of importing a scanned raster image and vectorizing it? I'd guess its at least a semi-manual process. , Can they represent color/intensity gradients in the vector-data?

 

 

Importing a scanned raster image is possible, but automatic vectorizing is problematic. Photoshop allows you to create paths based on colors and shades and then export those paths into Illustrator, where the paths then can be used to create a vector object. But what I generally do is import the scan into Illustrator as a template on its own layer, and then re-draw on top of it in a separate layer (or layers). Illustrator is very good with gradients, and gradients created in Illustrator look much better than one imported from Photoshop, but the quality of the output will depend on your printer and how good it is.

 

If you need photo-realistic decal artwork (and here some of the elaborate schemes painted on Tiger Meet aircraft come to mind), then Photoshop is what you want. But for most decal applications (national insignia, roundels, code letters, unit badges, even nose art), Illustrator or a similar vector program is what you need.

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We need to put this into perspective, guys. Mr. Tate asked an easy question for a simple task. Now we are giving him a discussion of $600 software, pixels, pixellation, dpi, scaling and more.

 

Good information and thoughts though.

 

"An inexpensive, vector based tool specifically for making decals is available from DecalGear "

 

I looked at this and it appears to be just what the guy is looking for. Check it out.

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We need to put this into perspective, guys. Mr. Tate asked an easy question for a simple task. Now we are giving him a discussion of $600 software, pixels, pixellation, dpi, scaling and more.

 

Good information and thoughts though.

 

"An inexpensive, vector based tool specifically for making decals is available from DecalGear "

 

I looked at this and it appears to be just what the guy is looking for. Check it out.

 

I looked at it also, and it appears to meet his needs. Too bad there's not a Mac version available, or I'd get it myself!

 

I'd stay away from any decal paper other than that sold by Tango Papa (http://www.tangopapadecals.com/prod01.htm), however, unless you only have an inkjet printer.

Edited by SkyKing

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