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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The full title of this post is "Make your own Decals using Microsoft Word or Word Processor"

This has been in the making for a few months.
I believe it is now complete enough to assist anyone in making their own Decals or manipulating PhotoShop images.
It's lengthy, but if you'll follow the steps you'll find they are easy to perform.
This How-To makes use of Microsoft Word and/or Word Processor but I'll be posting one up right after this one that uses PhotoShop.

There's a lot of interest in making Decals nowadays.

You don't need any fancy equipment and it shouldn't be intimidating for anyone.

Actually it's a snap.

Finding an image or creating one is the FIRST step.
Saving the image at 300 dpi or 600 DPI is the SECOND step.
Collecting your images on a page and formatting them for printing is the THIRD step.


With the aid of the Internet you've got a bottomless well of sources for images. Anything you think of can usually be found in picture form on the WWW.

Let's start off by picking a picture and a casting.
Let's say we want to put a Batman picture, or the Batman symbol on top of a '59 Cadillac. The use of this symbol is just for test purposes. You can use anything. You can use the state of Texas, a picture of your Dog, or your Club logo.
We'll use the Batman symbol since everyone is familiar with it's shape and appearance.
Just type Batman, Batman symbol, Batman icon, or anything Batman into your Search Bar.
When your results pop up go to the top of the screen and you'll see 3 options saying Web, Images, and Shopping. Choose Images and click onto Search, or hit Enter on your keyboard. All the images in your results having to do with Batman will be displayed.
Look through them all. There may be several pages depending on what subject you're inquiring about.
Click onto each image that you like and you may be asked if you'd like to see a larger image. You bet, bigger images are better images to save.
Right click onto each image, go to properties, and check out the Kilobyte size of the image. Larger Kilobyte sizes are going to be better images .
Some Web images are going to be very small file wise, but remember they're going to go on areas of your casting that usually measure no more than 3/4" by 3/4".
Even the top of the Dairy Delivery is only .95" by 2".
Okay so you've found your Batman symbol and it is 10 Kilobytes. Lucky you, that's not too bad for what we're doing.
Right click and "Save As" in whatever folder you've chosen. You may want to save other Batman images while you're in Results and you can name them Batman 1, Batman 2, or Batman A, Batman B, to keep things simple in your folder.
Okay, that's pulling images down from the Web.
You can also use your scanner on your printer to copy photographs, or any other suitable picture.
If you don't have a scanner but do have physical images like photographs, you have the option of taking them to your local Kinko's and letting them scan them. These Print Shops can scan your images, or use files that you've downloaded to a CD to print on Decal paper that you supply. This is what I did before I got a Computer. You will have to give them the final measurements that you want the individual decals to be printed.
You can do all this using the "Pay Per Copy" machines in the lobby of your local print shop.

Let's proceed for those of you that will be printing your own decals.
I use PhotoShop, so you will need a copy of just about any version of PhotoShop to follow the steps that lie ahead.


First measure the spot on your casting where your decal will go. I'm sure you know that already, but I'll try not to leave anything out.
When you first create your image in whatever Graphics Program you're using, (PhotoShop or Corel Paint), save it at 300dpi or 600 DPI, they're both suitable for our purposes, and save it larger than the size it will be when it is printed as a decal. It's always better to save your images larger than you need them.

The image sizing and resolution is done while your image is open in PhotoShop.
While your image file is open go up to the top and click onto Image. In the drop down Menu click onto Adjust.
In that drop down menu click onto Image Size.
You'll notice a few other features in this Adjust menu. Keep them in mind for future use.
Now, in Image Size you will be able to change the size of your image in pixels or inches.
We'll use inches to make this easy to see.
You can keep the look of your images in proportion by checking the Restrain Proportions box or alter them as you prefer by leaving that box unchecked.
If you check the Restrain Proportions box all you will need to enter is the measurements for one side of your image and the Computer will automatically enter the correct measurement for the remaining side.
Similar comments on this are mentioned further in this How-To.
As you change the measurements of your image, making them slightly larger than you need your printed image to be, also type in 300 or 600 for the Pixels Per Inch or DPI.
Now name the image and save it in a folder that you name.
You can call it Miscellaneous Decals, Nova Decals, Club Car Decals, you get the picture.

Okay, I've found my Batman symbol and it's 10 Kilobytes.
I've saved it and now I've pulled it up into PhotoShop to crop it. Crop your image as close to the edges as possible.
Here's the cropped image.

It downloaded from the net at 72dpi and 8" by 4.5".
Well we certainly don't need it that big and the 72dpi resolution needs enhancing for our purposes.
Let's go up to the top and click onto Image.
In the drop down menu select Image Size.
When the Image Size window opens, check the Constrain Proportions box. This will maintain the correct look of your image.
Let's change the settings to 300dpi and with the Constrain Proportions box checked, let's type in 2" for the long side (width)
The short side (height) will follow automatically in accordance.
Now back up to File and Save As.
I'm not too happy with the color of the yellow and I think the black border could be a little more black.
With the image still up in PhotoShop look over on the left of the screen and find your PaintBucket fill tool.
Click onto it and your cursor will become the little Paint Bucket.
Near the bottom of this same Toolbar will be two squares indicating colors. The one on top is your Foreground color.
Click onto it and go into the Color Picker and choose the brightest yellow there, then click OK.
Put the pointed spout of the Bucket inside the yellow area of this image. Now look up at the top of the PhotoShop page.
You want your Opacity set at 100% because you want a good solid Yellow color. Set the Mode at Normal and the Tolerance around 5 to 10.
The Tolerance is the strength with which the PaintBucket fills any area. If you set it too high it will invade surrounding areas and give you fuzzy edges. If you set it too low you won't get complete coverage.
Okay now left click and your PaintBucket should paint the entire yellow area of your Batman Logo.
Now perform the same actions, choosing the color black, to enhance the black in the border around the symbol, only lower the Tolerance to about 3 to 5.

Here's the enhanced image. Compare it with the originallly downloaded image above.

Enhancing your images makes them rich with color intensity with the side benefit of allowing them to be placed over colors other than white.
This PaintBucket method is but one of a few ways to add intensity to the colors of your files.

Let's look at another way to bump up the colors.
With an image open in PhotoShop go up to the top of the page and click onto Image.
In the drop down menu choose Adjust.
When the Adjust menu drops down choose Brightness/Contrast.
Put your cursor on the little triangle in Contrast and slide it to the right just 5-15 points. Watch your image as you make this adjustment. If you go too far you'll damage the clarity of the picture. Just a little dab will do ya.
Some images that you download will come with a washed out look and this Contrast feature can cure that.

Both of these techniques I've mentioned will make the colors in your images richer and more intense.
Now, you'll retain more of your original color if you decide to place the decal over Silver, pastels, light Pearls or Gold.
And, if you still decide to place it over White, so much the better.

Okay, let's say you've got your image enhanced (if you had to) and it's saved at 300dpi or even 600dpi.
Now it needs to be saved larger than it will be when printed.
Let's say you want to place this Batman image on top of the roof of the '69 GTO.
The '69 GTO's roof is .7" in height and .88" wide.
Open up PhotoShop and click onto File.
In the drop down Menu choose Open and go to the correct folder and choose your saved image file.
Now, in this Folder window click Open and the chosen file will open in PhotoShop. Go to the top of the page and click onto Image.
In that drop down Menu choose Image Size.
In the Image Size window you have the option of maintaining image proportion (correct look of the image height by width) or adjusting it to fill the space where the decal will be applied.
We know that the Batman image is almost twice as wide as it is tall, so, put a check in the Constrain Proportions box and type in 2" in the width box. The height will automatically be calculated to look proportionally correct.
Now save it.
Remember, you are the Customizer, so when you get to the part of sizing your images on your Decal Print Sheet and you want the Decal to fill in a little more of the roof, you can uncheck the Constrain Proportions box and type in your own measurements.
Just keep in mind that the taller you make the image, (this oval Batman image), the more it becomes a circle instead of an oval.
It will change from this oval,

to this almost circle,

In most cases using text and the majority of other images, this distortion of stretching the height of the image will be acceptable.
It fills up the roof with more image thus enlarging whatever text that may exist.
In any case, working with spaces as small as the roof or trunk of a HotWheel it is better to have the image larger than smaller.
Even with some photographs you can get by with stretching the proportions of the image to fill up the desired space.
It's your call, you are the Customizer.

As a final note in the creation and fine tuning of your individual images,
It doesn't matter what physical measurements your images have been saved at when you are importing them into Word or Word Processor.
As you import these individual images into Word or Word Processor you will size them for printing when you paste them there.
Just remember that most roofs or trunks of HotWheels are under 1" by 1" so save all your images larger than this when you create them, about twice as large.
Then when you import them into Word or Word Processor you will enter the necessary print measurements using the SIZE option.

This will deal with the third step, formatting your images on a page so you can print them.

If you've got Word or Microsoft Word Processor you're in business.

Open up either program, Word or Word Pocessor, and click onto File.
Then click onto Page Setup.
Set all the measurements at 0, then when it asks you to reset the page setup to usable measurements, click onto Yes or Fix, and it will then change all measurements to .12".
It may even show a window that tells you,"Some of your measurements are beyond printable areas of the paper." Just click Yes or Fix to continue.

What you want to wind up with is all your measurements at.12".
This .12" number represents the width of an imaginary border that runs all around the edge of your paper.
This will give you the largest area possible to use for creating your page of Decals.
Some versions of Word will reset your measurements to a slightly different number, but it won't be too noticeable.

Okay, you've got your Page Measurements set up.
Left click your cursor in the top left hand corner of the page to get things started.
Your cursor will be blinking at the point where you will start placing your images.
Now, find your Insert Picture icon, or Insert Image icon, and click onto it. It will be in one of your Toolbars.
Or you can just click onto Insert in the top Toolbar, go to Picture, and then to From File. These actions will take you to your Documents and Folders where your images are stored..
Go to the Folder and File where your image is saved.
Click onto that image, open it and it will appear on your Page.
Now, right click onto the image and a menu will open up with the Format feature near the bottom of the list.
Click onto Format, and when that menu opens up click onto Size.
The size measurements are pretty accurate. Just type in the desired Width and Height that you came up with when you measured the spot on your casting. Now press OK.
You may have to uncheck the Constrain Proportions box.

When it resets the size of your image, do a test print. Cut out the image and see if it fits the casting the way you want. You may have to right click back onto the image and change the Size Settings if it needs adjusting.
Just keep adjusting the size and doing test prints until you cut out an image that fits the way you want it to.
Use the Draft feature in Print Properties to save ink while making test prints.

You can copy and paste the image all the way across the page to make several of one kind.
Then you can start over on the left hand side of the page and make a row of different images, or fill up the page with 75 - 100 of one decal.
To Copy an image and repeat it across the page hold your left button down on the Mouse and drag it across the image you want to copy. Release it when you've passed over the image. Right click on the image and click onto Copy in the drop down menu that appears. Now left click on your Mouse to start your cursor blinkiing to the immediate right of your original image. Right click and choose Paste in this drop down menu. Your copied image will appear right next to the original. You may need to put a space between the two images to allow you room to cut them out. Now just keep pasting until you have the number of images you need on your Print Page.

Just make sure to save your work as you create the page in case anything happens.
It's a drag to have to go back and start all over again.
If you're going to be printing several different images on your Printed Decal sheet it's a good idea to individually pull them up in Word processor or Word and test their sizes by cutting them out.
This way when you compile your Printed Decal Sheet you know everything has been checked for correct size.

When your Decal Print Page is filled with images and you're ready to print, go up to File and Save As, saving your sheet in the same Folder as your images.

When you print, print at Best Photo and Glossy Photo paper.

I buy all my Clear InkJet Decal Paper from Papilio.com
Papilio.com Decal Paper is by far the best I have ever used.
Their Shipping is very reasonable and fast.
Here's their link,

http://www.papilio.com/inkjet waterslide decal transfer paper media.html

Here's some tried and true roof measurements for a few HW's that I've decalled.
These measurements are the dimensions which you will size your images on your Decal Print Page in the Word Processor or Word, for these particular castings.

These are Roof Decal measurements.

'59 Cadillac .85"W x .7"H
'70 Chevelle .7"W x .85"H
'47 Chevy .75"W x 1.1"H
Dairy Del. .95"W x 2"H
'69 GTO .7"W x .88"H
'64 Impala .85"W x .92"H
'69 Nova .76"W x .87"H
'70 Superbird .75"W x .8"H
'58 ThunderBird .78"W x .98"H
'69 Tooned Camaro .82"W x .65"H

If anyone has questions post them.

I've got another How-To showing you the process of printing your Decal Print page using Photoshop.
It's very easy and the methods I've discussed here will give you the basic skills to crossover from the Word Processor into PhotoShop.

If you have questions about PhotoShop contact me.

[email protected]

--CadillacPat the UnCustomizer--


2,023 Posts
CadillacPat said:
Looks like I did leave a little something out.

Yes, you'll need Decal paper, preferrably 81/2" by 11".
I buy clear Inkjet Decal paper from Beldecal.com or Kustomrides.com

If you are able to find it at your local Train Shop ask for the Clear Glossy Inkjet Decal paper and not the Matte Clear Decal paper.

--CadillacPat the UnCustomizer--

Thanks for the info. :thumbsup: :cool:

10,696 Posts
Wow! What a thread!

Thanks for bringing it back up to the top, Pat; I missed it the first time around.

There is a huge need for help like this to encourage novices (like me!) to take the plunge and try their hands at stuff like this. This thread is destined to be a HT "legend"!

Thanks, Pat; I will definitely be trying this sometime this year because of this thread. :thumbsup:

673 Posts
Great tutorial, CadillacPat!

If I may, I'd like to offer one extra step: before resizing, check what type of file it is. GIF and JPEG images don't scale the same way, so to get the best results make sure your image is using an RGB color mode. To do this, simply go to Image> Mode> and check "RGB" (in Photoshop). It helps keep the image smooth when you start scaling it:


1,522 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Glad to offer the help,

That''s a good point Spence.
The article is so long that I tried to stick to basic, easy steps without delving too deep into the fine points.
I wanted it to be easy enough to hold a firsttimer's attention without discouraging him.
Your tip is certainly helpful.

Imagery Manipulation gives a great sense of accomplishment, and once you've tackled easy steps like these you will want to go on to much more complicated issues.

This How-To is so long (but easy) that some websites had to increase their "allowable post size".

If you'll take these simple steps and use them with other images you'll get a good feel for PhotoShop.
Then you can dive in and start trying out other tools like the Magic Wand, Transform> Skew/Distort, Text Bevelling and Embossing, Shadows, it just requires playing around with.

--CadillacPat the UnCustomizer--

2,539 Posts
Maybe we should get these "Make Your Own Decals threads" stickied up top?

Kenny or gunn if you could..Please put these up for reference.

Thank You

Jeff Fleetwood

4,253 Posts
If I may add one thing:

There's a program called Gimp that will do all these functions and still provide excellent results. What's the difference between it and Photoshop? Gimp is free. So if you just want to make some decals but not much else, you don't need to spend a boatload of money on Photoshop. You can download Gimp here:


Just use the first link there that says "Download Gimp 2.4.2"

I know PS can be expensive :(

Hope none of the mods find this as spam, I wouldn't have a problem with them removing this is they did.
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