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Decal Creation 101

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how to create and print your very own water-slide decals. For the application of pre-printed water-slide decals (such as those purchased from MCN), please refer to Working with Water-slide Decals by Red Bean.

Before you can print out any water-slide decals from your computer, you need to design them with a software. Vector-based programs such as Coral Draw or Adobe Illustrator are recommended. However, in theory, anything from MSPaint to Photoshop will work.

As for actually printing them out, either you use a special printer like Kaminoan or Red Bean, or you use white decal film. Yes they make it in white, but this requires you to print the torso color in the background areas and reguires really close color matches. Check out MCN's color guide for color matches (coming soon).

As for the actual decal papers, the only place that I know of to get them, is either a hobby store or online. I recommend Tango Paper. If you don't need much get a sample pack, or you can try Micromark and they have a sample pack as well.

Next, we can proceed to the actual design of your decals. First you will need a template to work on, which can be found here. (coming soon)

Note you may have to re-size the template a bit to better suit your computer software. The dimension of a minifig is as follows: Torso:
1.422 cm Wide
1.201 cm Tall Legs:
1.4 cm Wide
1.1 cm Tall Belt:
1.4 cm Wide
0.2 cm Tall

So for example, if I want to make a blue custom minifig with decals, I'd have to design it with the blue torso color, similar to this, and then print it onto white decal paper:

However, if you have a special printer capable of undercoating your printing with white ink, then the procedure is somewhat different and the quality will be much better.

Here at MCN, Kaminoan has kindly offered his professional printing service to customizers worldwide. Follow the instruction below to prepare your decal for professional printing:

1. Art must be either prepared in or compatible with Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw (softwares which Kaminoan has).

2. The following CMYK values denote special colors (See Below):

White: C: 2 M: 2 Y: 2 K: 0

Silver (Metallic or Foil): C: 26 M: 24 Y: 23 K: 0

Gold (Metallic or Foil): C: 12 M: 37 Y: 100 K: 0

Metallic Cyan: C: 100 M: 31 Y: 21 K: 0

Metallic Magenta: C: 36 M: 86 Y: 55 K: 0

If you want to use these colors, these exact CMYK values must be used.

3. Art must be color separated into 3 layer/files for best printing (See Examples):

Layer 1: White Undercoat

Layer 2: Metallic Inks

Layer 3: CMYK Colors

The layers are printed in the following order: White (Printed First), Metal Inks (Printed Second), CMYK (Printed Third).

The art is printed in layers, anything that is to be transparent or printed with a metal ink should not be under printed in white (Make sure that it does not appear on the white layer/file). Any color can appear on the white layer/section and the printer will print it in white. Only use the special CMYK color value for white in special situation when printing white over the top of another color.

Metal inks come in two types, Foil and Metallic, please note which you prefer. Foil is more shinny like a mirror and metallic is more dull.

If you want both metallic and foil art must be color separated into 4 layers/files. For an example of this affect please see this design: Boromir.

As far as a fee for our printing service, it would be just like our current pricing for the available decals at MCN, which depends a bit on the design and the number of decals you are interested in getting. A shipping fee may also be incurred.

Once a decal is printed (whether by yourself or Kaminoan), please refer to Working with Water-slide Decals for their actual application.

Finally, to see the amazing effect of water-slide decal on a custom minifig, please click here to see a comparison between a water-slide custom minifig and an authentic one made by Lego.