Dry Transfer Lettering

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by iis612, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. iis612

    iis612 Member

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    Does anyone have any tips, or techniques?
    I am having a tough time getting the letters to transfer to the cars. I tried searching both zealot and the web in general and was inundated with useless information.
    Any help would be appreciated...

    Matt
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

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    I have used dry transfers from CDS lettering, and found the following useful:

    - Use a "burnisher" - a thin wooden dowel, sharpened to a point, and then blunted and smoothed by rubbing it on something harder than the wood - I used my workbench ;)

    - Cut out the piece you want to transfer, and tape it to the model in the right spot using some scotch tape. Place the tape so it works like a hinge. That way you can lift it see if the letters have transferred, and if not, it will go back down in the same spot.

    - Burnish the letters with the "tissue" backing that comes with the set.

    - Work from the bottom up, because if you work from the top down, your "tape hinge" may lift what you just put on...! (Don't ask how I know this hamr)

    - Dullcote over the top will permanently fix them in place. Until that time, you can remove them with an overlay of masking tape.

    - Cutting slits in the letters when they are applied on soemthing with surface texture can make them snug down better but is not always needed. It does help them get weathered though.

    That's all I can thing of for now... Hope it helps.

    Andrew
  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    Dry transfers also have a shorter shelf life than decals, as they seem to dry out as they age.
    Once you get them in place, don't skimp on the burnishing step - with proper care, you can make the lettering look like it's been painted on, even over rivets and seam lines. For areas that are difficult to burnish due to limited access, a strong decal setting solution, such as Solvaset, will work on dry transfers, although burnishing is preferable when possible. For irregular areas, you can apply dry transfers to clear decal paper, overspray it with a clear finish, such as Glosscote or Dulcote, then use it as you would a regular decal. I find this is very handy for doing the reporting marks on the ends of freight cars.
    Dry transfers are also handy as a paint "mask". For this, the colour of the dry transfer lettering is not important, and the lettering should not be burnished in place.
    To use dry transfers in this manner, first paint the model the colour that you want the lettering to be. Next, apply any lettering and mask (using either tape or dry transfer stripes) for any striping that's to be the same colour as the lettering. Now, paint the model the proper colour, and as soon as the paint is dry to the touch, use bits of masking tape to "dab" at the dry transfer letters and striping. The tape will lift the letters, revealing the underlying colour.
    I used this method to paint and letter the locos shown below, as, at the time, there was no lettering available for these diesels which was the proper colour. All lettering and striping on the bodies was done by using dry transfers as masks, after first painting the underlying areas the proper colours. I used alphabet sets, although the herald on the cab side was done freehand, using a fine brush. The entire model was brush painted, too, using custom-mixed Polly S (not Polly Scale) paints. These diesels, and the method, were featured in Paint Shop, in the Feb. 1980 issue of MR. Eventually, C-D-S released dry transfer lettering for a freight car that had the proper-size herald, making this job a bit easier, and eventually came out with a decently-coloured version of the lettering especially for these diesels. I painted several dozen of these locos for an LHS, until LifeLike Canada finally came out with an extremely well-done r-t-r version.
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    I used the same technique to letter some of my other locos, too.
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    Wayne
  4. iis612

    iis612 Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Wayne, as always, your's are art. I like the method you used, kind of like a reverse stencil.
    I have heard that in the lack of a burnishing stick, one can use a very dull pencil over the scotch tape hinge. Has anyone tried that?
  5. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    A pencil works well, although it makes it difficult to see the areas where more rubbing is required. I've also used a spent ballpoint pen, which works really well if the ball still rotates with no ink in the tube. Either will also work for the burnishing step, too, although I prefer a fingernail for working around rivets.

    Wayne
  6. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

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    Hi...Dr...Do you have the name you're transfering already made up..? Or do you do a letter at a time..? I tried this a few times..But it's hard to get the individual letters to line up correctly...

    Attached Files:

  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

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    Gus, all of the examples shown in the photos, above, were done with alphabet sets. A useful trick for keeping things straight (and I don't always keep things straight :oops: ) is to place a strip of masking tape above or below where you want to place the lettering. Place the strip of tape on a sheet of glass, keeping the strip straight - use the edge of the glass, if it's straight, as a reference, or use a ruler. Masking tape is made so that it can be curved somewhat, so you have to ensure that the piece that you're using is straight and true. Use a sharp blade to remove the edge that you plan on using as the reference on the model, making sure to make your cut parallel to the existing edge. This trimming removes nicks and dents that mar the edges of the tape while it's still on the roll.
    Now, using dividers, or calipers, if you have them, or a ruler if not, position the tape on your model so that the reference (straight) edge of the tape is parallel to a suitable edge on the model, such as the bottom edge of the body casting, or a line of rivets. You'll not likely be able to place the letters directly against the cut edge of the tape, but if you cut out the letters from the sheet with the same-width margin to be placed against the tape edge, your letters should end up pretty straight. I often don't bother to cut the letters from the sheet: with the tape edge close to the area where I'm placing the letters, it's pretty easy to line them up "by eye".
    You can use this for decals, too, though your margins that butt-up against the tape should be cut fairly small and accurate.
    For lettering passenger cars with dry transfers, I use a piece of masking tape with the places for the ends of the individual words denoted, along with notations concerning how the tape should be positioned with reference to details on the car's side. The same strip of tape can be re-used several times. I've probably done around 60 or 70 passenger cars in this roadname, using dry transfer alphabet sets. In most cases, the width of the letterboard or the proximity of the roof's eave is enough to keep things reasonably straight.
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    The car in the last photo used the dry transfers as masks, so all of the lettering is actually painted.

    Wayne