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Custom Decals

2989 Views 31 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Mr Modifier
(First of all, my apologies if I've posted this in the wrong forum)

I want to do some custom decals - rally plates and number boards, to be specific. I've checked places such as Patto's and no-one seems to do the stuff I want, so I'll have to do it myself.

I started by copying JPEG images off the 'net and re-sizing them. The trouble I'm having with that is that by the time I get the images small enough, they've lost most of their definition.

So, my questions are;-
1) Are there any write-ups on DIY decals here for IT-illiterates, such as myslf?
2) If not, is someone able to tell me what format I should be working with the images in, what software I need to working with and where I can get that software?

I could attempt to design my own decals, but I'd still need software I don't have plus a heavy dose of both imagination and artistic ability - which I'm lacking in. I'd be prepared to attempt it if someone could tell me, please, what is suitable software for designing decals from scratch.

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I'll second Inkscape. Vector is absolutely the format to use when you need to rescale images. Vector images define the parts of an image mathematically, so the resolution always remains whether you scale up or down. Using the likes of Photoshop/GIMP with bitmap images means you eventually bump up against the size of the smallest dot in the image, and your resolution disappears. If you have a bitmap image, you can import it into Inkscape, and then trace over it to create a vector image version for resizing.

Inkscape works very much like Corel Draw. If you are used to that product (even if you used v1.0 nearly 20 years ago) the basics of Inkscape will be familiar.

I recently needed to create a 3D logo of some text, and make it look like it was cut from a gold bar. Now, I'm no artist, be it on the computer or in the real world, so I found an online walkthrough of how to create a chrome effect 3D word which was very close to what I needed to do. I changed the colours slightly so it was more gold than chrome, and it looked brilliant. But, and here's the clever part, the walkthrough included instructions onhow to bind al of the elements of the image together so that if I wanted the same effect later but with a different word, I could just type the new word in, and it would maintain the effect with the new lettering. *That's* very, very slick.
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Find a few tutorials and get a better feel for what kinds of things can be done in a drawing program rather than a painting program. It may sound trite, but walk before you can run. If you get a better handle on the basics, the more complex tutorials later will seem so much easier.

Also, look for vector versions of logos that you want to use. Inkscape can import a lot of different formats that you can then save as a native SVG file to actually work on.
The problem with bitmaps is not just that they pixelate and become jagged when you make them bigger, but as you make them smaller, you have to lose pixels to fit them in the given space. This is what causes a loss of detail. Of course, printing at 600dpi instead of 300dpi helps with that, but if you only have a 300dpi printer it's no help at all.
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