Saturday, 10 July 2010

Homemade decals - Astartes numerals

My first homemade decals are finished, in the last two weeks (apart from a small holiday) they were my primary project.

First I started with the drawing board and Adobe AI. Thanks to my earlier designs, the first draft was created rather quickly. After this the proper sizes for the individual designs were determined and checked against actual minis and shoulder pads. There are multiple sizes, different for scouts and terminators and vehicles.
Once I was satisfied with the result I printed the vector design on decal paper.
Please understand that these are not real decals, and therefore they have limitations. Firstly I cannot print white without access to an ALPS printer. ALPS printers are no longer in production, so buying one - even if buying one second hand is possible -combined with the increasing accessory prices do not make the business case viable. (other possibility could be screen printing, but for such small insignia, and so few copies it doesn't worth it.) So, since I cannot print white, I have to print on white. This means that to avoid a halo of white on the edge you have to print a halo with a colour matching the base colour of the mini or vehicle - in my case VMC Dark Prussian Blue.

For the best results after applying the decals the traditional way overpaint the edges with the base colour. This will crate a smooth gradient. By the way I almost always overpaint decals a little, so that they would look less uniform.

Secondly, professional decals come pre-cut. As I have no idea how it is done, so one have to cut out the decals usig a very sharp blade.

You know by now, that I'm a shameless promoter of my very own Sentinels, you can freely download the decal sheet in .pdf format. Please note that it is in letter format.

Since you never seem to get enough numerals on GW transfers, I also created my own number sets. As I previewed in my previous post, the numbers are fully vectorized. As making these astartes numerals was very time consuming, I won't give them away that easily... but they are of course available for all followers of this blog. Please e-mail me if you'd like the file.
Later, upon individual request I plan to produce custom decals, numerals in other colours, and even sell them in printed form, though it may take a little time.
I'm quite happy with the way the transfers turned out, but I was less satisfied with the Holi decal papers I was using. It was rather too thick to my taste. I have to find a different manufacturer for better results. Any suggestions?


  1. These are really nice looking.

    I used to be a real freehand snob, then I realised I want very good, and got slightly more fond of decals :)

    A potential workaround for your white issue is to print on transparent and pre-paint areas of the model white, letting the decal overlay this, with the white showing through and the decal providing definition.

  2. Yeah, I use that technique on my Bretonnian transfers.

  3. I would be very interested in buying some decals from you in the future. I'm familiar with InkScape, so I could produce the image files myself.

    My Nurgle CSM could use some decals. :)

  4. I would be interested in numbers similar to the newish Forge World Imperial Fist decals, as well as the classic roman numeral style squad numbers you see used by Ultramarines frequently.

    If you haven't seen the Forge World sheets with a clean new style for the squad numbers here's a link: