How To Make Decals With An Inkjet Printer

Decals are an incredible way to take ideas from your head and get the images you’ve created onto other items such as toys, keyrings, and cups. In fact, there’s a whole host of items that decals can be stuck onto.

The image doesn’t even have to be of your own creation. If not planning to sell something, literally any image is available to you. You can custom your belongings with your own decals in a matter of minutes.

Creating decals is really easy – you don’t have to be an expert artist or graphic designer to do it. You can draw something simple on paper, or you can create your own design and then make decals using a computer and a printer.

In this article, you will learn how to make your own decals using an inkjet printer. But before we get to that, check out this list of items required to get through the process.

Things You Will Need

  • Computer/Tablet to run editing software
  • Decal paper
  • Inkjet printer
  • Laminate sheets
  • Laminator
  • Photo editing software
  • Plain paper
  • Printer Ink
  • Scanner
  • Scissors

Step 1: Preparation

A. Gather all necessary materials before starting.

B. Ensure computer, printer and scanner are nearby and turned on.

C. Double-check you have everything.

Step 2: Planning Your Design

A. Decide upon the design or image desired for the decals.

B. Edit and premade or downloaded designs or use them as they are. Make sure any design being used has a high resolution.

C. Alternatively, make your own designs using Photoshop or other graphic design programs and photo editors.

Step 3: Design Scanning

A. After the design or image is confirmed, scan it, so the file is on your computer or device. (If it was not already found from the internet and saved on the computer).

B. Keep scanning quality as high as possible to avoid distorted images. Scan the decal,saving it on a computer or the cloud, between 600dpi-300dpi resolution. Anything lower than that will not provide results.

C. Any images or designs can be refined further once saved.

Step 4: Adjustments

A. Edit or make adjustments to your intended decal using Photoshop, GIMP, or other computer software.

B. Experiment and alter colors and shapes as you prefer. Remember, if you don’t like the result, you can go back to the original image or design.

C. If necessary, resize the images, so they fit your requirements.

Step 5: Making Decal Sheets

A. You can make decal sheets at this point. Maximize the space to get as many decals per sheet of paper as is humanly possible.

B. Depending on the size and design of your decal, you can populate your whole page with decals. This way, you prevent wasting decal paper which can be expensive. One option is to make decal sheets using Photoshop or the photo-editing software you prefer.

C. Ensure designs don’t overlap. You’ll need enough space around them so that they are easy to cut out later.

D. Arrange the designs symmetrical to make the most of your decal sheet and make life easier when cutting.

Step 6: Pre-Print Checking

A. Do not immediately print on the decal paper.

B. Instead, print out your decal sheet layout on a plain page first to check everything is as you need.

C. You need to check the brightness, colors, and contrast, ensuring they match what you intended.

D. The reason for doing this before you print on decal paper is because colors and shapes sometimes differ when comparing the screen image to the paper print.

E. This also gives you the opportunity to check for other design flaws or problems associated with your printer before moving on to the final decal print.

F. Another way to check your decal is to hold the test-sample up against a wall or any surface you plan to transfer onto. This will help you ensure that the dimensions are correct and help you get a better idea of whether your design/image works with the item in question.

Step 7: Inserting Decal Paper

A. Once you’ve determined everything satisfactory with the design and dimensions, insert your decal paper into the printer following the printer manufacturer’s instructions.

B. Be careful when inserting the decal paper. Ensure the paper is oriented correctly and facing the right way.Remember, printing on the wrong side is costly as you can’t use it again.

C. The test sample you printed before should tell you which way you need to put your paper. You can also mark your decal paper to make sure you have placed the right side into the printer.

Step 8: Printing Decal Sheet

A. Hit the print button to get your design/image onto the decal paper.

B. You’ll know you’ve printed on the wrong side if the ink doesn’t stick to the paper. You will need to correct it and try again with another sheet.

Step 9: Laminating Decal Sheet

A. If your printed decal sheet looks good, you can laminate it. Lamination protects the design of your decal and will keep the color from fading. You can use a cold press laminator for the job.

B. Place and press your laminate sheet down onto the decal sheet with the sticky side facing down. You can peel back a few inches of the laminate’s backing sheet.

C. Use your cold press, and put your laminate sheet through it. Now feed the laminate sheet with the decal sheet through the cold press. Make sure you peel off the rest of the backing sheet as the laminate sheet rolls through.

D. Trim any unneeded laminate from the decal sheet before you feed it through the press. This way, you will get optimum results.

Step 10: Using Your Decal

A. After lamination, you have your decals ready to cut and apply. You can do this with a pair of scissors.

B. Cut your decals carefully. Be steady and slow in this process, and don’t stray too far from the outline.

C. If you are using vinyl paper, you can peel off the backing and stick the decal to your object.

D. If you’re using other decal papers that don’t have sticky backs, you can use your own glue. In that case, you will need to use glue that sticks to the surface you want to put your decals on.

Final Word

Making decals is fun, and the end results can look incredible if you do everything right.

Once you have a design ready, it only takes a matter of minutes to get your creation from the computer into print and onto another object.

Just make sure, whenever printing with decal paper, you are aware of your printer’s specifications.

Some printers have special input slots for specialized print media. These ensure the decal paper doesn’t crease up or cause any jams during the printing process.

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