Hello there. I make and sell Code 3 models on eBay, and have found the specialist Transfer or Decal papers that are now available, a great asset in this hobby. These special papers are available on eBay, and allow you to place artwork for your models straight from the screen of your PC, to the paintwork of your creation. There are other uses for these great hobby papers, and they can be used on glass, wood, plastic or metal, and even if you wish there are some now for candle making. There are limits to the paper though, and if you have never used it before, hopefully this brief guide will be of help.
Decal paper comes in two main types, White and Clear, and this can cause some confusion. Basically Clear paper allows the background to show through, for instance if you wish to put your name on something yellow, you would use clear to allow the yellow to be seen between the letters. White is used if you wish to reproduce a poster, or something with a white background or something that has white in it against a colour backdrop. Colour printers do not print in white, there is no white cartridge, and no mix of other colours will produce white. Rather the printer assumes that the page is white and simply leaves a gap. If you need white in your design against a colour, you will need to use white paper.
Once you have your design and your paper, it's a fairly easy process. Simply set your printer to it's best setting, the paper should come with instructions for this, and print it. Most papers require a sealant to stop the ink running when you wet it. The instructions should also recommend which to get, I use a clear acrylic for mine, which again is available on eBay. Having allowed the sealant to dry, you simply cut the paper accordingly and wet it in warm water, just as you would an ordinary transfer. The results can be absolutly fantastic if you've taken the time to plan them, and any ordinary model can be transformed.
A few tips worth noting. Always print off a practice page first on ordinary paper, just to see that you have the design just right. Decal paper is pretty inexpensive at around two pounds a page, but no point in wasting it. Also, you don't have to use the whole page at once. If your happy with your practice design print, cut a square of the decal paper and sellotape it over the design (along the edges), then put it through the printer again. This way you can make a single sheet of decal paper last a lot longer.
Finally always bear in mind the limits of the paper. Clear will allow the base colour to show through, for instance if you put blue lettering on a yellow background using clear paper, the lettering will come out green, as the two colours mix. You can use white paper, but it will mean the lettering will be in a white box. The Bedford Lorry below is a standard 1960's Dinky Toy, which has been restored and resprayed all over yellow. It is a good example of what the decal paper can achive. This was a prize for a charity auction, and the winners name has been added in red with clear paper, and the eBay logo and black lettering has been done with white paper, as has the Children in Need logo. It is possible to use both types of paper on a model, as both achive different results.
Hope this brief guide has been of some use. Decal paper is a terrific advance for hobbyists such as myself, and if you give it a try I'm sure you'll find it of use.