# Software to create decals

### Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

#### Marlin523

##### Well-Known Member
I'm interested in a software program that would allow me to create roll patterns, graphics, and lettering for custom rockets. I use a MAC. Any suggestions? Thanks

#### stantonjtroy

##### Well-Known Member
Second Illustrator. Also Photoshop. Photoshop Elements has all the features you need for MUCH less than CS.

#### Pat_B

##### Well-Known Member
If you can run Windows on your Mac then I'd suggest Corel Draw- cheaper and easier to use.

I own the entire Adobe Creative Suite and still use CD in place of Illy. Photoshop would be for raster type graphics (pictures).

##### Well-Known Member
I use Illustrator CS3 for most of my work.

Try to get a student discount for one of the CS Suites if you are able. Sometimes you can even get a student discount for software just by enrolling in evening and weekend courses specializing in the software you are using or want to use. That can be a win win.

Also, check out Freeverse Lineform.

I did a google for drawing programs for mac and found a few free or really inexpensive programs for mac plus, most of the programs have free demos for download.

#### James Duffy

##### Well-Known Member
I'm interested in a software program that would allow me to create roll patterns, graphics, and lettering for custom rockets. I use a MAC. Any suggestions? Thanks
+1 on the earlier Adobe Illustrator suggestions. Illustrator has become one of my primary modeling tools, and I could not imagine starting a project without it. In addition to creating decal files, I also use it to create general drawings and patterns, and you can even output the .dwg files needed to create laser cutter output.

James
______________
James Duffy
jduffy@mac.com
www.rocket.aero

#### Micromeister

##### Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
I agree with Pat B.
If you mac will run windows, Corel Draw is by far easier to use then any other graphics program I currently run, Including Illistrator, Photoshop and several other Cad programs.

There is a leaning curve to every program, and I can tell you without hesitation Corel will have you up and running before you've learned with the pictograms are all for in most of the others

#### SecretSquirrel

##### Well-Known Member
Unlike the others, I find Illustrator far easier to use than Corel Draw.

#### FlyBack

##### Well-Known Member
Marlin

I use Inkscape. It will do 90 percent of what Correll or Illistrator will do and is free and open source. It is available for the Mac too. For what I saved on the software, I was able to pick up a used ALPS printer. If you want to do anyting with a white background, it is the only printer that will print white on a clear substrate.

Regardless of which software you chose, the most important feature for decal drawing is that you use Scalable Vector Graphics. Not bit maps. There are a number of reasons for this. The most basic is the fundamental difference in the way vector graphics drawings scale, rotate and stretch as opposed to a bit mapped drawing. You can work for hours on a bit mapped drawing and the minute you try and scale it or rotate it you are screwed. Vector based drawings scale, rotate, and stretch beautifully.

Regards,

FlyBack

#### SwingWing

##### Well-Known Member
Unlike the others, I find Illustrator far easier to use than Corel Draw.
I'm with the squirrel on this one:dark:

#### Peartree

##### Cyborg Rocketeer
Staff member
Global Mod
I suppose at some point it really does depend on how much of a perfectionist you are and how good your scanner is. When I built my 1.7x Estes Skywriter I scanned the original Estes stickers, scaled them up in Irfanview (free) and printed them on inkjet decal paper (cheap). They weren't perfect (though I did tweak out a few dust specks) and I can also believe that upscaling much more than 2 or 3 times might not be possible due to distortion. What I *am* saying is that it looks good enough and no one has ever looked close enough to notice the imperfections.

It's your rocket, how good does it need to be, how much do you want to spend and how much is your time worth?

#### standardrockets

##### Active Member
I find people with the skills to do my line art and then bribe them with doodads and sharp shiny things get the job done.

We all win in the end.

#### JoeG

##### Well-Known Member
Unlike the others, I find Illustrator far easier to use than Corel Draw.
I've got photoshop, Illustrator, and Corel. I learned on Corel to do my screenprinting separations and have continued to use it for transfers, decals, and vinyl.

I think it's what you get used to that makes one easier over the other. I haven't even upgraded my CorelDraw since version 9 because i like it so much and it does everything I want.Heck it does stuff i don't even know how to tap into.

All good programs but, as someone said, there is a learning curve to any of them. Don't expect to start using any program and have it do it automatically. There will be times of frustration and disappointment.

Being able to create your own "stuff" far outweighs the bad times. If not, let someone else do them for you.

#### MarkII

##### Well-Known Member
I find people with the skills to do my line art and then bribe them with doodads and sharp shiny things get the job done.
Bribe or threaten?

We all win in the end.
Sure, you get your decals, and the other guy gets to keep his spleen. Win-win. :dark:

(I'm kidding, I'm kidding...)

MarkII

#### MarkII

##### Well-Known Member
Being able to create your own "stuff" far outweighs the bad times. If not, let someone else do them for you.
At approx. $280 for CorelDraw :eyepop: , and close to$1,000 for Adobe CS4 :y: , I would have to make an awful LOT of decals before the investment started to pay off.

I downloaded Inkscape 0.46, the program that FlyBack mentioned (a million thanks for the link, man!), so we'll see how it works out. I'm sure that I will still buy nearly all of my decals, but perhaps eventually I will be able to make the few that no one else wants to make (as well as designing my own). I already use The GIMP for my other graphics work and I have gotten quite comfortable with it, even though I only understand about 1% of what it is capable of doing.

MarkII

#### FatBoy

##### Random Part-time Hobbyist
I find people with the skills to do my line art and then bribe them with doodads and sharp shiny things get the job done.
Hey, I heard that!

I would like to offer another vote for Illustrator. I've been using it for over ten years and it is extremely versatile.

#### shrox

##### Well-Known Member
Lightwave 3D! I use it for everything. Way more than you need though.

#### JoeG

##### Well-Known Member
At approx. $280 for CorelDraw :eyepop: , and close to$1,000 for Adobe CS4 :y: , I would have to make an awful LOT of decals before the investment started to pay off.
True. I was doing all my own art for my screenprinting business and had to buy all this stuff anyway.

That being said, I am still trying to build and fly enough rockets so that investment pays off. The story about getting a bigger truck comes to mind.

I bought a vinyl cutter/plotter a couple of years ago to do my own rocket/airplane plans and patterns and to cut vinyl for airplanes and rockets. I can't justify the expense other than it's fun to do and I don't have to wait on anyone else to do them. Also, I can tweak the graphics if they aren't exactly right. (Yes, I had to buy software for it too.)

I've seen a lot of nice art come out of very simple programs. Is is nice to have a vector program to be able to scale your drawings once they are finished.

I'm downloading Inkscape now to see what it is like but the description sounds like it will work just fine. The price is right.

#### MarkII

##### Well-Known Member
True. I was doing all my own art for my screenprinting business and had to buy all this stuff anyway.
Serigrapher, eh? My very first occupation, oh, so many years ago. I even studied it in college! But back then at the dawn of time (dawn of the disco era, actually) we didn't even have any computers, let alone graphics software.

I still have my first screen stashed somewhere in the basement.

MarkII

#### BobH48

##### Well-Known Member
I already use The GIMP for my other graphics work and I have gotten quite comfortable with it, even though I only understand about 1% of what it is capable of doing.

MarkII
So why don't you make decals with that?

It's quite capable of making acceptable decals. The only problem is you can't really scale them so you have to make them the correct size to begin with.

I'm worse than all of you and make my decals in MS Paint. I know it's tedious and they are not scaleable but I know how to use it quite well.

All of my paper models were made with MS Paint and it's just like making decals except they are printed on cardstock instead of decal paper.
http://rocketry.wordpress.com/ultimate-paper-rocket-guide/paper-rocket-partial-builds/

Last edited:

#### MarkII

##### Well-Known Member
So why don't you make decals with that?

It's quite capable of making acceptable decals. The only problem is you can't really scale them so you have to make them the correct size to begin with.

I'm worse than all of you and make my decals in MS Paint. I know it's tedious and they are not scaleable but I know how to use it quite well.

All of my paper models were made with MS Paint and it's just like making decals except they are printed on cardstock instead of decal paper.
http://rocketry.wordpress.com/ultimate-paper-rocket-guide/paper-rocket-partial-builds/
The GIMP doesn't really create totally smooth lines or edges. There is always some pixelation at the edges, even if it is very minute. Anti-aliasing can smooth it, but not eliminate it. Vector graphics are free of pixelation. Vector drawing is particularly well-suited for line art, which is what most decals employ. (Actually, in most cases it is line art that is filled with solid blocks of color.) The GIMP, on the other hand, is well-suited for editing photo images and other complex graphics that employ hundreds or thousands of shades of color.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vector_graphics

MarkII

#### BobH48

##### Well-Known Member
The GIMP doesn't really create totally smooth lines or edges. There is always some pixelation at the edges, even if it is very minute.
Mark,

Absolutely correct but if your resolution is high enough, it really isn't noticeable. I typically use 300 DPI and no one notices.

I haven't had a single person demand a refund because the graphics weren't good enough on the free paper rockets I've made.

#### JoeG

##### Well-Known Member
Serigrapher, eh? My very first occupation, oh, so many years ago. I even studied it in college! But back then at the dawn of time (dawn of the disco era, actually) we didn't even have any computers, let alone graphics software.

I still have my first screen stashed somewhere in the basement.

MarkII
Yeah, but around here I was just known as the t-shirt guy.
I've heard tales of drawing art by hand and even exposing screens in the sunlight and trying to get them washed out before they got too hard and over exposed.

Now there is computer art with film positives coming off the printer and vacuum tables with UV light exposure.

Ahh the good old days.

#### MarkII

##### Well-Known Member
Sunlight? Nah, we weren't THAT primitive. We used photo equipment. But yes, after exposure, we did have to wash the screens to finish creating the stencils. So, did you screen by hand or did you use machines?

BTW, this IS on topic, because we used to make decals and stickers in my shop, including stuff for Grumman and Republic, among dozens of other items. Speaking of other print jobs, I spent a good amount of time working as a "galley slave." If you ever saw one of the types of signs that we made and how we made them, you will know what I mean.

MarkII

Last edited:

##### Well-Known Member
I have exposed many a screen in the sun. On cloudy days we had a carbon arc exposure unit that required constant adjustment during exposure. Most of my work is in the sign industry for architectural graphics. Good fun.

#### Zack Lau

##### Well-Known Member
As a kid I made artwork using rub on resist letters and tape. I then exposed the screens in the sun and washed off the unexposed resist--worked great! I still have the rubber squeegee I used to make my own postcards. Somehow, I don't think that qualified me as a serigrapher, though someone did say they loved how my card stood out like sore thumb on his wall--I printed them with bold orange ink. I was in Hawaii and making a radio contact with the 50th state is a nice achievement for a lot of ham radio operators.

#### MarkII

##### Well-Known Member
I did it professionally, but it was a relatively brief career. It was intense, though; I worked my butt off! I eventually had to hang it up, though. I wasn't too crazy about spending a good portion of each day with my work clothes totally soaked in benzene and acetone. We regularly used some BIG screens for several reoccurring jobs, hence, the galley slave reference. (Just imagine what kind of lever that you would need in order to wield a five foot long squeegee while printing a run of 200 enormous posters.) Washing the screens down afterward was a total body experience. I am 5' 9" tall, and I regularly printed with and washed down screens that were taller than me on their SHORT sides! My wife still talks about how she used to regularly find ink stains on my body in some very unusual places! :roll:

But that all took place a very long time ago...

MarkII