Custom Headstock Decals

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by mPacT, Jul 21, 2018.

  1. mPacT

    mPacT Tele-Holic

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    Hello all,

    I thought I would drop in and do a quick headstock logo demo. Seems like it's been awhile since one was done and the guy that everyone used to buy custom decals from has gone out of business. *Edit: I see there have been several, I just haven't been around! HA!

    So hopefully some of you will find this helpful. Feel free to contact me directly if you need help with it and aren't comfortable asking a question in the thread.

    Here we go!

    This is a logo I created for the infamous UK guitar that John Nicholas and I worked on, (I'm still working on.), for a gentleman in England that had his entire busking rig destroyed by the firebombing of his truck. It should have been done by now, but I have been under the weather for some time. (Also why no Knob demo updates for you hardcore followers. I will add to it soon.)

    The guitar is an "S" type and as most do, I wanted to use the Fender style font. After a bit of searching I found the Fender Style font online and fired up Illustrator. The font is close, but not exact so no shenanigans please! Now for those that don't have Illustrator, I believe all of what I'm about to show will work in Inkscape which is free. . . and therefore awesome. (I haven't tried it, so I could be talking out of my butt. However, if you know better, please comment.)

    So after typing Matt's name, BTW the UK guy is Matt, I sized it generally to what I wanted. At this stage it does not need to be perfectly sized. I prefer to make it bigger so its easier to work with, then adjust down later.

    HS Decal.png

    Now the Fender Style font can't join all the letters together like a true script logo, so you will have to modify it. See the gaps?

    HS Decal 2.png

    In order to do that, you need to convert the individual letters into Outlines so that you can manipulate the "points" of the image. You will see what I mean in a sec.

    HS Decal 3.png

    See those little dots? Those are the points used to define the letter shapes. By manipulating them, you can alter stuff quite a lot. Now you visual learners are going to need to actually read this next bit, you have to first use the "Selection" tool to click on a letter until it is the only one with its points visible. Click - double click - click. Then you will need to use the "Direct Selection" tool, (right next to it on the tool pallet), in order to highlight the points.

    HS Decal 4.png

    Double click one point until all of them turn white. Once they are highlighted, you can use the little "Lasso select" tool bellow the Direct Select tool, to select multiple points at once.

    HS Decal 5.png

    More. . .
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
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  2. mPacT

    mPacT Tele-Holic

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    Now here is where it gets wacky. Once you have selected a group of points with the Lasso tool, you need to click on the Direct Select tool again in order to move the group of points. BTW, that's what we are trying to do. Now, you can use your arrow keys to move the points as well but know that your grid settings under your Preferences can affect how far they move. (I think!)
    I moved the tail of the "R" over so that it overlapped the "E". This made the tail a bit thick which I don't like.

    HS Decal 6.png

    So I selected the individual points with the Direct Select tool and moved them until I like it again. I should mention that after moving the points, the curve at the bottom of the "R" was irregular. I needed to smooth it out again by Direct Selecting the individual points until the two little handles appeared for each point, then I manipulated the handles until the curve smoothed out again. Done!

    HS Decal 7.png
    Use the regular Select tool to grab all the individual letters and then use the "Merge" command under the "Pathfinder" window.

    HS Decal 8.png

    See, now they are one script that will be open between the lines later on. You will see what I mean soon enough.

    HS Decal 9.png

    One you have all the letters merged together, you can use the "Fill" and "Line" box to make the script an outline. I also used the "Stroke" box next to the Line dropdown to determine the thickness of my. . . well, line.

    HS Decal 91.png


    More. . .
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
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  3. mPacT

    mPacT Tele-Holic

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    After I made the name script into an outline, I added the "Phoenix Special" and serial number using the Helvetica font. I also made the little "Custom Contour Body" decal using a combination of the Fender Style font and the Helvetica. I also added my stylized signature to put on the back of the headstock. Later on, I would decide not to do it as I didn't feel right about putting it on there without John's signature as well. I had a custom neck plate engraved previously for the build so Matt would always be reminded that two strangers gave a crap, lol! So it was no big deal.

    I flipped the image vertically so I could color it from behind, (more later) and copied and pasted the images until it populated a full page, just in case.

    First let me say that before you attempt to print on your expensive, waterslide decal "paper", you should do some test prints. Use regular paper and cut them out and place them on the headstock to make sure the sizes are correct. Also, really examine the lines of the printed images. I discovered after printing out and coloring a set, that the lines where very jagged. Even though my brand new laser printer had hardly been used! I ended up reinstalling the print drivers and that fixed the issue. There is a guy selling decals on Ebay that appears to have the same problem. The lines look like they are 8bit! Maybe I should contact him. . .

    I'm using a frickn' laser printer! Wahooo!!! Ahem, but you can easily use an inkjet if the quality of the printer is good. You will need to get the proper waterslide decal medium of course. The spray fixative mentioned later will still work.

    A very important note. Get everything setup, paper in printer correct side up, ready to go. File open with the print command and all setting ready. I used "Best" quality and Heavy Glossy medium 130g-175g in my printer settings. Once it is all set, THEN TURN THE PRINTER ON AND IMMEDIATELY HIT PRINT. The reason is the warmer the printers roller gets, the more likely it is to melt the waterslide decal to it and cause a nasty jam. Took me several sheets of decal paper before I worked that out I'm embarrassed to say!

    HS Decal 92.png

    I chose to use this laser waterslide decal product from Dr. Decal Mr. Hyde in Australia. (Shoutout to all the Aussies!) Here is a link.

    https://drdecalmrhyde.com/shop/supe...ecal-paper-international-customers-australia/

    I got this as it is only 8 microns thick as opposed to the 12-18 micron thick waterslide decal film you get everywhere else. I figured it would make it a bit easier to bury in the finish.

    I also got some of this UV Laminate fixative spray from Duradecal.com. More on that later on.

    https://duradecal.com/collections/l...cts/aerosol-lla5000-uv-laminate-spray-12fl-oz

    For the coloring, I got two colored calligraphy inks along with a couple nibs and a handle off of Amazon. My cheap a** handle broke the first time I used it, so don't get the least expensive model!

    IMG_8425.jpg

    The inks were Windsor Newton and needed to be shaken well before use. I poured some out of the jars into a little 3/4 ounce deli cup so I wasn't leaving the ink in the bottle exposed to the air to dry out for no reason. OCD much?

    IMG_8426.jpg

    Basically, I just dip the pen into the ink, without smashing it, and carefully color between the lines. By using the dip pen, you have a lot of control over the ink flow. For the very narrow space in the letters, have less ink on the nib and very light pressure. It is easy to do but my 49 year old eyes needed an Optivisor to see up close. There is a great bargain on FleaBay for under $20 and it is the real deal. I actually find it quite relaxing, and don't tell my wife, I steal away downstairs sometimes under the guise "working" on something just to color. . .

    IMG_8427.jpg

    Now, one thing about the inks that I didn't notice at first, is the metallic pigment tends to settle in the middle of the of the lines. This caused a problem for me later on as there were thin spots in the silver and the gold that I didn't see until I applied the decal. What I suggest is you let the first ink layer dry for several hours, then do a second layer to guarantee coverage.

    The last step is to spray some UV Laminate spray over the painted decal. I painted the underside because when the decal is applied, the metallic lettering will look smooth when its flipped and applied. In order to prevent the ink from running when the decal is applied, you lightly spray the fixative over the decal. I did four light layers. Sprayed it, let it sit for a couple hours, sprayed again, etc. Think of it as a dusting and not a heavy wet coat. Let that sit for a solid day.

    IMG_8429.jpg

    To apply it, you just need a cup of warm water and I like to use something called Micro Set. I like the "Flat" version for this headstock as it will be flat finished as well. It's a good idea for the wood to have a light finish on it other than oil.
    I put a few drops of water at the location I want the logo and then spread a few drops of the Micro Set on top of that. Then basically soak the decal which you have already cut out for about 45 to 60 seconds. Use tweezers to remove it from the water and carefully place it on the headstock. Hold down the edge of the decal with your finger while you slide off the paper backing. Be careful and not all ham handed or you will tear it!

    IMG_8531.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
  4. mPacT

    mPacT Tele-Holic

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    Once you have it positioned where you want it, dab it carefully with a paper towel. Make sure to get out any trapped bubbles under the film. Let it dry overnight and you can start finishing it the next day.

    IMG_8539.jpg

    If you look closely at the image, there are some thin spots in the silver coloring and a couple weirdnesses in the outline. After I took this picture, I peeled off the decal then used lighter fluid to remove the residue. Then I reapplied a decal I did with two coats of silver. However, as I write this, I can't find the picture. I'll keep looking. Take care!
     
  5. 2blue2

    2blue2 Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you
     
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  6. LocoTex

    LocoTex Tele-Afflicted

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    Wow! great job.
     
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  7. Larkins

    Larkins Tele-Meister

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    Awesome tutorial
     
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  8. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks Mike!
     
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  9. parkwood

    parkwood Tele-Meister

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    Cool,
    you're skilled enough for those nibs) I always feel safer with 0.8 mm paint marker.
    And, besides BrushScript, there's a nice Strato font, which is rarely mentioned.
    Great job on the headstock!
     
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  10. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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    Great—thank you. I’ve tried paint markers but I think the pen nib might be the way to go. Great work on the font!

    It’s amazing to me that it’s still so hard to make decals
     
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  11. mPacT

    mPacT Tele-Holic

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    I wanted to try an .08mm fine point marker so I ordered a couple. At the time I did this, the smallest marker pen size I had was a 1mm Molotow Liquid Chrome. I love the Liquid Chrome but the pen is waaaayyy too big for the fine lines between. I started experimenting with using the dip pen with the Liquid Chrome and had some promising results.
     
  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Looks great, especially the coloring trick.

    Yes, Inkscape is a great option, https://inkscape.org/en/




    Packing tape logo install trick, if you don't have access to waterslide paper


    .
     
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  13. I_build_my_own

    I_build_my_own Friend of Leo's

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    Awesome!!
     
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