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Ok, Dr Newcenstein was bored again and decided to try something totally off the wall.

Referring to the thread about logos and transfer paper and rub-ons and decals and all that, I was at work the other night and thought "surely, someone somewhere has a tutorial on how to make your own rub-on transfer paper?"

So, I decided that when I got home from work I'd look around the 'net and see if I could find such a tutorial.

Well, call me lazy, but I didn't :D

Instead, I thought it out myself, and while it's not a proper rub-on, it still tranfsers nicely.

Here's what I did:

I found a small simple graphic (red, black, white - no not an EVH B)) and printed it onto some window decal paper (Walmart has some stuff called "Invent it! Window Decals" - works with ordinary inkjet printers). I set the printer for the proper paper (HP Deskjet 842C, using the Other Transparencies paper setting), set the ink volume for maximum, print in color (cuz the picture has red in it), and had the printer scale the image to size. I wasn't worried about pixelation (since the pic was very small) as this was just an experiment to see if it'd actually work.

I only did one test so far, so I can't say how altering the print settings will work - you probably COULD use a lighter or standard ink volume, but I leave that to you :D

Anyhoo, as soon as the page comes out of the printer, pour some Mod Podge on the image (directly on the ink, not the unprinted back side) and spread the glue witha brush to cover the entire graphic - I suppose you could use some spray-on adhesive is that's what ya got, but I don't got that so I can't say if it'll work.

Anyhoo, once the graphic is coated, slap it glue/ink-side down onto your guitar. I use a plastic trem cavity cover for a squeegee - it's flexible enough but also stiff enough - perfect :D

Anyhoo, squeegee all the excess glue out from under the sheet BEFORE the image begins transferring. You'll end up with very lightly colored glue as you squeegee, but since you're being quick about it, most of the excess ink is staying on the sheet (remember, I used heavy ink volume). Now, once you've got it good and smooth (about 2 minutes or less of squeegee time) lay it down for about an hour or so.

After an hour or so, squeegee the image again (now the ink is REALLY soaking with color) and peel off the transparency. This should leave 90% or more of the ink on the glue (and on the body).

Here's a funny thing: wash the glue and leftover ink off the transparency! Warm water and gentle hand-rubbing will take it right off!

You can even soak the transparency in a large enough pan of warm water to get the rest of the glue off (as some will have dried to it during the hour or so set time), but you can re-use the same sheet later!

Anyhoo, don't do like I did and poke the paper before you do the second squeegee - you'll get a finger dent in the image and it will NOT be fixable. Also, make sure you've got a firm grip on the sheet when you do the second squeegee, as one slide will warp the image. This might be good for doing swirls, though, but since I wasn't going for a swirl, mine was toasted :D

So, once you've got the transparency paper peeled off, let it set for another coupla hours to get good and dry, then clear it over.

NOTE: You can apply this over an existing poly finish! That's what I did, and I test-poked it and it did not scratch off easily like I thought it would. I'm sure it'll come off with a little more force, but just a simple light grazing with my squeegee didn't put a big gash in it, or even a tiny scar.

Sorry, no pics, because it's a neat-ass graphic and I want to wait till I do the final version before letting the cat outta the bag B)

THEN, I'll spill the whole bag of beans and take pics B)


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As promised, here's the whole bag o beans :D

Ok, I started with a PaintShopped image I did:


Ok, set the printer's options to Poster printing, 2x2 (2 sheets high x 2 sheets wide). This will spread any image over 4 sheets of paper (enough to cover a standard Strat-style body). Also I set the orientation for Landscape, the print quality to Best, the paper type to Other transparency (since I wasn't using HP's overpriced trans paper :D). You might also want to make sure your image will print in the proper direction. I had to mirror the original image in Paint Shop to make sure the inked side would be in the glue and the image would face the right way.

This time, instead of putting the glue on the paper, I put it on the body (in this case a Charvel Model 2) in the general area of where I wanted the first page to go, and spread it around with a brush while I waited for the first sheet to come out of the printer. I used a pretty good amount of glue, not a thin coat.

Once the first page came out (and the second started automatically) I placed the sheet ink-side-down onto the glue and pressed it down with the edge of my squeegee (the same trem cavity cover as before). You'll have to hold the page by a blank edge as you run the squeegee, but do NOT touch the back of the graphic itself or you'll smear the ink. The squeegee can run over the back of the graphic all day long because it's wider and flat, but your fingers are round and will leave faded dents in it - trust me B)

Also, if you do print your image using the Poster function, you'll have blank areas on the edges which you'll want to trim off before you place the first sheet down, unless you want Exacto marks on your guitar body :D

Trim off the edges where the next page's part of the graphic is going to meet the first page's part, then place it on the glue and squeegee it out.

Do the same for the next 3 pages.

I squeegeed the excess glue towards the areas where the following sheets were going to be placed, and spread it around with my brush. This conserves glue (which conserves money).

Ok, here's a shot of the first two pages on the body:


Ignore the pickup. I didn't take it completely off. I thought I could eyeball the necessary cut to get around the wire. I was only fooling myself for about 10 seconds, and then I had to race against the rapidly drying ink to clip the wires to get the pickup out. It's a Gibson Dirty Fingers pickup, which means it's got a metal braid, which means it was soldered to the pot, and my soldering iron wasn't plugged in, which means I had to get rough B)

Anyway, I ripped it right out and smeared the glue around (spilled it on the floor as well :D) and slapped the page down (after I trimmed the blank edge off).

Squeegee out the excess as before, raking it towards the location of the next two sheets.

You'll notice the eye in the Paint Shopped image is almost off the body. I cut that eye out of the sheet and placed it a little farther into the body and closer into the top horn.

Trim the last two sheet's edges as before and line them up, give them a good squeegeeing out towards the back edge (not towards the other sheets) and let it sit for about an hour and a half.


When the hour and a half (or more) is up, peel off the transparencies. If you used enough glue (heaping globs) you should get a nice transfer. If you got it too thin (like I did) anywhere, you're going to have a gap.


Now, mine came out screwed up because I got the glue too thin in spots and because I squeegeed the pages towards each other, which means the other pages moved slightly and I didn't notice it. So remember, squeegee from the inside to the outside, and not towards an existing sheet. That spot on the lower horn in the last pic is actually coated quite well, the camera flash washed it out.

The beauty of going over a polycoated body is that you can take an old credit/auto club/phone card (or the trem cavity cover) and scrape it all off and start over, which I'll do later tonight, as I wanted the graphic lined up like it is in the Paint Shop image B)


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Yup B)

I love them old WWII fighter/bomber graphics :D

Here's my USA Jackson Warrior in "Pearl Harbor" Warbird (the only "Pearl" I've seen - most are East Coast/West Coast with a Redhead or Blonde in a black nighty - this one's a Hawaiian babe in a tropical Sarong)


Not the prettiest face ever painted, but it was airbrushed when it should have been hairbrushed IMO :D

The Flying Tiger I used came with a Testors model decal kit - there's a CD of clipart in the box.


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hey JCF

i am impressed too. i wanted to transfer a pic on to my axe too, but i didn't like the idea of a thin sticker polyied on to a guitar < so i was going to use rub on tranfers. but now i have seen this - i hope you can bring a tutorial of your transfering method to life in the future. i think a lot of people would benefit from it. [like me :D]


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  • 1 month later...

hi i'vo bought and old fender telecaster relique fromm '72. but the decal was missing. i need your help plas!!!

i need a printable (jpg,gif,bmp) decal for my "new" fender telecaster. i wanted to do it by printing it troguh a laser printer and folloing the tutorial from brian, for making decals the easy way.


Merry christmas from warm argentina!!!

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