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Looking for Advice on Making Custom Stencil/Decal for Ship Name

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Hi All! I am making the Vanguard's Nisha for my Dad and I thought it would be a nice touch to use the family name on the stern of the ship. The decal that comes with the model is 3mm high. I was not able to find any stencil with the right font hight that small so I was looking to try and create a custom stencil. Any advice on how to do it would be greatly appreciated! 


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Hi Glomar, I’ve used dry transfer lettering on a couple of boats with good success. I think it was Letraset. Probably all depends on if it comes in the font and size you need.



Completed Builds   Glad Tidings Model Shipways. -   Nordland Boat. Billings Boats . -  HM Cutter Cheerful-1806  Syren Model Ship Company. 


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BECC vinyl lettering may be an option.  


Xtradecal do decal lettering, you might be able to do something with lettering used for military vehicles


Current Build

HMS Indefatigable 

Erycina - Vanguard Models

Finished: HM Bomb Vessel Granado - Caldercraft, HMS Pegasus - Victory models, Nisha - Vanguard Models

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I never used one, but many plastic modelers start to use plotter cutter devices, which can cut PC pre designed contours into vinyl foil. This should be accurate enough.


Cheers Rob 

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I would simply make that name in Microsoft Word. I do them this way all the time. Your situation is ideal for it, because there's a frame around the area with the lettering. You should be able to find a font that's very close to what you want. You can even give the name a slight curve if you want to follow the curve of the stern.


I would either create a one-celled table or use a text box and set the background colour to black. Make the cell or box quite a bit larger than you need. That way you have lots of room and margin for error when you cut it out. Centre the white lettering in the cell or box. It will take a bit of trial and error to get just the right font style and size etc. Once you've got the lettering right, print it, cut it out large enough to cover the whole stern area, glue it on and add the white frame. It should look pretty good.


There may be better ways of doing it than this one, but at least this one works for me. I have never had good luck with other methods such as dry transfer lettering etc.


Current Build - St. Roch, Billing Boats; HMS Agamemnon, Caldercraft (on hold)

Previous Builds - Armed Virginia Sloop, Model Shipways; Constitution, Model Shipways; Rattlesnake, Mamoli; Virginia Privateer, Marine Model Co, restoration; Prince de Neufchatel, Model Shipways; Charles W. Morgan, Model Shipways; Pride of Baltimore II, Model Shipways, Bluenose, Model Shipways (x2); Niagara, Model Shipways; Mayfower, Model Shipways; Shamrock V, Amati; HMS Pegasus, Victory/Amati


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Oh! A topic that I feel that I can actually help, as it relates to my background (graphic design).


I agree with David that printing a copy of it will be the easiest option here, especially that you have a nice frame around it, so you won't have to worry about matching the transition between hull black and your paper black. If that's not an option, the second best approach would be using dry-rub/letraset lettering, as they are still pretty readily available and pretty easy to use (you can even order custom ones online). I would advise against using a traditional plotter to cut this lettering, as it is so small that the blade might "get in the way" of getting a neat cut. Laser cutter would the trick tho and it would be my third recommendation (and first if you have your heart set on making a stencil).


As for printing, just like Ron said, home printing will fade with time. The normal office paper is made to be cheap, not long lasting. You can get acid free paper in art stores, sometimes even per sheet if you don't need a whole pack. If you have a relatively recent printer at home (like not much older than a decade), the ink/toner will last couple decades on a good, acid-free paper. If you want to make it really long lasting, art stores will sell UV resistant fixatives (usually in spray cans) that will prolong the time to start fading considerably OR you can take a file to your local printer (not Staples or Kinko's - a specialty/commercial printer, most bigger cities will have at least one) and they can print it for you with archival inks on quality archival paper that will last even longer.


If it was me, I would use decent acid free paper, print at home (both recent laser and inkjet printers will do fine here), use a spray fixative once the page has dried (just let it "air itself out" for half an hour to be sure) then cut to size and glue.



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I have used rub-on letters as masks for painting. I needed a font and color (silver) that apparently wasn't made at the time. I did find black letters of the correct font and size.


I painted the surface silver, and after it had dried thoroughly I placed the letters. Then I sprayed the background color (black) on the surface. When it had dried I peeled off the rub-on letters and I had silver lettering!


There are several advantages to this method. One, the lettering won't peel off at some time in the future. Second, the painted letters had no apparent thickness, unlike the rub-ons whose thickness was way out of scale for the painted letters on the original. And because good paints were used there isn't much chance the colors will fade.

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