I was asked to make a bare wood steam engine model look like an existing diesel locomotive owned by the same company. It will apparently be used in a race at a business meeting. I started to do research on getting metallic gold decals made, but decided that since it would probably be in the public eye for a short time; I would instead use photographic prints frm the local Wal-Mart.
Here’s the real one:The first thing I did on the model was to sand it.Next, I gave it a coat of Shellac. This is an ancient, but versatile product, made from bugs. On this project, I used it to seal the wood, so I got the unwaxed version, sold as sealer. By sealing, I mean to stop other products from soaking into the wood, not to seal out water. Shellac is very fast drying, brings out wood color nicely, and is compatible with a lot of top coats.The sealer will lock any errant wood fibers in place, making the easy to sand, so I sanded it again. Then I realized I could speed up the job by mounting it in a way that let me work on all sides at once.Next, I sprayed on a coat of sandable primer. This is one of the final stages in an automotive finish. It allows one to fill small scratches and imperfections.Then I sanded it again, but my 400 wet and dry paper was too aggressive, so I had to prime again. This time I used fine steel wool to treat the primer. All pieces of dust must be removed, and microscopic scratches must be put in the surface, for binding the next coat.After this, I painted it black. As I said before, I went with a more pragmatic route for the graphics. Here’s a couple tips: Since the paint was gloss black, I made sure the print was also. I used a black felt marker to make the cut edges of the photo paper black. That’s very important; other wise it looks like cheesy cut outs. I cut near, but not exactly at the edge of the shape I was cutting out with a hobby knife. There’s so much contrast business going on visually, that people won’t be drawn to the actual cut, which is like an outline going around each graphic. A nice little cheat of sorts, especially around things like the lettering. You can see these cut edges at some angles, but I think that overall, it will be approved of.I make all the graphics as SVG vector files, then export them as one 8 inch by 10 inch PNG file, at 300 DPI. That’s basically making it into a reasonably high resolution picture that can be printed as a photograph. Here are pictures of the finished job: