How to Make RC Aircraft Graphics With Your Printer

Written by larry simmons
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How to Make RC Aircraft Graphics With Your Printer
Add graphics to your RC aircraft to give it a more realistic look. (David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Whether you are adding realism or creating a new design for your remote-control (RC) aircraft, using water-transfer decals is a fun and easy way to create the aircraft look you want without extensive and difficult painting. Water-transfer decals printed in an inkjet printer allow you to add colourful graphics that would otherwise take hours to create by hand. With modification options available in photo-editing software, your options for creative designs are virtually endless, from World War 2 aircraft graphics to modern airline logos. Application only takes a couple of minutes, but once in place the graphics can last through years of flying.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • PC with inkjet printer
  • Flatbed scanner
  • Photo-editing software
  • Decal paper
  • Clear coat spray
  • Scissors
  • Small bowl
  • Remote-control aircraft
  • Mild liquid soap
  • Squeegee

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  1. 1

    Locate the specific graphic you wish to place onto your RC aircraft. Any image can be placed, but you will need to convert images found in books or magazines into digital form by scanning the image into your PC with a flatbed scanner. Save the image as a .gif, .bmp, or .jpg digital image file for use with most photo-editing software programs.

  2. 2

    Load the image into a photo-editing application. Make any modifications necessary to the image, such as removing image background, correcting the colour or altering the image size for printing to the proper scale needed for your aircraft. Print a draft copy of the graphic for sizing to make certain it fits the scale needed. Save the image file to your hard drive.

  3. 3

    Load the printer with a sheet of decal paper with the clear side of the paper facing upwards. Set the printer setting to photo printing at best quality to avoid smearing the decal during the printing process. Print the image to the decal paper and let it sit for about five minutes for the ink to dry completely.

  4. 4

    Spray the image on the decal paper with three light coats of clear coat spray to protect the colours from fading or rubbing off with aircraft use. Allow each coat about 15 minutes to dry before spraying on the next coat. Cover the decal paper with a box to prevent dust from coating the clear coat and marring the finish. Wait at least 12 hours for the final coat to dry.

  5. 5

    Cut the decal paper around the image with scissors. Remove any excess paper from around the decal, leaving only the graphic.

  6. 6

    Clean the RC aircraft where you intend to install the decal with mild liquid soap and water. Rinse off the soap with a damp cloth. Leave the area on the aircraft where you intend to put the decal slightly wet.

  7. 7

    Fill a small bowl with warm water, then submerge the decal in the bowl with the graphic side facing up. Soak the decal in the water for 30 seconds.

  8. 8

    Remove the decal from the water and place it onto the RC aircraft. Slide the decal from the backing paper onto the model using a wet finger. Use a small squeegee to go over the surface of the decal and remove any excess water or air from between the decal and the aircraft. Allow the decal to dry in place.

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