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Design own decals


Junior Member
I tried finding a suitable sub-forum for this, and I figured this is the best place to post this question.

I'm looking at painting my FT Simple Storch in scale-friendly colors, specifically this:

Now, for the serial and the Balkenkreuz, I'd rather fix my own decals instead of painting it.

Does anyone know of some online store that can accept custom designs and print it on a decal paper similar to the one that Flite Test uses (preferably the same). Also I live in Sweden, so US-domestic delivery can be a problem ;)


Staff member
You should look for a local company that cuts vinyl for shop windows, etc. Usually they need some kind of vector graphics to cut them.

That's exactly how the FT decals are made.


creator of virtual planes
I thought it was called an Iron Cross, not Balkenkreuz. But I guess you learn something new everyday.

Couldn't you take some thin cardboard or poster board and cut out a stencil of the serial number and the Balkenkreuz? It would be much cheaper and should look just as good. Probably use a brush to paint it on to help prevent over spray or run off with a spray can.

Or, I know somewhere on this forum, someone just printed off the decal he wanted onto printer paper and then used a spray glue to glue it on. It's maybe not as nice of a result, but is a lot cheaper.


Junior Member
Hmm, that idea of printing on normal paper and spray glueing is a good tip, I'll try it as a last resort!

And I know of a place from a walking distance from my apartment that does decals for cars and window tints. You guys think they can help me? :)


FT CAD Gremlin
These are done as follows:

Primary color with colored packing tape
Graphics printed on plain white printer paper, applied with spay adhesive, and covered with clear tape

Purple Ugly Stick.jpg
Red Bloody Baron.jpg


Staff member
The Iron Cross was used by the Luftstreitkräfte around 1914-1915 and was replaced by the Balkenkreuz in the Third Reich.

Iron Cross:

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Builder Extraordinare
I've used lots of different techniques. If you want all-out custom I recommend no other than Callie's. I have the advantage of a wife who is my personal graphic artist. She does it for a living. I have a vinyl cutter to make painting masks. Its a Sillhouette SD (old model). I've printed onto tissue paper. The issue with that is that you generally need to use oil-based polyurethane (OBPU) to prevent wrinkling and running of the ink. I've also done the print on paper and apply to the model. Coat with a spray-on clear coat. It works. Not as nice but it works. I guess it really amounts to what your application is. You could go to your local craft store and just pick up some vinyl transfer tape and make a mask for painting that way. Some do not like the harsh edges so they simply cut from cardstock and tape in position and spray away. It gives softer edges. Depends on the style you are going for.

Hope this gives some ideas.
I print my decals on this paper:


This way you get very thin decals, which don´t "stand off" like vinyl stickers. As this paper is for printing "tattoo´s" they form easily around curves. For durabilty you could/should add a layer of clear paint afterwards.

For the Iron Cross vs. Balkenkreuz (bar/beam cross):

It´s native name is black cross and it derives from the medieval knight´s order of the "German order", a crusader´s order which colonized the old german east up to the baltic states after the crusades ended. It resembled the red cross of the Templars, just in black color.

In the wake of the wars against Napoleon it was in use by prussian troops to denote the lineage of a german fighting force in a time, when "Germany" was non-existent. Due to shortage of precious metals, iron was used to make medals of the black cross, which led to it´s nickname "iron cross", which after a while became the official name of this insignia.

When in the WW1 planes had to be properly identified, the iron cross came in use again, as a very distinguishable sign, compared to our enemies, which all used different coloured cockades. As a side note: Austria-Hungary switched to the iron cross in the war, because the former used cockade was to easyily confounded with the italian one, fighting on allied side (and for another funny side-note: When Churchill learned of the italo-german axis prior to WW2, it is said, that he commented "Well, that´s fair, last time we had to support them").

The Balkenkreuz was a stylized, easier to paint version of the iron cross, used from 1916 on in the air force, the navy stayed with the original form. In the first weeks of WW2 the inner, black cross wasn´t in use, so only a white cross remained, especially on tanks. But like a few years later the white stars on Sherman tanks, there were to easy to spot and used as aims by enemy troops.

Today the iron cross (with curved bars) is in use again by our armed forces (for another funny side-note: Which, as my dad always says, wasn´t an army at all but just a "stopping device" against the soviets until the real (US) army arrives) , but with the white outer lines from the Balkenkreuz.
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Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
I'm lucky that I have access to the design software and both a vinyl printer and cutter at work (I make commercial vehicle fleet lettering, DOT identification numbers, and legal lettering as part of my job). Too bad I'm far from artistic and can only make the basic stuff so far, such as text. I'm still working on some of the more detailed stuff.

photo (2).JPG
I have used clear vinyl, overhead projector sheets to print decals on. Then just tape them on with thin, clear packing tape. Results have varied depending on the quality of the printer and ink. Be sure to set it all for the highest resolution.