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Methods for Creating Custom Stickers

Farmer_JohnFarmer_John USA - 4,035 Miles from 62 West Wallaby St., Wigan, Lancashire, UKMember Posts: 2,404
I'm curious how others create custom stickers for their MOC and BL'd sets? There are people selling custom stickers on eBay and making a killing doing it. And their stickers actually look pretty good.

I'm sure there are some experts on this forum that might be willing to part with some specific wisdom regarding exactly how they create their stickers. For example, do Avery labels work well or are there other brand labels that are better? What resolution is best to use? Are certain type color printers better to use? Etc.?

I recently built the Moulding Machine #4000001-1 and want to produce stickers for the set. @bkbr initiated a great discussion (and even produced some stickers) on this set, which I unfortunately got to late. But there are other sets (especially the train sets) that I would also like to produce customer stickers for.

Anyway, I would be interested in hearing others' experiences on how they create their custom stickers...
AndormadforLEGO

Comments

  • sklambsklamb speaker of American EnglishMember Posts: 514
    edited December 2014
    I am considering (but haven't tried yet) printing onto the sort of transparent film that clings to glass without an adhesive, rather than onto any sort of sticker. If the method works, it would be a great way to get the look of stickers without having to worry about the sticker cracking or peeling later on. Obviously only appropriate for display models, or maybe window decorations for a Lego-built dollhouse or similar.

    It may also be possible to buy printable decal film, which while more permanent than the clinging film would still IMO be a better solution than using mailing labels like Avery. For the most part I've found Avery labels fairly thick and I also suspect their adhesive might not agree well with ABS. After all, mailing labels are meant to be stuck to paper, not plastic. A variety of interesting materials suitable for use with either an inkjet or laser printer (though not, usually, with both) does exist--you might try checking out a hobby shop or art supply store to see what you can find that seems appropriate.

    You'd also need a quality printer--photo quality if you're printing in color. And if you're using water-set decal film, you'd need to be sure the printing wouldn't run if it gets wet.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,534

    I'm curious how others create custom stickers for their MOC and BL'd sets? There are people selling custom stickers on eBay and making a killing doing it. And their stickers actually look pretty good.

    I'm sure there are some experts on this forum that might be willing to part with some specific wisdom regarding exactly how they create their stickers. For example, do Avery labels work well or are there other brand labels that are better? What resolution is best to use? Are certain type color printers better to use? Etc.?

    I recently built the Moulding Machine #4000001-1 and want to produce stickers for the set. @bkbr initiated a great discussion (and even produced some stickers) on this set, which I unfortunately got to late. But there are other sets (especially the train sets) that I would also like to produce customer stickers for.

    Anyway, I would be interested in hearing others' experiences on how they create their custom stickers...

    I've have asked for the same in a previous thread some time ago, not sure people want to give up their secrets to good quality sticker production.
  • monkeymonkey Member Posts: 235
    edited December 2014
    ^ Is this because they are selling the stickers they produce and want to maintain the demand? To be honest I would gladly buy third party made stickers, as some original ones demand silly prices on bricklink (and in my view, Lego should not have any stickers to begin with so my conscience here is clear!) But this in turn would make other people unhappy, the collectors bunch, who are afraid that such practices diminish the rarity and value of their sets..
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,365
    There are a number of threads on this subject already, here is a recent one ...

    http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/comment/295426#Comment_295426
  • Farmer_JohnFarmer_John USA - 4,035 Miles from 62 West Wallaby St., Wigan, Lancashire, UKMember Posts: 2,404
    Why pay $10 for a small sticker sheet when I can purchase an entire package of paper for $10? I think I have the software to produce the images. Just curious about the level of printer and other miscellaneous thoughts. Once the plunge is taken, then the recurring costs aren't really too bad.

    The main thing I'm trying to produce now is the sticker set for #4000001-1 since I've already built the set itself.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,365

    Why pay $10 for a small sticker sheet when I can purchase an entire package of paper for $10?

    Is this a case of buying a genuine one for $10 vs a pack of paper for $10, or buying a fake one for $10 vs a pack of paper for $10.

    The first argument is clear - if you want a genuine lego set, you have to have the genuine parts, including stickers.

    The second one is not so clear - if you can produce your own fakes to a high enough quality, then there is probably no reason to purchase expensive fakes. The question is can you produce those fakes to high enough quality. I find even on an 5 year old epson photo printer than you can reproduce detail enough at 600dpi to make it clear enough to the eye, even if you look very close. That is good enough for me.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    @Farmer_John‌ I have a spate set of the stickers that @bkpr‌ made. Unfortunately I'm on the wrong side of the pond, but if I can dig them out you're welcome to them.
    BrickDancerFarmer_John
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,950
    One much-lauded method is to use 'waterslide decals' - the same type that are in Airfix kits. You can buy the paper in craft shops. You just get the paper wet and the printing 'layer' sort of slides off (hence "water-slide"). Position it on the brick and it will dry as though it is printed on. Then a couple of layers of clear nail-polish/varnish to give it a more shiny finish (waterslide decals can be pretty matte).

    You would want to use vector software (like Inkscape, which is free) to make the designs, and print them with as high a resolution as possible, for the best-looking finish.

    I haven't actually used this method, but it's what I've heard a lot. Obviously, these are permanent, and the quality varies depending on how expensive your materials/equipment is.
    RedbullgivesuwindaimlesspursuitsAndorsnowhitie
  • Farmer_JohnFarmer_John USA - 4,035 Miles from 62 West Wallaby St., Wigan, Lancashire, UKMember Posts: 2,404

    @Farmer_John‌ I have a spate set of the stickers that @bkpr‌ made. Unfortunately I'm on the wrong side of the pond, but if I can dig them out you're welcome to them.

    God bless you @Cheshirecat! Thank you so much for the offer and the thought! @ColoradoBricks is sending me a set, but I sincerely appreciate your offer as well!

    Again, thank you @ColoradoBricks!

    We have a lot of great people on this forum!
  • klsmith007klsmith007 USAMember Posts: 13
    edited April 2015
    I don't have photos of them, but I've also printed the green bricks and will print the black brick with white lettering as soon as I have time.  I've just ordered 10 sets (left & right) of the light bley doors and should be able to print all of the parts directly instead of needing decals or stickers.

    Finally, I mentioned pad printing as an option.  I have never done it.  There are companies out there, CitizenBrick for one, that use pad printing to print artwork directly onto bricks.  This is the way that LEGO does it.  They both use a kid safe (edible) vegetable based ink.  Each color has to be done separately, just like they do with silkscreening of t-shirts.  It's a tedious process and your artwork registration has to be perfect otherwise you'll get ghosting on your printed bricks.  You can buy a starter pad printer for $500.  I don't know what that will get you, so YMMV.

    While some will say that what I do isn't "kid-safe", I cater to the adult fans.  Once cured, the ink is safe for normal handling.  Unless you put 20 or 30 layers on to the brick or tile (which I've done), you'll be hard-pressed to chip it off.

    I hope I've shed some light on this process.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

    Kevin
    chibhawkthenoschuckpEvilTwinsnowhitieMorkManFarmer_JohnGalactus
  • chuckpchuckp NYMember Posts: 684
    klsmith007 Great post, lots of good info there. While you were experimenting with the various techniques, did you happen to find a type of sticker paper that is similar to what LEGO uses?

    I'm currently in the process of extending my Speed Champions line and since they use stickers (a lot), I'd like to find a sticker paper consistent with the LEGO stickers for my own custom graphics.
  • klsmith007klsmith007 USAMember Posts: 13
    Hi Chuckp...  I never printed labels like LEGO uses.  I've only ever done waterslide decals (clear with Alps printer to print white background, or if going on white part, then a color laser printer), engraver and now with my UV printer printed directly onto bricks.

    Kevin
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,534
    So I was on Amazon and see a few people selling dry apply decals for Santa Fe and some others as well.
    What are peoples thought on dry Vs water slide transfer decals?
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,365
    By dry, do you mean the rub down kind? I made some of those myself and found that even with a couple of layers if lacquer they scratch quite easily if played with. OK for adult display, but not for kids play. I've found waterslide to be slightly better, although they still scratch or sometimes peel with kids play.
    madforLEGO
  • chuckpchuckp NYMember Posts: 684
    edited April 2015
    klsmith007 Thanks for responding and the additional info. I've got a color laser, so maybe I will give the waterslide decals a shot. 
  • Farmer_JohnFarmer_John USA - 4,035 Miles from 62 West Wallaby St., Wigan, Lancashire, UKMember Posts: 2,404
    edited April 2015
    @klsmith007 - Awesome posts! I love your periodic table of elements!!! To be clear, are those waterside decals or engraved? Also, are they done on white 2x2 flat plates? My daughter is majoring in the field of chemistry and loves Lego. I never thought about it before, but your periodic table would make an awesome gift! In fact, you should really consider submitting it to the Lego IDEAS site. I'd be all over that one and so would many schools and universities!
  • klsmith007klsmith007 USAMember Posts: 13
    @Farmer_John - The periodic table is all engraved and color filled.  They are grouped by element "type" and are actual LEGO colored (smooth) tiles.  The only white tiles are the ones at the top that are the labels for the "Non Metals" and "Metals" groups.

    The original goal in making the table was to support teachers and homeschool families that want to bring LEGO into the classroom.  I'm working on other school related items for preschoolers and potentially grade school students as well.  In order to not overtly promote my web site, send me a private message and I'll send you the details.

    I'm also looking for other ideas for homeschool products.  Right now, I'm a "one man band", so it takes a while to get artwork created and get things engraved (or printed).  Once my LUG members found out about my new printer, suddenly they have lots of things they want printed, so my stuff takes a back seat to their MOCs.  I've got a few things ready to go, but most of it takes a lot of time to get engraved and color filled.  I'm looking to utilize each method for customization to it's fullest.  The engraving really doesn't work for multiple colors, so that is where the printer comes into play.  A lot of homeschool families are very religious based, so I'm also looking to support them too.  I think using different languages is cool too.  I've been asked to do things in Spanish and Hebrew.  I've also looked into engraving/printing in French and German. 

    As far as the LEGO Ideas site... I think this is a bit much for them to take on.  There are over 100 elements, and to print each tile using a pad printer (like LEGO does) would be cost and labor prohibitive for them.  I just don't see that happening.  It's even a lot for me, but in my case, I just fire up the engraver while I'm sitting in front of the tv, so it's not like it takes me away from something else.

    Once of these days, I'm going to post a bunch of photos on my Flickr page, so check me out over there, and if there is something you want me to do, you can always contact me and we can probably work something out.
  • yys4uyys4u USA SoCalMember Posts: 1,093
    Sort of a quick question, didn't want to start a new thread for it. But I have applied some decals I got from Brickforge and noticed that a lot of them are pealing off around the edges. They've been on for a couple years but never handled, just sat there. Is there any kind of protective coating people paint onto the top of custom decals to help them stay on? Something that won't look too obvious when applied?
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,950
    I remember people talking about clear nail polish for that purpose. Not tried it myself (nor can I produce the source), so take it with a pinch of salt until (if) someone confirms it!
  • Bosstone100Bosstone100 USAMember Posts: 1,434
    ^ Are those printed tiles? I would love something like that.

    @klsmith007 - I guess I could ask you since you created them? Are you making duplicates of your periodic table?
  • Farmer_JohnFarmer_John USA - 4,035 Miles from 62 West Wallaby St., Wigan, Lancashire, UKMember Posts: 2,404
    @klsmith007 is not only an artist, but he's one of the most conscientious people I've ever had the pleasure to buy from. You won't go wrong if you purchase one of his creations. I almost wish I had majored in chemistry so I would have an excuse to get my own Periodic Table...  ;-)
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,365
    It seems to be suggesting that ununseptium is a halogen. Even astatine is considered borderline these days.

    See for example:

    https://www.superheavies.de/english/research_program/highlights_element_117.htm#Is Element 117 a Metal

    Galactus
  • klsmith007klsmith007 USAMember Posts: 13
    @CCC I'm not a chemist, so I can't answer for sure.   I just duplicated the content of http://www.ptable.com using LEGO tiles and my engraver.  Given that the state of ununseptium is unknown, who's to say that it isn't a halogen.

    What color tile should I use for these two elements?  I'm willing to provide alternate tiles if someone wishes the alternate (or both) if they wish.
    Farmer_John
  • klsmith007klsmith007 USAMember Posts: 13
    edited October 2015
    @Bosstone100 The answer to your question is YES, I have extras, but they are engraved (think CNC), not printed.  I have engraved and color-filled 2 additional sets, since I was already engraving the one for @Farmer_John.  I actually have 2 others kinda/sorta ready.  To give you an idea of the effort involved, the engraving of the 3 sets took 16 hours of engraving.  I think I stopped at about hour 10 for an hour or so, then started back up and powered through the other 6 hours.  The next step is the color fill, followed by the cleaning of the excess paint that isn't squeegeed off during the painting process, then each tile is cleaned, then inspected to make sure it is free of excess paint.  The final step is to polish the surface of the tile with a soft cloth so that it looks like a brand new tile, which it is actually, since I only use new parts in the things I engrave.  I would estimate that it takes 8-10 hours to make each set with the engraving, painting, cleaning and polishing.

    Contact me directly if you want more information about these tiles.

    Kevin
    Sethro3Farmer_Johnkiki180703
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,365
    Often the heavy elements get greyed / white out in a periodic table (depending on if you've used the colour elsewhere). Especially the as-yet unnamed ones will only ever be made in incredibly small quantities (sometimes of the order of just atoms per month), completely useless industrially and only of interest to the people that are interested in that sort of thing.

    Polonium is another one still argued about - whether it is a metal or metalloid.

    PS.nice printing though.
  • Thecollector123Thecollector123 United States Member Posts: 67
    @klsmith007 do you know by any chance the name of your 2000 dollar uv printer because I am looking into printing some stuff for my creations and this would be great!
  • klsmith007klsmith007 USAMember Posts: 13
    @Thecollector123 I don't have a name for it.  I purchased it through the alibaba.com site.  Look for "A4 UV printer".  I haven't been too impressed with it.  After a LEGO part got caught between the table and the print head, the table stopped being accurate.  When I went to print a part, I was never sure whether it would print exactly where the artwork was set, or 1mm off.  That doesn't work when you are trying to print on a 1x1 round tile.  You get what you pay for from China.  They say that it's warranted for 1 yr, but don't count on service.  They refused to accept me sending the printer back to them for repair because THEY would be charged a customs fee to receive a printer that they manufactured for repair.  It wasn't worth it to them to do that.  Better to have an upset customer intead.  Oh well.  Talk about messed up import/export process they have over there.
  • kiki180703kiki180703 Montreal, CanadaMember Posts: 1,064
    @klsmith007 So what do you use right now to print stuff?
  • Thecollector123Thecollector123 United States Member Posts: 67
    @kiki180703 he doesn't print stuff now. He just engraves items like the periodic table above.
  • Thecollector123Thecollector123 United States Member Posts: 67
    @klsmith007 I private messaged you.
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