Lettering on the Cheap

First you should consider the surface your decal or lettering is being applied. Best surfaces will be clean, shiny and smooth. Next you should wipe down your work area with rubbing alcohol which will evaporate quickly and leave no chemical staining behind that may interfere with your vinyl. This process will also remove any dust or dirt that may become lodged permanently under your decal if not cleaned properly. Understanding where your lettering or graphics will be placed is ultimately up to you. But you should consider the placement based on visual cues. Are there contour lines running down your surface? Is there a general shape or direction that your surface seems to progress? What will maximize visibility? Is this placement going to become dirty easily from wheels or exhaust? The last critical step to preparing your surface is to mark out your decal or lettering. You should be prepared with the knowledge of how wide and tall your decal is. This will ensure your design is level and centered correctly upon applying. First, find multiple positions on your graphic or lettering you can use as a level guideline horizontally across your design. This could be the bottom of letters or a graphic. So long as it provides a horizontal line you can align with the marks you’ll be placing on your surface. Do not use the borders of the paper backing as your leveling line. You will use this horizontal line a guide for leveling your design. Keep in mind, not all designs require to be leveled. In some cases such as a boat that will float in water, the design may need to be purposefully slanted. Now we will determine the center of your decal, to do this measure the width of your design using a tape measure. Cutting this number in half and placing a mark on your decal using a wax pen will ensure this is the center. In the next lesson we can discover how to mark your boat to match these measurements.

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Lettering on the Cheap

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