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Author Topic: Fremitus' "how to" guide to (the digital end of) DIY (round) shield transfers  (Read 818 times)

Offline Fremitus Borealis

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As you may have seen in my other thread about custom shield decals, in the last couple weeks I've gone from being utterly baffled by the process, to having a pretty decent idea of how it's done. There are some AMAZING guides online for the nuts and bolts of the process, including on Jeff Jonas' website here: http://www.ancientbattles.com/HeroesOfGreece/AncientBattles_Homebrew_Transfers.html, as well as this site -> https://mitchwargaming.blogspot.com/2013/03/pictish-shields.html?m=1 which has complementary info to Jeff's.

But what was giving me fits from the start is the software end of the equation. I had no idea where to even start really, but now that I'm to a point where I can make the god in the machine to basically what I want it to, I figured I'd share my findings here, in the hopes that it could help some of you who may be struggling with the same bits.... or at the very least, so that I know where to look once I forget how to do it (again)  lol

So, where to start on the technological fun?

Step 1: Well, first you will need to download two (free) programs: Inkscape and GIMP. (For all I know you don't actually *need* both, but as I said, this is my process I've cobbled together :) )

Step 2: Assuming you've already got an image you'd like to use on your lads' shields, you can take the following steps.
  • Open the image in GIMP
  • You'll want to get that baby nice and hoplon-/aspis-shaped, so you can select a round portion from the image by going up to Tools>Selection Tools>Ellipse Select, and make sure you've got "fixed aspect ratio" clicked over on the left, lest ye end up with some barbarian oval-shaped monstrosity! The actual dimensions don't matter yet, as we'll work on this in Inkscape in a bit.
  • When you've got a lovely circle around the bit you want, click Enter.
  • Next, you want to delete everything except your lovely circle. Go up to Image>Crop to Selection. This should get rid of everything but your hoplon circle, but you'll still have a square to deal with. To FINALLY set that circle free of its square captor....
  • Go to Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel. This will make everything except your circle transparent (eventually).
  • Next, go to Select>Invert (or, click CTRL+I), and then the DELETE key. Note that if you forget the "invert" step you'll actually do the exact opposite of what you want, and accidentally delete your beautiful shield! If this happens, you can mercifully click CTRL+Z to undo your faulty actions. (Don't forget this... you'll be doing it a lot, trust me!)
  • Congratulations! You (should hopefully) have your first custom shield design!

Step 3: Once you've got a shield design (or dozens thereof) you're happy with, you'll need to get them laid out on a page to print onto the decal paper, as thoroughly outlined at Jeff's website, above. To do this, I've been using the Inkscape program. (I guess you could open them in like MS Paint or something, but that is way-too inexact for my tastes, and besides, that decal paper ain't cheap!) Anyway, to save yourself lots of time (and tears, oh so many tears), you can follow these steps:
  • Open the Inkscape program. BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, make sure you have the page size set up to the size of the actual paper you'll be printing on. This is important for obvious reasons, but is easy to overlook/forget, because the decal paper comes in both 8.5x11" and A4 size, and as far as I can tell, the page will not auto-resize to accommodate your crass oversight, potentially cutting your lovely shields in half at the edges. And like we said above, you're no barbarian savage! Anywho, to double-check this, go to File>Document Properties, and just double check the page is the same size as your paper. Good? Good.
  • Next, you can import your lovely shields one at a time by going to File>Import and so on. Once you've got ONE on the page is when the "fun" begins.
  • So, you've got a shield on your page, big deal. You gotta make that baby the right size, unless you were planning to put it on your car or something. (If you were, no judgement here). To re-size it to fit on your soldiers' shields, you'll want to measure what size they are first. In my limited experience, I can vouch for the following measurements: Victrix hoplite/phalangite ~13mm; warlord phalangite~11mm; RAFM phalangite 10-11mm.
  • Now, click on your shield design, and at the top of the page, you should see a box with "W" and "H", among other things. Make sure the measurement (next to height) is set to millimeters. Also (and this is important, since you're hoping to keep it a circle!), make sure you have the little "lock" button clicked to lock the aspect ratio. Now simply type in whatever measurement for W/H you need (in my case, 11mm this time). As long as you have the ratio locked, you only have to type it into height or width and hit enter, and the other will do it automatically.
  • Now you should have a really small shield image. To zoom in, you can hold CTRL and scroll with your mouse (if you want). Next, let's create "guidelines" so in the future you can just drag and drop different (or the same) shield designs into this template.
  • Drag your image towards the top left of the page if it's not there already. I'm not sure of the exact distance you want it away from the edge so as not to get cut off by the printer, but I used the rulers on the sides to do 5mm each from the top and left and it seems to have worked.
  • Next is the part that took me FOREVER TO FIGURE OUT (largely because I didn't know what the terms were, so internet searching was no help). You want to create guidelines around your image, and replicate it a bunch of times to create a template grid. To start, you'll actually want to do good old "CTRL+C" to copy your image, because the next step makes it disappear for some reason.   
  • Anyway, after you've copied the shield, go to Object>Objects to Guides, or just hit SHIFT+G. Actually, just do the latter, because you're gonna do it like a jillion times. As I said, this will make it disappear, but you should have a nice "pound sign" (that's "hashtag" to all you whippersnappers out there) around where your shield was.
  • Next, over on the right, make sure you have "Enable Snapping"...enabled. It a button that should be all the way on the top right. (Maybe click "snap bounding boxes", too--the next button down--though I think they do the same thing.) Anywho, this will make sure when you put your shield back, it should "snap" to the lines you just made, provided you drag it close enough.
  • So, yeah, now you can do a fancy "CTRL+V" to paste your shield back to the page, and drag it back into the square you made (and hopefully it "snaps" into place!)
  • Now you basically repeat the process a bunch of times. As long as, like I keep saying, you have "snapping" enabled, you should be able to CTRL+V your shield in and SHIFT+G'ing guides around it to create your template on the same plane. I didn't space them out precisely--although I'm sure one could simply because one sheet holds so many shield patterns, it starts feeling almost infinite  :o But, that said, at 11mm, I was able to get 15 shields to one row.
  • To finish your grid, you can do the same process, except vertical along the left of the page. Mercifully, you only have to do one column, not 15, since the guidelines from before will intersect with these ones. I was able to fit 21 shields in a column going down the side of the page, so this means if "all" you're making is 11mm diameter shields, you could feasibly make 21x15=315 phalangite shields, which is as far as I can tell like a lifetime supply, and that's just one sheet. Maybe use them as stocking stuffers during the holidays? Party favors? The possibilities are endless.

So anyway, yeah, that's what I've got so far. Hopefully it helps one or two of you! If anyone has anything to add (tips, strategies you've found) please feel free! This is by no means meant to be comprehensive/exhaustive; as I said, it's more or less a way for me to keep track of what I've figured out the last few weeks, so I know where to look once I forget it all!  :D
« Last Edit: August 10, 2020, 02:27:17 AM by Fremitus Borealis »
"Nice try, history; better luck next year."

Offline has.been

  • Scatterbrained Genius
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Thanks for posting. I will have to give it a try.
I think it will work well on vehicle sides & bonnets, e.g. police force logos.

Offline Fremitus Borealis

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Thanks for posting. I will have to give it a try.
I think it will work well on vehicle sides & bonnets, e.g. police force logos.

No worries. In fact, for vehicles I'd wager you might be able to skip a lot of the steps in part 3, just because spacing might be less of an issue? The main thing is making your decal into a transparent image in GIMP, because otherwise you're wasting printer ink on stuff you'll just end up cutting away.

Offline wmyers

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This is awesome!

Thank you!

Offline Fremitus Borealis

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This is awesome!

Thank you!

You're quite welcome! As you know from the other thread, it's the guideline issue that was really throwing me, so I thought others who were trying this might appreciate having this info all in one place  :)

Offline Atheling

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Yeah, it's very good of you to go to the trouble. I've saved the thread to a "DIY Transfers" bookmark  as I'm being driven slowly insane by painting Early Byzantine Officer bucklers  lol

Offline has.been

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Where do you get your transfer sheets from?
I have asked in our local stationer shop, but they had no idea what I was talking about.

Offline Fremitus Borealis

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Yeah, it's very good of you to go to the trouble. I've saved the thread to a "DIY Transfers" bookmark  as I'm being driven slowly insane by painting Early Byzantine Officer bucklers  lol

Yeah, I'm not confident enough in my painting to even try, so kudos to you  lol

Offline Fremitus Borealis

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Where do you get your transfer sheets from?
I have asked in our local stationer shop, but they had no idea what I was talking about.

You can usually find them at craft stores, or, if all else fails, Amazon. I bought mine from a US company called Micro-Mark, who are one of the most comprehensive hobby shops I've ever seen (they sell models, every tool you could imagine, paints, etc.), but if you're on the other side of the pond, shipping would be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming, I'm sure.

Offline Atheling

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Yeah, I'm not confident enough in my painting to even try, so kudos to you  lol

Years back I used to be quite outspoken about all the use of transfers  lol

Not anymore!  :D

Offline Fremitus Borealis

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Basically if it's anything other than big Greek letters, my free-handing is useless  lol

Offline wmyers

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If the technology is there, use it.

Transfers may never surpass the wow factor of a well done hand painted one, but after reading about top convention painting award winners finishing 3 miniatures in a year (on a good year!) I think I would rather put a decal on and say that is good.

Offline has.been

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Thanks Fremitas, I will try Craft shops &/or Amazon.

Offline Emperorbaz

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Thanks for the tip on Inkscape. This is just what I am looking for, will download and give it a try on my Mac!
Uk buyers should search for MrDecalPaper on eBay, he stocks the transfer paper and gives a very good service/range of papers. I’ve successfully printed home made transfers before, but need to practise more with the artwork on the computer!

Offline Fremitus Borealis

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Thanks for the tip on Inkscape. This is just what I am looking for, will download and give it a try on my Mac!
Uk buyers should search for MrDecalPaper on eBay, he stocks the transfer paper and gives a very good service/range of papers. I’ve successfully printed home made transfers before, but need to practise more with the artwork on the computer!

Cheers. Yeah like I said, the creation of "guides" in Inkscape is what took me FOREVER to figure out. Right now I'm actually poking away at it again to see how to create invisible circular guides within the square one... basically so any shield designs I import can be just the design itself, instead of a whole circle of color. I'll be sure to update the post if I ever figure that out  :D

 

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