A Simple Approach to an Iron-on Graphic

Park Solutions Article and photos by Tom Kozel. Featured in the Winter 2012 issue of Park Pilot.

When I built the 32-inch e´Moth from Retro RC, I wanted to add a marking that would give the airplane character and provide a visual cue for orientation. I choose to play on the model’s name by creating a large moth and surrounding it with small bolts of lightning. This simple set of graphics took less than an hour to draw, cut and apply. I found the basic moth shape in a free clip-art site on the Internet. The art was more complex than I wanted, but it was easy to eliminate the unwanted detail. I enlarged the image to the desired size in my computer, and printed it out on a plain sheet of paper. That sheet was my template.
Find artwork, size it in a copier or PC and print out the art on a sheet of paper.

Hardware store items and a sharp #11 blade are required for the project.

Cutting out the graphic requires a hobby knife with a fresh #11 blade, a sheet of glass on which to cut out and mount the graphic, spray adhesive to hold the template in position over the iron-on covering film, and solvents to remove the spray adhesive from the film after the graphic is cut out. Begin by mist-coating the adhesive over the glass sheet. I used Elmer’s Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive. After the adhesive has had a couple of minutes to set, smooth the iron-on covering film onto the glass plate, backing side down. Apply a second mist coat of adhesive, let it dry for a few minutes, then smooth the template over the film. With the lamination complete, you can begin cutting out your design. Use that fresh #11 blade to carefully cut out the graphic by following the lines on the template, cutting through the template and the film underneath at the same time. For the e´Moth, I started by cutting out the outline and removing the excess film from approximately 1 inch all around it to let me see exactly what I had as I progressed.
Mist adhesive over glass, then smooth down the film that will be your graphic.

Mist-coat the film with adhesive and press the paper template over the film.

With the outline cut, I started adding detail. First, I cut out the “eyes” in the wings, then added cuts for the wing separations and body segmentation. Separate the cut graphic from the stack by peeling off what’s left of the paper template and removing any adhesive residue left on the film. Odorless mineral spirits (OMS) removes the adhesive residue but won’t harm the adhesive side of the film. The OMS residue will slowly evaporate, or you can wipe it away with isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel.
Carefully follow the outlines, cutting through both the template and the film.

After cutting, peel away the template and clean off any adhesive residue.

The finished graphic is ready to iron onto the model. Use low temperature.

Once freed from the glass, simply remove the backing film and position the graphic over your model. The graphic is ironed on, so start in the middle of the graphic and slowly iron toward the outside. Be sure to use low heat so you don’t distort the graphic.
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I use my printer to print out what I want to put on my plane. I set my printer setting to "iron on transfer" so it aill be reversed. I then spray the back of my covering I am going to use with 3M contact spray adhesive.cut out the patern or lettering and when I peel off tbe paper the cover backing usually comes off with the paper and I am ready to iron on my lettering or pattern.

Version X of Adobe had a mirror image setting available in the print setup menu on a set each time basis. Just upgraded to XI and this setting is no longer found. May have clouded the issue by changing from an Epson to a Canon printer in between uses. What is being used for iron on transfer or mirror image? So far have recieved no response from Adobe.

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