A Simple Approach to an Iron-on Graphic


Written by Tom Kozel Park Solutions
As seen 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.

1. Find artwork, size it in a copier or PC and print out the art on a sheet of paper.


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


3. Mist adhesive over glass, then smooth down the film that will be your graphic.

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.

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


5. Carefully follow the outlines, cutting through both the template and the film.


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

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. 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.

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


By Tom Kozel

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I do the same basic approach to creating stencils for the airbrush. Like this idea though. Wonder if there is a good vinyl like this could buy that would stick well to both sheeted planes as well as foam. Hmm...

This works as long as the plane is white.
1. Create the graphic on a computer.
2. Print it on a laser printer (NOT inkjet. You'll wash off the image in step 4. If you don't have a laser printer, print in on your inkjet and then copy it.)
3. Apply clear packing tape (or any other clear adhesive film, the thinner the better) to the printed graphic.
4. Stick the whole thing under the faucet in the sink and wash away the paper. (May take awhile. Using cheap paper helps.)
5. Let the graphic/packing tape combo air dry. Don't touch the adhesive side of the film with anything, or you'll see it on your plane.
6. Stick it down on your plane.
I"ve used this on sailplanes for years. Works very well.


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