Waterslide Decals

Here’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

In this final installment on finishing your own guitar effects pedals, I demonstrate how to print and apply the waterslide decal to the pedal, and apply a durable clear finish.   In previous videos, I showed how to model, drill, and paint the enclosure, and design and prepare the artwork and labels in GIMP.

I use clear waterslide decal paper, and print on my inkjet Canon Pro9000mkII.  After printing, and waiting a while to ensure the ink is dry, I spray on a few coats of Krylon Acrylic Crystal Clear acrylic to protect the ink during the soak.  Then, after the clearcoat dries for 30 minutes or so, I trim the paper to final dimensions and soak the paper in warm water.  When the decal starts to move freely from its backing, I wet the surface of the enclosure and slide the decal directly onto it.   I iron out the bubbles with wet fingers, and adjust the decal into its final position, being careful not to stretch the decal.

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Anatomy of a Logo

I recently unveiled a new planetz logo in the intro of my AC15 Comparison video.  Here’s the story.

In January 1999, when I launched my original website at planetz, I asked a brilliant digital artist friend, John Weir, to make a logo for me.   He used a Mac and an SGI workstation, with programs like Adobe Photoshop and Fractal Design’s Painter, and produced a really interesting and unique piece of artwork for me:

Old PlanetZ Logo

Years later, when I asked him how he had produced it, he couldn’t really remember all the details other than “massive amounts of layers, filtering, distortion, plugins, etc”.  And unfortunately the original file was lost, so he couldn’t give me a higher resolution version of it.

I really liked the rich colors, the cool “bubbles” and raking effects, and low-fi distortion of the characters making up the word “planet”.  But, I always wished I had a larger, higher resolution version of it, especially as I started to get into high definition video.  Also motivated by the shift to high definition video, I needed an image that didn’t crop so closely to the letters.   And I kinda wished the Z was a bit curvier too.

So I recently set out to reproduce the logo from scratch, in a larger high resolution format.  There’s no way I could make it identical, but I wanted to make something new, inspired by the original.

Using the free open source graphics editor GIMP (which has a lot in common with Photoshop), I spent countless hours experimenting and tweaking.  I learned a lot, and made some interesting discoveries along the way.  Here’s the finished result:

New PlanetZ logo

What follows is a detailed step-by-step guide for making this logo.    Read the rest of this entry