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Hotdog

1/144 Ultimate Shuttle Tile Decals

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Hello Hotdog,

as you know, I am building Launch pad 39A showing the Challenger (OV-099) in its maiden flight STS-6, ie, which had brand new TPS tiles and patterns. Because I also want to use the Airfix shuttle stack, I would of course like to use your great decal set for early orbiters as cherry on top. :thumbsup:

You really have great ideas for improving Real Space Models as faithfully as possible to the real thing, both by using decal sheets and detail kits which I admire. tach.gif

This reminds me of Leon van Munster's (LVM Studios) great PE Detail kits 1-5 for the Revell Launch Tower (4910, 4911), also a great possibility for improving models in detail true to the real thing, which I will use.

But I also think that decal sheets for 1:144 orbiters really is the ideal solution, more than for 1:72. There you can scratch build details much better, and 3D sure looking better than 2D, no question. :coolio:

BTW, I'm thrilled by your Umbilical panel detail set for the 1/72 Monogram and Revell Space Shuttle kits, I have seen on your Facebook page. :gr_eek2:

Now some special questions to your decals sheets for the early birds:

As I have seen on Alfonso's AXM sites, there are some differences between the marking versions of Columbia and Challenger during their first missions, such as

- tail pattern

- crew hatch pattern

- OMS pattern

- OMS pods, black tile on lower corner

- markings on top of crew cabin

- narrower black areas on wings

- ...

Maybe also different belly tile versions, I don't know. :dontknow:

How far are you with the development of the early Challenger decal set, and could you take into account these differences? :gr_hail:

:wave:

Edited by spaceman

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Manfred,

All of the items you mentioned are being addressed in my decals as closely as possible. The experiment I am doing this week will determine how I will handle the differences between the Columbia/Challenger tail and wing pattern differences. In some instances, the decals will have a modular design, with interchangeable sections to compensate for the differences. So you will get interchangeable crew hatches, OMS tiles, and possibly tail and wing markings, depending on the beforementioned painting experiment. The early crew cabin markings (including ejection panels for Columbia) will also be in there.

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Hotdog,

thank you for your message, these are good prospects and I'm very happy. :thumbsup:

I think your decals will give a brilliant finishing touch on my Challenger orbiter which will be an eye-catcher on the Launch Pad, :banana: I can see it already in my dreams with lighting ... gut.gif

As I can see, you are very conscientious in your design, this is great and your approach with interchangeable sections is the right way to go for different missions design, very cool. :coolio:

I stay tuned. :salute:

:wave:

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smcdpi.jpg

Here are the two donor Airfix shuttles that will be helping me perfect my decals. Egt95 donated the shuttle on the right, along with a couple of his beanie caps. I will be testing out the early decals on this one, likely as Columbia STS-1. The shuttle on the left was donated by Cbear, which is sporting a modified Revell tailfin. This will be the testbed for the later shuttle decals, likely Atlantis STS-71.

These shuttles will be key to getting the decals to fit correctly. Thanks guys for helping me out with this project!

Edited by Hotdog

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Nice. A Revell tail fin on an Airfix model. How does that compare to the original in person? Looks good from the picture.

You may have to do a little clean up on the beanies. I hope they work out good for you. It's good to see that everything got shipped in one piece.:D/>

I'm looking forward to the finished product with all of the decals included in the set.

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The Revell tailfin is swept back more, but I don't know if that's how the kit really is, or if the sharper angle could be from how cbear made the cut. No way to know without having an unaltered Revell kit on hand, which I do not.

Working on the artwork for the different tailfin variants as we speak. I'll post progress pics when I reach a good stopping point.

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The Revell tail fin wound up on there, quite literally, by accident. The fin on the Airfix bird was warped and when I attempted to straighten it in hot water, the water was a bit TOO hot and the fin melted! I salvaged the fin off a scrapped Revell shuttle. Now that you mention it, it does look swept back a bit too much :blush:/> I cut it off flush with the empenage, so perhaps that part is shaped differently on the Revell version.

Chuck

Edited by cbear

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The Revell tailfin is swept back more, but I don't know if that's how the kit really is, or if the sharper angle could be from how cbear made the cut. No way to know without having an unaltered Revell kit on hand, which I do not.

Working on the artwork for the different tailfin variants as we speak. I'll post progress pics when I reach a good stopping point.

I compared a Revell to an Airfix shuttle and both tailfins have the same back sweep.

BTW, the decals look awesome!

Mike.

Edited by crowe-t

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Personally, I'd be in favor of colored/filled in decals and let the builder do his own weathering. Someone will want a pristine shuttle and someone else will want one with 5 missions on it and someone will want one with 10 missions and replaced new tiles in x or y positions like STS-xxx.

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Progress has been slow lately but it's picking back up. I'll have an update ready to show soon.

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A quick update on the tile decals before I go on vacation for a few days.

2582kuq.jpg

Here is a look at the modular system I have developed for the decals. This is going to give you the option of depicting any orbiter, any time period. The above graphic is color-coded to show where each piece would go, on the vertical stabilizer in this example. The wings will require the modular treatment as well. Splitting the decals up this way - as opposed to simply having separate decals for each orbiter and each time period - saves space on the decal sheets, as well as money. It is, however, very time consuming for me to take the extra steps to split the artwork for each variant up into these sections. I'm not sure if Christmas is still a do-able goal for the first sheets to be available, I'm guessing things will slip until after the first of the year.

vhgch0.jpg

Here is another issue I have ran into. The lines that I want to be very faint - the thermal blankets in particular - print as dashed lines on a digital copier. I am using a Xerox 550, which is a very top-of-the-line machine. Every print setting I have tried does this. I know from my experience working in the printing industry that I can get around this by having them printed on a press or silkscreen, and that will be the way to go once I have everything final, but for the two orbiter kits I am using for prototyping, this is likely the level of quality I will be stuck with. From three feet away, it's unnoticable, but you do see it when you get close. I may try printing from Photoshop instead of Illustrator to see if it's a vector/postscript issue, but I doubt rasterizing the art will make it print out any better.

Edited by Hotdog

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That's a clever way of going about it, Hotdog. Looks awesome and I can't wait to get my hands on this piece of fine art. But what about the SILTS for Columbia?

Mike

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Looks good so far Hotdog.

Question about the dotted lines. Are you making them faint by using a thinner line weight stroke or by using a different color? If its being caused by too thin a line, perhaps consider using the same stroke but making them a light light gray instead of black. That should print out ok and still give you the subdued look you're after. Maybe? I know some printers can't handle super fine lines so they just give up and punt, thus making them thicker but dashed hoping we won't notice. For most cases it's fine, but when you're dealing with scale models it's not. Just a thought.

Bill

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That's a clever way of going about it, Hotdog. Looks awesome and I can't wait to get my hands on this piece of fine art. But what about the SILTS for Columbia?

I'm not including specific decals for the SILTS pod, since I can't really predict/simulate all the different ways modelers may go about scratching the pod into the tail. This will be one of the few instances where you would have to cut out tiles from the area of "spare tiles" on the decal sheet.

Looks good so far Hotdog.

Question about the dotted lines. Are you making them faint by using a thinner line weight stroke or by using a different color? If its being caused by too thin a line, perhaps consider using the same stroke but making them a light light gray instead of black. That should print out ok and still give you the subdued look you're after. Maybe? I know some printers can't handle super fine lines so they just give up and punt, thus making them thicker but dashed hoping we won't notice. For most cases it's fine, but when you're dealing with scale models it's not. Just a thought.

Bill

Good question, Bill. I thought of this, and printed a test sheet of lines of varying stroke weights and shades of black/gray. Any stroke weight under .25pt goes to a dashed line, no matter what the color. I am using .25pt for the tiles, which is quite thick at this small scale. When the lines for the thermal blankets are printed at the same thickness, even with a very light gray line, it still doesn't look right. The lines are still too prominent.

One trick I have up my sleeve, if I can't figure out how to get the thin/faint lines I'm looking for, is to instead make each blanket solid, filled in, varying shades of very, very light gray. Notice, on this picture of Atlantis, how some blankets are slightly darker than others. Perhaps this is all that is needed to show the blankets at this scale?

wa3i9j.jpg

Looks awesome! As for printing, there's only 2 real options, Microscale and Cartograf. Secondary places like DrawDecals, Fireball are good and cheaper for small runs.

Brian

Thanks Brian! Microscale and Cartograf are the two companies I was planning to quote the final production runs. I will look into DrawDecal and Fireball as well.

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Impressive work! Check out www.boaagency.cz as well - quality is at least as good as Cartograf and they are much cheaper. I even found their decal film to superior to the one Cartograf uses. Minimum order quantity at Cartograf is 300 sets if I remember correctly. Boa also handles smaller quantities - I have ordered 20 sets of the RF-8 decals I have drawn at the time.

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Bump for updates? :pray:

I'm looking at the Warbirds decals for a Tamiya 1/100 shuttle, they also have a 1/144 tile set but I'd like to see yours hit the market... :pray:

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Not much progress lately, as life has gotten in the way. The issues with the digital printing mentioned earlier have slowed down my progress, as I haven't found a work around for them yet. I am about to go to Florida for the Orion launch, when I get back from that, I will pick back up on this project.

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For those of you who absolutely can not wait for Hotdogs decals, or just want to gather decals for the ultimate shuttle, Warbirds has come out with another decal sheet for the 1/144 scale space shuttle. I just happened to come across them on ebay. I myself may purchase a set just to see how they look in person, but I would not use the tile pieces. They are out of scale and are not accurate. But the wing panels can be used for Challenger or Columbia. Everything else looks good on part 2 of the decals. But definitely get your hands on Hotdogs decals when they are available.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mike

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Hi guys, new member here.

I recently felt the urge to build a shuttle model, although I've been out of the modelling world for over thirty years. Whilst I was looking around to see what updates, etc could be done to the Airfix kit, I came across this post, and have to say I've been blown away by these decals. Having just bought the Realspace SSME set, I'll definately be a purchaser of these when they're ready.

Ian

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Finally, I have reached a point where I am able to give you guys an update on the shuttle decals.

Previously, I had ran into some technical issues that brought my progress to a halt. The holidays and other aspects of life also got in the way. I have since solved the technical issues I was having and am now able to proceed with testing some of the decals I have so far.

20150301_194855b_zpsqd01y8yn.jpg

Here is the first shuttle I will be using for testing. This orbiter was kindly donated by ARC Forum member Cbear. I have applied my own set of OMS pods from a kit I was previously working on. Obviously, this shuttle is far from being decal-ready. She still needs to be sanded smooth, cleaned up and painted before any serious decaling can begin, but she is good enough for fit testing.

The decals being tested are for the set intended to represent the later shuttle tile and blanket patterns. It should be noted that at this early stage, I am only testing how the decals fit and blend with each other. The artwork you see is still a prototype, unfinished representation of what the final decals may look like.

20150302_174622b_zpsqzbptpfo.jpg

Here I have applied the belly tiles. The fit was damn near perfect! However, applying a single decal this large was quite a challenge. There are rips and wrinkles you cannot see. I will likely split this decal in two, an aft and a forward section, to ease control of decal application. Again, this is not the final artwork for the belly tiles. The finished version will have varying shades of older and newer tiles, similar to the old Cutting Edge decals.

20150302_174622c_zpsaifi8xvt.jpg

Once the belly tile decal was applied, I added the ET umbilical panel decals. They fit perfectly into the openings, but I need to do a better job of lining up the valve artwork with the actual holes in the kit. I think they're a millimeter or two off.

20150302_175809b_zpsvk8nqioi.jpg

Here's a closer look at the nose landing gear. The gear door decals are separate pieces in case your build requires the gear be deployed. These decals fit perfectly also.

20150302_175358b_zps7d57ts7m.jpg

Here is where I ran into my first problem. I tried applying the side fuselage panel as one big piece, and look what it did - it stretched! It's supposed to line up flush with the payload bay door decal, but it now extends almost 3/4 of an inch past the door and into the nose area. This further illustrates the need to split these larger decals up into sections.

20150302_175053b_zpswjnd47av.jpg

Another obvious adjustment I am going to have to make is the darkness of the TPS blanket lines and payload bay door ribs. They are a couple of shades too dark. I thought they were OK when I printed the sheets out, but ya really never know until you get decals on plastic how they're gonna look. Don' worry guys, I'll get them lightened up so they don't stick out so much.

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20150302_175153b_zpsz4ekhwvl.jpg

Attempting to learn from my mistake of applying too large of a decal, I cut the starboard bay door in half and placed the aft section first. Here you see, even this precaution was not enough. I still had a tricky time getting the decal to set where it should and line up with the existing lines of the kit doors. This resulted in wrinkling and stretching, distorting the shape of the decal and screwing up how the TPS will align with the fuselage and the rest of the door decals. Doh! :doh:/>/>/>/>

20150302_175134b_zpsyykvoe2v.jpg

I split the remaining decal for the starboard bay door in half once again, and the result was much better. These decals went on very easy! So I now know to make each door 4 separate decals. I also need to make a small adjustment to the bottom forward corner to compensate for the beveled shape of the orbiter in that area. This is how we learn!

20150302_173356b_zps82fotxdx.jpg

While I'm at it, I will show you a decal that was not ready for prime time just yet. This should show you guys just what I'm up against with this project. I got the length of the decal right, and the height is good in the aft area, but going towards the front of the pod, the decal is still too large. I'm going to have to split this one up anyway in order to make it go down right, too. Due to the trickiness of the OMS pod shape, you can bet I will have to make 3 or 4 more attempts at this before I have decals that fit and look right. I know I can pull this off, it's just going to take more time and effort.

20150302_175243b_zpsww0pzpnp.jpg

The body flap decal was almost a perfect fit. Just a millimeter or two short on the trailing edge.

20150302_175651b_zpsgsd9oqcy.jpg

Beginning work on the port side fuselage now. I've split this one up, so they are going on good without any stretching or distortion. Everything is lining up great so far on this side! The panel lines are just faint enough :)/>

Now comes the bad news. Work on this decal project is about to come to a halt once again as I pack everything up in preparation to move two months from now. Sometime this summer I hope to be settled into my new house and up and running on projects like this again. Until then, I won't be able to get much done on these decals.

Edited by Hotdog

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Wow!!! It's turning out really good. I've collected a few orbiters over the past few months in anticipation of these decals. Keep up the good work! I'm looking forward to the finished product.

Mike

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