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First I think a brief explanation of how mass produced decals are made might be helpful in understanding the limitations that come with making your own decals.
Unfortunately, making your own decals using an inkjet printer has some limitations which you should be aware of.
I’ll discuss some other limitations concerning sealing the decals later, right now let me show you how I got started. I purchased the Testors Custom Decal System (704-9198) and an extra package of white decal paper (704-9202). I’d like to tell you a few more things to keep in mind before you print your first decal sheet. When you become prolific at making decals, (and you will!) you’ll soon find yourself running out of supplies like decal bonder spray and decal paper.
Using the decal bonder that comes with the kit works fine however, I’ve also used the above. After printing the decal sheet I tape the sheet down to a cardboard box using double sided tape, (do not cover the coated side with tape, you will remove the decal coating). Now I put the partial sheets of decal paper with no designs someplace safe, (like back in the package or in a zip lock bag). Your way sounds a bit easier, but I've had nothing but problems putting tape on the design, (coated) side, the tape wants to lift the coating off when you remove it.
Being that most decals use to be printed on a ALPS, what is out there today that can be used, for someone wanting to do their own decals at home. Using canola oil will make the make the white of the paper transparent which is really cool.
This location features an interchange between the Boston and Maine and the Maine Central railroad. The plan below was done with XtrkCAD whose only failing is not being able to create fixed length easements. Thanks Joe, I am looking forward to applying some of your scenery techniques and posting those back up here. While some are able to do really great, detailed cloud formations, I've found that indistinct clouds work the best for me. I made these using an airbrush (spraying an airbrush acrylic white for artists - a lot cheaper than PolyScale! The real key to the background in the photo seems to be feathering the color which was a challenge for me, stencil or no.. With over forty years of engineering experience behind him, Tony has been able to follow on from Stan Beeson as one of the worlds top modelmakers.
Tony has a great deal of knowledge on the work of Stan Beeson having repaired or rebuilt many Beeson models, returning them to their former glory. He has demonstrated his building techniques at many model railway exhibitions and has always been happy to pass on his knowledge to others.

He has written a number of articles descibing his work for the "Model Railway Journal" magazine.
Please note that Tony has no connection with the book "Railway Modelling Masterclass: Locomotive Construction, Vol 1" In fact this book although advertised does not exist.
ShareThisI did not come up with this idea, but saw it on another model railroader's layout and loved the way it looked. After I've stretched is very thin I take it outside and spray the fiber with spray adhesive.
Next I spray the same piece with adhesive and add course ground foam that is a mixture of colors.
On Misti Mountain much of the ground cover was completed using the same poly fiber panels (outlined in yellow). I've seen the stuff advertised before, but your explanation makes it look definitely worthwhile. When you stretch the black poly fiber and coat it with your foam, would you characterize the end result similar to WS "Foliage"? Bill, I haven't used the WS item, but I believe the do it yourself is quite a bit cheaper.
I want to tell you about my experiences with creating my own decals, now I’m certainly no authority on making decals but I have learned a few things along the way that hopefully will help people produce good results.
I have never tried any other brand of decal paper than Testors, so if anyone has, please feel free to comment. And when attempting to slide the decals on to the surface they stuck to anything that touched the face of the decal, (fingers, paint brush, etc) usually tearing and ruining the decal.
I go ahead and print out the partial sheet of designs, I make sure what designs I do have are clustered at the top of the sheet, (remember about maximizing the design space on the sheet?). All of the above decals on the buildings and the ones that follow were printed on this product.
It needs improvement, I will go for a more 3d effect on my next layout by making the clouds smaller near the bottom and the hills hazier. I highly recommend this approach for honing your skills and insights before you try a much larger project! Not using the sheet-of-plywood approach will pay big dividends in terms of the varied terrain you'll be able to model. I took them from a photograph of Whitefield in a MRP article by Paul Dolkos about modeling interchanges that had a unique angle.
I like the look and feel of the site so this felt like a natural place to start gathering what I had been posting about here and there..
I remember those photos from an earlier version of the layout where you got all those trees and the train was sort of lost in the forest. Even when viewed from along the plane of the backdrop their lack of shape makes them easier on my eye s (and imagination).

The inks used come in many colors including white and metallic colors such as silver and gold.
Those that do are very expensive; printers use the white background of the paper as white color in the design. In some cases, I did things in a way less suitable for a small layout in order to prepare myself for the next layout. I am using 20Watt 6000K bulbs, one at each end of each side more due to the way the framing is then out of a great desire to position them that way.
You're doing a great job with your test bed layout - what you're doing is exactly what I did in the decade before I started my large HO Siskiyou Line. The problem I had was the backdrop is relatively short, I didnt want the hills to wrap into the curve, and I wanted them to be high enough to peek over the foreground scenery. One of my peeves with my N locos is a lack of ditch lights which are so much of the visual interest of modern railroading.. Second, all but the most expensive printers will not print metallic colors such as gold or silver. This allows me to have a variety of potential destinations for any local stopping to work Whitefield. I have made two larger benchwork sections for the larger layout I put off to build this one and they went together nicely.Recently I took one apart (the other is serving as a lumber rack) and the use of dry wall screws made it a breeze to take down and stack up for later assembly.
When I went to do the layout I found that when I scaled up the clouds I also lost some of my effect. I have thinned with either washer fluid or some liquitex airbrush medium I got cheap on eBay. Now with this Calibration sheet you can use double sided tape to tape your partial decal sheet to the Calibration sheet being careful to align it inside the lines on the sheet approximately where the designs will print, (do not cover the coated side with tape, you will remove the decal coating). I had them already so there was no new cost, and they will let me play around with computer dispatching down the line. For the occasions when I need something that provides a little better cover and adhesion I have picked up some jars of Tamiya paint from the local wargame shop.
Probably easy enough to make oneself by printing a cloud photo onto some cardstock and cutting it out..
They apply the sealant using a screen pad which only applies sealant to an area slightly larger than the design, this saves money. I've heard that you can use a computer drawing program to create and print the designs, wish I had better info to advise you with. FWIW the Testors standard upgrade is a pretty idiot proof system, (speaking as a confirmed idiot 8^) Perhaps others can provide better advice.

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