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CUSTOM DECAL DIAL TUTORIAL


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Hi guys … I had promised that I would make a « custom decal dial tutorial » on another thread there So here we are …   There are many variations of decal dials, the best IMHO being the

Inspired by a documentary I saw about the NASA Voyager missions (launched 42 years ago, in 1977), which I was watching on the flight home, I decided to see what I could come up with in a Jovian theme.

Iron chloride does not digest steel poorly - I add HNO3 I use an iron and laser print on blue foil (ebay) This is how I can selectively apply hot enamel - I can do whatever I want in the enamel.

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This is amazing stuff.  I have been dragged into dial restoration by friends who've pleaded with me to save their watch faces, which had been chipped by a former technician or suffered from other damage or age. This is good stuff that I think I may need.  Thanks guys!  I am really glad I joined here.

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  • 1 month later...

I get the impression that the characteristic look of classic small watch fonts results from a design that works well with pad printing , with tiny serifs to mitigate the effects of surface tension. There's a nice article about it here discussing a font inspired by old watch print fonts:

Decimal watch font

It looks like the printed decal method is not constrained in the same way, so many other fonts are open for experimentation? I've seen a lot of dial fonts that do miss the mark for me, they don't have the same "watchiness" that you'll see from some of the older pad printed fonts.

I tried vector tracing raster images of dial fonts, but I was never quite happy (just on screen) with the results for the crispness. I started looking for similar fonts to replicate the look, or even re-creating the font using font design software like birdfont or fontforge or what have you. I guess much like re-tracing the raster characters in inkscape, but with more font-specific design tools.

 

Other than the one menioned above, are there any classic pad-printing-style watch fonts available you are aware of?

 

Great work on these dials, I am impressed and reinspired to open some of my earlier preliminary efforts in that direction.

The yellow escher lizard diver is a classic!

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Well, font rabbitholes are deep indeed. Thanks for your tolerance. There's lots of discussion on the subject of watch fonts. A lot of it is concerned with the font of the official brand logos, which may or may not appear on watch dials. These singular brand fonts have also changed a lot over the years, before brand font identity was as big of a deal.  A lot of the discussion is about differences in letter spacing and kerning from one reference dial to the next, also not particularly relevant.

For the small dial text, there's a lot of variation even within a single brand and a single model, over the years. I took a few photo examples of little dial text and cleaned them up to see what matched up on font searches. Oh, there's a lot of options. For these tiny serif ink printing fonts, various "Copperplate" named fonts always show up, as well as a lot of other subtly different yet interesting fonts. There's some good free ones. Since we're looking at decals, we can take the general form without the tiny-serifs, so that opens up a lot more options. Some notable ones from various versions of highway sign fonts.

 Don't let the stodgy old watches limit your font choices though. Let your creativity and your whimsy run free! 

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6 hours ago, KOwatch said:

I get the impression that the characteristic look of classic small watch fonts results from a design that works well with pad printing , with tiny serifs to mitigate the effects of surface tension. There's a nice article about it here discussing a font inspired by old watch print fonts:

Decimal watch font

Very interesting. I may play with some of the suggested fonts. Thanks.

6 hours ago, KOwatch said:

The yellow escher lizard diver is a classic!

I was quite pleased with how that turned out. Printing it would presents its own problems. I suspect that keeping the lizard detail sharp might be a bit of a challenge. 600 dpi probably wouldn't cut it. Higher resolution inkjet prints might provide a better, sufficiently sharp result. I haven't had time to test this though.

Edited by AndyHull
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  • 1 month later...

Thank you for this tutorial. 😍
I draw my designs on Inscape but your designs are masterful.
I post pictures of my drawing project on Inscape

ps. Have you drawn the California dial ?

2020-10-03.thumb.png.227e8fa5d9da01b17533c8c6f4b8aa3b.png

 

 

IMG_6668.jpg

Edited by EnamelDial
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Wow that is one cool memento mori design.

I presume that is etched copper.

What process are you using to etch? It is nice and sharp.

What enamels are you planning to use?

What kind of setup are you going to fire it in?

Are you enameling both sides to keep the enamels from cracking?

Does it have dial feet? If so how are they attached

7 hours ago, EnamelDial said:

Have you drawn the California dial ?

I'm not sure I understand the question. Panerai California?

Edited by AndyHull
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Iron chloride does not digest steel poorly - I add HNO3
I use an iron and laser print on blue foil (ebay)
This is how I can selectively apply hot enamel - I can do whatever I want in the enamel.
I used your design - etched on brass

 

 

IMG_7292.JPG

0c464628c5e80fa2bd24c7f67c7af4da.jpg

66b924bf2c41a5a4edaa28bf4af5f73b.jpg

35210655_482706048799437_5095278801718345728_n.jpg

13445749_176886099381435_7609565860091761826_n.jpg

13450247_176886339381411_2463716499284550878_n.jpg

13466144_176886082714770_5473860813826812821_n.jpg

c559b4203b707fc019ab7b34fc396c7f.jpg

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On 10/4/2020 at 5:09 PM, EnamelDial said:

Iron chloride does not digest steel poorly - I add HNO3
I use an iron and laser print on blue foil (ebay)
This is how I can selectively apply hot enamel - I can do whatever I want in the enamel.
I used your design - etched on brass

 

 

IMG_7292.JPG

0c464628c5e80fa2bd24c7f67c7af4da.jpg

66b924bf2c41a5a4edaa28bf4af5f73b.jpg

35210655_482706048799437_5095278801718345728_n.jpg

13445749_176886099381435_7609565860091761826_n.jpg

13450247_176886339381411_2463716499284550878_n.jpg

13466144_176886082714770_5473860813826812821_n.jpg

c559b4203b707fc019ab7b34fc396c7f.jpg

Wow! BEAUTIFUL WORK! 

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13 hours ago, firebynight said:

@EnamelDial amazing work! Thank you for sharing. I'm not interested in doing enamel myself but interested in trying the etching either in copper or brass. Could you share your recommended process for a beginner please?

All the technique here.

 

 

3 hours ago, Rocket said:

Wow! BEAUTIFUL WORK! 

Thank you

 

 

112381146_641202999828755_2004072444475093954_o.jpg

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On 10/4/2020 at 5:09 PM, EnamelDial said:

Iron chloride does not digest steel poorly - I add HNO3
I use an iron and laser print on blue foil (ebay)
This is how I can selectively apply hot enamel - I can do whatever I want in the enamel.
I used your design - etched on brass

 

 

IMG_7292.JPG

0c464628c5e80fa2bd24c7f67c7af4da.jpg

66b924bf2c41a5a4edaa28bf4af5f73b.jpg

35210655_482706048799437_5095278801718345728_n.jpg

13445749_176886099381435_7609565860091761826_n.jpg

13450247_176886339381411_2463716499284550878_n.jpg

13466144_176886082714770_5473860813826812821_n.jpg

c559b4203b707fc019ab7b34fc396c7f.jpg

WOW !!! wonferfull job buddy ... you're definitely more an artist or a craftsman than a hobbyist

Just one question about the "blue foil" you use ... is it Press-n-Peel blue transfer paper used to etch PCBs ?

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I would like to ask: can someone with the proper decal skills make me a dial?

I'll send the particulars to whomever want to step up- I have some art (original machine plaque) I can photograph and provide parts or funding...

My machining mentor is retiring, and he had always asked me to build him a watch... I normally repair/restore them so it just never worked out. Now I'd like to send him a decent watch of my design, including the company logo (the old logo) from which he is retiring.

No super-emergency, but I'd like to get it going within the next month or so if possible.

I figure either a Seiko or Eta movement to keep parts availability simple.

PM me (for any monetary discussions) or post here if you like.

Thank you!

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5 hours ago, manodeoro said:

WOW !!! wonferfull job buddy ... you're definitely more an artist or a craftsman than a hobbyist

Just one question about the "blue foil" you use ... is it Press-n-Peel blue transfer paper used to etch PCBs ?

No - it's a foil like the projector, only blue.
Or you can print on the cover of a color women's magazine - or tracing paper.
My job is to assemble road safety barriers.
I guilloche and enamel for fun.

 

 

4 hours ago, Rocket said:

I have to say, im going to have a try on enamel dials. Always found the Beautiful. But I think I have to do much simpler work. 😊

Again. Very, very nice work! 

Bravo - enamelling is very easy to learn. Good luck

 

4c9f24f1072f17ed8a449bcab375a9d8.jpg.1b04633972026d702c7395be41e2665e.jpg

 

 

3 hours ago, Tudor said:

I would like to ask: can someone with the proper decal skills make me a dial?

 

PM me (for any monetary discussions) or post here if you like.

Thank you!

Submit a photo (black and white) and the diameter of the dial.

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  • 4 months later...

This arrived in one of my many feeds. It describes how to use Inkscake for tessellations (repeated tilling of the 2D plane with less than obvious shapes). 

https://www.instructables.com/Quickly-Sketch-Escher-type-Repeats-Using-Inkscape/

image.thumb.png.be257bffa6956199e9a0fc400676c6e9.png

There is scope for combining this with rotations to produce some very interesting circular designs.


I'll need to look in to it in more depth when I get a spare moment, but I thought I'd share it here in the hope that it might provide some inspiration.

On a related note, there is also this work by Michelle Chandra which uses a plotter with various media to produce some very attractive work. I'm not sure how you would scale that down to watch dial size, but I'm sure it could be done.

https://www.evilmadscientist.com/2021/featured-artist-michelle-chandra/

image.thumb.png.9c874f2b1c9aa1f0e38f7199a6587fe7.png

 

Edited by AndyHull
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