Sometimes painting logos, stickers, or patches by hand is impossible or impractical. You want the added detail that those offer but lack the ability to paint it accurately at such a small scale. For those times several different techniques can be used.
Labels are probably the most popular route for producing high quality miniature pictures of a logo. Several companies offer model or water slide decal stickers that can be used with your computer printer so you can print whatever you want. In some instances regular mailing labels can even be used. Some online dealers have popped up recently who also provide quality stickers for most of the GI Joe specific type logos for figures and vehicles.
Stencils are another way of tackling a logo. Essentially you cut out the design you want on a piece of tape or stencil specific patch. When you paint over the stencil it will only allow paint to touch the surface of the area you want. Once you remove the tape you should have a clean logo.
Millefiori technique by JoeMichaels 70
Like all of us do, normally when I need a logo on a figure, I either print one on the computer, or try to steadily paint one on. My usual results include a printed logo that has lost too much detail, or a painted sloppy mess. For the last NJC (BPRD) I wanted to make small belt-buckle BPRD logos for my figures, and thought I'd try something new -- at least new for me & customizing joes -- millefiori.
Here was my setup, including: aluminum foil, pasta maker, polymer clay, x-acto knife, paper logos, cardboard cutting surface, and of course, not shown: damp paper towel
The polymer clay I used was Fimo, from Michaels. I went with basic black, but for the red, I found this clay with glitter in it. Since the buckles on the film versions of the figures were metallic, I thought this clay would add something special. Now, I'm not so sure that it did, but the stuff sure bled red all over my hands...
This picture shows the amount of clay I used from each block:
Doing it the Wrong Way
Flattening the clay
After kneading the chunks into malleable balls, I ran them through the pasta maker, which is just an over-priced machine (IMO) that makes even-thickness pieces. If you're not into beading, or any other clay work, I would guess that a rolling pin or a D-cell battery would do the same... It has different thickness settings between 1 and 9, with 9 being the 'fattest' -- this was done to 7.
Cutting and piecing it together
I then sandwiched my clay slabs between aluminum foil, and put my paper logo on top. I then cut through all layers, following all the outlines in the logo -- here's what the top layer looked like:
Not too bad... until I tried to unstack all the layers -- this is what i wound up with:
So, I tetris-ed all the pieces back together, trying to utilize the black logo pieces in their correct location. When it was all put together, I saw too much daylight through the logo --
1st sign of trouble:
Rolling it into a log
The trick (in my experience) to doing this type of clay manipulation is in the 'reduction' or pinching, of the large clay logo in to a smaller clay logo, then into a 'log' for rolling to the desired end circumference. My large logo was too skinny (thin), and while reducing it to the log stage, had more warping than compressing. Once in the log stage, I was getting way too many runners.
2nd sign of trouble:
Once the log is rolled to the desired circumference, it is then sliced perpedicularly, with the ends of the log being mostly sacrificial, and if done correctly, the inner parts becoming a scale representation (even cleaner) of the larger design. In my case, I got a mess.
trouble (anybody see a trace of the logo?)
Doing it the Right Way
Flattening and piecing together
So, after wasting a good hour to get those crappy results, and ready to pack it in, I figured I went through all the trouble to buy the stuff, I should at least give it one more shot. I knew my main issue was the thickness of the large logo, so I figured I would make an adjustment there. I did another press where I only went through at '9' which was almost 1/2" thick. My second issue was trying to fit black and red puzzle pieces together that clearly didn't want to go together, yet stuck to each other, and warped all over. To combat this, I just ran the black through down to '5' (about 1/8") and then cut it to 1/2" wide strips to use as outlines for the red pieces:
The new thick logo:
Rolling it into a log
I then was able to compress the clay much more easily than before, and create my rolling log -- about half-way to the desired circumference, I cut it to check progress -- Score!
I then rolled on down to various belt-buckle and other sizes, and then cut -- kind of like cookie dough. I then pressed the end of my x-acto into the clay to flatten further, as my slices were a little thick:
I put the slices (well, flicked) onto a piece of foil on a baking sheet.
After about 40 minutes @ 230 degrees, they were done -- Note: they may still feel soft or pliable, but they harden up quickly when cooling down. Don't make the mistake of burning the clay -- it gets really smelly...
Some of the logos worked out better than others, and all are unique. This technique produces quite a bit of waste product, and definitely more than I needed. But the logos are super crisp and legible at a tiny fraction of the size it started, and way better than I could ever do with a printer or a brush. I might try this with the Cobra sigil next.