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Home-made Lining & Lettering - 3




blog-0116765001386702293.jpgWhereas, in my previous posts in this series, most of the lining details were hand-drawn, when it comes to coats of arms, crests, and lettering, I think it is better to find some printed artwork to work from .... unless you are a real artist!


One useful source of illustrations is O.S.Nock's 'Pocket Encyclopaedia of British Steam Railways' although, since these are all paintings, the accuracy of some of the pictures has been disputed.


There are many specialised books covering the liveries of individual companies and, for the GWR, I find J.N.Slinn's 'Great Western Way' invaluable. Other good sources of photographic material are preserved railways and museums. One problem, however, is that most historical photographs are only in monochrome. Providing you have a description of the original colours, it is not too difficult to 'colourise' old photos that you have scanned into the computer, by using the 'Colour' option on the various painting tools in Photoshop (or PSE),


For my 'worked example', I start with a monochrome image of an early version of the GWR 'Garter crest', and describe my way of adding colour in PSE. I shall assume that you are familiar with my earlier posts in this series, where I described using various tools in PSE and setting up an ink-jet printer for scale printing.


After loading the original image into PSE, make a duplicate layer, straight away. By doing all your work on this layer then, if/when you make a mistake, you can use the 'Eraser' tool to let the original show through again.


My first step in colouring the garter was to select a suitable 'gold' colour and then use the 'Paint Bucket' tool to colourise all the light areas. In the tool 'options' (along the top of the image area) I chose Mode: Colour, Opacity:80%, Tolerance:25 and ensured that the 'Contiguous' and 'All Layers' boxes were NOT checked.


The use of the 'Colour' mode ensures that the light and shade of the original image are preserved. The 'Tolerance' setting may need to be adjusted, to optimise which areas are filled with colour.


Inevitably, some areas will be coloured, when they should not be, so use the 'Eraser' tool on these areas, to restore the original ..... you did remember to work on a duplicate layer?



Colouring a Monochrome Image in PSE


Continue colouring the rest of the image in a similar way, using the 'Bucket' tool, when possible, and the 'Paintbrush' tool (set in 'Colour' mode). I also use the 'Dodge' and 'Burn' tools (with 'Exposure' set to about 8%) to lighten highlights or darken shadow areas of the image, to taste. This step can be very effective in bringing out a 'glitter' in the gold areas. I also use the 'Hue' and 'Saturation' controls to enhance specific colours. A useful tip is that, if you select to Edit a specific colour range, in the Hue/Saturation menu, and then click on the relevant colour in the image, using the 'Dropper' tool, the colour range adjusts itself for an exact match.



Adjusting individual colours in PSE


After about half an hour's work, I reached the following image, from the monochrome original. You can do all the colouring with a mouse, but a better tool is a Pen Tablet. The pen is much easier to control precisely than a mouse. Also, the tip of the pen is pressure-sensitive, so you can find the exact spot and then press down to apply colour as needed. Unlike a mouse, the position of the pen on the tablet is directly related to the cursor position on the screen, so you can easily find the next position for colouring. 'Wacom' do a good range of pen tablets, starting from around £50 (Xmas prezzie?)



Colourised GWR Garter (pre-1903)


It is important to note that the GWR and, presumably, many other companies, used different styles over different periods of time. In the smaller scales, some of these variations may be considered insignificant. For example, details, such as the ship's rigging in the Bristol coat of arms, changed from time to time! However, the overall shape of the GWR garter changed significantly after 1903, from the elliptical design I have shown to a much rounder shape - the difference is obvious, even at a small scale!


For number and name plates, I either use the outline and characters shown in 'Great Western Way', scanning and colouring them as required, or find a good photo to copy. I have not managed to find a suitable typeface online - the flat topped '3' is a sticking point - but perhaps a reader can suggest one that is suitable.- so scanning is my only option. 'Great Western Way' also provides drawings of a works plate and various types of combined name and number plates, used on specific engine classes.



'City of Truro' Number Plate


When applying these details, I prefer not to use decal film but print onto good-quality photo paper. This gives the plates some depth, although it is necessary to re-touch the edges, to prevent the white paper from showing. Alternatively, apply decals to raised plates.


One of my 'cheats' is to print a whole flat panel, such as a splasher front, as a single transfer. I fill the image with the background colour and then add all the lining and crests, to make a single image, which I cut out and apply to the locomotive. Once varnished over, this panel is indistinguishable, at a normal viewing distance, from a painted panel. I have even made complete tender sides in this way, complete with three-panel lining and the elaborate entwined GWR monogram! Although I have shown these images in previous posts, I have repeated them here, for convenience.



Splasher and Tender-side decals


The detail provided by a modern ink-jet printer is, to my eyes, remarkable. I have taken microscope images of lining and a works plate, printed at 4mm scale, which show considerable detail. Note, however, that the coloured dots provided by the printer are much smaller than the pixel resolution, which is essential, since the printer only has a small selection of inks to choose from. It produces a visual impression of the required colour by printing patterns of these 'dots'. My HP Deskjet 6980 is not a dedicated photo-printer and only uses three ink colours. Other printers, with more ink cartridges, may produce better results.



Printed Lining & Lettering under the Microscope


That's the end of this series on Lining & Lettering. I shall now take a break and wish all members of RMWeb a Happy Christmas, with the hope that Santa proves to be a railway fan :)



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Good evening.

I have an HP Deskjet 1315 all-in-one and, apart from the usual black and colour cartridges, it can take a special photographic cartridge in place of the black. Perhaps your printer may have the same possibility.

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Thank you, Petertg.  You are right - that is an option for my printer and I haven't tried it!  I rarely print my own photos and only started making myown transfers recently, so I'll have to explore further.



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Another excellent post. The garter looks spectacular. Your cheat with the printed panel is interesting, I might try that at some point.


Many thanks for the series Mike, and happy christmas to you too (when we get there) !

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