Thursday, December 23, 2010

Leading Edge Graphix

As a spectator goes there only a few things that set the planes apart from each other, they are going to see obvious geometry differences and any tape and tail covering colors from plane to plane but that is about it. When I was looking to start building my own planes one of the aspects that was very intriguing was to find a way to set them apart in a way that the general public could see. After some various ideas like painting the wood, stenciling the covering, creative taping, and a few others that aren’t worth mentioning I found a way to print right on the LE paper itself. The printed graphics offer some really neat advantages. First and foremost great looks, with the help of a graphics program the sky is the limit, colors, text, and artwork can all be printed right to the paper. Secondly the weight added for this artwork is almost zero which is a really big deal considering that it is going to get wrapped around the LE.

First create a basic layout of the paper. You can see the basic layout of the muffler area, “back” of the LE where each rib will go, top, and bottom. (My seam is on the bottom just behind the LE spar not on the “back” where the ribs are like most models)

Work up some graphics in the areas that you want using the reference lines to make sure everything fits. I like to split the screen so I can see the inboard and outboard graphics in the same window to make sure they look good together. You can see in the screen shot the active view is the outboard and under it is the inboard. This takes quite a bit of time even if you actually know what you want it to look like before you start. I am learning the software and developing the design all at the same time. As I learn new technics and get new ideas the designs evolve. Actually I can’t remember if I have done 2 sets of planes the same since I started.

Then turn off the layer with the layout lines leaving just some reference marks so you know where to cut the paper.

A couple of things to keep in mind and they will all be printer specific: you have to be able to tell the printer that you want to print on a custom paper size (in my case I use 23x8.5), the paper I use will not feed properly on its own and must be glued (dust 3M77 on a reg piece of printer paper) or taped (huge pain) to the LE paper, the ink is water soluble ( I used water and white glue for gluing it to the foam).
With some experimenting and effort you can create a unique LE. Here are a few that I have come up with.

It is hard to see in the photo but the base color has a fake wood grain, neat effect.

This is some of the new top secret stuff I have been working on this winter, do you see the bladder tube?


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