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Paper Tips for Printable Miniatures

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Paper for Varied Miniatures

There are a wide range of papers available for all types of miniature uses. You can find transfer paper to create tole designs on wooden dollhouse furniture, Matte photo paper and card weight papers to create miniature scale buildings, heavyweight bond paper to make automata and scale cars. Several specialty papers are also available for waterslide decals, rub on transfers, heat set fabric transfers and transparent prints.

As a general rule, always use the correct paper for the type of printer you have. Whenever possible, use a paper designed to work closely with the specific inks your printer uses. If you want your printable miniature to last, matching the ink type to the paper type is very important. Also important is to use neutral pH paper whenever possible, especially if it will be in contact with collectible miniatures.

Paper Size

Standard north American letter paper is sized A sized, 8 ½ by 11 inches
Ledger size paper is B sized, 11 by 17 inches

A4 International Standard paper is 210 mm 297 mm or 8.27 in. 11.69 in
A 3 international standard paper is 297mm x 420 mm or 11.69 x 16.54 inches

Paper Weight

Standard letter paper or bond ranges in weight from 20 lb to 24 lb (90 g/m2 ) paper.

Inkjet photo papers range from 24 to 71 lb. (90 to 270 g/m2)

Many paper models need cardstock, Bristol, or photo paper weight papers which will be as heavy as 51 lbs or 185 g/m2 , at the high end of the inkjet photo paper scale.

The weight of paper in the United States is given as its weight in pounds per 500 sheet ream of C size paper. Letter paper is a ¼ sheet of size C paper.

The weight of metric paper is given in grams per square meter (gms). By definition, one square meter is one A0 size sheet or 16 A4 size sheets.

Paper weight is also determined by paper thickness or calliper. Photo paper is usually from 7-10 mils thick.

Paper Brilliance

The whiteness of paper is given as an ISO rating and is supposed to be a measure of the way light bounces off the paper. Brightness numbers are not uniform and are not a clear indicator of how ink will show up on the paper. Choose a paper with a color range and finish which will suit your project.

Care and storage of Paper

Paper needs to adjust to its climate before being used in your printer. Most printer manufacturers recommend at least 48 hours of storage at 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit before you use the paper.

Before loading paper in your printer, fan the sheets on all four sides. The layer of air this creates between the sheets helps printer feeding mechanisms to work correctly.

When you have finished using special sheets in your printer, store the excess back flat in its sealed package to prevent excess humidity or dryness from occurring.

Special papers

Waterslide Decal Paper

Decal paper must be chosen based on the type of printer you use. It is available for both inkjets and laser printers. Decal paper is usually sold as white or clear. White decal paper is needed when the image you want to transfer has white as a part of the design. Ink jet printers cannot print white ink. Clear decal paper is used if the design has no white areas but does have transparent ones. For use on dark colored surfaces, white decal paper is recommended.

A fixative spray like Krylon acrylic spray must be used to seal inkjet decals before they are ready for transfer.

Special decal papers are available for creating rub on transfers or creating decals for use on wood.

Fabric or Photo Transfer paper

Heat set transfer paper is often used to transfer images to fabric. Some heat set paper works only on natural silk or 100 percent cotton. Other heat set papers are designed for use with synthetic fabrics. Make sure the paper type you choose matches your fabric requirements and is designed for your printer type (laser or ink jet)

Most heat set fabric transfer or photo transfer sheets are available in two types: Translucent, which is good for transfer onto light colors and Opaque which has a white background that can be tinted with printer inks and transferred onto dark or colored fabrics.

Note: Designs for most photo transfer papers need to be printed as a mirror image design. Otherwise the image will appear as a reverse of your original, which will make text and other directional prints incorrect.

Transparency Papers

Transparent prints for stained glass windows or other transparent designs can be made on ink jet or laser Transparency Film designed for use in overhead projectors. Its special coating allows a short drying time which helps prevent it from smudging as it travels through a printer. Some transparency films (usually those for ink jet printers) have a coating which remains visible giving the final print a frosted appearance.

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