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Quick 'n Easy Name Plates

I like to use the word processing software on my computer to make the faceplates I put on my figures. Itís an easy, fast and inexpensive way to dress up the presentation of your figure. It allows you to use one of the many available fonts as well as adding an attractive border around the text and even to add artwork if you want.

My computer came with Microsoft Works so thatís what Iíll be describing here. But I think that the basic concepts should work on whatever software you have available for use.

I have quite a few of these templates created by now. So I usually begin by opening one of them and saving it under a new name. But for this exercise, Iíll describe how to create one from scratch.

After opening the software, the first thing I do is insert a text boxÖ

Your screen should look something like this...

One thing you can do before typing the text is to center justify it. If you have multiple lines planned, this will make them line up down the center of the faceplate. Type in the text you want for the faceplate. Donít worry just yet about the text font or height. Youíll be changing them as you go along.

Note: I use the phrase ďactivate the text boxĒ throughout this exercise. What you need to do for this is to click inside the text box so that you see the outline with the small black squares like above.

After you type in the text, highlight all of it and select the font you want. For this example Iíve chosen Edwardian Script ITC. Keep in mind that you can change it any number of times and at any point if you donít like what you see. Next, select the font size. As with the font, this too can be changed at any point.

Now you now want to add a border.

Choose from the border art available for something that will compliment your figure.

When you pick the OK box, the border art will appear. If you need to change the size (width) of it, just go back to the same dialog box and pick another size. Keep experimenting until you like what you see.

Sometimes Iíll want to add some artwork to my faceplate. Usually itís something appropriate that Iíve been able to fine on the internet. To add the artwork to your faceplate, go to Insert, Picture, From File

Browse your computer for the artwork you want to add. Once itís inserted, you can resize it just like you will the faceplate (see below).

Now you will probably need to look at the size of your faceplate. Chances are that it is too big to fit on your base. To get an idea of how much to resize the faceplate, I usually print it out at this point and hold it up to the base.

Next, activate the text box, place your pointer over one of the small black boxes. Click and hold the left mouse button to drag and resize the text box, you can click the bottom middle black box to reduce or enlarge the text box without changing the width. Same thing for the side middle black box. If you need to change both, drag the corner black box. When you think it looks right, print it out again and see how it fits. Just keep doing this until you get what you want.

Once youíre ready to print out your final faceplate, youíll want to use good paper for this. I just go to my local Kinkoís and buy a bunch of different color sheets of the fancy paper. I get both the thin paper and the thicker card stock for this. Itís inexpensive and you can usually find a color that will compliment your figure.

When you print the faceplate, make sure to set your printer to the best quality. And print it out a couple of times so that if you mess up one youíll have a back up to use. What I do is print the first one and let the ink dry for a few minutes. In the file, use your mouse to move the text box over far enough to miss the first one. Then print it again on the same sheet.

To cut the faceplate out, I use a straight edge and a new X-Acto knife blade. This looks a lot better than trying to make a clean, straight cut with scissors. After cutting it out, youíll want to use a black marker (I like using a Sharpie) to color the cut edges. Itís surprising how much this improves the final look of the faceplate.

To attach the faceplate to the figure base, I use a ďrepositionable spray adhesiveĒ. This allows you to lift and reposition the faceplate if you donít get it right the first time. I hold the faceplate with tweezers and spray the back surface. Donít saturate it, but make sure you get good coverage, especially at the corners.

If youíre using the heavy card stock on a curved surface, the faceplate may tend to lift. Before spraying, I roll the faceplate over a curved surface like an X-Acto handle in the direction I want it to curve. This breaks the fibers and allows it to lay flat on the base.

I like to save each faceplate I make. That way I can copy and edit them for other figures. With this in mind, Iíve copied several of them to my MSN group that you can feel free to download.

Hereís an example of one I made for my kamikaze bust. I found a poem written by a Japanese pilot that was very fitting for the piece.

I hope that some of you will find this useful.

About the Author

About Craig Whitaker (mongo_mel)

I've been building models since I was a kid back in the '60s. I did everything imaginable until the mid '80s when I decided to try and get serious about it. Like most of us, I credit the Shep Paine diorama sheets found in Monogram kits for my inspiration. When I made this decision, it was armor all ...


Good post. Might i also add, for the computer savvy, if you have a program like GIMP 2 you could make some killer ones using a techinique parralel to this one. Add some background graphics and the like. I am practicing using a etcher myself, i drink too much coffee, what a pain in the art.
SEP 16, 2007 - 10:03 AM
Nice piece. I wonder if you've tried painting or putting any clear styrene over them to make a nice laminate.
JUL 24, 2013 - 09:43 AM