I’ve done a bit of research, but haven’t found any definitive guides to creating high quality graphics for our props. I’m currently on a bit of a PADD kick and have a couple graphics designed that I need to print out, so that’s my inspiration for starting the post, but my intention is to get a collection of general approaches, techniques, materials, and sources for printing out graphics for our prop projects.
Over the years I’ve made numerous non-backlit recreations of LCARS panels ranging from replicator wall panels to console display to PADD graphics. For the larger panels, I’d send them to Staples and have them printed on photo paper and have them laminated. For PADD graphics, I’d often print them at home on glossy photo paper, though sometimes I’d send those out for printing too. From my experience, the laminated graphics work well enough, but could be better; home-printed glossy photo paper is susceptible to smudging.
I’ve heard mention in some tutorials of reverse printing the graphics on a transparency and backing it with vinyl backing, but unfortunately I haven’t found a good step-by-step set of instructions for this technique. (Matt Munson’s old PADD tutorials recommend this method, but I haven’t been able to recover his instructions)
So, to get the discussion going, what are your go-to methods for printing graphics? Any recommendations for suppliers for tools/materials, or online print shops for custom orders?