Custom Dry Transfers Make RV Aircraft Instrument Panels One-of-a-Kind

Custom dry transfers decals for instument panels on kitplanes and custom aircraft.

Instrument panels of RV kitplanes are one of the latest and most interesting uses for custom rub-on lettering. If you’re working on a home-built aircraft take a look at the results achieved by Otis Holt on his under-construction RV-7A from Van’s Aircraft.

The professional-looking results and a wide variety of uses for custom dry transfers have never been more apparent than on the instrument panel for Otis Holt’s homebuilt RV airplane. Seeking both clarity and a unique look, Otis undertook a careful process to develop graphics for his panel in the form of dry transfer decals for each of the aircraft controls. He was able to use precisely the type font of his choice, select a color that best complemented the background, and ended up with a sensational-looking panel that gives his experimental homebuilt plane a unique appearance. It is both personal to him and professional in its appearance. Among the hobby-related uses for custom rub-on transfers, this is one of the most excellent looking and useful in recent memory.

Custom decals for instrument panels. The RV 7A Kitplane from Van's Aircraft

The RV 7A Kitplane from Van’s Aircraft

If the story of Otis’ airplane instrument panel has caught your attention and you’ve not yet heard about homebuilt airplanes, they are available as kits from Van’s Aircraft of Aurora, OR. Van’s offers support and information which it says allows anyone to build an experimental plane of their own. Seeking ways to customize their aircraft, many builders explore a range of options including dry transfer decals as they work their way through the process of building to completion. At Image Transfers, producing custom rub-on decals for the electronics industry has become a common and repeat business. Therefore, extending to a kitplane instrument panel was a natural progression. As we do with any client who asks for help, we were able to advise Otis from beginning to end so that he was able to achieve exactly the look he envisioned.

Custom Rub-On Transfers Adhere Neatly in Any Space, Even Tight Ones

Custom decal labels for an airplane instument dashboard. Dry transfers for instument panels.

No matter what your project is nor the surface you’re adhering to – plastic, wood, or metal – custom dry transfers produce professional-looking results, even in tight spaces. They are applied directly to the surface using a burnishing tool supplied with every order. It means you can get into small spots with accuracy and precision. Also, because you provide the graphics file for production, the custom transfer lettering is sized exactly as you specify and there are no surprises when your completed transfer arrives for application. No matter the color, edges are crisp and clear because no transfer media remains on the final surface. This benefit is a significant advantage over water-slide decals. In situations where only a flawless appearance will do, you won’t need to worry about the final outcome.

Long the choice of industrial designers for product prototyping, dry transfers are gaining increasing use among hobbyists for a variety of projects. For lettering, they are the modern replacement for the former Letraset product and are offered in any Pantone color. Metallic and custom foil transfers are also available as options for more decorative projects. Because the transfer is rubbed on to any surface directly, you can place it precisely before applying it with the burnishing tool. If you want a permanent application, as Otis did in the case of his RV aircraft instrument panel, you just apply a top coat of clear lacquer to seal things in place with finality.

Dry Transfer Decals Look Perfect Even Up Close

Close up view of the custom decals that were made for the RV-7A kitplane by Van's Aircraft

Even in photographs under bright lights, transfer decals have the perfect appearance of a final manufactured product. You can take a magnifying glass to the details, and you’ll view a neat, crisp look. It’s why our product continues to be the first choice of so many design professionals who need excellent results. Also, as Otis learned because he required many individual elements for his panel, you can develop your content file in a way that gangs-up large groups of smaller items on a single sheet, therefore producing a higher volume of custom dry transfers for a low cost. At Image Transfers, we offer standard 8.5 x 11-inch sheets, and for a modest additional charge, you can upsize to an 11 x 14 inch or tabloid-size. There’s no loss of quality with ganged-up content which can be cut apart easily before applying your dry transfer.

Working with clients on new applications for rub-on transfers always is a process we look forward to – and now can demonstrate the successful use of our products in RV kitplanes along with so many other applications. If your project has a tight deadline, our turnaround can be as fast as 24 to 48 hours, and because you transmit the content file to us, you’ll receive back exactly what you ordered. Image Transfers is a leader in custom dry transfers for any application, hobby, or professional, on plastic, glass, metal, and wood. We always are available to advise first-time users like Otis and can easily make suggestions that not only will make your project run more smoothly but also help you arrive at a perfect finished product.

Thank you Otis for all the wonderful photos of your project.

Image Transfers are custom dry rub-on transfer specialists. We make only one thing: custom rub down transfers for graphic designers, artists, and model-makers. A dry transfer (or rubdown) is an image printed on a translucent sheet. The image has a coating of adhesive on its back. The image is transferred from the translucent sheet onto another surface by applying light pressure in a rubbing motion. The dry transfer can be applied to any surface that is free of dust, grease or oil. Dry transfers are referred to as DRY because they are applied dry, without the use of water or solvents. A dry transfer is not a slip-off label or a water decal, instead, the transferred image appears as if it was printed directly onto the item. Our dry transfers are opaque because we back the colors with white, so our rubdowns can be applied to a surface of any color without changing the color of the rub-on transfer. We consider dry transfers a semi-permanent application. A top coat of clear lacquer can make them more permanent. Our production artists can match all Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors including Metallic. Standard transfers are semi-gloss but we also offer matte and uncoated finishes. We deliver within as little as 24 hours. -- Specialties: Custom Rub Down Dry Transfers, Art Gallery Signage & Museum Labels, Custom Transfers for Product Prototypes, Comps & Mock-ups, Dry Transfers for Scale Models. Decals for Glass and reversed transfer decals for inside glass cases.

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14 comments on “Custom Dry Transfers Make RV Aircraft Instrument Panels One-of-a-Kind
  1. Peter Jenkins says:


    I’m building an RV8 and am reaching the stage of needing panel etc decals. Not quite sure yet how I go about defining what I need and placing an order. eg do I need Adobe Illustrator?
    Perhaps knowing the process more clearly would help, thanks.

    • Luann says:

      Peter, Some of our clients don’t have access to Adobe Illustrator. We are okay with you setting up what you need in a WORD Document and creating a PDF of it for process. You can even send it to us via email at and we will review it and get back to you. Pricing is published on the website. Clients usually gang-up/repeat artwork to fill one of the artboard size areas. Letter is the smallest size transfer we offer. Our turnaround is usually 24 to 48 hours. Let us know if you have further questions. We hope we can work on this project with you. Luann

  2. Angelo Lagonia says:

    I have an RV9. Panel upgrade has left me needing to replace one label on my panel. I need a label that says PITOT. The letters are 1/8” tall. This label needs to be black letters on clear adhesive tape.
    Is this something you can do for me? What would be the cost.

    • Luann says:

      Angelo, We can certainly create this item for you as a transfer but most clients order enough graphics/text to fill one of our artboard size areas. The smallest transfer we offer is letter. A letter 1/color is $175.00. Cost is based on our process of one production artist working on one dry transfer until it is completed and packed up for FedEx. Our turnaround is 24 to 48 hours. When applying our transfers you just need to rub through the clear slick with a burnisher we supply. You will see the text start to release and adhere to surface. Then remove the clear slick and all this will be left is the text. It will look like the text is printed right on your surface with no adhesive residue. Please get in touch if our pricing fits into your budget. If not we would recommend “googling” off the shelf transfers or check out your local hobby stores. Of course you would need to place each character if you go this route. Thanks for inquiry. Best of luck with project.

  3. Mike Holmes says:


    • Luann says:

      Mike, Our transfers have been used on Airplane instrument panels before and have worked quite nicely. Most clients creat the artwork themselves, log into our website, drag & drop, choose color and get an instant receipt. Other clients, like you, are usually not familiar with graphic programs such as Adobe Illustrator and set their text (using whatever font they want) in WORD. If you create a PDF that would be acceptable for our process. If you need help with artwork we can do that for a nominal fee. Our pricing is based on artboard size area so yes, you can put it all on one sheet. If you have further questions just email us or call the studio number (212) 928-7987. We hope we can work on this project with you.

  4. Mark says:

    Transfers. Can you have multi labels on a sheet. I have a antique plane I would like to relabel

    • Luann says:

      Mark, Our pricing is based on artboard size area so we expect our clients to gang-up/repeat artwork to fill the artboard. So YES you should put multi labels on the sheet. Pricing is published on our website. If you have further questions just write again or call the studio at (212) 928-7987. We hope we can work on this project with you. Luann

  5. Skyler Chamberlain says:

    How well does this adhere to the aircraft panel? Would a clear coat be required, or can I get by without it? I would prefer to avoid a clear coat to match the gloss of the paint adjacent to the panel.

    • Luann says:

      Skyler, Our transfers are perfect for aircraft panels. They are lacquer ink with lacquer adhesive and we consider the finish to be a gloss. We recommend spraying the applied dry transfer with a clear lacquer spray so that the text/images can’t be scratched. Please visit our website BLOG articles for more info or call us at (212) 928-7987. We hope we can work on a future project with you. Luann

  6. David STeed says:

    I am designing a new panel for my experimental aircraft. I like the look of the panel that you show on the website. Can you tell me what font that is and also which fonts show up best 1/8″ tall? I have a CAD program but not illustrator. I’m also not sure what is meant by “vector style” fonts.

    • Luann says:

      David, Thanks for getting in touch. The font Otis used was Segoe. We ask clients to “create outline” on fonts so that the artwork becomes vector art. We have details on how to do that on our FAQ page or you can call the studio at (212) 928-7987 and we can discuss. If you are like most of our aircraft clients you probably don’t have access to Adobe Illustrator software. Most of our aircraft clients create the text in WORD and save as a PDF for upload to our website. This font is a little unusual – and it is personal taste on the visual. It seems quite relaxed to me. As for what fonts show up best – again it is personal taste. San-serif are probably easier to apply and read, something like Arial or Helvetica but again it is up to you. We hope we can work on this project with you. Thanks for you inquiry. Luann

  7. I am updating my Cessna 210
    Wanting to redo forward panel with battery switch circuit breakers etc but will need new letter king have Planck removed and painted
    Can you do this task and how much for all the individual small labels

    • Luann says:

      Stephen, We have clients that do similar projects. View our BLOG articles to see some samples of panels that have been redone. Pricing is published on our website for transfers. Costs are based on “artboard” size area so clients usually gang up or repeat artwork to fill the artboard. This way you have extras incase the first application doesn’t go perfectly smooth. Most clients create the artwork/text they need and save it as a PDF file. Create an account at our website, login, drag & drop art, choose color and check out with an instant receipt. If you wanted us to create this artwork/file for you we can but would need specifics to give you a cost. Feel free to email us or call the studio at (212) 928-7987 if you need more info. Thanks for your inquiry.

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