Friday 23 September 2016

Making a title/name plaque for a display plinth.

A title or name plaque may not always be a necessary and I firmly believe that most finished models should be capable of doing without one. The addition of a title or name plaque won’t make a model any better than it already is but it can provide an extra finishing touch to the presentation of that model.

I’ve had a few people ask me how I made the name/title plaques for my plinths so here is a description of the process I use.

To be honest I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself for not thinking of this years ago! I’m a Graphic Designer so I have all the skills and resources to generate the graphics for title plaques quite literally at my finger tips. Having said that it should be possible for anyone to generate the graphics for a plaque in nothing more sophisticated than Microsoft Word.


Printed plaques - It's very important to use laser prints for this technique. Laser prints are set with heat and the ink is then waterproof. Inkjet prints will not work as they are not waterproof.

Plasticard/styrene sheet – between 1 & 2mm thick

Vallejo matt varnish

Scalpel/craft knife

Two part epoxy glue e.g. Araldite

Paint, ink & washes for weathering.


The graphics are by far the most complicated part of the process but they are also the most creative. As I said above, there is no reason why this could not be done in Word, but I generate the graphics for my plaques in Adobe illustrator. The first step is to decide on a size for the plaque and draw a box to those dimensions to define the working area.

You can use whatever combination of text, illustration and graphics you wish but, remember, clarity is the most important thing to consider. You want the label to be legible at a glance so don’t make things too complicated. A clear font and simple border will usually be the best solution.

Having said that, don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations of text graphics, colours and size. Print and cut them out and see how they look on the plinth. I often find that once I see my designs in situ the most successful version is not the one I expected it to be!

The picture below shows some of the different type styles and colours I tried for my Abalam bust.

Once you have printed out your final design make sure to leave a margin of about 5mm around the edges when you cut it out. Now prepare your plasticard by first giving the surface a light sanding and then a thin coat of undiluted matt varnish. This will help the paper to stick to it. You can use whatever thickness of plasticard you like, but I prefer it between 1 and 2mm thick. If you use anything thicker the finished plaque may look too ‘chunky’ on the plinth.

Next soak the paper in a dilute solution of the matt varnish. Roughly 60% varnish to 40% water will do the job. The varnish serves a dual function. It glues the paper to the plasticard and seals the printed paper so that it can be over painted. Soaking the paper ensures that the varnish penetrates the surface. This will soften the paper making it easier to apply. It will also cause the fibres in the paper to swell and the paper to expand a little. As the paper dries it will shrink back and this will help to ensure a flat surface. I use a flat-ended brush to gently work any pesky air bubbles out from between the paper and plasticard. Be careful when handling the wet paper as it can become quite delicate.

Once the paper is totally dry I give it an extra coat of undiluted varnish. When the varnish has dried it’s time to cut the plaque out. When cutting a straight line (use a metal edged ruler) in plasticard, it is only necessary to score the surface a couple of times with a sharp blade. The plasticard will then snap apart cleanly along the scored line.

There is almost always a very slight ridge along the edge of the plasticard and this needs to be carefully sanded away. I like to round off the edges on my plaques when I sand them as I think it gives them a smart finish. The next step is to carefully paint the exposed edges of the plaque black.

You could use your plaque like this, if you wish, but I prefer to take things a bit further and apply some paint effects to give the plaque a distressed look. The degree and nature of the effect very much depends upon what I feel is appropriate for the mini.

I usually darken the outer edges with multiple glazed layers of washes (from Secret Weapon). In addition to that I may apply a combination of sponging, stippling and splattering. In the case of my plague bearers I went all out with painted chipping and rust effects.

The pictures below show a selection of my plaque designs before and after I distressed them.

I use epoxy glue (Araldite) to fix my finished plaque to the plinth. I prefer this to super glue as superglue can sometimes cause white fogging on the plinth. The epoxy glue also has the advantage of allowing enough time to tweak the positioning of the plaque before it sets. Only use a small amount of epoxy, if you use too much it can ooze out from under the plaque when it’s pressed into position!


  1. Hi David. Thanks for the write up. What thickness paper do you use, or doesn't it really matter?

  2. I just use standard lazer printer paper 80g/m2 but it's not too important.

  3. Beautiful work, really completes your pieces professionally.

  4. Thanks for this post! The plaques I've been attaching to my plinths have been embarrassingly awful... this article is just what I've been looking for!

  5. Attempted and paper just curled as it dried :( normal printing paper

    1. Sorry to hear that Evan! It might help to make a stronger bond if you use undiluted varnish to attach the paper. Alternatively the paper may be too thick if it's curling up.
      I've never had it curl up but it can wrinkle and bubble up a little. If the paper starts to lift, bubble or even curl during drying I use a clean brush to smooth it back down.

    2. Sadly direct varnish also continued, as it dried, to curl. Paper is just normal office copy paper. I Used white glue diluted to adhear it and that seamed to resolve it. Maybe just a bad bottle of varnish? Same bottle you had in your instructions. Live and learn :)

    3. Glad to hear you found a resolution. I tried white glue myself and it didn't work for me. It just goes to show how much trial and error goes into getting a result!