6 Common Mistakes for Beginner Hydrographic Dippers
The art of applying a color graphic design by dipping a 3D object into water with a floating layer of paint film is called hydrographic dipping, and it can be a highly effective method for applying designs to irregular objects. Of course, the process is more of an art than a science.
Hydrographic dipping is one of those artistic methods that looks much easier than it actually turns out to be. When you watch a video of a hydrographic dip in action, you generally only see the dip itself. However, preparing for that point requires a lot of finesse, precision, and experience. In many cases, beginners make some mistakes that they must experience first-hand in order to learn to avoid those issues. Here are 6 mistakes that hydrographic dippers frequently make when starting out.
One of the first issues that many beginning hydrographic dippers encounter relates to the water they use for the film. If the water isn’t at the perfect temperature, the film most likely won’t work the way it should. You might end up with film that dissolves too quickly or doesn’t dissolve at all. You should also change the water for each dip to ensure ideal color balance. Most films require water temperatures around 95 degrees Fahrenheit, but the exact temperature that works best for you must be discovered on your own.
2. Floating Material
In terms of easy mistakes to make, this one is high on the list. When you’re about to dip something, it can be a good idea to practice dipping the item in clean water so you can get a feel for how that item moves through water. If the item floats, you’ll have to use different pressure and speed to achieve the same transfer results for an object that quickly falls through the water. This is another skill that you’ll have to develop over time as you practice your dips.
Films dry in different ways, but you can easily mess up the item’s coverage before drying is complete. Some films require a stay in the oven to fully dry and set, while others simply require time hanging in a ventilated area. Be sure to follow the drying instructions for your specific film, and don’t smudge the graphic before it has a chance to set.
If the item you are dipping is filled with holes of any sort that could allow the water to flood in as the item is submerged, make sure to fill those holes so no water can enter. If water was allowed to freely flow inside, it would carry with it the film that is meant to be transferred to the item’s surface. This flow also disrupts the appearance of the rest of the film that remains visible. The trick is to plug any holes effectively enough that no water can get through but that the seal only reaches the edge of the hole and no further.
This might seem like an obvious necessity, but make sure the container in which you plan to do your dip is large enough for the item you plan to dip to fit inside. Many people prefer to use a large receptacle since it makes the process less cramped and easier to manipulate. Beyond the width and length, especially ensure that it’s deep enough for a complete submergence without fear of scraping the bottom.
You’ll quickly see that technique is very important in hydrographic dipping. The masters make it look easy because they have the experience that makes it easy for them. It might take you a few tries, or a few hundred, before you find the perfect tempo for dipping each item such that that film evenly distributes over the surface of the item. As you try different things, you’ll learn how to deal with edges, curves, corners, and any other object attributes that could affect the dip quality.
While these mistakes might be common for new hydrographic dippers, that doesn’t mean they aren’t easily avoided or solved. With a bit of planning and a good deal of forethought, you can make sure none of these pitfalls affect your first few attempts in the world of hydrographic dipping.