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TUTORIAL: Remove print from decorated elements


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#1 Hinckley

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 06:45 AM

Tutorial: How to remove print from decorated elements

Want to clear the printing off of a torso so you can apply your own design decal or simply clear off a SW print from a canopy or other element? This tutorial will guide you through how to safely remove patterns from decorated LEGO elements.

Materials you will need:
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  • Brasso
  • Printed LEGO element
  • Cotton swabs
  • Old washcloths
  • Small bowl
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (or rubbing alcohol)
  • Water
Warning: Make sure you work in a well ventilated area. If you are under the age of 18, don't use the Brasso without adult supervision. Consult a physician if you get the product in your eyes. Those with strong allergies should avoid using Brasso. Discontinue use and consult a physician if you feel light-headed, dizzy or confused. Avoid prolonged contact with your skin and other pieces of furniture or fabric...

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Lay the printed element on one of the washcloths. Apply a bit of Brasso to the printed surface. In the States, Brasso can be found at any home improvement store.

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One method you can use involves "erasing" the printing with a cotton swab. Press the cotton swab into the applied Brasso and rub back and forth until the printing disappears.

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As a general rule, it takes about 15 second to remove each area of print.

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Once the print is removed, wipe away the residual Brasso with a washcloth.

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Soak the torso for a couple of hours (or overnight, if you have the time) in a solution of 8 parts water and 1 part hydrogen peroxide (or rubbing alcohol). In the States hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol can be found at any pharmacy or grocery store and water can be found in the faucet. :laugh:

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If the pattern printed on the element is more detailed you can use a different method. Again, apply a bit of Brasso directly to the printed surface.

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This method requires a bit of force, so hold the piece with one hand and use a washcloth to rub the piece with the other hand.

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Rub in one direction for about 15 seconds.

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More elaborate prints may require you to hold the piece at different angles. Turn the piece and rub it again in a different direction for 15 seconds...

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... until the pattern has completely disappeared.

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This is why you want to use an old washcloth. The print rubs off onto the material you use to remove the pattern.

Once the elements have soaked in the solution for an adequate amount of time (2-4 hours) you can drain the water and dry the elements. Use an old washcloth or paper towel to dry the elements and remove any residual amounts of Brasso that may still remain.

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#2 CP5670

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 07:05 AM

Great guide.

Interestingly, your Brasso looks different than what I have. There may be multiple, distinct products under that name. I use this kind of Brasso frequently to clean up hairline scratches, especially on transparent parts, but it's a brown, watery substance that you can't spread on the parts directly without making a mess.

#3 Shadows

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 07:06 AM

An informative and useful guide that has been added to the index.
-- ImperialShadows, EB News.

Seriously, it's great! :thumbup:

Why the peroxide step, though?

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#4 LuxorV

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 09:45 AM

Yet another great use for our beloved HHGTTG element: the towel! :tongue:

Thanks for this very useful tutorial, Hinckley :thumbup:

And thanks ImperialShadows for adding it to the index :classic:


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#5 Skinny Boy

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 04:53 PM

Thanks for the guide Hinck! I use some sort of car polish, and its the same result (and colour as brasso!  :grin: )
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#6 SlyOwl

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 08:37 PM

I just dip the end of a cotton bud into the brasso, and it works fine, but I guess you Americans have to do everything on a massive scale :tongue:

A toothpick can be used to only remove some areas of print, to get cool new custom prints, without any decaling! :wub:

A standard eraser offers a less messy alternative, although it isn't as accurate, and leaves a bit of stick on the part. It is better at getting into cracks or round corners, however, so it is good for cleaning up parts where the print isn't central, and you want to get rid of the areas which go round the corner slightly.

To the barricades!
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#7 Capt. Kirk

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 08:44 PM

Great guide with perfect illustration van A to Z...  :thumbup:

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#8 Justin2224

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 01:35 AM

Scratching the print off with a scaple works too, just be careful not to scratch too much, or cut your hand.... A scaple also works better for small areas.

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#9 Hinckley

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 06:29 AM

View PostImperialShadows, on Feb 4 2009, 01:06 AM, said:

Why the peroxide step, though?
Helps clear the residual brasso off and stop white elements from yellowing-sometimes happens when the white ABS reacts to the chemical.

View PostSlyOwl, on Feb 4 2009, 02:37 PM, said:

A toothpick can be used to only remove some areas of print, to get cool new custom prints, without any decaling! :wub:
I use an X-Acto knife to remove little details because it's bigger and better than a toothpick and I'm American :tongue:

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#10 tedbeard

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 05:19 PM

View PostJustin2224, on Feb 4 2009, 04:35 PM, said:

Scratching the print off with a scaple works too, just be careful not to scratch too much, or cut your hand.... A scaple also works better for small areas.
I have had really good results using an Exacto knife to "shave" printing off yellow heads. It worked horribly on torsos however. Maybe the yellow colour hides the scratches better? I am not sure as I haven't tried a fleshie head.
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#11 CorneliusMurdock

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 03:53 AM

Pardon my posting on an old topic but I have some info to share.  

This past weekend I took my first foray into the minifig customization arena and bought some Brasso.  After putting my daughter to bed and getting everything the tutorial said I needed, I proceeded to put some Brasso on the pieces.  I was surprised that it was much more liquidy than in the pictures but I thought, oh well, and continued on.  I sat there scrubbing and scrubbing for the better part of an hour to get one torso done.  Nowhere near as easy as in the tutorial.  By the time I got done with two torsos, I was physically exhausted and very lightheaded from the smell even though I working next to an open door with a fan going.  

Looking at the bottle the next day, I figured out what was wrong.  The liquidy stuff was at the top of the bottle with thicker stuff underneath.  Apparently, metal polish does not fly off of store shelves and must have been sitting there a LOOONG time and separated.

Moral of the story:  Shake the Brasso bottle vigorously before using!  Don't shake it like orange juice from the fridge but rather like you would a can of paint that has been sitting in your basement for years.  Oh, make sure to hold the bottle closed while shaking.  The thick part must be the gritty part that does most of the work.  It was MUCH easier the second night after I spent a few minutes shaking the dang bottle.

Just thought that maybe this should be added to the article at the top here as I'm sure other people have done the same bone-headed thing I have.

Edited by CorneliusMurdock, 19 October 2010 - 03:45 PM.

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#12 LuxorV

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 07:58 AM

Well, thanks for sharing your experinece, CorneliusMurdock, and for warning us. I'm sure that will be useful advice.

Looking forwards to see your customs, too!

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#13 Primusman

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 02:17 PM

I just use a pencil eraser, works like a charm!
Not only am I obsessed with lego, but with Transformers too. Oh, and music, and Star Wars, and Indy. I can't forget Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, and-Oh boy!

#14 Clone-Cat

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 02:53 PM

Thank you for this tutorial,that's exactly what I am needing right now.
I once tried a couple of days ago to remove print with a special cleaner from Revell.
The result was very disappointing. Some part of the minifigs just broke out.
I will use your method from now on.

#15 brickplace custom

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 02:50 PM

View PostClone-Cat, on 19 October 2010 - 02:53 PM, said:

Thank you for this tutorial,that's exactly what I am needing right now.
I once tried a couple of days ago to remove print with a special cleaner from Revell.
The result was very disappointing. Some part of the minifigs just broke out.
I will use your method from now on.

@Clone-cat, you can with a cleaner, it's another good way for remove the print, but when you use special cleaner, you have to put just a little bit product on your part, because there are a chimic reaction with the abs plastic, and if you put to more cleaner liquid, the part broke out as you  said.

With this kind of method, in this tuto, the better is the time for remove the print (  short ), but after you have to wait long time to purify the part, with cleaner it's take about 1 min for remove the print, but afteryou can purify immédiatly the part with simple water in 1 min.

Nice tuto

#16 Clone-Cat

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 05:53 PM

As could not find Brasso at my local stores, I went on with a other method.
I used toothpaste and it worked really well.
All of the print is removed and the plastic is not damaged.
In my opinion toothpaste has many advantages against Brasso.
You don't need Hydrogen Peroxide to clean the parts afterwards, because water is enough.
You normally have it always available.
It's cheap.

Should I do a tutorial about it?

Really no one interested in that, just a yes or no would be enough.

Edited by Clone-Cat, 25 October 2010 - 04:15 PM.


#17 Cobb

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 02:35 PM

Toothpaste works fine I just tried it and it came clean off. No problem.
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#18 purpleparadox

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 02:39 PM

Yes, I'd be interested to see how you achieved that with toothpaste. Tutorial please!

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#19 Daimar

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 06:47 PM

I just wanted to say that I tried to remove the printings with an eraser (any kind of eraser works) and the endresult is great, no scratched plastic and no printing, its pretty time consuming but it works, the safest and easiest method ever.
I have a decal thread at the custom minifigs section. Come by and say hi.:) http://www.eurobrick...showtopic=54117

#20 Cobb

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 10:34 PM

I put some toothpaste on a rag and rubbed the minifig head over it. Was done in seconds and no scratches.
You don't get it boy, this isn't a mudhole. It's an operating table. And I'm the surgeon.

#21 purpleparadox

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 02:28 AM

Well everybody, guess what? I'm no longer a purist!

View PostDaimar, on 02 March 2012 - 06:47 PM, said:

I just wanted to say that I tried to remove the printings with an eraser (any kind of eraser works) and the endresult is great, no scratched plastic and no printing, its pretty time consuming but it works, the safest and easiest method ever.
This works! I tried it and it didn't take TOO too long, about 5-10 minutes.

View PostCobb, on 02 March 2012 - 10:34 PM, said:

I put some toothpaste on a rag and rubbed the minifig head over it. Was done in seconds and no scratches.
I also tried this and it didn't work. However, I wasn't trying on a head. I was taking the printing off a torso. Oh well, the eraser works so I'll use that!

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#22 Super Fish Oil

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 03:34 AM

View PostDaimar, on 02 March 2012 - 06:47 PM, said:

I just wanted to say that I tried to remove the printings with an eraser (any kind of eraser works) and the endresult is great, no scratched plastic and no printing, its pretty time consuming but it works, the safest and easiest method ever.
Yep, I removed Harry Potter's scar and the face from an extra head (just to make sure it would work with Potter). The end results were pretty good, but I couldn't get all of either away, so I just gave up. There was a faded eye left on the test face and almot unnoticable parts of the scar. I suppose I just need to put more time into it.

View PostCobb, on 02 March 2012 - 10:34 PM, said:

I put some toothpaste on a rag and rubbed the minifig head over it. Was done in seconds and no scratches.
I'll have to try that. I've wanted to remove print, but I'm to cheap to buy brasso and erasers are too time consuming to use regularly.

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#23 LEGO Train 12 Volts

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 07:46 AM

Usefull tutorial!  :thumbup:
Thanks for sharing  :classic:
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#24 Cobb

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 09:33 PM

I created a custom mr. freeze head with the toothpast technic. I taped the eyes so they didn't come off and just painted the rest. It looks really good.
You don't get it boy, this isn't a mudhole. It's an operating table. And I'm the surgeon.

#25 Wardancer

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:51 PM

Has anyone tried this on a bigger piece, such as a horse barding?



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