First I sketched the mermaid and made sure my friends were happy with it. I went for an art nuveau look inspired by Mucha. The tail ended up on a separate sheet. I tend to almost always draw larger than my sketchbook.
Then, I painted the colors in using photoshop.
I then printed the mermaid at several different sizes on plain paper, making sure I had the correct size for the guitar before printing on my transfer paper ( I used lazertran inkjet decal paper). Once I was sure the size was right, I printed on my Lazertran transfer paper, and cut the mermaid to fit the space on the guitar.
I then proceeded outside with the guitar, my printouts, and the following items: a bowl of warm water, some paper towels, some rubbing alcohol, and a polyurethane spray varnish.
Then, I wiped down the surface of the guitar with the rubbing alcohol, prepping it and making sure it was clean. (I had sanded out some scratches and divots in the surface of the guitar prior to this)
I then submerged the lazertran pieces in warm water, for about 15 seconds, until the backing began to separate from the decal.
Then using my fingers I slid the backing away from the transfer and applied the transfer onto the guitar. Lazertran is sturdy, and I was able to slide it around on the surface of the guitar until I had it in the proper position. I was also able to push any air bubbles out to the edges by gently pushing them with my fingers.
This done, I waited for the transfer to dry. It dries opaque, so you can see the progress.
Once completely dry, I taped off the areas of the guitar I did not want to spray the polyurethane on. I even shoved a paper towel inside the body to guard from over spray.
After this I sprayed several coats of the polyurethane over the decal and face of the guitar body. After the first coat, the decal again became transparent. I sprayed additional coats to ensure the decal lasted and also to help blend the elevated paper in with the rest of the guitar body. I don't have any pictures of this process because I didn't want to get polyurethane on my phone. You can use either a paint on or spray on polyurethane. I chose the spray type, so I wouldn't have to worry about brush strokes. Make sure you follow all directions of whichever polyurethane you use, and always apply in a well ventilated (in my case outdoors) area.
And with tape removed, you can see the fuzzy areas where the varnish is still drying :
The polyurethane dried quickly but took overnight to stop smelling. I left the guitar in the garage to protect it from the elements overnight, and protect me from the fumes.
The finished guitar, nice and dry and shiny:
And the happy couple with the guitar...
I'll try to get them to send me an updated photo of the guitar with all their guests signatures on it as well.