In the world of miniature painting, decals have been met with scorn over the years. In other modeling hobbies it has been the only way to accurately represent automobiles, trucks, railroads and military craft. So much so that in contests a hand painted logo of a modern race car would receive lower points in judging than a model that has used the appropriate decal. I consider decals to be in the realm of modeling and is an excellent tool to create multiple repetitive designs on miniatures.
Waterslide decals are printed designs on a film that is normally clear. The decals are pretreated with an adhesive that softens in water, allowing you to slide the decal film off of the backing paper and onto your model. Tools Required:
X-Acto Knife or Sharp Scissors
Pan of clean room temperature Water (distilled water is preferred)
Old, Small Paint Brush
Soft TissuesTools Recommend:
Microscale Micro Set (blue label) http://armorcast.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=83&products_id=603&osCsid=20c84ef20e7b695366054216045b0537
Microscale Micro Sol (red label)http://armorcast.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=83&products_id=602
Micrscale Micro Coat Finish - Flat http://armorcast.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=83&products_id=587
Microscale Micro Coat Finish - Satin http://armorcast.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=83&products_id=586
Microscale Micro Coat Finish - Gloss http://armorcast.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=83&products_id=585
Testors Glosscote #1261
Testors Dullcote #1260
Krylon Krystal Klear
All of Ginfritter's Gnomish Workshop decals are waterslide transfers. Due to their small size and conformity to complex surfaces (read: they are thin) they are best handled and slid into position with fine tweezers or the flat of an X-Acto blade and a paint brush (My personal choice of appliying decals). All of Ginfritter’s Gnomish Workshop decals are coated to be resistant to ultraviolet light. That said, exposure to direct sunlight for long periods is still not advised. It is safe to venture that most other commercial decals are not lightfast and should also be kept out of direct sunlight.Prepare the Figure or Model
Decide where you plan on applying decals on your painted figure. Apply a gloss sealer to these areas. You can gloss coat the entire figure, but I prefer to use a brush-on clear gloss at this stage. Let the gloss coat dry completely before proceeding to the next step. The purpose of the gloss coat is to give a smooth base for the decal to rest on. If you have ever noticed the ring of trim film around the decals on many miniatures (including most of the GW studio figures and vehicles), this is called silvering. Silvering is caused by tiny pockets of air trapped underneath the decal. By applying the decal over the smooth gloss finish, there is very little room for air to get trapped and the silvering effect is avoided.Prepare the Decal
Using a sharp hobby knife, cut out the decal you wish to use. If you are using decals from a large single sheet of decal film (such as decals you print yourself), you will need to carefully trim as close to the decal graphic as possible to avoid excess trim film on your figure.Apply the Decal
Use the tweezers or the blade of an X-Acto knife to dip the decal in a shallow dish filled with warm water, and then let it sit for about one minute on a non-porous surface (such as your painting palette). While the decal is softening, I like to use the old brush to apply some water to the area where I am going to apply the decal so that the area is moist. After a minute has passed (or until the decal slides freely on the backing sheet), use the tweezers or the blade of an X-Acto knife to lift the decal on the backing sheet. Make certain to grab only the backing sheet from the decal - the decal film will have become soft and squeezing it directly with the tweezers can easily result in tearing or some other form of mutilation. I prefer using an X-Acto blade to remove the decal from the backing, it is a broad flat surface that I can slide the decal onto and the decal will not curl up as much.
Using the old paint brush or a flat of an X-Acto blade, gently slide the decal off the backing sheet and onto the prepared area of your figure. Continue to use the brush to gently maneuver the decal until it is positioned to your satisfaction. Once the decal is properly placed, gently draw excess water away with a dry brush. If you discover you have made an error and need to reposition the decal, simply use the brush to apply more water to the area and gently lift at the edge of the decal with the brush until the decal is loosened, then repeat the instructions above on Applying the Decal. Finish the Figure
Your decal is now applied, but you should let it sit overnight to thoroughly dry and set before doing anything more to the figure. If you think your decal requires some highlighting or shading to blend into the rest of your figure, you can paint directly over the decal once it has set. At this point, you can apply your matte, satin or gloss varnish as desired. Note that if you don't let the decal dry completely before sealing, then the decal might tear or the sealer over the decal could become cloudy due to moisture.