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Decal process made easy

May 28 2016 at 1:38 PM
David Nickels  (Login djnick66)
Missing-Lynx members
from IP address

Response to Confused over decal / transfer process...

In general, decals go on best over a smooth, glossy surface. So, since most armor models are painted with flat paints and have a lot of rough surface texture, you want to apply a clear gloss coat where the decals will go.

I personally do not use Pledge/Future/Klear for a variety of reasons. Instead I just use some Testors Clear Gloss Lacquer or Tamiya Clear Gloss acrylic. The nice thing with the Testors stuff is that it is rock hard. Decal solvents like Solvaset, Micro Sol etc. can soften Pledge/Future/Klear and turn it cloudy. This can happen also with acrylic clears. I have had the decal solvents soften Tamiya acrylic paints that were not sealed. I can't say I have had an issue with any of the enamel or lacquer based clears (Testors, Tamiya spray can, etc).

Many of the decal sets/solvents come in two jars for a two step application. Using Micro Set and Micro Sol, for example, you apply a little puddle of Micro Set (blue bottle) down on the model's surface. It is a wetting agent that helps you move the decal around, and also displaces the air underneath the decal (which is what contributes to bubbles and silvering). Once you get the decal positioned, you can lightly push it in place with a paint brush or lint free cloth. Do not blot it down just push it enough to get rid of some of the excess liquid, and to make sure it won't move.

Then apply Micro Sol (red bottle) on top. This is a stronger solvent that softens the decal and allows it to conform over and around surface details. Do not touch the decal after you apply the solvent! The decal may wrinkle up, but do not blot it. Let it smooth out on its own as the liquids dry up.. In the end, it should lay back down very snugly on the model. Any small bubbles or wrinkles can then be pricked with a knife point, and re-wetted with a bit more Sol.

After the decals have dried for a day or two, apply the clear top coat of your choice.

Gunze Mr. Mark Setter and Mr. Mark Softener work about like Micro Set/Sol. Some products come in different strengths. I use Tamiya Mark Fit (mild) under the decal and Mark Fit (strong) on top. Solvaset is a very strong one step fluid. I generally use Micro Set under a decal to position it, and then use Solvaset on top. If you put Solvaset under the decal, the decal can melt before you get it positioned properly.

You will find some brands of sets/solvents work better on a particular brand of decal. Tamiya kit decals tend to be on the thick side but respond well to Solvaset. Hasegawa decals seem to work best with the Mr. Mark stuff. Academy's decals are impervious to any solvents.

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  1. THANKS all ! Now that is helpful ! - Andrew Tomlinson on May 29, 2016, 4:20 AM
    1. I also use Games Workshop / Citadel 'Purity Seal'... - Andrew Tomlinson on May 29, 2016, 10:39 PM

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