How-to: decal application

Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 7:08 pm

November 3rd, 2012, 8:10 pm #1

This thread is where all the information, questions, answers, problems, tips and tricks about decal application –and decals in general- should be posted.
But, before we start with chit-chat, the usual step-by-step tutorial on decal application kick-offs the thread.

There are some rules and steps when applying decals, which can’t be skipped and any and every omission or shortcut of those few basic rules will have direct consequence on how the final result will look like. These few steps below are the fundamentals of every decal application and there is no other correct way of how to apply decals, but this way:

Step 1: Glossing –up the surface

The usual problem after incorrect decaling is ‘silvering’. This is nothing else but air trapped under the decal’s clear varnish or carrier film and in prevailing majority of cases silvering is directly linked to unsuitable surface on which decals are applied.
Decals must be applied on gloss surface! In some cases we might get away with semi gloss, but we always should be aiming for gloss. Gloss finish is much smoother than matt or semi-matt and creates fewer opportunities for air to be trapped in tiny pinholes and surface imperfections.
Some modellers are using gloss paints for their paintwork to avail for constant decal ready surface. But, as most of modelling paints are of matt or semi-matt finish, gloss surface must be created.
The most commonly used method is application of Johnson’s Klear. New or old formula, it doesn’t really matter, both do the same job.

Ready:



After Klear. Area around gear bay is uncoated, to show the difference:


Filip . . . .

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Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 7:08 pm

November 3rd, 2012, 8:11 pm #2

Step2: Decal preparation

Tools of the trade:
- Scissors and hobby knife
- Bowl of loop warm water
- Cotton buds
- Brushes
- Tweezers
- Paper towel
- Decaling solution, Mr.Setter and Mr.Softer are on the picture, but there are many other brands around. Both liquids on the photo are good enough for most of the decals on the market, but for thick Tamiya or Roden products some stronger solution, like Daco, is needed to react with those.



Decals should be removed from the sheet using sharp device - blade or scissors. Selected decal should be dipped into loop warm water for roughly 10-15seconds, allowing decal carrier paper to soak water.
Decal then should be removed and placed on piece of cloth or kitchen towel. I am using paper towel with a few drops of water sprinkled on the place where decal will be resting. Here, properly soaked, decal will be placed until is freely sliding on the carrier paper. Some decals may take longer to detach themselves from the paper, so as long as it takes.


Filip . . . .

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Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 7:08 pm

November 3rd, 2012, 8:13 pm #3

Step 3: Decal application

In the meantime, setting solution is applied on the model, to the general area of the decal placement. This liquid should ensure proper adhesion of the decal to the model surface:



Decal is moved to the desired area sliding from the carrier paper and is moved around with help of wet brush and a lot of liquid/water. If the surface is too dry decal will adhere almost immediately and re-positioning will be almost impossible. Especially large sheets like this one need plenty of water:




Once in place, most of the liquid is drained from the edges of decal using dry paper towel. Just touch the surface with the edge of paper towel and let capillary action do the job.
After this, cotton bud is used to push remaining water from underneath the decal. This has to be done carefully and with gentle pressure, moving from centre to the edges. If we push too much, decal might move or break apart. At this stage setting solution should be doing the trick and decal should be nice and flexible:






Bursting decal film with hobby knife in the place of holes and openings:



Last step is optional, but I, personally, always use Mr.Softer at the end. With the help of this liquid decal film will copy almost any nook, corner and panel line on the model surface. It’s like a miracle, firstly decal gets wrinkly and untidy looking. 'Don't panic, don't panic' as Mr. Jones, the butcher, would say:




....and after a hour, or so. Still drying out, but you can see the difference and no silvering in sight:



Filip . . . .

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Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 7:08 pm

November 3rd, 2012, 8:14 pm #4

Step4: Finishing up

After overnight drying time, all decals are washed and dried using water damped and dry cotton buds. This step is sometimes overlooked. But let’s not forget that both setting solutions are strong enough chemicals and could do nasty things under a layer of varnish.
Good idea is to seal freshly applied decals with a coat of Klear before weathering or final varnishing:




Easy... :>
Filip . . . .

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November 29th, 2012, 10:12 am #5

what is the best decal solution to stop decals from breaking up as soon as they contact water and do any of the shops here sell it or would i have get it online from abroad.im not going to name names here as it could have just been a bad batch that i got mine from but the decals actually disentigrated and dissolved as soon as they contacted the water.also how would it be best applied to the decals,thanks
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Joined: November 4th, 2012, 4:11 pm

November 29th, 2012, 7:26 pm #6

I don't know if this stuff is the best, but it is what I use with positive results.



Give the decal that you are afraid is going to fall apart a brushed on coat of liquid decal film and leave to dry(30 minutes is plenty)
Cut the decal from the rest of the sheet and trim as close to the image as you dare.
Then proceed as normal, just remember that the decal may be quite delicate and may not stand up to rough handling.
There are a couple of UK based online retailers who carry it in stock.
I'm not aware of anywhere that carries it locally.

HTH
Last edited by Murfv on November 29th, 2012, 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Vincent
It's my hobby and I will enjoy it my way!

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November 30th, 2012, 8:51 am #7

cheers murfv,sounds good enough to me,will order some today along with the pavla resin cockpit sets for the 1/72 supermodel / italeri mb-339 and 326 aswell as the airfix/ heller fouga
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January 12th, 2013, 11:33 am #8

when using micro sol and set is it better to use 2 brushes,1 specific to each bottle or would the 1 brush do...im asumgt that there is a chemical difference between set and sol
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Joined: November 1st, 2012, 12:05 pm

January 12th, 2013, 3:09 pm #9

2 stroke wrote:when using micro sol and set is it better to use 2 brushes,1 specific to each bottle or would the 1 brush do...im asumgt that there is a chemical difference between set and sol
I use two large soft brushes, one for each. One has a red handle and the other one a blue handle, so I don't mix them up!

I think you are right, there would be a chemical difference between the Set and the Sol, as they do different things to decals. (I just wouldn't risk it, personally)

Philip
"To boldly go..."




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Joined: April 25th, 2013, 1:14 pm

April 25th, 2013, 1:29 pm #10

Hi

howdy all, first post.. ive been looking at all the different ways of fixing and setting decals on a model, klear, humbrol, micro sol/set online in various forums. Is there anywhere locally we can pick up klear or its johnsons equivalent..? ive tried tescos, a few hardware shops , even aldi and lidl..

On ebay they seem ok , but then you add on postage it gets pretty pricey for what it is, and in a local model shop you get a tiny jar of humbrol clear for 4.50 which makes the ebay seem a steal, anyone here have any advice.. i spent a good bit of effort on a academy f14a 1/48 as a first "get back into modelling" kit, and am pretty happy with everyting except the decaling.

Any advice would be really welcome, ive a few kits waiting in the wings, but wanna get this nailed down and tested before beginning those builds..


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