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Decal question

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Joined: 08 Oct 2006
Posts: 3498
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 2:24 am    Post subject: Decal question Reply with quote

First, let me state that this is in relation to an actual plastic model, not a miniature. I made my first kit-bash (an obligatory Saladin from an ancient AMT Enterprise model). I have painted it (for the most part; I think I have a couple touch-ups to do), and now I need to prepare to put on the rather expensive decals I have collected for it.

OK, everything I have read here says that decals need to be applied to a glossy surface, as a flat surface doesn't give it enough to hold to. OK, I can buy that.

But, if you are going to clear coat it anyway, won't that "lock" it down regardless of whether it was affixed to a glossy or flat surface? Or can the decal still detach out from onder the clear coat?

I am just concerned about trying to put on too many clear coats.

Also, is the decal set used AFTER the decal is positioned, or before? I can never keep that straight ...

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Rick Smith
Lieutenant Commander

Joined: 02 Sep 2008
Posts: 266
Location: Silver Spring, MD

PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The high gloss surface is needed to keep the decals from "silvering." Silvering is when the decal doesn't bond tightly to the model's surface, creating white patches, which - in some cases - can even become brittle and fall off with time.

Think of it this way: imagine the difference when trying to apply a piece of masking tape to a pane of window glass as opposed to a piece of sandpaper. The tape just won't want to stick to that sandpaper no matter how hard you try to push it down. All that texture - the mountains and valleys, as it would look under a magnifying glass - doesn't allow the decal to adhere fully to the surface of your model. So the gloss coat is needed to create a very smooth, glass-like surface for the decal to fully bond to the surface. It basically levels out the mountains and valleys.

Even if you lock it down with the gloss coat after the decals are in place, you'll still have air bubbles and gritty texture under the decal and will be noticeable once your finished.

I wouldn't worry about putting on too many gloss coats unless you get too heavy handed with the application. Multiple passes are much better then one blast.

I believe (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong) but decal set can be used both before or after the decal is applied. However, if you're not sure on the decal's final resting place, it's best to use it last. Once the set is applied, it turns your decal to jelly and it can rip or dissolve very easily.
But it will melt it to the surface of the model.

I hope this makes sense and helps you along with your kit.

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Fleet Captain

Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 2929
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I missed this thread.

Like Rick said.

The only thing I'll add is that there is Micro-Sol and Micro-Set for decals. You can easily forgo one or the other (they basically do the same thing), unless you need the decal to conform to some very tight inside corners or textured shapes. Using both really forces the decal to get soft and conform - but like Rick noted, it does indeed get really soft, which means no movement.
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