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Decal Tips?

 
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Savedfromwhat
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Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Posts: 639

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:12 pm    Post subject: Decal Tips? Reply with quote

Hey all I just bought my first batch of decals for my Squadron box one (Already killed the USS Buford so I had to move on). DO you guys have any helpful hints about applying decals? I am assuming (after my first attempt Smile ) That you neeed to grind the phaser bumps down, is this right?

Any decal info would be great here guys, I am really horrible with these little guys but I am about halfway done with the Jellico.


Last edited by Savedfromwhat on Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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djdood
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Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 2928
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't grind or file any details off my minis to accommodate decals, but then again, I don't use the phaser marking decals on Starfighter Decals' sheets.

The decals are often *very* tiny. One thing I can't recommend enough is to work under a lamp with a built-in magnifying lens. This gives you a zoomed-in, well-lit view of your difficult little subject. It makes it a lot easier to spot problems like air bubbles, wrinkles, silvering, etc.

Decals expect a clean surface and also one with no surface texture. Minis should be base coated in gloss paints, or clear-coated after painting in gloss clear. This is pretty important. Applying decals to matte, or even worse, flat/dull-type paints means that the decal is trying to stick to the tops of all the grains in the paint (the grains break up the reflected light and keep those paints from having the glossy look). Sticking to just the tops of the grains means the decal is only getting a small percentage of the adhesion it should and will be prone to falling off.

If you are trying to put a decal over an irregular surface, especially at this small of a scale, you're almost going to have to use MicroSol/MicroSet or some other decal setting solution. They soften the decal and allow it to conform to what's underneath it. They also thin the edges of the carrier film down, blending them out so the decal looks "painted on".

Other tips -
Use tepid water to soak the decals in to free them from the carrier film. It just seems to have an easier time soaking in evenly. Decals don't seem to like cold water (neither will your fingers, after a few hours). Keep the decal in tweezers (plastic tweezers wont scratch the decal) so you don't have it float off of the backing paper in your water container.

Hold the soaked decal in the water for just a moment then remove and let the water work its way in as it wants to. Tiny decals with tepid water should only need 3-5 seconds before they loosen up. Then move the decal (still on its paper) to the place you want to apply it.

Use a small soft brush to apply a thin layer of water to the area on the mini you will be applying the decal (this water bed will allow you to shift it around once placed).

Hold the decal in a small set of tweezers (again, plastic won't scratch the decal as easily). Some decals will let you hold it by the edges of the paper backing, others you will need to nudge the decal over a few millimeters to allow you to grab the tiny exposed edge of backing paper.

If you are applying over an area with a lot of surface detail (bumps, ridges, troughs, etc.), apply decal setting solution instead of a water bed.

Once the tweezers are holding the decal above the desired spot, use your wet small brush to gently push the edge of the decal onto the mini. Holding the decal to the mini with the brush, pull the backing paper out from under it (Keep the paper as close to the minis surface as possible during this process, to keep the decal from trying to pull up and stick to the back of the paper, etc.).

The decal should be roughly in place, but almost always needs some coaxing into position. To do this, use two small soft wet brushes, one on either opposite corner of the decal to nudge, rotate, etc. as needed. For huge moves, or when the decal is being really stubborn, your finger is the ultimate authority, but try to avoid this as it is a sledgehammer trying to swat a fly.

You can always apply a little more water to help coax a decal to move.

If you have setting solution, apply it just before the final positioning step, the softened decals don't take to nudging, etc. - they are as soft as Jello once hit with the solvent and will just crumple rather than move.

Once the decal is placed, check it over for any air bubbles, wrinkles, etc. These are much easier to fix when the decal is still wet. Press them out with your brush.

Once all the decals are placed you can hit any obvious edges with additional setting solution to blend them out.

When you are satisfied with all the decals, carefully wipe them and their edges with a water-dipped Q-tip to remove any excess adhesive (this will help prevent discoloration).

The final step is to protect all the work you've invested with a good layer of spray-on clear coat. I use clear matte Krylon-brand "Crystal Clear".
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Savedfromwhat
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Joined: 23 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DJdood, Thank you very much for your concise reply. You answered a lot of questions I would have been asking. I will post my first Completed ship very soon I hope, A Fed FF. Thanks again (/saved ducks out to go get some decal sealer).
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djdood
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

THIS is the stuff you want.
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Savedfromwhat
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I have decaled two Fed ships now. A FF and A BCG. Turns out the BCG went faster then the FF but man those "war circles" are hard to get on right. I made a mistake and put the red boxes on top of the warp nacelles but I kinda like em up there. I will be posting some picks as soon as the weather clears up and i can go out and do a Matte coat.
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Savedfromwhat
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oh also I learned that it is much easier to slightly score the decal paper so that the decal will seperate from where you are holding it with your tweezers. Made it way easier then trying to coax it off the paper.
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djdood
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Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finding a way to hold the tiny little decals and getting them successfully off the backing paper is the trickiest part, in my opinion. It sounds like you're through all the tough learning stuff.

I'm looking forward to pics!
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Last edited by djdood on Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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OGOPTIMUS
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes I let the decal paper fall away from the decal and then use another dry piece of paper to "scoop" the decal off of the water. This has come in very handy with those combat circles on Fed ships.

You can also get a bit more water on the mini (more than normal, making a small pool) and use that to remove the combat circle (or at least half of it) from the decal paper. Then just dry it up with a paper towel. I would stress that clearcoating the mini before this is essential though.
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Scoutdad
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Joined: 09 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like Optimus, I often let the decal soak until the paper falls away.
I have a set of tweezers that I Dremel'ed to a fine point and then rounded off. I can pick up a decal from the water by the tiniest little corner of it and then apply it pretty much where I want it. A 10/0 paint brush with a bit of water on it will take care of any final positioning needs.
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Scoutdad's minis photos here!
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