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Adventures with decals

 
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Jiraiya1969
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:30 pm    Post subject: Adventures with decals Reply with quote

Well, I finally tried my hand at applying some of Mark's decals to my Fed minis.

I had Micro Sol and Micro set, soft brush, tweezers, the works. Still, I managed to tear some Sad

These decals are so small that it was hard to get them applied to the right spot. When I tried to move some of them (particularly long and thin decals like the engine banners and ship registry) they tore or curled up on themselves.

This is the old plastic ship set and is for all purposes a trial run before I purchase the FC squad boxes, so it's no big loss.

If anyone has some tips on how I can improve this process, that would be great.

Thanks

Sar
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djdood
Fleet Captain


Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 2922
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The long thin shapes are among the trickiest and do indeed take some skill.

The biggest thing is to work in the long direction of the decal. Never try to push it onto the model from the side, work along its length.

The gray triangles under Fed saucers gave me the most trouble (I must have ruined 5-6) before I found out what I was doing wrong. you really need to let the shape of the decal help you and not fight it. In the case of the triangles, I needed to place the broad end first, then drag it off towards the point. I also needed to be positive about where I was placing it when it first touched down, as the "point" will not move, it will just curl (especially if the saucer has an engraved grid pattern). Once I figured out what was causing the problem I never had any more troubles.

You really don't get a chance to reposition things much at all when working this small, so triple-check that you have the right decal, going on the right spot, upside-right before touching it down. I've made all three of those mistakes and it usually meant losing the decal each time.

What I do is wet the intended location with water (or setting solution). Then I pick up the decal with plastic (can't scratch it as easy) tweezers, holding it on either side from above. I wet the decal and once it is loose from the backing paper I nudge it a few 1/16ths of an inch off one end (usually with a finger tip, very carefully). That little hanging "tab" of decal I then press against its final location on the model with a small wet brush. Holding the decal in place with the brush (did I mention that the mini needs to be in a holding fixture, since you will be short on "hands"?) I then pull the paper out from under it, keeping the paper as close to on the model's face as I can - you want the decal to want to slide off onto the model, not "drop" (which just lets it curl). The transition between paper and model face needs to be as close to zero-height and parallel as you can make it.

Once the decal is free from the paper, I bump the edges of the decal with the wet brush to fine-tune the position. Again, fine-tuning is all you can do though.

I then blot away the excess water and solution with a Q-tip. After giving it some time to dry, I sometimes hit it again with setting solution to get it to conform.

Be aware that setting solutions work by partially dissolving the decal carrier film. They kind of turn to jelly. This isn't a problem if it's in place and you're making it sink into crevices. It's a huge problem if you are still playing with the positioning (you'll just end up with a multi-colored blob of jelly). I tend not to apply the solutions until I've gotten placement sorted because of this, but everyone has their own way.
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Scoutdad
Commodore


Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Posts: 4461
Location: Middle Tennessee

PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To expand on Will's comments:
He is correct about the need to make the decals shape work for you. Always slide along the long direction, not across the long direction - especially on hull numbers / names / penants.

I also have found that I get the best results from using a fine brush to "wet" the general area in which the decal is to be placed with water (I keep a bottle of distilled water handy, just for decals - but regular tap water would work as well). This gives you the ability to work the decal around a bit until the placement is right.

Blot the excess water with a Q-tip or small piece of paper towel.

Always work on only one decal at a time...

Use setting solution only after the decals are in their final positions. My own, personal prefernece is to place all the decals and tehn apply the settign solution to all of them in sequence, but to each his own.
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Mazza
Lieutenant SG


Joined: 25 Jun 2007
Posts: 114
Location: Brisbane, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On curved surfaces, I find it easier to get a decal into just the perfect position if I have (gloss) varnished the surface first. This helps the decal slide around more easily without ripping.

After I apply decals and they're nice and dry, I always varnish the model again, although whether I use matt varnish or gloss varnish depends on the race and the look I'm after. Either way it helps protect the decal which otherwise can chip or scratch off too easily.
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djdood
Fleet Captain


Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 2922
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point. Decals won't bond to anything except a smooth surface and the best way to get a smooth surface is gloss paint (or gloss clear coat over whatever). Decals applied to matte finish tend to fall off. Applied to flat finish and they will fly away in a slight breeze...
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Mazza
Lieutenant SG


Joined: 25 Jun 2007
Posts: 114
Location: Brisbane, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a bit weird - I prefer matt finishes for some ships (e.g. Feds, Klingons, Eagle series Romulans) and glossy ones for others (Kzinti, Hydrans, new Romulans). Thankfully, even if you don't want a gloss finish in the end, a layer of matt varnish over the top of the painted and decaled miniature usually dulls it back down to the matt finish you might prefer.
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djdood
Fleet Captain


Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 2922
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I prefer a matte or dull finish for all my minis, but regardless of what look one wants, there is a clearcoat out there to get that look (and seal the decals on while your at it).
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Scoutdad
Commodore


Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Posts: 4461
Location: Middle Tennessee

PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must be the odd man out. After I finish painting my minis, they get a clear coat (dull-cote), then the decals, then 2 more really light coats of the same clear coat I previously used.

I have a couple of cans of Gloss coat, they just don't get used on miniatures.
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Jiraiya1969
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:16 am    Post subject: Thanks for the tips guys Reply with quote

It turns out that the decal setter (Micro Sol in my case) was the culprit with my banner placements.

Micro Set (and lots of it) when positioning decals was much easier. I found that I could even move the decal around with my tweezers in this fashion.

I also found it much easier to cut the decals in squares rather than in their given shapeas. A good example are the Fed 'triangles' that live on the bottom of the saucer. Rather than cut them in triangular shapes, cutting them in squares made them much easier to move and harder for it to curl up on me.

One other thing I used were products called Micro Gloss (applied to acrylic painted areas where you wish decals to go) and Micro Flat which is supposed to dull the gloss afterwards, and doesn't. The result is a mini that's half glossy.Will a Matte finish fix that, or should I go all gloss in this instance?

Again, thanks for all the tips!

Sar
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OGOPTIMUS
Captain


Joined: 10 Nov 2006
Posts: 981

PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I usually go with a gloss to seal the paint, then apply decals, then go with another light coat of gloss and then a coat of matte to get rid of the shine.
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John Schneder II
Lieutenant SG


Joined: 28 Jan 2007
Posts: 102
Location: Cincinnati, OH

PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sarpeidon,
I keep seeing you post, but you don't seem to get my responses to your PMs, or post in the General Discussion where I posted a heads up for you.

--John
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Starfury
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 296

PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found that when applying decals if I don't want the edges to show I'd clear coat with gloss, apply the decals, then coat with a matte finish. It hides the edges and the decal looks painted on.
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Davec_24
Commander


Joined: 16 Jul 2008
Posts: 596
Location: England

PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Starfury wrote:
I found that when applying decals if I don't want the edges to show I'd clear coat with gloss, apply the decals, then coat with a matte finish. It hides the edges and the decal looks painted on.


I second this one. The theory is that a gloss surface is smoother than a matt surface (as matt surfaces are rough on a small scale, hence their lack of reflectivity) means you are more likely to be able to get the air out from under the decal as you apply it, air bubbles trapped under the film being one of the causes of the "silvering" effect which makes the decal film more visible. Also applying transfers to a gloss coat is good if you find that you need to reposition them slightly, as they tend to slide more easily on the model. Of course this also means it is easier to move them by accident, so be careful where your fingers go when handling the model until they are fully set!
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Jiraiya1969
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:20 am    Post subject: I responded to your last PM a few days ago... Reply with quote

John Schneder II wrote:
Sarpeidon,
I keep seeing you post, but you don't seem to get my responses to your PMs, or post in the General Discussion where I posted a heads up for you.

--John


...when you responded to my recent message. Have plans for Monday but can hook up with you on 11/10. Question

Nice avatar, Cool BTW.

Sar
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