Saturday, April 25, 2009

Working with Water Slide Decals

I've been thinking about decals lately, mostly due to having to paint so many Blood Ravens chapter symbols on my growing army. It's a bit of a pain to get them consistent, and somewhere along the line I had enough people ask me if they were decals to actually make me want to try decals.

The problem, as most of you who have tried to use decals on space marine shoulder pads know, is that flat decals don't sit well on aggressively curved surfaces. From various other tutorials around and about the interwebs I discovered "Micro Set" decal solution. Basically, it softens the decals so that you can smoosh them into position, more or less. Its counterpart, Micro Sol, is even more effective at softening. The fellow at the hobby store told me that if Micro Set does the job, then there's no need for Micro Sol. They were out of Micro Sol anyway, so I bought what they had. I've been testing it with decals on Mr. Missile Launcher here, and the results have been encouraging. Basically, you brush Micro Set on the shoulder, place the decal, then brush more Micro Set over the decal. A few minutes later the decal should be soft enough to tap down with a moist towel into some semblance of flat. I've had to make multiple passes with Micro Set over the highest part, so I might pick up a bottle of Micro Sol and see how that works.

After the first try I was surprised to see the first decal dry up and fall off the model! Maybe I wet it too long and it lost all its adhesive. For try #2 I put some matte varnish over the decal to try and "glue" it in place and hopefully obscure the edges a little. Big mistake! The varnish (Vallejo Game Color matte varnish) clouded the decal significantly. Spot testing the varnish elsewhere didn't cause the clouding. With the current run I wet the decal with a cloth from the back, hopefully retaining as much of the adhesive as possible.

Once I get these things to wrap around a should pad properly the next step is to print my own and see how they work. I bought a Testors decal printing kit (a paltry $10) and have been experimenting with the free image processing software Gimp to get exact measurement printing. Gimp 2.4 was terrible at it, but Gimp 2.6 is wonderful. Once I get a reasonable decal sheet of Blood Ravens icons I'll post them here. I'm a little concerned that the spray sealer that covers the printed decals will stand up to the rigors of Micro Set, but I'll find out in time.


  1. Pretty sure I remember seeing a Blood Ravens decal sheet out there. Check BoLS and also Bolter & Chainsword, they have a large number of decal sheets.

  2. They do, but none of them match the logo design I've been using, which was modeled after the Blood Ravens logo in the 3rd edition Space Marines codex. I have considered switching to the version that looks like Dawn of War, but I've already painted so many.....


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