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How to apply waterslide decals on miniatures - Miniature hobby guide

Article updated: 2022.07.30

A waterslide decal is kind of decal that can be used to decorate miniatures.

A waterslide decal comes off from the carrying sheet using water. A regular sticker (vinyl decal) can be pulled from the sheet by hand.

Applying waterslide decals

It's recommended use glossy varnish on the area that will receive the waterslide decal, to create a flat surface for the decal to adher to.

A waterslide decal requires a flat surface to create an even look. The material of the model doesn't provide an evenly flat surface, nor does the modeling paint, due to the uneven distribution of the pigments in the medium. However, a glossy varnish cures into a flat surface, that's ideal for applying a waterslide decal. Even a matte varnish is uneven, due to the matting agent in the varnish medium.

Repairing minor defects in the application of the waterslide decal

If there's a small air bubble under the decal, you may use a needle to perforate the decal, then try to smooth it with a rubber tool.

A more elegant solution is to use waterslide decal softener.

If the whole decal looks opaque, it means there are too many of these very small bubbles due to the uneven surface. In that case, a needle won't help, so you won't be able to avoid the softener, if you'd like to make the decal look nice.

Waterslide decal softeners

If the surface of the model is curved or has indentations (or you decide to not apply glossy varnish to create a flat surface), waterslide decal softerner helps to smoothe the decal over the surface. With the use of the softener, the decal will stretch over a curved surface, or it will follow the indentations, without creating a shiny line due to the air bubble under the decal.

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Waterslide decals - Resources

Champion Scale Modelling: How To Apply Decals, The Basics: Tutorial video.§

From the Warp: How to apply waterslide transfers (decals): Tutorial article, step by step guide to applying waterslide decals with water and with setting medium.

From the Warp: 7 things to remember when using decals: Tutorial article.

Jodrell (from Jodrell Plays Games): Jodrell’s Guide to Perfect Decals: Tutorial article.§

Kris (from Scale Model Guide): How to Apply Waterslide Decals: Tutorial article, step by step guide to applying waterslide decals.

Kristina Zaric (for Model Space): Scale Model Tips – How to Apply Decals Correctly: Tutorial article.§

Mike Gilsbach: Applying Waterslide Decals to Plastic Models: Tutorial video.§

Waterslide decals: Weathering - Resources

Justinius Builds: Tutorial Tuesday Weathering Decals: Tutorial video.

secretweaponvideos: Weathering: Sanding Decals: Tutorial video.

Waterslide decals: Printing custom designs - Resources

From the Warp: How to make waterslide transfers (decals): Tutorial article.

Larry Vela (from Bell of Lost Souls): TUTORIAL: Custom Decal Sheets: Tutorial article.

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Vinyl decals - Resources

ShamRock1938: How to Apply Vinyl Decals / Graphics: Tutorial video.

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Do you have further thoughts about applying waterslide decals miniatures? What are your experiences with the mentioned methods and products? Tell your opinion in the comments!


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