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Waterslide Decal Application

Directions for Military Miniatures© Waterslide Decal Usage

Note: These Instructions are for the Military Miniature Collections we carry at Combat Miniatures.  These are NOT for Combat Miniature Brand Waterslide Decals.

Each decal is pre-cut. Cut a border around the decal. Place in clean water for a few seconds and then remove. Wait about 10 seconds. With tweezers, peel off the excess film around the decal so it doesn't interfere in the next step. Slide the decal off of the backing sheet and onto the model. The decal can be moved into place with a soft brush. Add water if it begins to dry. Once in place, remove excess water with a sponge or paper towel and allow to dry. Apply a decal setting solution if needed and seal with a clear coat finish.

 For Best Results

  • Use the right tools

Scissors - You will need scissors that can produce fine, crisp cuts and small enough to cut curves. Decals can be spaced close together and you will need to be able to cut them apart. X-Acto knives and straight edge razers can be used but scissors work better.

Tweezers – Very fine tweezers are a must for handling decals. If you don’t have one, purchase one before continuing.
 
Brush – The best brush has a silicone rubber tip. These can be found in hobby stores and are inexpensive. Regular detail paint brushes can substitute but a rubber tip brush will not scratch the pigment off of your decal and can grip the decal for easier positioning. If you don’t have one, it is recommended to purchase one before continuing.
 
Sponge – Sponges are the best way to dry a waterslide decal and press it into place over irregular 3D surfaces. Facial sponges found in your local grocery store or pharmacy are the best. If you don’t have one, purchase one before continuing. Denser are better.
 
Decal Setting Solution – A setting solution is required for long term durability. Why risk a decal falling off due to handling? If you don’t have solution, purchase it before continuing. You will use very little solution so a small size is all you need and should last many projects. We offer a small vial here.
 
Clear Coat Paint – When finished, your decals may have a noticeable setting solution residue sheen after drying. This is normal and can be eliminated with a final clear coat of paint. The final clear coat will seal on the decal and create as durable a finish as possible. Any top coat brand will do. We prefer a matte/flat finish in spray cans found at your local hardware store.
 
Sharp Knife – A sharp knife tip can come in handy if a decal folds onto itself and you need a fine point to separate the film. X-Acto knives are perfect for this.

    • Tips for applying a decal

      Do not remove the decal from the backing paper right away. Test the decal prior to removing to ensure it will easily slide around on the paper. Sometimes it needs to be wetted more until it releases from the paper backing. Once it easily slides around, it is ready to be applied to the model.

      Do not remove the decal from the paper backing until you are ready to apply it. Using your brush, slide the decal off the paper backing directly onto your model. Do not lift the decal off with tweezers and try to apply. Decals love to stick to themselves. Lifting them off with tweezers allows the ends to curl around and touch each other and you can quickly end up with a ball of decal mess that you can’t flatten again. Slide the decal off while keeping it flat, ensuring that corners don’t fold under. Once positioned onto the model, whether fully correctly or not, you can discard the paper backing and concentrate on finishing the positioning. Decals with complex cuts and those with holes in them (for ship superstructures) can be difficult to position and may take several minutes to get finalized. Add additional moisture with your brush if the decal starts to dry out.

      When applying a decal to a surface, particularly a curved surface like a wing edge or cockpit canopy, use the sponge to press it into place. Apply some pressure and repeat a few times to get the decal to mold itself over the surface.

      Once your decal is in place, press the sponge on it to dry up the excess moisture and to firmly affix it into position. Look at the decal surface again. Did the decal move? You may need to add water to reposition. Did the decal ripple? You may need to stretch it out to get it completely flat. These decals should lay completely flat against the surface. Check the edges. It is important to ensure the decals don’t overhang an edge, otherwise this is an area that is likely to be peeled back when handled.

    • Always use a decal setting solution

    Most people think waterslide decals are like paint and are very durable. This is not true! Waterslide decals are a very thin film that has no inherent glue backing and can be scratched, stretched or even peeled off completely. You can make them durable, but it takes some extra steps.

    Always apply a decal setting solution when you have properly positioned your decals with water and let dry. There is a technique to this. Moisture loosens the bond between the decal and the surface it’s on. When applying a setting solution, be sure to apply a liberal amount to cover the entire surface area, especially around the edges. Do this quickly and without any force against the decal. Otherwise you risk releasing the decal’s bond from its surface and the decal will move out of position. If this happens move it back into place. As the setting solution dries, it becomes sticky so you must reposition quickly or your decal will be bonded into its out-of-place position.

       Be sure to seal your decal with a final layer of a clear top coat. Your finished output can and should look like the images found on our website. We are not doing anything different than the procedures described herein. We hope you enjoy your new playing pieces!


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