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How to apply model decals

How to apply model decals

Introduction about How to apply model decals

When it comes to scale model craftsmanship, applying decals is a crucial step in achieving a realistic and eye-catching finish. Model decals add intricate details and designs, bringing your creation to life. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of applying model decals effectively, ensuring a professional look for your project.

Gathering the Necessary Materials

Before diving into the application process, it’s important to gather the required materials. You will need:

  • Model kit
  • Water
  • Soft brush
  • Tweezers
  • Micro Set (decal setting solution)
  • Micro Sol (decal softening solution)
  • Clean cloth or tissue

For a seamless application, ensure your work area is well-lit and clean.

Preparing the Model Surface

Preparing the model surface is crucial for optimal adhesion of decals. Make sure the surface is clean, smooth, and free from dust or oils. A glossy surface provides the best base for decal application, so consider a clear gloss coat before applying the decals.

Selecting the Right Decals

Choosing the right decals for your model is key to achieving the desired look. Ensure the decals match the era, theme, or design of your model. Carefully cut out the decal you intend to use, leaving a small border to hold onto.

Soaking and Sliding the Decal

Gently dip the decal into water using tweezers. Hold it for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the decal slides off the backing paper. Carefully slide the decal onto the desired spot on your model using a soft brush or your fingers.

Adjusting and Setting the Decal

Once the decal is in position, use a soft brush or a tissue to gently adjust its placement. Remove excess water and air bubbles by carefully pressing the decal. Apply Micro Set solution to help the decal conform to the surface.

Sealing the Decal

After the decal is properly positioned and set, seal it with a clear topcoat. This protects the decal and blends it seamlessly with the model surface. Use a clear matte or gloss finish based on your desired look.

Fine-tuning the Decal Placement

To achieve a flawless finish, fine-tuning the decal placement is essential. Once the decal is on the model, carefully position it using a soft brush or cotton swab. You can even use a decal-setting solution to adjust the decal while it’s still moist. This ensures a perfect alignment and smooth application.

Troubleshooting Common Decal Issues

Encountering issues during the decal application process is common, but knowing how to troubleshoot them is key. Problems like air bubbles, silvering (the appearance of silver spots around the decal), or tearing can be rectified with the right techniques. Understanding how to address these challenges will lead to professional-grade results.

Exploring Advanced Decal Techniques

Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to explore advanced decal techniques. Techniques such as multi-layering decals for a 3D effect, weathering decals to give a realistic aged look, or even creating custom decals can take your modeling to the next level. These advanced approaches allow you to add uniqueness and complexity to your models.

By leveraging these resources, you’ll expand your knowledge and skills in applying model decals, ultimately creating stunning model projects that stand out in both detail and craftsmanship. Happy modeling!

Useful Resource Links:

  1. Fine-tuning Decal Placement: Learn how to perfectly position and adjust decals using these techniques – Scale Model Guide: Decal Placement.
  2. Troubleshooting Decal Issues: If you face issues during decal application, this guide can help you troubleshoot and fix common problems – Scale Model Workshop: Decal Troubleshooting.
  3. Advanced Decal Techniques: Explore advanced decal techniques to elevate your modeling skills – Modeler’s Central: Advanced Decal Application.

How to apply model decals (FAQs)

Q: How long should I soak the decal in water?

A: It’s recommended to soak the decal for approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until it easily slides off the backing paper.

Q: Can I reposition a decal after it’s been applied?

A: While it’s possible to gently reposition a decal immediately after application, it’s best to position it accurately during the initial application.

Q: What do I do if the decal wrinkles during application?

A: If wrinkles occur, carefully lift the decal using a soft brush or tissue and reapply it, smoothing out any wrinkles.

Q: Should I apply a gloss or matte finish over the decal?

A: The finish you choose depends on your desired look. A gloss finish provides a shiny appearance, while a matte finish gives a more subdued, non-reflective look.

Q: Can I use regular water or do I need special solutions for the decals?

A: Regular water is suitable for soaking decals. However, using dedicated solutions like Micro Set and Micro Sol can enhance adhesion and conforming to the model’s surface.

Q: Can decals be painted over?

A: Yes, once the decal is properly applied and sealed, you can safely paint over it to further blend it into the model’s finish.


Achieving a professional-grade finish on your model is greatly enhanced by mastering the art of applying decals. By following the steps outlined in this guide and utilizing the right materials, you’ll be on your way to creating a masterpiece. Happy modeling!

Keyword: How to apply model decals

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