Decals are the thin transfers that are applied to scale models and other items. Most of us are familiar with decals from building model planes or from train sets. But they have become increasingly common on laptop computers, briefcases and other personalized items.
The popularity of decals has increased over the past generation, partly because they can now be easily printed on home computers. This means custom designed decals are quite easy to produce. If you can produce it on a computer screen you can print it out on decal paper.
Scale models usually come with their own decals. These still have a steady following with hobby enthusiasts. Some scale model builders like to customize their models by printing their own decals. As many classic planes, trains and military vehicles had different markings at different points in history so it is possible to produce historically accurate decals to reflect these changing situations.
Applying scale model decals.
We get the best result from decals when we apply them to a clean, flat surface. A glossy surface (i.e.: glossy paint) looks best because there is no chance of the decal being compromised by air bubbles underneath the decal surface.
Cut out the individual decals from the sheet. leave some space around the edges
Use tweezers to put the decal into a bowl of water. Add a drop of detergent to this water to help the decal slide.
Remove the decal when it can easily slide over the backing paper
Place the decal on a paper towel to drain excess water.
While the decal and backing paper is still wet, position it over the area where it is to be applied
When positioned correctly, pull the backing paper away, leaving the decal in the correct position. You can use a small paintbrush or Q-tip to slide the decal to the correct position is required.
use a paper towel to gently blot away any excess water.
wait for the decal to dry. Now it is finished.
Many model makers apply a clear vanish (Matt or Gloss) to protect the decals on the model.
Super Thin Model Decals
Occasionally a decal need to be applied to an part of the model that is not flat. Some models have decal over corrugated train doors, or over flaps on a plane’s wing. We can better results here by using Super thin decals, which accommodate the uneven surface.