Applying Model Dads Mines, Signs and Maps decals: a step-by-step photographic guide to applying decals [SOLD OUT]

So.  Your Model Dads’ Mines, Signs and Maps decals have arrived in the post this morning and you’re wondering what to do with two sheets of tiny decals?  We hope this step-by-step photographic guide will help you get started.

Opening up your zip-lock bag will reveal the following:

  • 2 sheets of decals,
  • A set of instructions.

Don’t throw the ziplock bag away.  It’s handy for keeping your tiny decals safe and dry.

Here’s what we recommend you use to apply your decals:

  • A large craft kinfe or scalpel with cutting board,
  • A soft rounded ended brush,
  • Microscale’s Micro Set and Micro Sol decal setting solutions,
  • Matt varnish,
  • Your painted models, in this case, Peter Pig’s road sign set,
  • Tap water and a shallow saucer or bowl (not illustrated 🙂 ).

And, with the benefit of hindsight, a metal Safety Rule if you’re not confident cutting straight lines.

The application of Micoscale Micro Set and Micro Sol products are recommended options, but not a necessity.  You’ll still be able to apply your decals with good old tap water if you can’t get hold of these products.

Before you start, make sure that the models you want to apply the decals to are properly painted.  By this, I mean that the colours match the edge of the decal you are applying.  This will ensure that your decal blends nicely with the colour you are applying it to.  Wherever possible, we’ve tried to match the decals to commonly available Vallejo paints.

In the case of this tutorial, I’m going to be using a blue and yellow signs which we’ve matched to 051 Prussian Blue and, oddly, 021 Medium Fleshtone.  Rather than 001 White I prefer to use 004 Off White when working with signs with a white background.

Don’t forget to ensure that the surfaces of your painted models receive a coat of gloss varnish before applying the decals.  Decals work best on flat, glossy surfaces because the decal film can’t conform to matt paint’s microscopically rough surface.  This is what produces silvering, the product of tiny air bubbles trapped under the decal film.

The next step is to select the decals you want to apply.  Before it gets too fiddly, I’ve found it useful to separate the images from the main sheet before trimming them to the exact size.

Using the length of the blade (or the tip with a metal safety ruler) carefully cut along the edge of your decal.  Don’t worry if you leave a little white around the edges, you can always touch this in later.

Don’t forget to breath!  Once cut, check that your decal will comfortably fit your model.  Whilst we’ve tried to produces decals that match Peter Pig and Battlefront’s products some variation may occur, particularly in recessed areas. Trim accordingly.

When your comfortable everything will fit, pour some luke warm water into a shallow bowl or saucer and pop your decal in.  Whilst your decal is soaking, apply a layer of Micro Set to the surface of your model.  This will prepare the surface with special wetting agents.

Wait approximately 20 – 60 seconds for the decal to separate from the backing paper.

Using a soft brush, lift the decal from the water and apply it to the surface or your model. Repeat the procedure for all your remaining decals one at a time.

With the decals applied, apply a coat of Micro Sol.  This will soften the decal and make it conform to the surface of model.  After applying Micro Sol resist the temptation to keep interfering with your decal.  Your decal may break up!  In recessed areas, apply a couple of coats if your decal needs a little bit more encouragement.

With the decals applied, touch in any white areas with the base coat. When finished, don’t forget to apply a couple of coats of matt varnish to cover any remaining gloss and protect your handy-work.

You can leave it here if you like but my wife says they look ‘abit bright’ so you might like to consider weathering them a bit.  To achieve this, I applied successive layers of Citadel Washes thinned with tap water. I found Devlan Mud and Gryphonne Sepia very useful for this purpose.  Try a couple of layers of Sepia over the entire surface followed by Deval Mud in the corners and along the edges.  The Sepia is particularly effective when applied in blobs over blue signs, creating the impression of rust.

Done.  All you need to do now is glue them to your bases.

Easy 🙂 Any problems, give us a shout at the usual email address.

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