Working with Decals: 40k Edition

So, I’ve finally gathered the courage into diving into using Decals. My space marines have been waiting for decals before getting their final sealant coating for quite some time. Before proceeding with using my brand new airbrush, I wanted to knock out the nearly finished units.

I started with decals from the old base sets. Tactical marines seemed to be the best to experiment on. Who cares if they look good? Okay, sure, you want them all to look good. You need someone to practice on.

As you can see above, I had decent success with the tactical squad symbols. The size made them easier to work with than some of the decals I tried later.

The Big Lesson: Make sure that the decals get thoroughly wet when you soak them or they become quite a pain to get off of the paper and onto the model smoothly.

Also, use Micro Set and Micro Sol, it will help to slide the decals into place, I can’t imagine trying without that stuff.

Then, after feeling a little more comfortable, I dove into using custom printed decals.

My attempt to print on the smaller than 8×11 paper was an utter failure, totally wasting half of the piece that I printed onto.

Then, as I started trying to soak my custom decals, the ink disappeared from the paper. The reason, of course, was because I use an inkjet. I finally figured out the key to making it work. I sprayed my paper with acrylic coating. Then, magically, the ink did not dissolve off from the water.

The paper had a different consistency than the Games Workshop decals. It didn’t dissolve onto the minis quite as well. The above example shows a pretty seamless decal on my dreadnought, but the ones on my terminator shoulder pads didn’t go anywhere near as smoothly. Those poor terminators didn’t get much help from my decal abilities. Sorry boys.

The Big Lesson: Be patient. Also, spray your custom decal paper after printing with acrylic to seal the ink on the paper.

For my future custom decal applications I am also going to cut the paper much closer to the edges of the design before soaking.

About dhunterphillips

Visit my Facebook Fan Page to connect: While not working as a GeoInt Analyst in the Washington DC metro area, D. Hunter Phillips enjoys a life-long love of sci-fi, fantasy, role-playing games, and a great many other nerdy things that he explores through writing and games. D. Hunter regularly writes board game reviews at Through his writing, D. Hunter hopes to inspire and speculate on the future and the past. He seeks deeper meanings within pulp genres of fantasy and sci-fi. D. Hunter enjoys the tales of John Ringo and Charles Stross. D. Hunter's readings lead him in a never ending cycle of sci-fi, history, physics, and psychology. D. Hunter enjoys going to DC area Goth clubs and seeing some of his favorite bands, such as VNV Nation. He also loves his home life with his partner in crime and several pets.
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