Decal settings tips

So, this weekend I’ll have to set a pretty big decal on the acrylic-painted glossed turret flank of my KV-2, here it is for reference: (not mine of course)


Now, I only have set a couple of decals in my life, it was a “7” on the flanks of the ISU-152.
I was pretty easy but I got very lucky with placement, as they basically cemented almost instantly once set on the surface. Luckily I carefully slided them and ended up straight.

Now, this one is much bigger and it worries me.
I am going to use the lower handlebar on the turret as “guide”, but I’d like some “wiggle” time to make sure it is straight.

Besides buying specific products, is there any trick to delay the adherence and to keep the decal mobile?
Maybe wetting the surface with distilled water? Or do I really need a specific product? If yes, what kind?
I even heard about vinegar but I am not sure.

If you keep it wet and don’t add any solution until your sure it’s placed properly,you should have plenty of wiggle room.

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Agree…just brush on more water to keep the decal mobile, and use the brush to shift the decal into proper position. Then gently wick away excess moisture with a piece of paper towel so you don’t accidentally shift the decal. Then press directly downwards to get complete contact with the surface. Gently brush on your favorite setting solution. Some setting solutions smell definitely acetic (ie the vinegar).

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Any tips to avoid water marks on the paint? I sprayed it with gloss, but it seems very delicate.

Do you have access to RO water? It won’t leave any residue behind, water marks come from ions precipitating as the water evaporates.

I soak the decals on the model pretty liberally allowing me to slide them around then once in spot, I press gently with a cotton bud to soak up the excess water then I hit it micro sol

First time I actually read about RO water, but I have plenty of distilled water…

Distilled is pretty much the same thing as RO water and should also not leave much residue if any. In RO or reverse osmosis, water is forced through a membrane at high pressure, the water molecules being smaller and slightly more compressible than the ions allows the water to pass through without the ions going through. In distillation, water is turned into steam and then captured somewhere else leaving the ions behind. Both have the same end goal of purifying water by removing ions

The other key to water not leaving marks is to wick up the excess, of it doesn’t have time to dry the ions won’t precipitate out and won’t have a chance to leave marks


Thanks, I’ll use distilled water and try to be as quick as possible.

About the setting solution, I didn’t used it on my ISU 152 and decals ended just fine…does it really make a difference?

It won’t with good quality decals and big flat panels like with russian vehicles, and with a good paint job, but over a slightly rough paint job or rivets etc it’s an absolute requirement. If you are unhappy with the decals when they are put down, they are generally quite pliable until you put a gloss coat overtop. So until gloss goes down you can still move them by making them wet, or applying solvent until you are happy


Here’s the result, for anyone interested:

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FWIW I think it looks good, decals folding back on themselves is a tough one to solve without damaging the decal.

How did you go about placing them on? To limit decal folding and bubbling before it goes on the model I wet the decal in warm water for about 10 seconds and then place it on a paper towel. After about 10 seconds in the PT I’ll try to see if it moves by gently producing it with a 0 round brush.

If it moves I’ll pick up the backing with tweezers and get the decal overtop of where it’s going. Once in place I slide the backing away by gently pushing on the decal with a brush while I pull the backing away with the tweezers. Once on the model you can move it around by soaking the decal with a wet brush and then sliding it to make small adjustments.

If it doesn’t move, I’ll wet the decal again by soaking it with a wet brush. And repeating the above. If it doesn’t move DO NOT put it back in the water the force of it hitting the water can pull it off the back and lead to an entire host of issues

I carefully cut a rectangle around the decal, placed it for 30 seconds in lukewarm water as per box instructions, then carefully placed it using the lower ladder step as “guide”. Unfortunately it started folding on itself while I was carefully removing it from the sheet. I panicked, added lots of distilled water with a brush and then carefully stretched it with a brush until it was in place, then applied a kitchen soaking paper to remove the excess water.

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I have been using Micro Scale products (Micro Sol) for setting decals for maybe 30 years, or so. A friend tells me that Mr. Mark Softer is much, much better. Any comments on this? :thinking: