I’ll Take Stencils Over Decals for $500 Alex

My friends. In rendering my first build I noticed one thing: decals stink and stencils rule. I bought a library worth of just about every stencil and masking kit I could get my hands on. Why? Because no mater how well decals are applied, they don’t give you the dimensional aspect stencils do. It is tedious when making a balkenkreuez or something like that, but per my other post on my first model build, I found the stencils to be less time consuming and less frustrating than decals. Not to mention the wide variation in decal thickness. I used Dragon and Peddinghaus decals on my Jagdtiger and the difference in thickness and need for softener was marked. Stencils don’t have that issue. As long as your stencil plate is flat and you don’t oversaturate them you’ll get much better results. I feel like I’m caring for a baby when applying water slides. Too much care required. I’m sure many here will disagree, or say I just don’t know what I’m doing. Fair enough, but I know enough to have an opinion. I have metal stencils for every German armored unit in WW2. I’m not into allied afvs yet.
I’m just wondering whether some of you share my opinion? I’m not giving up on decals but my God they’re a pain. I’m sure most of you have firm opinions. Mine was simply borne out of my own experience. I just need to organize my stencil encyclopedia.

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Many ways to deal with the markings question. Becoming proficient with several methods gives one more flexibility for sure. Stencils are many times an excellent solution.

Stencils also provide a lot of flexibility to mix and match plus can be reused many times.

My favorite method is “stencils with pencils”. Tape in place stencils and use a sharp weathering pencil to fill in accordingly. One can practice until one feels confident. If one uses a weathering pencil that’s water soluble mistakes can be removed with a damp paint brush if one didn’t press too hard.

Stencil w/pencil for DAK symbol, weathering pencil free hand w/PE as guide for the wolfs angle and 15th Panzer Division emblem.

Stencil & pencil numbers

I really hated the idea of trying to stencil the numbers on tracks. Decals have a place in the tool box. Good gloss coat, Micro-Set plus Micro-Sol several times on a quality decal from ~30 years ago.

Sometimes hand painted has a place too as the German’s sometimes had messy looking hand painted numbering. Stenciling and decals can be too neat to use on occasion.

Even Tamiya’s decals will play fairly well with a good gloss coat under and gloss over them to help hide the carrier film.

However, $h!+ products like Peddinghaus makes absolutely the very worse decals, I’ve ever encountered. Every Peddinghaus house decal I’ve used required sanding down the decal film edge. Absolute garbage decal products in my experience. I’d NEVER purchase any Peddinghaus decal product again.

I failed to sand out the Peddinghaus decal film as marked. The other decals had the film sanded away more or less successfully.

Peddinghaus makes the very worst decals, I’ve encountered in 53 years in the hobby.



brilliant! i’m stealing that idea.!

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Wish I could say that. I’ve worked with, and often trashed, some really awful decals over the years. I’ve made a few of my own stencils, but I haven’t really tries manufactured ones yet.
My answer is use whatever works!


Ken I couldn’t agree more. I did use some decals on my last build, but I found the stencils to look more authentic. But, I would never swear off decals.