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Water transfer decal

Water transfer decal

Waterslide decals and Custom Decals

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What is the Waterslide decal? 

A waterslide decal (or water slide decal) is also called a water transfer decal and can be bought preprinted or just on blank paper to print your own design. This particular type of ‘sticker’ has a water-activated adhesive on the back that will appear after you soak them in water to remove the backing. 

They are the most popular way in modeling of and applying unit markings and other graphics to scale models. In general, most model kits are supplied with their own decals, but many times we will be interested in changing them, replacing them, or creating our own unique decals. 

There are decals that are excessively thick and difficult to work with not lying flat over surface details, or too thin so they easily break during their application, but the green stuff world has achieved the right balance between quality, thickness, and resistance in our own production of decals. 

What is the best transfer paper to print on? 

There are 2 types of paper to make decals depending on the printer you have at home, which are: INKJET and LASERJET. 

Inkjet paper must be used in Inkjet printers, and then, LaserJet paper only in laser printers. If you are looking for high-quality decals prints, make sure you are using the right paper that’s made for your type of printer whether it’s inkjet or laser. 

A supplier of quality decal paper for modeling decals with a low price and exceptional quality is very important. That is why Green Stuff World always has a wide stock of decals available for immediate shipping. 

Can I use inkjet paper in a laser printer? 

No, it is not possible to use inkjet paper in a laser printer, because inkjet photo paper is not designed to withstand the heat of a laser printer in the process of fusing melted toner into the paper. You will basically break your printer.  

Can I use LaserJet paper in an inkjet printer? 

It will not break it at first, but it is not advisable to do it because it can severely damage your printer. Take into account that the ink from an inkjet printer does not stick to paper coated for laser printers. Your decals will easily smear as they come out of the home printer. 

Using inkjet paper in a laser printer can severely damage your printer, though there won’t be too much printer damage done to your inkjet printer if you use laser paper in it. 

Do you have to seal waterslide decals? 

Right after printing your decal, both inkjet or waterjet decal paper must be protected by using some type of non-acrylic varnish to protect the printer's ink and prevent colors from blurring during decal placement. 

It is very important that the fixation is not an acrylic element. The best and most recommended is to use synthetic spray varnish, both glossy and matte depending on the desired finish. At Green Stuff World we have these Protective Varnish Spray to seal it permanently. 

What is the difference between using Clear and White paper?  

There are 2 types of decal paper available to print, transparent and white. 

The clear waterslide is the most common one, and it is kind of translucent, see-through, paper. This will allow for the edges to blend in your diorama and disappear, but because of their transparency, the base color will be partially shown through, which may alter the coloration of your decal’s image. 

A trick to reduce this alleged problem would be to lighten the color of the area where a transparent decal is going to be applied a bit and thus hide it. 

Obviously, its application on an almost white background would be the best option, so your printed image will stay vibrant regardless of the color base it is placed on.  

The white-water slide, because of the opaque area, will be able to apply to any color base regardless of how light or dark it is. Note that almost none of the home printers have the option to print in white color, and for this reason, you would have to buy white decal paper to print on. 

This type of white transfer paper is perfect for creating decal images that are easy to cut with scissors, especially images with right angles such as posters, letters, photos, and the like. If the edges are very complex and detailed, the manual cutting will look very fake and unreal. 

How to Apply Waterslide Decals? 

Decals are released from their backing paper with water; no solvent is required. You will need some GSW Decal Softener and GSW Decal Fixer solutions to improve and protect the finish on uneven or rough surfaces. 

Application instructions: 

1.- Trim the decal out as close as you can to the outer edge. For better cuttings, use a brand-new blade in your hobby knife. 

2.- Let your decal soak in water for about 20 seconds, more or less until it begins to separate from its paper support. 

3.- Using a brush push the decal around the model.  

4.- Move the decal over the model while it is wet as it will slide easily. Push with the brush until it is placed in the desired position. 

Decal Solutions 

Although waterslide decals are intended to stick well to the model, in reality, they only do this in ideal circumstances, such as when there is a perfectly flat surface. Whether the surface has curves or is textured, then they need a little help and this point is where decal solutions come into play: 

GSW Decal Fixer

GSW Decal Softener

The process would have 3 phases, and in summary, it would be like this: 

- apply GSW Decal Fixer, 

- apply GSW Softener (is curved surfaces or wrinkles) 

- apply GSW Decal Fixer (final sealing) 

Before applying any decal to the model, once is about to slide off the transport decal paper, apply a bit of GSW Decal Fixer to the surface of the model to protect the paint beneath and also smooths the application surface, thereby helping to prevent silvering. 

Use a brush to push the decal off the transport sheet and onto the miniature. If you find it difficult to move the decal, you can add a bit more GSW Decal Fixer or water will help the decal float again on the surface until it is positioned correctly. 

If the surface where you want to apply the flat decal is curved, like a space marine shoulder pad to avoid your decal could become wrinkled, once your decal is in place, apply GSW Decal Softener. Let the GSW softener react and remove wrinkles, as it adapts to the surface underneath. 

Repeat this step a couple of times until the wrinkles disappear. You can remove any liquid excess of Softener with a piece of paper to avoid any possible damage in unprotected areas.  

At last, apply a final coat of GSW Decal Fixer on the decal and the surface to unify, fix and finish protecting.  

Decal preparation instructions for printing 

Choose the proper type of paper according to your own printer type, inkjet paper, or laser paper.  

Before printing, remove any protection sheet that may be present in the printable decal paper, and print your designs onto the glossy side. For inkjet printing, we recommend using the ‘printing transparency plastic film’ or maybe ‘printing in foils’ setting if your printer software supports these. In all cases, you must protect the printing with a solvent varnish or fixative spray to seal the printed image that will prevent ink from smearing, cracking, washing off,  and maybe breaking during application.  

How long do waterslide decals last? 

Water-slide decals have a shelf life of about 3 years, after that time the glue holding the decal onto the paper tends to break down, fusing decals and paper together.  

On the contrary, nothing should happen to a decal correctly applied to your model in terms of its fixation. However, we always recommend applying a final coat of Decal Fixer over the decal as a final finish.

Can the waterslide decal be removed? 

The best way to remove waterslide decals without harming the paint on your model is by using vinegar.  

1. Get a paper towel and fold it to fit the size of the decal to remove. 

2. Soak it in water with a little vinegar. If the water is warm, it will work better. 

3. Let the soaked paper sit on top of the decal for about an hour. 

4. Remove any excess water/vinegar. 

5. Use some masking tape to finish tearing off the decal.