Posted on by Metro Hobbies

In this article we feature a guest modeller (who happens to be a really good armour modeller!) We're happy he's sharing his knowledge for all the newbies - Take it away Albert!

When I started out scale modeling around four long decades ago, I thought that I was supposed to dunk the entire decal sheet in water and just pick what I needed as they either slid off into the water or crumpled into an unsalvageable mess between my fingers.

Thankfully, somewhere along the way, I saw the error of my ways and learned how to do it properly and save my sanity (and my models).

Here’s a short tutorial on applying decals. My sample kit is Dragon’s Panzer 4 Ausf H.

Step 1: Apply a Gloss Coat

Before beginning to apply decals, it’s a good idea to lay a thin glossy coat on the model so that decals adhere better and to avoid any silvering and air bubbles. Airbrush or handpaint a thinned down layer of clear glass as your first step. Before you apply the gloss coat, make sure your model is free of any dust.

Step 2: Separate and Cut

Now select the decals you will be using and set them aside for your kit. Cut out just the ones you need as you go, to avoid any confusion. Also set aside a small container of clean water.

Step 3: Decal Solution

Once your gloss coat is dry, take some decal setting solution of your choice and brush a thin layer of it on the first surface you plan to apply decals on.

Step 4: Get it wet and slide...

Dip the decal in water (don’t do them several at a time) and patiently wait for it to come loose from the backing. DO NOT DUNK AND SOAK the entire decal in the water, or else it may float completely off!

Using hobby tweezers, place the decal paper on the surface close to where the marking needs to be applied and slowly slide the decal off the backing paper. It helps to get a portion of the decal down on the surface and then slide the backing paper off.


Use a pair of tweezers to fine tune the position of the decal once it is in place. If you are having a hard time moving the decal, adding a couple of drops of water to the surface may help. 

Study the placement and alignment of the decals and fine tune as needed. Try and not use your fingers to adjust - the decals may adhere to your fingers!

When satisfied, blot off the rest of the water with lint free tissue, or cloth. Press down a bit to help the decal adhere to the details and texture on the surface.

Once the liquid is blotted off, apply another thin layer of decal setting solution and wait a few minutes.

You may need to re-apply setting solution (but be wary of using too much solution as they become very fragile) and press down on the decals a bit more to make sure they are snug. Be very careful that you do not damage them at this point. Slowly and gently as you go!

And you are done! Move on to the next decals!

Like this article? Let us know - and if there's anything else you'd like some help with!

Here are a few videos we did to help as well!