I’m working my way through my new 6mm micro armor modelling project using models from GHQ. After painting I arrived at the stage of applying decals which I also ordered from GHQ. Like many hobbyists, I have a love-hate relationship with decals at any scale. Cutting and applying decals can be frustrating as they fold, tear or wind up in the wrong positions on models. On the other hand, getting decals successfully applied to models adds a ton of personality to a paint job and can allow for easier identification during play on the tabletop.
An experienced micro armor modeller and player at Metropolitan Wargamers in Brooklyn, NY turned me on to his technique for applying decals to 6mm models which I’ve found to be fast and easy with great results. Being organized and methodical in an assembly line manner is key. Having the right equipment is also a necessity. Magnifying reading glasses keeps all the tiny decals and models in focus. Working off a clean, flat hobby mat provides an ideal surface to cut decals and also keeps things easy to see. A sharp hobby knife with a fresh blade, some very fine brushes, clean water, white glue, paper towels and a cotton swab round out the basic equipment. Finally, using a decal fixative (I use Walthers Solvaset) gives a good bond for decals once applied, nestling them into the uneven surfaces of the model.
Applying 6mm Decals
- Carefully cut around the shape of each decal with a very sharp hobby knife.
- Using a finger tip, dot several small beads of clean water in a row on the work surface.
- Apply a small amount of watered-down white glue to the surface of the model where the decal will be applied.
- Carefully push a decal into a bead of water using a small brush.
- After a few seconds, roll the decal off its paper backing using a fine brush.
- Roll the decal onto the model’s surface and gently push it into position.
- After a few minutes of drying time, dab the decal area with a cotton swab to remove any excess water.
- Coat the decal and the immediate area with a decal fixative solvent.
- Once models are completely dry, spray with a protective matte finish.
Historic markings varied a lot during World War II, so I largely came up with my own simple plan for my decals. Each one of my half tracks got encircled white air-observation stars on the hood. My Shermans each received two stars, one plain star on the front hull and an encircled white star on the rear deck of the tank. The M10 Wolverines and armored cars likewise received white stars in circles on the rear deck area.
I was able to complete all my decals in just two evenings, totaling just about two hours. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results, and I didn’t lose a single decal in the process. Now that I’ve got my newly-learned technique down, it’s on to my German armor and then the battlefield.