Using Games-workshop Water Slide Decals (Easy and Cheap)

A very easy and cheap tutorial on how to use Games-workshop water slide decals and get great results.

So I know I have had trouble in the past with the Games-workshop water slide decals and after learning how to do them easily and getting good results I decided if anyone wanted to know my method I would do a tutorial. So hear it its!

I got a shoulder pad I had from my bits and decided to paint it up so that if worst comes to worst I can always use it for basing another miniature in the future. So with that in mind and my army being World Eaters I opted to do an Emperors Children Shoulder pad and decal.

So let’s get to it.

Materials you will need.

1. Games-workshop water slide decal of your choice.

2. Two containers or water (one to clean your brushes, and one that is clean to soak the decal and wet your brushes and thin your paints/varnish.

3. Games-workshop Technical paint ‘Ardcoat

4. Matt Varnish (I used Vallejo’s Matt varnish)

5. Pair of tweezers (to hold the decal in water).

6. Your desired brushes.

7. Paper Towel.

Prep

I based the shoulder pad with Abaddon Black. Then I did to coats of Xerxes Purple. On the trim I based them in Brass Scorpion. I then dry brushed the purple with Pink Horror and applied a wash of Carroburg Crimson. Finally I applied 3 coats of Auric Armour Gold to the trim. I wanted to have the dry brush texture there so you can see that all details are preserved doing this method.

Step One

Now that the shoulder pad is painted the way I wanted I applied a generous coating of ‘Ardcoat that was thinned with water (about 1/3 water) all over the purple part of the pauldron (shoulder pad). This is to seal and protect your work underneath as well as give you a smooth surface to apply the decal. If you want you can apply more coats, but I find one works. Let that fully dry.

Step Two

Grab your decal with your tweezers and hold it in the water (Note: the new decals only take about 30-45 seconds in the water, but the new ones take longer).

Next you take the decal and put it near where you will apply it to the miniature. The older decals stick a little more to the paper so you may have to use your finger a little to get it moving off the paper. The new ones you can just use your brush. Make sure the brush you use to apply the decal is wet, this will be important for the next part.

Step Three

The application part is not as scary as you may think. Here water is your friend which is why it’s important to have already sealed the area you will put the decal with ‘Ardcoat. You don’t want to flood the application surface but you do want enough water to form a very small puddle under the decal (this is why you need your brush wet). The decal will bring water with it, but if it doesn’t use your brush to gently get under the decal and let the water on the brush pool underneath it.

The reason for this is the water will allow the decal to move across the surface you want to apply it to so you can gently move it around with your brush (opposed to it setting right where it happens to make first contact with the model). I recommend a brush with firm short bristles for this so you have more control

That is the brush I use to apply my decals. It hold enough water without flooding the surface, and its stiff enough to allow great control

Once you have the decal where you want it, take the corner or your paper towel and gently press down on the decal. This will set the decal where you want it and will dry up the water. You can dab the area if there are wrinkles or excess water after you have the decal set in place.

Next apply at least one (I do two to be safe) thin layer of the same thinned ‘Ardcoat as before, over the application area (the decal and the purple of the shoulder pad) to seal the decal in place and protect it.

Step Four

Apply a generous amount of matt varnish over the whole application arena. I don’t thin the matt varnish, I just put some strait from the bottle on my wet pallet and then paint it onto the shoulder pad.

Here is what it looks like after one coat is dry.

How many layers you do depends on your personal preference. Since I am doing only one shoulder pad for this tutorial I don’t have a comparison like I would on a fill miniature. I found doing my Iron Warriors that one this coat and two thin coats of matt varnish made it look identical to the other shoulder pads I had not used ‘Ardcoat on. So here is a picture of this pad after I have applied the tow thin coats on it.

I hope this helps you and saves you some money not having to buy any products specifically for doing decals like this. If you have any questions or need me to clarify anything please feel free to ask and I will be more than happy to answer!

Author: Kralgor

I'm a law student that absolutely loves WH40K, and all things related. As far as the hobby goes, I love to do kitbashes, paint and sculpt miniatures. I also love making scratch built tabletop terrain. I honestly almost consider the terrain aspect a hobby all unto itself as creativity is really your only limitation with scratch building terrain.

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