Saturday, April 26, 2014

Land Raider Crusader WIP, Part V

After an embarrassingly long time, the Land Raider Crusader Primarch's Fury is finally finished:

It's still purple, though

Although I'm pleased with the final result, I wasn't able to fully recreate the look of my previous vehicles. The color is a base coat of Macragge Blue, two to three layers of Altdorf Guard Blue, two washes of Drakenhof Nightshade, a dry brushed coat of Macragge Blue, and a final dry brushed coat of Altdorf Guard Blue.

In the end, I wasn't able to suppress Macragge Blue's purplish tint. I like the color quite a bit, but it's just not the same as my other models.

What did work for me, though, is the new way I added the decals. I've been avoiding decals on my troops like the plague, but the larger and more complicated markings found on vehicles are just too much for me to freehand. Unfortunately, none of the decals on my previous models look all that good; they don't fully seal to a matte surface covered in brush strokes and end up looking less than fully transparent. This effect, combined with the glossiness of the decals themselves, often detracts from the look of the model.

When I realized that my Imperial Knight models are going to be covered in decals, I decided to look for a better way to apply them. I ended up finding some advice in several hobbyists' blogs and videos that gave me pretty good results.

First, I painted the area where each decal was going to go with 'Ardcoat. The smoothness of a layer of 'Ardcoat allows the decal to better adhere to the surface. While I allowed each decal to soak, I brushed a layer of Microscale Industries, Inc. Micro-Set over the 'Ardcoat. Once the decal had been slid into place, the Micro-Set slightly softened it (from the smell, I suspect that vinegar or a similar mild acid is involved) while improving adhesion.

After everything had dried, I applied a layer of 'Ardcoat over the decal to seal it and make it a permanent part of the model. To remove 'Ardcoat's glossiness, I brushed Lahmian Medium over the surface. The layers of 'Ardcoat and Lahmian Medium slightly affect the color of the surface, so I touched-up the region around the decal with a little bit of Macragge Blue. When I was finally finished, the various decals actually looked like they had been painted on.

In addition to Micro-Set, I also have a bottle of Micro-Sol. This stuff is supposed to be lightly brushed over a still-drying decal to dissolve the transparent portion of it and allow it to conform to just about any surface. Since all the Crusader's decals were applied to flat surfaces, I didn't bother to use Micro-Sol. However, I'm eager to try it out on highly curved surfaces like Space Marine shoulder pads.

While I've been happy with my hand painted logos, the process is tedious and doesn't always give me consistent results. This problem would be solved immediately if I could get a decal to properly conform to the surface. While looking into Micro-Sol's effectiveness, I found plenty of photos of decals that were successfully applied to shoulder pads without folds or creases thanks to Micro-Sol.

Since recent games have shown that I desperately need more Tactical Marines, I'm going to start painting the half dozen or so Marines that I primed last summer. I have shoulder pads and Ultramarine decals in abundance, so I'll have plenty of chances to see if I can satisfactorily apply decals to my troops' shoulder pads.


  1. Welcome to the world of MicroSol/Set! They are by far one of the most handy brands of decal applicators since they are much more gentle on acrylic paint and 'Ardcoat than brands familiar to military and train modelers which require heavy duty varnishing to protect from the solvent.

    I've read that MicroSet and MicroSol are almost the same product. Set is simply a bit more diluted/gentle with the acid and has some kind of other additive to help "set" the decal, obviously, and MicroSol is just slightly more concentrated vinegar solution. They can honestly be used both together or interchanged with each other. I've done decals with just MicroSol. The same effect is achieved but without MicroSet you can slide the decal around for a longer period of time, though this can also be a drawback as later applications of MicroSol may move the decal if you're not careful.

    Since you play Ultras, I think you will be just fine with the pauldron decals. A helpful tip is to make a verticle incision down the middle of the chapter symbol between the two prongs of the U to help the decal adhere to the surface of the pauldron. That topmost middle spot, along with the four diagonal corners are where wrinkles are most likely to form on a pauldron decal, and Ultramarines are lucky enough to have decals that can be cut in those areas without much problem.

    1. Thanks for the advice. About how far down the U should I cut? I'm afraid of cutting it too far and then tearing it down the middle while trying to position it.

    2. All that is required is a small incision. I would not cut more than 25-33% down. It's not necessary to cut too far down as even without a cut, the largest a wrinkle will be is around 20-25% the length of the decal.

      If you are using GW proper's decal, they are quite thick unlike the FW ones, and MicroSet/Sol is not fast acting by any means, so you should not have to worry about tearing whatsoever upon the initial decal placement. If you're using MicroSet and the decal DOES tear, that would definitely be a problem as the tackier MicroSet would make it progressively more difficult to perfectly realign the two torn pieces.

      I have myself torn a decal or two due to attempting extremely later on repositioning or being careless when applying further coats of solution, but this was only on the ones that had no MicroSet to hold the decal in place, and they were around the 2nd or 3rd application and onwards, meaning the decal was already very, very soft and fragile by that time. I simply removed it, cleaned the area, and applied a new decal. If you are using MicroSet to prime the surface, are not using MicroSol at all, and/or are using a drip method to apply further coats of solution rather than actually touching the decal with a brush, you will have zero problems whatsoever with decal fragility and tearing.


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