This article is aimed at those who don't know the mystical and arcane art of applying decals. It's not simple, but it is worth the effort. The end result is decals that look painted on and never peel off.
Know your foe: Water slide decals like to adhere to a very smooth surface. If you did not paint with a gloss or satin finish you will need to transform the surface of the paint. This is easy. Clear glosscoat is available at most hobby shops in spray form. I use Testors ($7). The only danger here is that if the weather is outside nominal use parameters it may fog up and give the model a frosty look. This is easy to avoid, do not spray paint if it is cold or windy out. Use a light coat. One pass only. Then do not touch it for 24 hours. Fingerprints are next to impossible to remove.
Assemble your tools! Now that the glosscoat has set it is time to get down to business.
Plus chemicals. I have used Micro Set and Micro Sol for decades. (Get some from Amazon by clicking on the widget on the right--) You will need a bottle of each.
What they do: Micro Set aids greatly in the adhering of the decal to the paint finish. Micro Sol is a weak solvent that softens the decal allowing it to conform closely to the models surface. Don't drink them.
From here on out this is the method that works consistently well for me. Applying decals is like sex or cooking, everyone does it a little bit differently, but the same.
Cut out the decals. I use a new X-acto blade to cut out all the decals I will be using. Make sure to cover the decal sheet with a paper towel so your hand is not touching the sheet. The oils on your skin can cause problems with the film covering the decal. Some people avoid this by using scissors, but a lot of modern decals sheets are too crowded for me and scissors.
I use separate brushes for the Set and Sol. Then I don't use the brushes for anything but the Set and Sol. Yes, I have them labeled. Let everything dry for at least a few hours. Now you have great looking decals on a really super shiny model. That's right, time for Dullcoat! Same drill as for putting on the Glosscoat, just a diffrent can. The Dullcoat also protects the decals very well so you don't have to worry about damage while handling the model.
And there you have it. It is a bit time consuming but the difference in appearance and durability makes the MicroSet/Sol choice an easy one.
The Emperor Protects
Decals now get a 2++ save