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Thread: Applying decals with Future

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    Default Applying decals with Future

    Here is the tutorial on my method for applying decals with Future floor polish... Plastic modelers have been using this method for years to place decals on and gloss-coat their projects. This method works very well for minimizing the appearance of decal edges, though there is no way to eliminate them completely. Future can be found in a number of stores among the floor-cleaning products, and more information can be found on Matt Swan's website: http://www.swannysmodels.com/TheCompleteFuture.html

    Future is an acrylic floor polish, which is slightly thicker than water. It can be airbrushed straight out of the bottle, and can be thinned with water and/or soap. SC Johnson rebranded Future some years ago into "Pledge with Future Shine".... No matter, the Future logo is what you're looking for. This is what my bottle looks like:
    DSC03548.jpg

    The model I'm working on was an undecorated SD35 high hood, which is to be lettered for my home road. As such, custom paint and decals will need to be placed.... This is the shell immediately after paint with Model Master Acrylics. Note the completely flat finish:
    DSC03553.jpg

    The first step in this process is to cover the model with a layer of gloss-coat... In this case: Future. I used my airbrush to lay down a thin layer of the polish, but you can also apply Future with a brush. Be sure to use a thin layer, as Future runs (remember: only slightly thicker than water....) and can build up and dull details. Note that Future becomes tacky VERY quickly, so don't keep messing with it after you've applied it. This is the shell after Future has been sprayed on:
    DSC03554.jpg

    Allow the Future to dry.... 15 minutes is a minimum, but 30-45 minutes is better if you've got the time. Overnight is best, but is overkill.

    The next step has multiple parts... What I'm going to do is submerge my decal in warm water for 10 seconds and then set it aside. Once the decal begins to slide on the backing paper, I'm going to brush a thin layer of Future on the model where the decal is meant to go and then place the decal in the puddle of Future.... This method serves to blend the decal into the gloss-coat that we are creating. Obviously, it is best to plan your steps ahead of time.... Again, Future becomes tacky VERY fast.... You will not have much time to lay down the decal, and you will have almost no time to move it. The objective is to lay the decal down only once, very close to where it should be.
    DSC03562.jpg

    The first part of this step is to submerge your decal in water for ~10 seconds. Warm water works better, but hot water can shock your decal and cause it to curl over on itself. Once submerged set aside, usually on a paper towel is best:
    DSC03565.jpg

    Once the decal is ready to slide, I dip my brush in Future and apply a very light coat to the area where the decal is meant to go... Then immediately apply the decal:
    DSC03570.jpg

    Once the decal has been placed, I apply another thin coat of Future over the decal.... The idea is that we have created a base coat with Future, a decal undercoat with Future, and now a decal overcoat with Future.... Since Future is self-leveling, it will blend the height of the decal into the gloss coat and minimize the appearance of decal edges.
    DSC03575.jpg

    Some decals, especially on uneven surfaces, will not lay down correctly the first time.... In the case of logos on the hood sides I avoid applying Future under the decal.... Apply with water, as usual. I will use Micro-sol to soften the decal and press it down into crevices:
    DSC03577.jpg

    A stippling action is used, though gently, to press the decal into crevices and between doors. Its a good idea to pop any air bubbles at this time. I also like to partially slice the decal along detail edges to get it down between doors and whatnot. Once the micro-sol has finally dried and I am satisfied with the decal's appearance, I will then overcoat with Future:
    DSC03579.jpg

    Rinse and repeat for all decals. I will airbrush a coat of Future on the entire shell again to finalize the gloss coat. This time let it dry overnight:
    DSC03582.jpg

    The final step is to apply a flat coat. Once flattened, your decal edges should be difficult to see if not nearly invisible.

    Let me know if you have any questions.... Good luck!

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    Thanks Andrew, I've used Future for years and it works well, especially because it dries in less than an hour. I still use plain water to slide my decals around on. I personally am not quick enough to get everything positioned before the Future gets tacky. Thanks for sharing this.

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    I have used Future mixed with ink as a quick and dirty weathering/shading wash on wargames figures. It adds a bullet proof layer of protection to the model as well.

    i have heard some concerns expressed about yellowing with time, but have not experienced this myself.

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    unfortunately the future we now have here UK is a different composition to that and is a slight brown colour

    fortunately I bought a fair amount beforehand

    ammonia and ipa do remove future very quickly so care is needed when cleaning wheels etc..

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    Future can show a yellow tint, though I've never noticed it on anything but a white paint. This was a huge problem when I modeled airliners....

    And, yes, Future has a million billion other uses as well.... top coat, gloss coat, varnish, glass... I've heard it can even be used as a floor polish!!

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    Do all these methods work if you don't have an airbrush?

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    Yes! Future can be brushed on... just use light coats, and make sure its dry before applying another layer.

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    Any chance we could get some big close up photos of the decal, perhaps even in the worst angle with the lighting reflecting off of it? I'd like to see how good a decal's edge can really be hidden.
    Is this FUTURE stuff the only brand, or are there other brands of pretty much the same stuff? I hope it's the same formula in canada. I'm excited to pick this up.

    I have a projectin the future coming. I just bought 6 beer-can cars of various companies and plan on stripping and re-painting them all in some custom company name. I'll certainly use this method!

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    No problem! The roadnumber is an inkjet decal, and is thicker than the logo (2nd picture), which was done on an ALPS. The third picture is this diesel at a more normal viewing distance.

    Here you go:
    DSC03628.jpgDSC03634.jpgDSC03613.jpg

    Another brand...? I don't know. This product will say Future on it for sure and may say Pledge on it. It will be from SC Johnson.


    Quote Originally Posted by zosimas View Post
    No video?

    Last edited by Ridgeline; 19th Feb 2013 at 11:34 AM.

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    Did you ever think to print bigger? Like for the road number make the decal its self as big as the whole panel to hide the seam?
    What is ALPS???

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    You COULD do that, but there is an extremely limited application for that approach..... Most locomotive don't have flat surfaces other than the cab sides, and doing it that way doesn't teach you how to apply decals anywhere else on the model... or on any other type of model you may build in your lifetime...

    Alps is the mountain region in..... just kidding. An ALPS printer is actually a micro-dry printer originally made by a company called ALPS... These printers can print white ink and, therefore, any color other than black on clear paper. More info on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MicroDry


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    How do the actual manufacturers print on our trains anyways?

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    Quote Originally Posted by baronjutter View Post
    How do the actual manufacturers print on our trains anyways?
    I believe its done with pad printing:


    posted by rapidotrains on you tube

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    Interesting! I wonder, for things like road numbers if making some sort of small stamp with movable type would be a doable.

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    Careful you don't reinvent the wheel... Most railroad numbers are available as ALPS printed decals already. Mine are custom because my font is custom.
    Last edited by Ridgeline; 20th Feb 2013 at 02:52 AM.

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    Are alps decals some how less visible than self-printed?

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    Mass-produced decals are printed differently, and usually don't have clear paper extending much beyond the edges of the artwork. One way to emulate this is by cutting your custom decals as close to the image as possible.

    They also tend to be much thinner... The reason you can see a decal edge is because of the height difference between the base coat and the surface of the decal. The way to eliminate visible decal edges is to minimize this height difference....

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    I have done my fair share of applying decals over the years and I believe that just using Micro-Set and Micro-Sol renders
    very similar results to your technique. Maybe very old or very thick decals might benefit from the future treatment, but
    I never had any problems with out of the box decals not blending in well.

    Just my 2 cents..
    Kyle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrGonzo View Post
    I have done my fair share of applying decals over the years and I believe that just using Micro-Set and Micro-Sol renders
    very similar results to your technique. Maybe very old or very thick decals might benefit from the future treatment, but
    I never had any problems with out of the box decals not blending in well.

    Just my 2 cents..
    Kyle.

    I must agree with Kyle.

    What I don't understand is why the majority of decalers see the need to apply a decal over a glossy surface, then go back and dull coat over them. I've decaled for years without any problems of decals showing their thickness. I did use some Walthers decals once and they did seems little thick.

    I started out using Floquil flat paints and Solv-a-set. Only a few times did I ever see any
    edges or silvering. I'm not saying I'm right/your wrong, but I have just never seen the need to decal over a glossy surface. Having said this, like Kyle stated; Maybe very old or very thick decals might benefit from the future treatment.

    A couple of times that I did try decaling over a glossy surface, the decal's edge was very apparent, much more than over a flat surface and this was using a MicroScale set. So I went right back to using flat paint and never looked back.

    I was told once that the decal edge will blend into the rough surface of the flat paint better than it will over a glossy paint. Micro-Sol and Solv-a-set will help to melt the decal into the paint, thus helping to hide the edge.

    I guess there is more than one to skin a cat. If one method isn't working for you, then there is another way. Having a diversified arsenal isn't a bad thing...
    The Little Rock Line blog


    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." George Carlin

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