Waterslide decals

Important notice:

Please note that as of June 1, 2014 I will no longer be accepting commissions for artwork on anything other than model aircraft 1/8 scale or greater.  Apologies to anyone affected by this decision.


Process used

We all know that waterslide decals can be produced using special papers from hobby suppliers using our own ink-jet and laser printers. There is however a big disadvantage with domestic printers because the inks are transparent (opaque) relying on the white paper below the ink to bring the colour to life. That would be great if every aircraft was white, but unfortunately they are not. Hobby and craft suppliers try to get around this by supplying white decal paper which does help in some cases, but certainly not all!.


Now out of production, the Alps micro-dry printer has the ability to lay colours on top of each other including a white base coat which correctly display colours even when placed on a black surface. In addition to being able to print with white it is possible to print gold and silver in metallic and foil colours.


The process is relatively straight forward.  Dry resin based inks are deposited separately onto the film so there are several passes with the printer head to produce the image.

Where waterslides are used

Waterslide decals are a very traditional, convenient, and cost effective way of adding smaller intricate details to scale models.


Waterslides have some issues compared to the far superior finish of dry transfers, however there are a few properties where they win the day where rubdown decals become too expensive because of the number of colours, or a complex colour graduations leaves us with the waterslide as the only option.


Prices for a standard A4 size sheet of waterslides starts from £20.00 upwards. Custom work and special one off artwork can cost more depending on origination times for the artwork.  All artwork is originated in house.




» More info
Waterslides of ME109-F All waterslides are supplied with a 3 view of the aircraft showing the normal locations for the markings.

Maintenance markings

While it is preferred to use Rubdown Decals for service (maintenance) marks it is often not possible for reasons of scale and/or fine detail.  Used correctly waterslides can give very good results. 


Seen opposite are markings for a 1/5.33 Messerschmitt ME109-F which are supplied with a 3 view of the aircraft indicating the general positions for the markings.  Some markings are supplied in more than one colour to accommodate different colour schemes you may have used.  If you are painting an unusual scheme please let me know in advance so I can review the suitability of the decals.


Waterslides can be supplied to satisfy any required larger than 1/8 scale, so if your model is screaming out for these marks I should be able to assist provided I have the information.  Please note these decals are also available as Rubdown Decals.

Nose art and motifs.

Many aircraft were decorated with avatar's which were sometimes personal to the individual pilot or squadron, fighter group, or staffel.  Where scale does not permit the use of paint masks waterslide can come to the rescue enabling fine details to be reproduced.


Artwork for these items can be retrieved from my library of digital artwork or originated in house.  Standard popular markings will not be charged origination, however custom one off work will incur appropriate charges averaging £40.00.

» More info
MKI Hawker Hurricane. Here we can see the mascot used by Lt. Ian R. Gleed of 87 Squadron. The artwork was originated from reference books and original photographs.


» More info
Hamilton Standard Propeller Logo.A new propeller was painted with gloss black Klass-Kote before applying the waterslide. Before use it was given a satin clear-coat to seal the decal to the surface.

Propeller marks

Whether it's a static propeller or a working propeller waterslides can be used to add the manufacturers marks and other stencil markings.


Waterslides used for propeller labels are supplied with the label cut out so the edge of the decal is clean with no overlapping carrier. Full size aircraft use sticky vinyl decals to add their markings so it is perfectly acceptable for them to be applied in this way. 


Working propellers must be protected with a clear coat to protect the decals from the engines fuel and from becoming dislodged when the propeller is running.



What NOT to do!

Good results with waterslides comes from good preparation. If you are going to use waterslides then please be sure to note the following:-


Waterslides are made from a very thin material which has artwork printed on top using a special printer.  Areas that are not covered by colour need to form a perfect seal excluding all trapped air otherwise it will show up as a slight opaque casting.


For this reason you should not apply waterslides to matt or "flat" paint finishes.  Always use high gloss paints ensuring a perfect smooth finish is achieved.


Micro-SOL® and Micro-SET® solutions can be used individually or in combination where needed.  You should practice with these materials before using them!

» More info
Matt paint and waterslides don't work!You can see here the waterslide backing film is very opaque and clearly visible. Tiny air pockets on the surface of "flat" paints causes this effect. Gloss paints have a smooth surface and do not suffer with this problem.



Standard waterslide sets are the lowest cost because the artwork has been produced once and will be used many times helping to minimise the cost of origination.


Simple artwork that only takes a short time to produce and is likely to be required by other modellers will also be reasonably priced.


Artwork that is totally unique and can be classed as a one off which will require many hours for origination can be difficult to price, but I will always quote a fixed price for the artwork regardless of how long it takes.  If you are able to produce artwork yourself for me to use it would help reduce the total cost.  Artwork needs to be in vector-graphic format to be of any use.  File formats, .eps, Corel .cdr, and vectorised pdf files are preferred and must not include any embedded bitmaps files.  Please contact me for details.








Copyright © . FlightlineGraphics.com  & All rights reserved.