How to make waterslide decals for models

Written by steven symes
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How to make waterslide decals for models
Waterslide decals help personalise your model (sporty model car image by Ray Kasprzak from

Making your own waterslide decals is a way to customise your model car, train, aeroplane or any other model. You can find images or designs online, or design your own in a variety of computer programs. You can even print photographs onto the waterslide decal paper. The process of making and applying the decals is fairly short, but you do need a safe place for your model and the newly applied decals to dry for several hours.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Ink-jet printer
  • Computer
  • Waterslide decal paper
  • Clear acrylic spray
  • Scissors
  • Pan of warm water
  • Clean cloth

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  1. 1

    Turn on your inkjet printer and computer. Pull up the designs you wish to make into waterslide decals for your models.

  2. 2

    Load a single sheet of decal paper into the printer's feeder tray. Make sure to take any other paper out of the tray and to place the decal sheet so the printer will print on the non-adhesive side. If you are unsure which side of the paper the printer will print on, try printing on a regular piece of paper first.

  3. 3

    Click on the printer icon at the top of the program you are using, or click "File" then "Print" and "Print" again to print the decal sheet. Retrieve the decal sheet from the printer, being careful not to smudge the ink. Spray the clear side of the decal sheet with a clear acrylic spray, applying three coats. Allow the decal sheet to dry completely.

  4. 4

    Cut out the individual decals with scissors. Soak each decal face up in a pan of warm water for about a minute or until you notice the decal starts to slip off the backing paper.

  5. 5

    Place the decal, backing side first, onto a dry and clean surface of your model. Use a damp cloth to remove excess water and air bubbles from the decal. Allow the decal to dry for several hours away from direct sunlight.

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