Waterslide transfers were always something I avoided. I would just freehand paint everything I could and just leave blank what I couldn't. I had heard of Micro Set and Micro Sol, but for whatever reason put off buying them, but wow, what a difference they make.
|I had so many of these I never used.|
I remember back in the dark days before a lot of the things that make this hobby considerably easier to do like washes, base paints, and colored primers. This of course was way, way back in the early 2000s and at the time my 12 year old self was painting up my very first army, non other than the Ultramarines of course. Even back then I wanted my army to look as complete as possible, this meant Chapter and squad symbols.
|You can see the transfer sticking off his shoulder, amongst other...issues.|
The transfers the kits came with seemed easy enough, but as soon as I slid that Ultramarine U on to the Space Marines shoulder pad I was instantly disappointed with how it looked. Of course the very flat and wide symbol didn't conform to the extremely round shoulder pad. I messed around with cutting the transfers in places to get it to lay flat, and it worked to an extent. I always ended up going back with white and blue though to tidy up the areas where you could see that the transfer had either been cut or folded. Pretty soon I just gave up on using transfers all together and started working on improving my freehand skills.
I still really love painting freehand symbols, especially if they are fairly simple. All of my Stormcast have their symbols painted on freehand. With the release of Blood Bowl though I decided to give transfers another go. It had been about 15 years since I had used any, but with how many numbers needed to go on the models and the fact that I wanted these to look good, but not take up a ton of time, I decided to take the plunge.
I wasn't going to just blindly stumble into it this time and hope for the best. I had seen online where people said just to paint Gloss Varnish over the area you want to put the transfer on then paint Lahmian Medium over top that to seal it in and dull it down, but I knew this still wouldn't solve my issue. Plenty of the areas on the Blood Bowl minis where transfers needed to go were relatively flat, but their shoulder pads, just like the Marines of my youth, would pose a problem.
Having heard of Micro Set and Micro Sol for a long time I figured now was a good time to give them a go. I went to a local hobby store and picked both of them up. They ran about $4 a piece where I got them, and you get a ton in each bottle. I can see these easily lasting for years, if not a decade or more. After reading through the instructions on the bottles and Googling it a bit I was ready to go.
I cut out every transfer I needed for a model before I started putting anything on. I just did one model at a time so I didn't accidentally lose the pieces I cut out. Transfers are just designs printed on a clear backing placed on top of a paper backing, so you just need to cut them out with a good blade. Make sure to leave yourself enough paper around the symbol to hold onto with either your fingers or a pair of tweezers.
Then I took the Micro Set and painted it onto all of the areas that I was going to place a transfer. Micro Set helps the transfer adhere to the model better and also soften it a little bit so it will conform to whatever shape you are putting it on. I made sure there was a good amount of this on the model. You still want it to be wet when you put the transfer on. I soaked the transfer in a bit of water like you are suppose to then carefully slid it onto the model once it had loosened off of the backing paper. So far this is pretty similar to how you would apply a transfer without anything special, but just using Micro Set on the model instead of plain water.
|Notice how you can clearly still see the edge of the transfer.|
I'll admit it was hard for me to notice a difference at this point between the Micro Set and water, but I assume it is creating a stronger bond. On the flatter surfaces it looked great, but on his shoulder you can see that the transfer still has a bunch of creases, folds, and peaks in it. It just can't conform to how rounded the shoulder pad is. Once then Micro Set was fairly dry I moved onto the next step, the Micro Sol. This stuff is pure magic.
You just brush it on top of the transfer and it softens it enough that it starts to conform to the shape, even one as rounded as the pad. I ended up doing about two to three coats of this on the shoulder pad transfer just to be safe, but in the end it was completely flush with the model. No fold, no tears, just completely flat on the model. To finish it off I added some weathering and then sealed all of the transfers with Lahmian Medium. This not only added a bit more protection, but cut the shine from the transfers a bit. Even though I didn't use the Gloss Varnish, transfers by themselves are just a tiny bit shinier then most models.
I can't recommend this stuff enough. If you are like me and have heard about it for year but have just been putting it off for whatever reason, don't. Go buy these right now. With the quality of transfers rising exponentially it's definitely time to invest in making them look as nice as you can. Forge World are doing some amazing transfers for the Heresy range and GW is starting to crank out some really nice ones too, like for the Imperial Knights.
I'll definitely continue using freehand as well, but now when I think the transfer would do a better job, or is something I can't replicate I won't hesitate to use them. Micro Set and Micro Sol are to transfers what the Shade range from GW was to hobby painting. I'm sure everyone remembers the first time they used Devlan Mud and thought how amazing it was.
For a cheap investment of around $8 you can make using transfers about 100 times easier. So don't be like me and prolong your transfer suffering. Go out and grab these and try them out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Until next time,