HGW wet transfer Decals, some tips on using

January 7, 2020 · in How-to · 9 Comments

I've recently tried HGW wet transfer decals and I totally love them, no carrier film, excellent printing and they do look truely sprayed on.

They work in a diffent way to normal decals, there's printing under a transfer sheet (similar to carrier film) when applied with Mr Mark Softener or setter it transfers onto your model and leaves the transfer sheet...well that's the theory

You need to cut from sheet, I usually trim 3 sides close to markings but I leave the 4th side a little more film to leave a tag (helps when removing the transfer film as I'll discuss later)

They work in a different way to normal decals, though you start applying by soaking in water to realease the film from the backing paper...I've found making a mix of 20% Mr Mark setter and 80% water for this better than just water, I keep it in an empty Vallejo bottle and put some on my cutting mat to soak them.

Whilst they are soaking to release I prepare the area I'm about to apply using Mr Mark Softener. MR Mark softener has a very high surface tension and forms droplets, its an aggressive substance and can damage paintwork (acrylics) and doesn't evenly distribute itself under decal like this.

I pour some into a dish, you'll see it forms a large droplet, add acrylic flow improver 1 drop at a time, you'll see it suddenly wets the bottom of your dish, stir and it's ready to use. When you brush this onto your model you'll see it now evenly wets the surface (doesn't damage paint the same like this).

Now you apply the decal like you normally would, possition and then use a cotton bud (Q tip in USA?) to remove excess fluid from under the decal. Roll cotton bud from side to side starting from center and work fluid out to the edge, wipe off excess fluid so no paint marking.

On coloured paints I've found it's still possible to repossition if quick, but found on metal you can't...best to be 100% certain on possition before rubbing down

Look to see all the decal is in contact with surface and that's it for now (as for panel lines, as long as they have sol in them, the meniscuss effect will pull the print into them). For larger decals I usuall lift each side of decal, just as possitioned, then use brush to apply more Mr M softener ensuring an even coverage (its important every part of print gets "wet" or it doesn't transfer and you get missing parts of decal).

Instruction say 6-8 hours to dry, smaller decals can be dry in a few hours, larger decals like roundals I usually leave overnight. Now you remove the transfer film (if you left a tag this makes it easier to remove. This usually comes off very easy, but if you feel resistance pull back on itself like you would with masking tape. Once the transfer film is removed you can clean the area using simple water and cotton bud

Most of us have micro set and sol, but unfortunately they aren't strong enough so use the MR Mark (these are excellent if forced to use Tamiya type thick decals).

I've always sealed these decals before any weathering, not risking destroying them.

You get spares on sheets I've had, I'd strongly suggest practice on a "Buster" before using on a project build

They advise Gloss clear coat on surface, I use Hataka lacquers (say that aloud 🙂 ) with Mr Color levelling thinners that dries satin/gloss (semi gloss/ gloss) so I don't clear, but if using AK with a Matt/ Flat finish you may need to. Or smooth surface with polishing stick ( I use Flory Models green/ white for this, but whatever is your choice).

Hope this helps,

9 responses

  1. Hello Keith, @keithwaterhouse

    Thanks for taking the time to post the article, and welcome to Imodeler !

    These definitely look to be a very interesting option... Since you posted this, I found a set of them online, and now I have to decide if I want to pull the trigger and make the purchase for my current Mustang build. They do indeed look to be very nice, and it's wonderful that they don't have the carrier film that is typically found on your normal decals.


  2. Louis

    glad you liked it, it's a new product and don't wan't others making my early mistakes

    Mr Mark and removing surface tension on the softener are 100% needed, but then again the softener tip is needed on Tamiya and similar decals.

    It just forms big drops and doesn't evenly distribe otherwise.

    Some add flow improver to the bottle of Mr Mark Softener, but personally I do as use, so it's still "fresh" product, personal choice.

    Just sharing so others don't make my mistakes,

    I believe we're of similar age, I don't know if you had them, as a kid in UK we had a printed paper, you wet your arm, put the paper on it and the print transfered to give you a tatoo...HGW are same idea


    • Hey Keith, @keithwaterhouse

      It's very possible we are in the same age group, and I remember those temporary tattoo's very well... Now I understand how they work.

      I plan on using the Bare Metal Foil as a base color on my Revell 1/32 scale Mustang builds. The BMF is an adhesive backed foil, comes in various shades, and is not as durable as a typical paint finish. What I mean by this, is that it will lift up if pulled on, and that’s why it is hard to apply any sort of masking tape over it. However, if you do manage to lift the foil, all you have to do is press it back down again and you’re good to go.

      Do you think it would be a problem since you can smudge these transfers if they’re not sealed ? That is trying to push the foil back down if you manage to lift it when removing the paper from the printed wet transfer materials ?

      • Sorry for late reply,

        I have normally found that the transfer film removes very easily, after the Softener has dried, the transfer film wrinkles up and lifts off very easy, to be 100% certain not to lift foil pull it back on itself (meaning if start on right side, hold tweezers next to model and move to the left, I peel masking tape like this to reduce risk of lifting paint). As for smudging, once dried they seem duarble (I clean off any softener residue with a wet cotton bud cleaning decal and surounding area with no problems), but I've never risked using a panel wash on them or oils without sealing with a clear ( I usually semi gloss clear to give texture to surface for wash or oils to adhere to and give better effect). It's also a "save" point if I mess up weathering

        I know about the foils you're talking about, but I've never used them and don't know what weathering you'll be doing over them.

        But if foil does lift and the decal is 100% dry there should be no problem pushing lifted foil down, they take handling very well even unsealed.

        Though I can't really see them lifting your foil if you follow my tips, as long as the softener is evenly distrubuted under decal before rubbing down with cotton bud the film should peel very easy, almost falling off.

        Just a thought though, decal softeneres are acidic, Mr Mark Softener is more aggressive than Micro sol (assume stronger acid) so you might want to try on a test piece to see if it reacts with your foil (assume its aluminium based?) before using on your model. Use flow improver with it so it doesn't pool and concentrate any bad reactions

  3. Thanks for this info' Keith, welcome to iModeler

  4. I used these decals on my Eduard Fw 190 A-4 build. I followed the instructions that come with the decals and had a good result. You're right about the Mr. Mark Softer needing a surface tension reducer.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

    • Dale @dtravis

      That's one of my all time favorite FW's ! You really nailed that one... and it's typical of all your builds.

        • Dale,

          That's a great looking 190, never seen that camo combination before (with the brown) and I really like it.

          Nice you had no problems with the HGW decals (look amazing on your build) and you agree with the Mr Mark Softener problem with surface tension. Flow improver does make this a good softener to have in your arsenal, if only for Tamiya decals. If you do an out of the box Tamiya build, the Mr Mark softener is a must have for their decals (1 to 3 coats instead of 5-10 micro sol) but use flow improver or it puddles 1 side and only conforms that area

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