I have been running out of my Blood Ravens Transfers pretty quickly, and Forge World no longer make them.

The first think I was running out of was the basic Chapter symbol, and I found some on eBay a few weeks ago, and they seem ok and it gets me 238 chapter symbols for shoulder pads.

Printing Transfers

But these don’t sort out the other essential transfer I need, basic squad markings, and so I was looking into printing my own, and whilst browsing Amazon whilst very tired at 1am I bought some clear decal paper.

I am quite lucky that I have a colour laser printer, I know not everyone has that privilege, it was pricey but well worth the investment, and to be fair it was made for use at Company of Legends as well.

So obviously the paper I have bought is for a laser printer, but you can grab the same paper for inkjet printers. However if you do this, you need to seal the decals with a fixative spray.

I am not exactly a graphics designer and everything I needed is in fact quite simple, and has already been designed.

So I was simply able to download the tactical markings from Bolter and Chainsword, I did have to do a slight bit of work in Photoshop which was to basically put two of the sheets onto an A4 image as these were designed to be printed on A5 paper.

The symbols themselves are actually too big to fit on Space Marines shoulder pads when printed at the native size, so I am going to be making a new design of my own to get proper sized symbols.

I did have to play with the printer settings a bit, so I set the paper to be heavy glossy, obviously other printer settings will differ. I have a HP Color Laserjet M252dw, so I imagine that other HP laser printers have similar settings.

Applying Transfers

I for applying transfers I have a tried and tested technique that works well for me, especially on curved Space Marines should pads. For this you will need a few things.

  • Ardcoat or another Gloss Varnish
  • Decal Setter, Microset is the most popular
  • Cotton Buds
  • Decal Softener, Microsol is the most popular
  • Lahmian Medium

So my process is pretty simple, I have been asked a few times about it and I do intend to do a video for it at some point.

So the first step is that you need to give the area a coat of Ardcoat, or any other gloss varnish, such as Vallejo Gloss Varnish. This creates a smooth surface for the decal to adhere to with minimum friction and a lower chance of air bubbles. I know some people have been using Stormshield, but I haven’t tried this yet myself.

Applying Ardcoat Gloss Varnish

It’s really important that you give the varnish a good time to cure, if it’s not fully cleared when you apply some of the other stuff it will cause the varnish to peel off. I tend to give it a few hours to cure, sometimes longer because as soon as I have the final colour on the shoulder pads, I apply the Ardcoat.

The next step is to cut the transfer from the sheet, most modern GW transfers are good because the decal is only a small area around the image itself, so you don’t need to be too close when cutting around it.

Cut around the transfer as close to it as possible

However for a lot of other companies, older decals and ones you print yourself, you need to cut as close to the edge of the image as possible.

I then place the decal in water for between 30 and 45 second and put it down on a mat to fully loosen and in the meantime I turn my attention to the shoulder pad.

Dip the transfer in water for about 30 to 40 seconds

I apply a decal setter, at the moment I am using Mr Mark Decal Setter Neo, but I normally use Microset, but I have been having a lot of trouble getting hold of it at the moment for some reason.

What this does is it creates a nice surface that is sticky for decals and helps them adhere more easily, it also mildly softens the decal so it will conform to the surface better and lower the risk of air bubbles.

So I apply a small coat of this to the shoulder pad, and once the decal is loose on the paper, I then move it to the shoulder pad and gently move it off the paper into place.

Apply a decal setting solution like Microset or Mr Mark Setter Neo

At this point I then take a cotton bud, and use that to manipulate the decal to try and curve it on the shoulder pad, as well as drying up the excess moisture, it also helps to force out any air bubbles

So you start in the centre and sort of roll it to the edge, this also helps to force any moisture from out from underneath the transfer.

Using a cotton bud to help curve the transfer on the shoulder pad

I will then leave it a little while before going in and applying a decal softener, I am at the moment using Mr Mark Decal Softner Neo, but I would normally use Microsol. What this does is, well it softens the decal so that it curves better on the shoulder pad, adheres smoothly and is flat for that painted on look.

After the first coat of this is dried, I then repeat this step with another coat of softener, just to make sure that the decals are smooth and flat. Sometimes I have needed a third coat, but not often more than that.

Once this is done I then need to do some work to seal the transfer and matte down the glossy should pad, and the best thing I have found for this is Lahmian Medium, and frankly there isn’t really a decent alternative to this.

I give the shoulder pads two coats of this to the entire shoulder pad and allow it to totally dry between applications and the end result is hopefully a shoulder pad with icons on it that look painted on.

If you are applying decals to vehicles, when doing the Lahmian Medium stage, it’s important that you do the entire panel, if you only do part of the panel, it will stick out like a sore thumb.

And at the end of this you should be left with the decal looking as if it’s painted on and blending in quite nicely.

That’s my method, other people will offer alternative method which is cool, as with many hobby techniques, you ask 10 of us how to do something, you get 15 answers!

If the need any help if any advice just drop me a message or comment below.