Monday, May 06, 2019

Which varnish for transfers?

Tim asks:
Having problems with adhesion of some transfers in a kit.
The surface has a rough misting of Humbrol Acrylic on it.

I’m assuming a varnish would help give the surface more grip. I’m convinced gloss varnish is recommended even though matt strikes me as being more sensible.

Which would you go for?

Different varnishes will give transfers more "grip", but not in the way you are thinking I suspect. 

The standard advice is to apply waterslide transfers (other types vary) on to a gloss surface. This allows the transfer to stick without micro-bubbles of air trapped underneath. You can see the result of this on the model above, the air shows up as "silvering" around the letters.

Gloss varnish gives a perfectly (in theory) smooth surface so no air is trapped. 

I've had mixed results with this. For a start, you really need a very thin coat, applied with a spray from an airbrush or rattlecan. Even then, where you put the transfer needs to be smooth. You could paint with gloss, but I never get on with doing that.

Using Micro-sol or Micro-set over the transfer helps a lot and I've had success with this. It's not a bad idea to paint some on before putting the transfer in place, but work quickly and don't let it dry!

These products aren't a silver bullet - and they do need a bit of practice to get the best from them. 

Of course, once the transfer is dry, you'll then need to matt or satin varnish it to match the rest of the model. 


matt scrutton said...

I find micro sol and set and a quick blast of dullcote is enough.

I can tell you the silver bullet for gloss finish. Humbrol Glosscote thinned 50 50 with whitespirit, brush painted over just the transfer. It dries perfectly dead flat. I use it on gauge one and 7 1/4 locos with great success. One gala saw me running around with the stuff one morning varnishing several locos before service

Mark said...

A trick I've used before with transfers is to soak them off the backing paper using white wine vinegar instead of water. It makes them a lot softer and they tend to sit down on even the roughest of surfaces without any issue what so ever. Probably much cheaper to buy too.

Phil Parker said...

White wine vinegar? Never heard that one. Must try it. Thanks!

Mark said...

You can probably use any vinegar, but I use the white wine stuff as it won't colour the transfers and doesn't smell as over powering as malt or balsamic.

Mark said...

Just realised I actually blogged about this myself a while back. Then I was just using the vinegar once the transfer was on the model, but I have since also done it by simply wetting the backing paper with the vinegar as well; a drop or two in the water doesn't really seem to work for me. I guess exactly how much vinegar versus water will depend on the exact make of transfers. Full details of my attempts are here:

Christopher said...

I've had good results with Modelmaster transfers using a combination of brushed-on Future/Klear, Micro Set, and Humbrol Mattcote. First I brush on a couple of thin coats of Klear, letting them dry ten minutes between coats. This gives a gloss surface for the transfer. At least 24 hours later I will apply the transfer following Modelmaster's instructions, and use Micro Set on the gloss surface to help bed things down. A day later, I will brush on another coat of Klear to help fix the transfer in place. Finally, at least 24 hours later, brushed-on Humbrol Mattcote diluted a little with white spirits will matt everything down nicely. It's a bit time-consuming, but it makes the carrier film hard to spot afterwards.

Microscale Micro Set has a slight acetic acid (vinegar) smell, so it is good to read that white (wine) vinegar works as well, if not better, on transfers.