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Help to eliminate the transparent raised edge of decals for painted look

9 replies
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  • Member since
    July, 2017
Help to eliminate the transparent raised edge of decals for painted look
Posted by FJ Meyer on Monday, July 31, 2017 3:31 PM

Hello all, I am relative new to scale modelling and would like to learn how to eliminate the transparent raised edge of the decal for a painted on look. Every website and video advises to gloss, place decals, put decal softener to 'melt' and finally matte coat. I have tried many time but to no avail. I don't get any decal silvering but I also just can't eliminate the raised edge/border of the decal. Although after many coats of decal softener and matte coats, the border is slightly reduced but upon closer inspection, one can still see the faint edge. 

Any help is much appreciate. 

Thanks FJ

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Tuesday, August 01, 2017 8:59 AM

Beyond the clearcoat suggestion, try bringing this up on the decal forum (below).  Most people just live with the bump, as smoothed out and softened with the clearcoat, but for a deeper discussion I would suggest a specialized forum like this may provide that deeper discussion.

I tried to paste in a link, but couldn't do it.  Just scroll down the list of forums.  After the Modeling subjects area, the next area is tools, techniques and reference materials, and it is in that section.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Tuesday, August 01, 2017 12:18 PM
Cut off all of the excess decal film you can with a knife blade.

  • Member since
    March, 2013
Posted by patrick206 on Tuesday, August 01, 2017 12:27 PM

Agree with Don, it seems as simple as some decal systems just have the raised border that cannot be completely eliminated, but even a few of the kit decals just do melt away and the border disappears.

I use a decal setting solution, then one that really attacks the decal film, causing it to wrinkle and then be firmly set and smooth. Whatever film is still visible just can't be made any better, I clear coat and live with it. From a common viewing distance it really can't be distinguished, the model still looks reasonbly good.

  • Member since
    July, 2017
Posted by FJ Meyer on Wednesday, August 02, 2017 3:59 PM

Thanks so much for your replies and suggestions. I know it cant be seen at normal viewing distance but closer inspection reveals it, frustrates me to no end lol.

Tojo, thanks for the 2x replies lol.

Don, thanks will also try checking out the other forum

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: NYC, USA
Posted by waikong on Monday, August 07, 2017 11:01 PM
you may want to try another coat of gloss clear with something like pledge future acrylic. it's self leveling and helps smooth out the bumps.
  • Member since
    December, 2013
  • From: Orlando Florida
Posted by route62 on Monday, August 07, 2017 11:18 PM

I agree with you that decals can ruin a great paint job and be an unwanted annoyance to an otherwise great build.  

I paint on as many of the markings as possible to eliminate having to use the largest decals that tend to show an edge the most.

If I do have to use decals I find that after market decals tend to be thinner and settle better but you have to test each new sheet of aftermarket decals as this is not the rule.

I recently bought a cameo 3 vinyl cutting machine and it has been a game changer as I can now cut masks with computer precision that I could not do in the past.  These machines run from $100-200 and there is a little bit of a learning curve  but once you get it going it is amazing.



  • Member since
    May, 2016
Posted by jacobrivers on Monday, August 14, 2017 6:09 PM

I've had reasonably good luck downplaying the visible edge on decals this way. It's a little labored but it works most of the time- here are my steps, your mileage may vary:

1. After base color coat but long before any weathering passes, shoot a coat of gloss lacquer. More on why lacquer in a sec.

2. Apply decal using Micro Set, let dry, and hit with Micro Sol (that's why i use Lacquer Clear spray - Micro Sol eats my acrylic clearcoat every dang time. Others may not have experienced this and it could well be my rotten luck, so take that with a grain of salt, but this is what works for me. Humbrol Decal-Cote and Decal-Cote 2 are also great for the job, IMO.)

3. Once that coat cures completely, hit the decal with a lightly-thinned single-pass brush of enamel Clear from the bottle. The enamel clear forms a meniscus at the edge of the decal and obscures the edge of the decal unless you are in a just-so light and are really looking for it.

4. Spray with a matte coat pass. The previous brushstroke of clear gloss should have smoothed the edge enough to make it near-invisible.

Mind you, there are washes and filters happening when all this is going on so this is all part of my little detailing ritual, I don't do all this STRICTLY for the decals, so go with what works best for your method.

**edited** Apparently my brain was saying "lacquer" but my fingers were saying "enamel."

Almost anything written above this line is subject to every sort of inaccuracy.


  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Central Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 9:00 PM

you may want to try another coat of gloss clear with something like pledge future acrylic. it's self leveling and helps smooth out the bumps.


This is what I do when the decals are thick and a "step" is visible. I handbrush several coats of Future from the center out feathering the effect. Several coats 10 minutes apart will work cause Future dries fast. Let it cure for a couple of days then take some fine sandpaper and and lightlty sand till it's nice and smooth. Clean the area then brush on another coat of Future to get rid of the white haziness created by the sanding. Let it cure overnight then spray clear flat and the decal will look as if it was painted on.

The decals for my 1/25 scale Academy Panther Ausf G were thick and stubburn having a rather visible step. It took several applications of Solvaset and about 10 coats of Future as described above to get rid of the ugly step.




Too many models to build, not enough time in a lifetime!!

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Philippines
Posted by on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 9:27 PM

I've seen NMF aircrafts like B-17G Sentimental Journey in airshows and the ridge in the marking is noticeable if you look closely. So I guess for NMF models decals ridges are acceptable. For the camouflage ones follow the suggestions above.


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