Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Iron Warriors and Terrible Decals

I know what you're thinking, "What kind of a title is that? Are his decals crappy and yet he's showing off his squad?" The answer is kinda yes.

Hi guys, Macca here, and today I am going to show you my new tac squad, aka what a month of procrastination looks like. However, I am quickly going to change topics and go into talking about Games Workshop decals about halfway through.

I decided to change to black rims on the bases this week, I really like the brown, however I felt I just wasn't getting the contrast, they honestly looked like a 70's apocalypse movie, just brown on brown. Too boring.

The paint job is nothing too interesting, I know, but these are currently only tabletop quality. Down the track I will add some scratch marks to go with the armour chipping, I will also do more highlights on the flesh on the bare head. As it is, I'm wanting to get this army to playable in the quickest fashion, rather than going straight at a Golden Daemon.

Angry Macca and Shitty Decals:

So, at this point, let's swap topics. I used a mix of decals on these models. I used Forge World ones on the knee (for the squad number) and the right shoulder (for unit type). Then I decided, in a truly stupid clusterfuck moment, worthy of derision, that I would use the 40k Iron Warrior emblems on the shoulders, rather than embossed pads. Rookie, so very, very rookie.

This is one of the better decals, yet you can clearly see the edges of the decal in this image, about a quarter of a millimeter from the silver, however, that's an optical illusion, more on that later.

On the squad Sergeant, you can also see some crinkles on the cranium of the skull. This is despite a ton of decal thinner and a lot of time spent working on each decal (4-5 times as long as any other decals).

By contrast, this Forge World decal is almost flawless.

The Problem:

Take a look at these decals. The decal areas are far larger than the item printed onto them, this means you will need to trim. Not just that, the decals are very thick, making them incredibly hard to apply smoothly.

Further to that, have a look up close. See anything odd? That's right, that's the silver skull and the black features not lining up. This is something I didn't notice until I applied them to the miniature, as the silver blends into the pale background of the decal sheet. This then led me to 'paint' over any overhanging silver, leading to the optical illusion that the emblem is nowhere near the edge of the decal, despite my trimming.

These Black Legion emblems are perfect examples of shit printed decals.

What is this? Seriously? That's a vehicle decal, that gap is almost a millimeter!

This set of Ultramarine symbols are almost not even printed onto the decal area!

I thought at first I just had a bad batch. Then I decided to go through my decal collection (It's a big one) and I realised that every chaos decal sheet, collected from 2003-2014 (when I gave up on 40k) are all this bad. This is not isolated at all, these are very poor quality decals.

The Actual Point?

Now, I know, I whinged and moaned all the way down this page. But in the end, my point is this:

Don't use Games Workshop infantry decals. They are shit, they will potentially ruin your expensive models.

You see, I am providing context here, it's no good me just saying "these suck", it's important for me to actually show why. This is 'bitching with a purpose'.

Anyway, all this aside, I am pretty happy with the squad, the second tac squad is in a similar state, so I have no choice but to continue on and do the best I can with them. I'd like to know how other people have dealt with this problem. Has it ever come up? Have you tried your best, followed the tutorials and yet the decals don't work? Please let me know, I' love to hear your stories.



  1. Have you tried scoring the decals? When I used them on my Breachers they came out fine but only because I scored them to take the shoulder pads shape better. You do small, light cuts as if you were doing a chaos star but make sure the cuts don't meet in the middle.

    I probably didn't explain that very well but hopefully you'll get me meaning!

    1. Yeah, I have done that before, but it's very risky on this kind of decal as small 'cracks' can appear on it as the decal splits under the influence of the decal thinner. Not just that, but the decal edges are still quite thick, and no amount of decal thinner can blend them well. On a larger surface, they aren't quite so bad, such as tanks and shields, but they still suffer from misalignment of the decal when printed.

      Nonetheless, good thoughts Amy, and well worth noting on your blog mate!

  2. I'm going to give FW decals a chance. Thanks for the article!

    1. They are quite good David, and you'll have a completely different experience with them compared to GW decals.

  3. I think you made a good move on the black rims. Forge World does it this way for a reason too (maybe it's just laziness, who knows).

    I also wanted a yellow rim to go with my yellow desert bases, which were chosen to contrast against my army's grey and black scheme, but went with black and don't regret it.

    1. I was frustrated by the move, because at the moment, the army is a table-top quality force, and I wanted to stay away from the black rims I have used on the last half-dozen armies. In the end, it was just the best option. Thanks for the feedback Red!

  4. Did you use micro-sol, as well as micro-set? That's what I use in Canada. The micro sol actually melts the decal to the surface, even on a surface that has a bunch of irregularities, it looks painted on......But you probably did, your hobby skills are impressive!

    1. I use the same sort of product but from different brands, such as Tamiya Mark Fit, Humbrol Decal Thinner, Vallejo decal fix etc. Phil. This was after that process that I was still unhappy. Thank you for your kind words regarding my skills, but this is really only a table-top standard, if you want to see Iron Warriors at their peak, please check out my Perturabo.

      Thanks for the comment!