Using tattoo decals for models


Temporary tattoo makes for great tattoos and prints on figures and models. They have beautiful graphics and subject matters (e.g. dragons) that are hard to find. Last time I used the tattoo decal on a kit was 8 years ago with Mizuki. At that time I didn’t think of the critical step in making the transfer work, so I ended up having a lot of grief. The problem with tattoo decals is that they have a very weak film to carry the print, so unlike regular decal where you can move it around after application, you’ll end up ruining it if you mess with it after transferring.

However I feel silly for not thinking of transferring the tattoo to a decal sheet first. Basically you imprint the decal as instructed, face the tattoo  down and apply water, wait 30 seconds and lift… Very slowly. If the peeling wasn’t careful you may smudge the tattoo. Then just cut and apply. I’m doing this on a cheongsam I’m working on for Wang bailong from shining and it worked well. I applied it to the tangopapa decal sheets I bought like 15 years ago… Good that the sheet still works! I was a little worried that solvaset would melt the art, but it didn’t. While the tango papa decal still works, it seems to require me to soak the decal a lot longer… I’m not sure whether that’s due to the age of the paper or something to do with the tattoo.

Choosing tattoo is another matter. It takes a while to find the right ones because most tattoos are too big for models… For the obvious reason that they’re meant for real people. But I managed to find a pretty good deal from some Chinese reseller on Amazon, so I’m probably set for life based on those 6 books of dragon tattoos.


Using this technique I finished the Won Pairon from the game Blade Arcus from Shining (that’s a lot of froms). I’m very happy with her finish as the decal went on almost perfectly, and the paint scheme suits her very well. Inspired by some of the cheongsam designs, I gave her a gradient color scheme instead of the plain one of the original, and the decal really hide the unsightly jutting chest that almost ruined the figure. Watch out for the studio shot of her soon.


Leave a Reply

Loading Facebook Comments ...