Decoupage is simply gluing paper patterns onto a surface and sealing the surface and edges with glue. It can be used for small, fine details that you either can't paint or would rather not paint. Decoupage is perfect for applying logos, chest symbols, decals, tattoos, or patterns onto customized action figures.
2. Create the symbol (or other item) that you would like to apply to your figure. You can scan the item from source material (like a comic book), download it from a fan web site, or draw it yourself using pen and markers or your favorite painting software.
3. Print out your work at the best resolution your printer can manage. I usually end up printing several sizes so that I can pick the one that is closest in scale to the figure.
4. Cut out the symbol as perfectly as you can. I use craft scissors made especially for fine, tiny cutting, which I found in the craft/sewing section of Wal-Mart.
5. Dilute your glue just slightly with plain water and brush a thin layer of glue on the entire back side of the cut-out. Press the cut-out onto the figure; you'll have a few seconds to adjust its placement. Don't worry about glue squishing out from under the decal--you'll be going over the edges with more glue anyway. Just don't let it dry with any texture or bumps. Smooth the glue with your dampened brush before it dries.
6. Now that your decal is in place, use a damp cotton swab to gently press the glue-wet paper into muscle grooves and other details. The dampened paper fibers will stretch just enough to conform to most details.
NOTE: Don't rub with the swab, or you might rub the ink off the paper or even cause little rolled-up clumps of paper fiber to form. Yuck! Just press straight down, dampening the swab as necessary to make the paper become more malleable.
7. Let the decal dry a little; this will help it "set." Then brush a thin layer of glue over the entire decal, going over the edges and letting the glue pool a little against the edges. The goal of true decoupage is to put so many layers of glue that you can't feel the edge of the paper at all when you run your finger over it. That's not really necessary for our purposes, but I do recommend at least 2-3 layers of glue over the top of the paper cut-out to protect it and to keep it from peeling up at the edges. Be sure to let the glue dry between coats, and keep the glue thin as you brush it on. You don't want brush tracks, lumps, or noticeable edges.
8. When it's completely dry, I recommend that you spray-seal your entire figure to keep dampness from affecting the glue. The sealer will also conceal any remaining differences between the sheen of your paint and the sheen of the glue (which tends to dry dull). I use matte acrylic sealer by Plaid.
For other helpful notes about the decoupage technique go to the Custom Corner at The Raving Toy Maniac page (http://www.toymania.com) or her webpage (URL at bottom). Topics include Brush maintenance and Optimal Conditions.
Good luck and happy customizing!
The preceding article was contributed by Leslie Hancock, of the now famed Austin Flash Museum, where you can find all sorts or great Flash(es) and Flash villains. Check her stuff out at: http://www.jdhancock2.com/leslie.