One of the most innovative new wargames products of the last few years are the shield transfers and banners from Little Big Men Studios. Judging by the amount of posts and queries on various miniatures related discussion boards and mailing lists, applying them is a bit counterintuitive at first. Having recently bought a number of transfers and banners for my Carolingian army (currently consisting of a total of one miniature, but growing :) ), I fiddled about with them a bit and came up with this photo guide of applying the little buggers. This example is of a banner, which is applied to white paper, but the same principles apply to shield transfers applied to a white painted shield. The banner in question is one from the Dark Age banners sheet, and will be applied to a Carolingian Frankish figure from Artizan Designs.
First off, the transfers are called ‘rub off’ transfers, whilst they are in fact anything but. When you say ‘rub off transfer’ to me, I think of the rub off drawings we all used as kids, where you just scribbled all over the reverse side of a piece of special paper to apply the design on the front side to whatever you were holding it against. These transfers are nothing like that. In fact, they are better called ‘stick on’ transfers, in that they essentially consist of a very thin transparent film with the design printed on one side, and glue on the other side. The idea is that you stick the sticky side down on your paper or shield, leaving the design facing outward.
Now that that has been cleared up, let’s take a look at the banner we’re trying to use.
On the actual transfer sheet, the design (the transparent film mentioned above) is sandwiched between two layers of plastic. One is a thick, clouded plastic that covers the design side of the banner and acts as a protective sheet. The other is a thin, transparent sheet that covers the glued side and is a bugger to remove. Unfortunately, the first step you need to do, and the one that is causing the most grief to first time LBM users, is to remove this sheet, whic is called the backing sheet in the instructions supplied with each banner or transfer sheet from LBM.
Perversely, though logically enough, the protective plastic layer comes off a lot easier than the backing sheet, but it is that one that does need to come off first. For a banner, it is usually possible, as evidenced on the photo above, to score the plastic outside of the banner itself with a hobby knife and get a grip on the plastic like that. For a shield transfer, which are cut to size before the plastic layer is removed, this is not possible without damaging the design. In that case, patience and a steady hand is called for. Steve from LBM gives the tip of sticking the clear plastic side down on a piece of sticky tape and removing it like that (assuming the bond between the backing sheet and the sticky tape is stronger than the one between the design and the backing sheet, of course). Once the backing sheet is removed, the sticky side of the design is exposed and it can be applied to the paper or shield.
After the banner has been stuck down on the paper (rubbing with the back of a pencil or pen helps here, hence the term ‘rub off’ transfers, presumably), the clouded plastic protective layer is removed, which is mercifully easy compared to removing the backing sheet. Once this is done, the design of the banner appears in full glory:
Next it is just a question of cutting out the banner and glueing it to the figure’s standard:
I preform the banner around the standard before glueing, and I use gel super glue on one side of the banner to glue it together. The reason I use gel super glue is because it dries fast, so that any folds I create hold immediately, and because it fills the small gap between the standard and the banner where it wraps around the pole.
The only thing that needs to be done to finish the banner, is to paint the white paper around the flag staff in an appropriate color and to touch up the cut sides of the flag with black, both during the painting of the rest of the figure.