Living in a dry environment is a challenge for miniature painters because our paints will dry out quickly. One solution is to use a wet palette.
What is a wet palette?
A wet palette is a moist sponge with porous material on top of it. The idea is that the water from the sponge will seep into the parchment paper and then into your paint, hydrating the paint and making it last longer.
- paper towel
- Parchment Paper
- Construction paper
- A hobby knife
When it comes to selecting the ideal vessel for your wet palette, it’s paramount that you acquire a receptacle that is hermetically sealed, and features a top that fits tightly. In my personal opinion, a low-profile dish with a lid that hovers less than an inch above the sponge’s surface is optimal. The top, without a doubt, is a pivotal component of the wet palette.
The ability to enclose a humid milieu and sustain the viability of your paint for an extended duration is unquestionably one of the most beguiling aspects of a wet palette. When making your selection, I implore you to consider an amalgam that exceeds your estimated requirements. This will facilitate ample space to intermingle various hues, and prevent a claustrophobic environment that could impede your artistic process.
In the pursuit of a suitable sponge for painting, one must be resolute in their search for one that is endowed with the right qualities. Of utmost importance is the sponge’s thickness, which must be sufficient to satiate the need for copious space on your palette. To this end, one would be wise to choose a sponge that bears a resemblance in size to their container. However, should one be faced with a situation in which the sponge is of an inadequate size, they must undertake the arduous task of sectioning it to align with the dimensions of their container.
If one seeks to achieve excellence in their watercolor painting endeavors, it is imperative that they utilize a sponge that boasts small cells. This is due to the fact that the diminutive size of the sponge’s cells enables the water to make contact with every fiber of the paper, ensuring that the watercolor effect is spread evenly across the paper’s surface. Conversely, the use of a sponge with large cells can prove to be calamitous, engendering the creation of air pockets that have the potential to cause the paper to dry out, leading to undesirable curling. If this were to transpire, one would be confronted with the daunting task of rectifying the paper’s shape. Moreover, the proclivity of the paint to dry out in such a scenario would result in the loss of the paint, an outcome that is far from ideal.
The palette paper
You will want to find a paper that is porous but not too much so. Some papers that you can purchase for wet palettes commercially are designed for painters that use thick acrylic paint in tubes. These paints require more moisture than the paint we typically use for painting miniatures, which comes in pots and droppers.
Paint can easily be ruined if it gets wet. The size of the pores in this paper can let the paint seep through and not stay on the surface.
The most common paper for wet palettes used for miniature painting is parchment paper. This allows moisture to come through, but it doesn’t let the paint go back the other way.
You can use a container to make a template. Place the container on top of some construction paper or other thick paper. Trace the bottom of the container onto the paper. You will need the template to cut the sponge and palette paper to the right size.
You will need several sponges to cover the bottom of your container. Cut them to size using a template and a hobby knife. Test fit the sponges into the container to make sure they fit snugly. If they don’t, adjust the trim as needed.
Next, use your template to cut out a sheet of parchment paper. Most containers are a bit bigger at the top than they are at the bottom. This is normal, so don’t worry if your template leaves a small amount of space around the edges.
How to use a wet palette
There are two ways to make a wet palette: you can either make it yourself or buy one. They both work the same way. Once you have assembled your wet palette, check to make sure that the lid fits tightly and will not spill water easily. Then open the palette and put water into it until it is just about over the sponge. Add water slowly, it helps you to have a light shine over the top of your sponge.
I like to fold a paper towel and put it on top of the sponge. This will help you control how much water touches the parchment paper. If you get too much water, it will flood your paper and the paint will not be good anymore.
Put the parchment paper on top of the sponge. This can be difficult because the paper might want to curl when it gets wet on one side. I used to try to fight the curl by pressing it down into the sponge, but this only made things worse. To stop the curl, turn the paper over so that both sides get wet. You might need a little bit of patience to get the paper to absorb some of the water; when it does, it will lie flat. You can also put a small amount of water on top of the paper to help speed up the process.
If you get bubbles or ridges forming on the paper, you need to get them out. They will dry out quickly and ruin the effect of the wet palette. I use a plastic debit card to gently smooth out the paper. Then I put a little bit of water back on it to keep it hydrated, even though I just scraped all of the water off from it.
You will need to experiment with the type of paint you use. In my experience, I put a little bit of paint on my wet palette and paint as normal. Pay attention to how much water seeps through your paper. You will need to adjust the amount of water in your container until you get to a level where you are keeping your paint from drying out, but not making it too thin.
The difference between a wet palette and a dry palette
When you’re using acrylic paint, it tends to dry out quickly. If you live in a dry place, like I do, then using a wet palette can help keep your paint usable for much longer. The extra moisture also makes it easier to do blends and other transitions smoothly. If you use a dry palette, however, your paint won’t stay wet as long and you’ll need to add some type of thinner to your paint to keep it from drying out so fast. For acrylics, this is usually water or some type of other flow improvers specifically made for acrylics.
How do you make a cheap wet palette?
To make a cheap wet palette, simply dampen some paper towels or a piece of cloth with water and place them in a sealed container or Ziploc bag. Then, add the wet paint palette to the container and let it sit overnight. In the morning, your paints should be ready to use.
What kind of paper do you use for a wet palette?
You can use any kind of paper for a wet palette, but it’s important that it’s absorbent so that the water doesn’t soak through. A good option is to use watercolor paper, which is designed to be used with watercolors.