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 choosing a container for your wet palette, it is important to find one that is airtight and has a lid that fits snugly. I prefer a shallow container with a lid that is less than an inch above the surface of the sponge. The lid is one of the most important parts of the wet palette.
The ability to seal in a humid environment and keep your paint usable for a long time is one of the most appealing parts of a wet palette. You should choose a container that is larger than you might think you will need. This is so that you have plenty of room to mix colors.
When looking for a sponge to use for painting, you want one that is thick and will take up a lot of space on your palette. The closer the size of the sponge is to the size of your container, the better. If the sponge you choose is not the same size as your container, you will need to cut it up to fill in the rest of the space.
If you want your watercolor painting to turn out well, you need to use a sponge with small cells. This will allow the water to come into contact with all of the paper. If you use a sponge with large cells, it might create air pockets that will dry out your paper. Your paper might also curl if it starts to dry out. When this happens, it can be hard to get it to flatten out again. You might also lose your paint if it dries out in this way.
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.