A wet palette is a popular tool for mini painters using water-based acrylic paint. It helps them keep their colors consistent. People usually use them to keep their paints from drying out. But there are some drawbacks. One is that they can be difficult to clean. Another is that they can be expensive.
What is a Wet Palette
A wet palette is a container that holds a sponge and water. The water helps to keep the paint from drying out and makes it last longer. People use them for painting sessions that last for a long time. Wet palettes can be simple to make, or you can buy them online or in stores.
The Basics of Getting Started With Wet Palettes
The first step in setting up your new wet palette is to add water to your sponge. You want to make sure the sponge is fully covered with water, but don’t add so much that it overflows and floats above the bottom of the container. Most of the time, the sponge will expand when it gets wet, so I like to add water a little at a time so it can fully absorb.
How Much Water to Add to Your Wet Palette
Fill your wet palette so that you can see the water if you tilt it to one side, but not if it is laying flat. This way, you’ll get the most contact with the sponge surface and maintain surface tension.
If your paper starts to float above the sponge, it might create bubbles that will make the paper wrinkle and curl. This will cause dry spots on the paper.
Add Water to the Sponge Regularly
Adding a little water to your wet palette every once in a while is a good way to keep it from drying out. I like to use a goose neck squeeze bottle so I can get the water into the edge between the paper and the container without making a mess.
The bigger your palette, the faster the water will evaporate. Dry places also make the water evaporate more quickly than humid places. You will need to learn how often to add water so your paint surface stays happy.
Add Your Paper
After your sponge is hydrated, add the palette paper on top. Make sure the paper is flat and held down until it absorbs the water.
Saturate the Palette Paper Before Placing it on the Sponge
I set up my wet palette near the kitchen sink. This gives me plenty of room to get it ready without squeezing it under the bathroom sink or pouring water at my painting table.
I run the palette paper under the running water to saturate it. I turn it over to make sure that it is fully wet. This makes the paper stretch without tearing and have proper surface tension.
How to thin your paint on a wet palette
When using a wet palette, you can still thin your paint. Put some paint on the paper in a small area. Add one drop of your preferred thinner next to the pool of paint. Drag a small amount of paint with your brush into the drop of thinner. Swirl your brush around the paint, adding a little bit at a time until it is mixed to how you want it. Test the paint consistency on your thumb or scrap paper to see if it is how you want it.
All about Palette Paper
Stop Wet Palette Paper Curling
One of the most frustrating things about wet palettes is that if you don’t prepare your paper correctly, it will dry out and curl up. In order to make sure your paper stays wet and usable, there are a few things you need to do.
Use a Stiff Card to Stretch and Flatten the Palette Paper
Fill the container with water and place the saturated paper on top of the sponge. Be careful to center it. Use an old library card to wipe the top of the paper so that it is smooth and there are no air bubbles.
When you’re looking for a place to start your painting, try to find an area with no air bubbles. If you do find some air bubbles, don’t worry. Just make sure to smooth them out so the surface is even. This will help you avoid having any problems with your painting later on.
Make sure that you remove all drops of water from the top of the palette paper
Once you have smoothed out the palette paper, take a paper towel and dab it on top of the paper to remove any droplets of water. This is important because if the water comes in contact with your paint, it will dilute it.
What Paper to Use in Your Wet Palette
Palettes that are made for mini painters usually come with good paper that we can use. I recommend using that paper. Wet palettes that were not made specifically for miniature painting usually come with paper that is more porous than we need. That’s because they were made for use with heavy body acrylic paints, which are thicker than the paint we use.
There are many ways to make a wet palette. Some people use parchment paper because it doesn’t absorb the paint like regular paper does.
If you are going to use parchment paper, remember to use the paper that came with the palette as a template for cutting the parchment paper to size. If you don’t have any left, trim the parchment paper so that it has about half an inch on all sides between the paper and the palette wall.
You can use metallic paint on your wet palette
Some people are worried that the metal flakes in metallic paint will get into their sponge and then transfer from the sponge into their non-metallic paint, contaminating it.
The metal flakes from the paint are bigger than the regular pigment in the paint. So if the red pigment doesn’t turn your white paint pink, you can be sure that the metallic flakes also can’t get through the paper and contaminate the paint on top of your palette.
You might be worried that the metal will rust or become discolored over time. But think about it this way: those same metallic flakes have been in water-based paint for a long time without rusting. They aren’t the kind of metal that rusts or becomes discolored from exposure to water.
If you are still unsure if metallic paints should be used on the same wet palette as non-metallic paints, then get a second palette and use it specifically for metallic paints. This will help keep your different paint colors separate.
How to Keep Your Paint From Overhydrating
When I got my first wet palette, I thought it was for keeping my paint hydrated for a long time. But really, it’s for keeping your paint from drying quickly when you’re painting for a long time or in a dry environment.
You can keep your paint usable for a few days. There are some things you can do, but I find that it’s not always reliable. One of the most frustrating things about trying to keep paint workable for multiple days is when you come back the next day and your paint has spread all over the palette paper and is an unusable mess.
The reason your paint becomes a mess is because of the humidity in a closed place. Heavy body acrylics can last for a while in this type of environment, but our paint made for tabletop miniatures cannot.
There are two ways to avoid your paint peeling: reduce the humidity or the evaporation time of the water.
Try adjusting your lid
If you have a cover that can be removed from the base, you can put it on so that it is not airtight. This will allow some moisture to escape and the humidity inside of the palette will not get quite so high.
Some cheap wet palettes come with a hinged lid. If you have one of those, consider drilling a small hole in the lid. This is so the palette will stay moist while you are not using it. I recommend drilling the hole in a corner, so that the humidity level remains consistent.
If you’re not going to be painting for a while, it’s important to clean out your palette and let it dry. Leaving paint in a wet palette for too long will just make a mess.
Store the palette in your refrigerator
Putting the palette in your fridge, especially in the summer, helps to keep the temperature low. This will help to keep the moisture evaporating from your sponge into the paint to a minimum.
How to clean your wet palette
After every painting session, you should clean out your wet palette. This means taking everything out and washing it all. It’s important to do this even if you’re not taking a break. If you’re taking a break, just close the lid and let it sit until you start painting again.
When it is time to clean out my wet palette I do the following
- Dispose of the paper in the trash can.
- Take the sponge out of the water and rinse it off. Squeeze the water out of the sponge and put it somewhere to dry.
- Some of the containers you can wash by hand. But some of them you can put in the dishwasher. It might not say that it is dishwasher safe, but it will be okay.
- Tip the container upside down so that the water can drain out and it can dry.
Recommended Wet Palettes
A wet palette is a handy tool for painters. It helps with mixing paint and keeping the colors consistent. I highly recommend getting one if you are serious about painting. If you want to try making one before you buy, here’s how:
Everlasting Wet Palette
This is a popular wet palette. It has gotten more popular in recent years. It used to be only available on the Redgrass games website. But it is now also available on other websites. It comes in different sizes.
The Army Painter wet palette
I own this wet palette. I like it because it is set up well and coated with an anti-mold treatment.
AK Interactive Wet Palette
The AK interactive wet palette is a good value. It also has easily available replacement foam for just a couple of dollars.
Sta-Wet Masterson Palette
This wet palette is designed for painters who use acrylic paint that comes in tubes. It’s a really big surface area. If you get it, you should use parchment paper instead of the paper that comes with it.
How does a wet palette work?
A wet palette works by using a water-soaked sponge to keep the paints moist. This prevents them from drying out and makes them last longer. It also keeps the colors mixed together better, which is why many artists use them.
How do you set up a wet palette?
To set up a wet palette, you’ll need a container to hold water, a sponge, and some paper towels. Fill the container with water and moisten the sponge. Place the sponge in the bottom of the container and cover it with some paper towels. Put your paints on top of the paper towel and let them absorb some of the moisture. The paint will stay fresh for longer this way.
Do you water down paint on a wet palette?
No, you should not water down paint on a wet palette. If you do, the paint will become too diluted and will not mix well with other colors.
How much water should I use in my wet palette?
You should use enough water to keep the sponge wet, but not so much that the paint becomes too diluted.