Wet Palette - FAQ (English Version) | Coloured Dust

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Wet Palette - FAQ (English Version)

A wet palette is (or at least should be) the basic gadget of everyone who is involved in painting figurines. Still, this topic generates many doubts and questions on forums and modeling groups. In the following guide I will explain what a wet palette is, how to prepare it, how to use it and answer the most frequently asked questions. This material is mainly my opinion on the subject, resulting from many years of experience.

If you have question that are not yet in this FAQ, leave them in the comments. I will add them to the list and answer them as best as I can. This way the FAQ will stay up to date and become more and more useful to the readers. Please feel invited to join the discussion and sharing experiences.


Polską wersję tego artykułu znajdziecie tutaj.

Please remember that all of this I give you for free. It would be so nice if you leave a mark in the form of comment and share the SBS to your friends. If you want to buy me a coffee or a beer the "DONATE" button is below.

Pamiętajcie, że wszystko to daję Wam całkowicie za darmo. Będzie mi więc miło jeśli pozostawicie po sobie ślad w postaci komentarza i udostępnicie ten SBS znajomym. Jeśli chcecie postawić mi kawę lub piwo przycisk "DONATE" znajduje się poniżej. 

Postaw mi kawę na buycoffee.to

2.What is the wet palette?

3.How to make a wet palette?

4.What palette to buy?


Let's start with a pinch of theory. What is the pallet for?

According to the definition found in Wikipedia:
Palette - a simple painting device in the form of a shallow or very shallow cuvette, used for arranging the paints needed in the painting process and their free mixing, diluting or combining with painting media.

This definition exhausts the topic and I consider it to be completely correct. It is worth remembering that there are many types of pallets made of various materials and suitable for various types of paints and painting media. You can read more about it, for example on Wikipedia.

However, we will focus only on the most popular, fast-drying acrylic paints. Therefore, two types of pallets are important for us:
- traditional dry pallet
- wet palette ("Wet Palette", "Stay Wet")

My old standard palette (CD) and wet palette.

My adventure with the hobby of war games and especially painting figures (still is) I started around 1993. The only thing I knew at that time was a dry palette. You could not find such information on the Internet or exchange experience. It was a niche hobby in Poland. I've mixed paint on a white ceramic tile, which remained after the renovation of the bathroom. Later, I used CDs and I use them until today (eg to mix Vallejo Glaze Medium with paint).

An good example of a commercial dry pallet is, the Acrylic Painting Palette from Hobby Zone, which I once presented in the pages of this blog.

Acrylic Painting Palette - HobbyZone
However, the dry palette has a huge disadvantage. Acrylic paints dry very quickly on it. Even mixed with water or a special medium (Thinner, Retarder Medium, Flow Improver) they can dry in a few minutes. Working with such a pallet, especially on warm summer days, is cumbersome. In addition, we waste large amounts of paint. The dry pallet requires cleaning or replacing the CD with a new ...

A wet palette comes with the help.

2.What is the wet palette?

Again, according to the definition found in Wikipedia:
"Stay Wet" palette - Another variation of disposable paper pallets, are palettes providing moisture to fast-drying acrylic paints. It is a kind of a plastic tray with a moist undercoat (made of paper or a sponge) covered with parchment paper, which allows the moisture to be slowly absorbed from the undercoat. Thanks to this, the time of drying paint on parchment is longer and you can paint without haste.

And this time the definition taken from Wikipedia explains the topic completely.

One of the main reasons why it is worth working with a wet palette is the fact that there is practically no drying problem. Paints, and in particular paint mixtures, can be used for many days if our pallet is tightly closed. Thanks to the damp substrate, the paint is permanently (provided that we maintain a constant water level), it is watered down.

We can buy a wet pallet as a finished product offered by many manufacturers or do it yourself. And we will devote more time to the second option (DIY).

3.How to make a wet palette?

The wet pallet can be made by yourself with a small cost and work time. In the following sections, I will discuss exactly how to do it.

A simple cross-section diagram of the wet palette construction.

Any closed container will be suitable. The best rectangular to make it easier to cut the surface and paper. The container should be made of plastic. I have heard of cases where, for example, a metal container rusted after a certain period of time.

It is also worth to find a box that will have a seal in the lid. Then, after closing, it will be even more tight and will prevent water evaporation.

The size and height of the box you have to choose for your own needs, e.g. space in the workshop. I prefer a box with a height of about 2 cm which translates into convenience/ergonomics during work.

Personally, the best box I found and which suits me best is the old Citadel Tufts plastic box.

Below are examples of other proprietary solutions and applications of available boxes.

A surface or otherwise a wet palette inset is any material that absorbs water and keeps it in for a long time. The two most popular and worthy of our attention are paper towels and sponge.

Paper towels are cheap and widely available. Their disadvantage is that they are disposable (after some time they have to be discarded) and that after soaking with water they do not form a smooth surface. On the other hand, sponges can be used theoretically indefinitely. Its surface is smooth and even. It is best to find the densest, compact, porous sponge.

The inset chosen by us should be cut to match the box (width, length, thickness). You must test for yourself what kind of inset suits you best and with which you work best.

When we have the box and inset selected, we only have to choose the paper that we will put at the very top. On paper we will "store" and mix paints. This is probably the most important element of a wet palette. In my experience, only two products are remarkable - baking paper and sticker paper.

You can buy baking paper without problems in most stores. You must choose one-side coated paper. One of its surfaces is covered with a thin layer of silicone, protecting the paper against moisture. Remember to put the paper just with this shiny, slippery layer up.

The second type of paper is sticker paper. Where to get it from? If you have small children in your home or family, they will definitely love stickers. After removing the stickers, the paper remains, which is slippery and shiny on one side. In my opinion, this is the perfect paper for a wet palette. It works perfectly.

If you do not want to do a wet pallet yourself, you can buy a comercial product. There are many products from various companies on the market. In addition to the palette, manufacturers always provide the opportunity to buy spare paper and refills. Below are some examples of products. I will not review them here. Maybe someday you will see a separate entry on this blog.

Masterson's Sta-Wet Palette.
AK Interactive Wet Palette.

How much water to pour into the pallet?
We pour enough water into the pallet so that the paper is always moist but the water does not cover its top layer. Water is supposed to cause that the paper is always moist but not "flood" it.

Why does the paint dry too fast?
The palette has too little water and does not moisturize the paper.
The paper does not let water through.
Closing the box is not tight and the water evaporates.
In the room where you paint it is too hot (especially hot summer).
To prevent this, you can add water to the palette, eg using a pipette. In addition, it is worth to store the palette in the fridge between painting sessions.

Why does the palette smell bad (stinks)?
Damp could form in a damp sponge or paper towels. Every now and then you need to change the water, and the palette should be washed by hand or in a dishwasher.

Can Vallejo Glaze Medium be mixed on a wet pallet?
Theoretically yes. I noticed, however, that the addition of water to this medium changes some of its properties. For this reason, I use a traditional dry palette - a CD for mixing paint and Glaze Medium. Glaze Medium dries very long (I use a dryer to speed up the process on the figurine) so there is no problem with i

Why is the paint splitting?
Probably for a long time (a few days) you did not use paint that remained on the wet palette. Another reason may be old or poor quality paint. Mix the paint on a palette or use a new one.

Where does small kair and fine paper in paint come from?
Some types of baking paper are of poor quality. After some time, the paper is able to delaminate or give off small hairs. They get into the paint and make it practically impossible to use. You need the trial and error method to find the right baking paper or the best use of paper from the stickers.

Have fun painting,
Michał "ARBAL" Walczak