August 08, 2012

Creating Work Spaces - Making a Wet Palette

I'm not the most experienced painter of miniatures in the world.  Hell I'm not even the most experienced amongst my friends.  Most if not all the people I know who do paint minis are as good as, or better at it than I am.  However, I'm not concerned with that too much.  I simply want to paint my figures to a level of quality that I'm proud to put on the table for a game with.  Also, I'm lazy and don't want to spend hours or even days painting up a single unit that might not even make it across the table intact!

In order to do that one requires paint, brushes, time and patience. I have the first two, the third and fourth tend to come and go over time. Recently I've focused more time into my miniature gaming, and have expanded both my skill and tool sets.  The latest thing I've decided to add is a starter set of War Paints by Army Painter.  These are new to me because they're different from my Games Workshop and P3 paints in one simple but substantial way: this paint comes in dropper bottles.

Unlike the paint pots I already have I can't simply open, stir, dip my brush and start painting.  I need to pour some paint out somewhere first. So I poured a few drops on my dry palette and gave it a shot. One problem became apparent within seconds of trying that however...acrylic paint dries really quickly under a work lamp!  As in less than a minute sort of quickly.

I needed a way to keep the paint moist while I worked with it.  I needed a wet palette.  There are a lot of commercially available wet palettes out there, but I didn't want to invest in something that seemed simple enough, only to decide I didn't like it a short time later.  So here's how I made one for less than four dollars.

Step 1: Find a suitable container
I dug around for something small that would hold water, and had a semi-decent seal that I could open and close easily.  I found this little container in the kitchen drawer.

Step 2: Find (or cut) a sponge to fit inside.
This sponge was from a Hordes model I had put together recently and just happened to be the perfect size.  No cutting, just drop it in.

Step 3: Go to the grocery store and buy some parchment paper.
Since this isn't an item I would usually have around the house I'm going to say that this is the only step that actually cost me money. This huge roll of paper cost me $3.67, including tax.

Step 4: Cut some pieces of parchment paper to fit in your container.
Easy enough to do. In my case I simply measured the sponge and cut a strip of paper the same width, then chopped that into pieces that would fit in the container.  I was able to get five pieces from that single strip although my container is quite small.  I put the extra pieces in a little baggie that used to have penny card sleeves in it. I won't need to cut replacements for at least a month, which means that huge roll of paper will probably last me a LONG time.

Step 5: Soak everything in water and put it in the container.
Wet the sponge and put it in the container.  Pour a little extra water in the bottom so that the sponge will stay wet, but isn't completely submerged.  Wet the parchment paper and put it on top of the sponge.  It might curl on you until it's fully moistened.  You may have to lift a corner and pour a little more water in if it won't lie flat.  Push all the air bubbles out with your fingers and you're finished.

Step 6: Pour and mix your paint, then paint whatever you want.

My palette isn't very big and only has room for about four colours before it starts getting crowded.  For now I imagine that'll be more than enough.  As I gain more experience mixing my own colours I may need to graduate to a larger container.  I'm actually very happy with the container I chose though, because it fits almost perfectly in the spot on my Paint Station that used to have the dry palette.  I couldn't have planned that better if I'd tried!

One last note.  Just to experiment, I painted some items on Saturday and left the remaining paint on the palette with the lid closed.  On Monday morning I was able to just stir it with the tip of my brush and continue using it.  Considering that my container is nowhere near air-tight, I'd say that'll do for my purposes.


Brummie said...

nice idea. not been brave enough to try this yet

Obsidian3D said...

No bravery required. I've got plenty of GW and P3 paints and will continue to use them. But I really wanted to give the Army Painter stuff a try. They're the same size as P3 (18mL) and cost a little less. I was able to mix up a really nice flesh colour using barbarian flesh and leather brown. The palette helped make an already flowy paint even smoother.

If you want to use non-dropper paint in the palette just stir it with a toothpick from the pot, then drop a few dots on the palette and you're set! I wish I'd tried one years ago.

Eddie Kataishi said...

I never ever tried this - in what 20+ years of painting? Now I'm just lazy - block paint, quickshade, dullcoat. Next.

Obsidian3D said...

I'm trying to get faster and will be trying out the quickshade on my next squad for my Space Marine chapter, the Obsidian Fists.

I'm lazy too. While I don't mind painting, I'd rather play games than paint!

Eddie Kataishi said...

Absolutely. I need to get painting - I have a bunch of the EM4 (ex-Grenadier) Future Wars corporates, cops and security guards, that need painted. Then of course there are the Copplestone Future Wars minis I still haven't painted since I ordered them back in Kaga.

Bill said...

I've tried a homemade wet palette myself, and didn't have much success with it. Recently, I bought one, and it works much better. I think the big difference was the paper. "Proper" wet palette paper is much heavier than baking parchment. It doesn't lift and curl like the parchment, and it doesn't let the paint through as easily.

A pack of the palette paper costs about the same as that big roll of parchment, and you can rinse the paint off of them and reuse them.

Obsidian3D said...

In terms of the paper curling, I've seen the P3 palette and that paper does indeed curl up without enough water on it.