Monday, October 17, 2011

Wet Pallet Revalations

This past weekend was one of those revelation moments when it comes to painting miniatures. Not having any committee or department meeting nor having to run up to campus at all (huzzah!), I spent the morning watching painting videos online at youtube. There are some nice videos, and many not so good videos. Still, I applaud the efforts. Making good hobby videos is very difficult!

Today, I will recount my experiences and revelations about using wet pallets. Later, I'll get into some other painting revelations that I am sure everyone else had a long time ago. (It always seems like I'm the last to figure out the basics! LoL)

Several months ago, I tried using a wet pallet but very frustrated with it. I use the Masterson Sta-Wet Handy Pallet kit I picked up at the local craft store chain for $5 after a discount coupon. (You can make one yourself, but $5 is such a cheap price that making one is not worth the hassle in my opinion.) When I last used the pallet, the paint would get too thin when sitting on the paper, and I had a few other issues making the wet pallet experience very distasteful to my...uh...pallet. So I went back to using those cheap-o $1 pot-pallets, though I could have used plain old paper plates instead. Anyway...

So there I am Friday morning, cruising youtube and reading different bits of advice on various blogs and forums when I stumble on some wet pallet advice (and decide to reread the pallet's instruction sheet as a last resote). Hmmm.....yep....oh!....hmmm....duh! Those were the sounds my wife heard emanating from my Man Room as painting revelations smacked me in the head like a sledge hammer.  So last night, I finally gave the pallet another try. Bingo! It worked great!

What Did I Do Right This Time?
I learned that using distilled water is a must. I have no idea why. Perhaps the fluoride and other chemicals dumped in tap water mess with the paper? Everyone, along with Masterson's instructions, says to use it. I didn't use it before. I use it now!

I also made sure not to overload the sponge with water. I even poured off a bit of excess water just to make sure. I think this and the distilled water made a huge difference.

I also followed the instructions for soaking the pallet paper in hot water for 15 minutes, though I used boiling distilled water out of fear of using tap water. (Our tap water in Central Florida has a ton of minerals to boot.)

When done, drain a little water from the sponge

After all of this, the pallet works perfectly! Some people said to thin the paint as you normally would, though I thinned it just a tad less because the paint will pick up a bit of the water.

The Benefits of Wet Pallets
Here is what I like about using the wet pallet:
  • While using the wet pallet, I realized that I used less paint than normal because I used nearly every bit of the paint I placed on the pallet. Wow!
  •  I didn't have to worry about the paint "skinning over," getting that goop layer across the top of it because it's drying out.
  •  Dropper paint bottles are far more efficient with wet pallets than craft paint bottles because dropper bottles are more precise, allowing me to use less paint than I normally would in a regular pallet.
  • I can rinse off the paint "left-overs" from the paper and reuse it.
  • If you sit two colors near enough to each other on the pallet paper, you can paint with each one of them and then easily mix them for a mid-tone color, dragging the paints toward each other. (Ok, you can do this on a paper plate as well, but on a wet pallet you have hours instead of minutes to work with the paint.)
  •  Finally, the paints does not dry out while I'm painting.

So I highly recommend using a wet pallet. The Masterson Sta-Wet is very nice, with a tight-fitting lid. And make sure to read the instruction sheet.


  1. great tips, Ive never gotten into mini painting, I see the appeal just cant justify the cost to my self or the wife

  2. I understand the cost factor. Not long ago, we were dirt poor when my wife was sick and out of work. For years, I played with paper figures and counters, often homemade on Photo Shop. Gave me great games. Buying pre-painted figures for .10 to $1 on the various trade forums has also been great on the wallet.

    Now the cost of rulebooks is what has been getting me! That is a rant for another day.

    BTW I often miss my years of DMing RPGs when all we needed was the rulebook, some dice, and our imagination. RPGs are the best bang for the buck in gaming!

  3. Perfect! I have this Wet Pallet and haven't used it once. From your instructions, I will fire it up this weekend and I hope to do this correctly from the start based on your advice. I should mention that I paint by the light of a 500W halogen so I need a wet pallet. Thanks sir!

  4. If you have any questions, just click on my profile link and shoot me an email.

    500W! That must be like painting on the surface of the sun! Oh wait. I paint with an Ott lamp, a 200W bulb on a lamp directly behind me, a window directly behind me, and another 200W in a ceiling lamp above me. I might even turn on the 60W bulb across the room. And then play games at poorly lit game stores and conventions. What is wrong with this picture??? 8*)


Sadly, I have to approve all comments to weed out nasty spammers.