Saturday, 19 October 2013

Painting miniatures with a wet palette and Army Painter paints

What's a wet palette?
I had no idea too, until I realised that my painting technique was changing over the course of 10 or 20 minutes. At first, the paint is really smooth and sometimes takes two coats to cover darker shades. Then, maybe 10-15 minutes later, it's thickened up and is covering really easily. That's great for block colouring, but a bit of a pain using the same paint for little details (which are more easily painted using thinner, easier-flowing paint).

I've been burning through my Army Painter paints, regularly dropping paints onto my ceramic palette (an upturned espresso cup!). Mixing paints from the dropper bottles is great, but because my paints are drying out so quickly, I'm finding I'm using a lot of paint and not actually getting much painted!


The answer? A wet palette.
I'd heard of these, but never bothered with them - it sounds too much like advanced techniques for really good painters (wet blending, gradient shading and so on). It turned out it's nothing like that. It's just a way of creating a palette which keeps the paint wet for longer.

Wet palettes can be bought at most art shops and even online. You can pay anywhere between £10 and £50 for a decent set up. I'm not bothered about decent. Cheap and cheerful will do me, until I know what it actually is/does!


Here are the ingredients for my wet palette. The maths set cost £1, the sponges 90p and the baking paper £1.20 (all from Tesco) - total cost: £3.10.

I took one sponge, cut the green scouring pad off and split it in half long-ways. Using a sharp knife (only ever use sharp knives - blunt ones are really dangerous!) I cut the moulded bits inside the maths set box and put wet sponges inside the box. The baking paper is folded to help it resisting curling as it gets wet.


As a trial, I put some "fur brown" paint onto the paper and used a bit on a model.
I chose this paint because it tends to be quite thin to begin with, but skins over - and once a skin has formed, it tends to dry out quite quickly (within another 10 minutes or so). I rinsed my brushes, closed the palette lid and went and made a brew.


Then I went to the shop and got a paper. After reading the paper I got a bit peckish, so made some cheap instant noodles. Then another brew, and after a total of an hour and a half, I tried the paint. It was still fluid and usable. Not only usable, but in the same condition as it was when it first came out of the bottle: no skinning over, no thickening, it still took two coats to cover the slightly darker colours on a model.

So in short - a successful, cheap wet palette. Hopefully this means I'll be reaching for the bottles of paint much less often and can concentrate on smudging paint over the miniatures rather than mixing and dispensing it.