There is yet another option when deciding how to manage your paints during a session. The Wet Palette. Basically what it does is keep your paints moist for a long time, so you no longer have to worry about the biggest downside of a dry palette – paint drying out and changing consistency mid-session.
They’re easy to construct and can be made with just a few cheap things from around the kitchen. You just need some sort of plastic tray or re-sealable container (not too deep though). Put a thin kitchen sponge or even some soaked paper towels in the bottom, with a sheet of parchment paper on top. The bottom layer slowly feeds water to the drier top layer which in turn feeds the water to the paint sitting on it.
You get all the benefits of a dry palette, then add easier cleanup since you just toss the little paper top layer from the palette. Extended painting sessions on the same mix of paint. You can get up and go do something for a few minutes without fear of your mixed paint drying out. Some people have even been able to keep paint good for days and sometimes week if the palette is sealed and stored in the fridge, making it possible to mix one large batch of color to use on an entire set of models.
The chief downside is that it does cost a little more money. The parchment paper will also get used up, but not quickly making the cost practically incidental for maintaining the palette. It can also be a little tricky at first getting the right amount of water in the palette so your paints don’t get dry or gummy while not turning them into a diluted muddy mess.
Wet Palettes are the most difficult to learn to use, but once you get the feel of it the benefits are very nice indeed.
Alas, I have not made the amount of progress I might have hoped for. You see, I play City of Villains (an MMORPG), and the Halloween event started this past week. So there I was, playing my little evil necromancer, when suddenly zombies that aren’t mine start popping out of the ground all around me! I had found myself in the middle of a full-blown Zombie Apacolypse! Luckily, my own zombie horde was better and I prevailed, earning the Apacolyopse Survivor badge. That’s one thing they never gave me in cub scouts 😉
This wound up eating a lot of my time this week, but with the zombie invasion firmly under control I did manage to get some more painting done this week. I had anticipated that the Harbinger would be a major project taking double or maybe triple the normal time to paint a mini. I underestimated her. The only other model I’ve painted that took so long was my Chaos Space Marine Defiler. And for basically the same reason: they’re solid detail work. I would currently guess that by the time all is said and done I will have put in around 30 hours painting this one minature. But, it’s ok, since this is A) my favorite mini from the army, and B) my army’s leader and centerpiece. It’s ok by me to take extra time to do the important minis justice 🙂
So, anyway, here’s some of the work I’ve gotten done on the acolytes that occupy her base:
Once these guys have thier basic highlighting on, I’ll fix them to her base, add the side ribbons, and proceed to put the extreme highlights on the entire mini. Last step will be putting on the chains.
So we’re back with another round, this time going over dry palettes. These come in all sorts of varieties, but basically you’re looking for a smooth flat surface to mix paint on. I like to use ceramic tiles like you can buy at any home improvement store for about $1. The sealed ceramic surface means you can scrape off dried paint easily, or soak it in hot water and just brush it off.
Lots of bonuses to using a dry palette. You can mix different paints to get just the color you want with ease, which is the main reason to use these. You also keep the bulk of your paint from drying out since you only have it open just long enough to get a little on the palette.
On the downside you do have some extra cleanup here. If you don’t get to it quickly you’ll have a dried up mess. You also have to keep an eye on the paint as you use it and either add a little medium / water to keep it from drying while you paint, or just work really quickly.
There is another common type of dry palette that uses color wells instead of a flat surface. This has the added benefit of making the mixing easier because the paint doesn’t get spread around in the process. The well also slows the paint’s tendency to dry out since it’s kept concentrated with less surface area. Of course, cleaning out a color well is a good bit more labor some then a flat palette.
For a lot of people, myself included, the up sides of mixing your colors for better shading effects makes it all worth it to go ahead and use these options over the painting right from the pot.