I was highly sceptical about wet palettes at first. It seemed like sort of a hassle and I was wondering if it would really improve anything?
People raved about their own wet palettes, so at some point, I had to test if the hype was real or not.
I decided to make a very cheap DIY basic wet palette to try it out (so not the best wet palette in the world). In this article, there is shown a way to make your own wet palette.
I was mind blown away by how such a small investment made painting smooth layers much easier.
I used my DIY wet palette solution for years, but have finally shifted to a premium solution that I feel gives enough quality to warrant the price tag.
In this article, I will go through the benefits of a wet palette, how to make your own and which one of the available premium solutions I think is the best wet palette out there for miniature painting.
The TL;DR version: the Everlasting Wet Palette blows the competition out of the water
After having sworn myself to a DIY wet palette solution for many years, finally there is a solution that I think improves on enough aspects to be worth my money.
The Everlasting Wet Palette from Red Grass Games is such a joy to use. It does exactly what it needs to do, without getting in the way.
So for me, the Everlasting Wet Palette is the best wet palette on the market right now for painting miniatures.
The paper is good and lets through just the right amount of water. The normal version gives enough retail space for most painters, but if you want more space a bigger one is also available.
It has some features that I did not even know I wanted.
In short, I just love using the wet palette from Redgrass Games.
I try to only use tools that I really love using, because I know it will make my hobby time much more enjoyable in the long run
Below I go more in-depth on why I think this is the best wet palette right now.
Full disclosure: Redgrass Games send me a copy of both versions of their wet palette for review.
I thanked them for it, even though I had already bought the normal wet palette for private use years ago.
The opinion I have on their product is my own and I would recommend it regardless of the review copy they send me.
What to look for in a good wet palette for painting miniatures?
Before I go into more detail on why I think the Redgrass wet palette is the best wet palette you can get, let us look at what makes a wet palette useful and what features you should be looking for
1. It keeps your paint moist (but not wet)
A wet palette is simple really. You have a small container with some sort of sponge at the bottom. You make that sponge wet and on top of the sponge you put some sort of paper on it. You put the paint onto that paper.
The paper should transport some amount of water to the paint, making it easier to thin your paint to the right consistency.
So all the wet palette really does is letting some water through a piece of paper and that helps your paint be moist and at the right consistency while you work with it and through the whole painting session.
This is simple, but it can be a BIG game changer for new painters. The most common mistake among new painters is big sloppy coats of paint. A wet palette will definitely help alleviate that problem.
Ever experienced that the paint on your palette starts to dry out while using it? So in the start everything goes great, but then it starts to clump up?
A wet palette can help avoid this problem, making sure you paint with the right consistency throughout your working process.
Now it is very important that the wet palette lets the right amount of water through the paper.
Too much and your paint will run all over the place.
Too little and it does not really do anything.
2. Mixing paint
When it comes to highlighting it is probable that you need to mix several different paints together.
For that, a wet palette is absolutely crucial.
Not only will it help keep it moist (which is an even bigger concern when it comes to edge highlights) but it will also help you keep the same consistency throughout all of your highlights.
Acrylic paint (normal miniature paint) are slightly transparent when you apply it in thin coats.
When you are highlighting, it is important that the colour change becomes as seamless as possible.
Because the wet palette helps with keeping your paints thin, it will become easier to do good highlights that “blend” into the other colours.
This will only become more important if you want to go all-in and learn how to wet blend your miniatures.
3. Be able to make the paint on the palette usable in your next painting session
I prefer to work long paint sessions, but must of the time life does not allow that. If you work quick 5-10 min. sessions a wet palette can help you out by making sure the paint you put on your palette last session is also usable the next session.
If I paint a single miniature, and I know what colours I am using, I will start by putting all of those different colours onto the palette.
I know I have everything on hand and I can work away without stopping to get paint out of pots (this saves much more time than I expected).
If I need to stop my paint session I simply put the lid on the palette.
When I return, I simply need to add a bit of water (or some paint thinner) as the paint can go a bit “dry” on the top or it can begin to separate.
When working with citadel paint I have a tendency to get too much paint out on the wet palette.
My wet palette has saved me quite a lot of paint just be being able to re-use it between sessions.
My DIY solutions where never airtight enough, which meant my paint from last session was completely dry AND I had add water and maybe even get a new paper on it. All time wasted!
The small leftover black, beige and brown that can be salvaged from my last paint session. Note: the creases are because the water have been evaporating since my last session, but the sponge is still wet.
4. Big enough for your needs
Your palette should be big enough to hold the amount of paint you need for at least one session of painting.
The more you use a wet palette, the more space you will likely want on it.
I mainly use the version in the starter pack, as I find it can fit the amount of paint that I want while still not taking up the too much space on my paint station.
Too big it I will not have space for all those paints standing around!
The biggest problem I have faced with DIY wet palette solutions was mould. All wet palettes I have made slowly started to smell like old socks and at some point, they started giving a waft of dankness when I opened them.
This is usually avoided by not closing the lid all the way down. That way the water will slowly evaporate instead, avoiding the mould.
The problem with my DIY solutions: they either moulded real quick or went super dry from session to session (which sort of defeats the purpose of lasting between sessions).
Having a wet palette that is not a bio-hazard is a big plus.
6. Not to high
All the DIY solutions have been made out of some kind of container normally used to store food or something else.
I have found it hard to get one that was not too high. Just a tiny bit too high and it will start to annoy you when you paint (it feels unnatural to lift your hand up and try to get the paint onto the brush).
7. Easy and comfortable to use
If the wet palette are to provide you with any value, you have to use it. To use it, it needs to do what it needs to do without being a hindrance. This means:
- In a DIY version, it needs to be easy to get the paper to fit into the box
- Have a flat even surface so you avoid paint running into creases
- The wet palette should need minimum maintenance, so you can focus on the thing you really need to do (paint!)
- If you need to take it somewhere, you need to be able to do that without getting water all over the place
Different available wet palettes
You can either make your own or buy one of the wet palettes on the market.
Do it yourself wet palette solution
Making your own wet palette is really simple to do and you probably have the necessary stuff to do it right now.
You will need:
- A container (preferably with a lid)
- Some kind of sponge to hold the water in it
- Some kind of paper that will let the water through over time
The very good Miniac have made an awesome videos on the subject of DIY wet palettes here:
While the DIY solution can work really well, and I urge you to give it a shot if you have not tried one, it has some issues.
I found the following to be a problem:
- Getting some good paper was hard
- I never got to a point where I had a smooth bottom layer. This means creases on the paper which is kind of annoying
- Cutting out the paper was a hassle
- Mould was a BIG problem (but then again, I never really cleaned them that well…)
- My containers where always too high and never enough space on it
- They either dried out too quickly or not at all
Not big issues, but small things that made sure I never loved those DIY solutions. As time goes, I have found that having enough time for my hobby is the biggest concern.
Spending some money to make sure I have enough time is the right solution, and I was wasting time making something (badly) that I could buy (cheap, for good quality).
Premium wet palettes
This is a surprisingly thin market when it comes to palettes made specifically for miniature painting.
I have not tried the Army painter one, but it is not a company I trust very much (their product line is “cheap stuff” and their website is just awful to use).
It format looks a lot like the Everlasting one, but the lid does not seal completely it does not look like you can buy the papers separately. So that is a no for me.
I have had my hands on the Sta Wet Palette and it… works, I guess? It is certainly cheaper but I do not really feel it is that amazing.
The wet palette that best fit my criteria: the Everlasting Wet Palette
Redgrass games made quite a splash with their very successful Kickstarter of the Everlasting Wet Palette. I was not buying the hype at the time (been burned too many times by crappy Kickstarters).
By the time people got their hands on their everlasting wet palettes, I had started dabbling with my homemade solutions.
People were starting to rave about how good products it was and the quirkiness of my own solution had started to grate on me.
I had the pleasure of testing out at everlasting wet palette at a friends house and was sold immediately.
So, I plumbed down the price for the starter set (the small version) and have never looked back.
Why I just love my Everlasting Wet Palette
1. Everything just works!
The biggest problem with DIY solutions was that you could always improve this tiny thing or that and I needed to make time for maintaining it.
It was becoming a hassle! On my everlasting wet palette:
- The sponge fits perfectly in the container
- The lids fits exactly as it should
- I do not have to stand around trying to cut paper the right size
- I never need to worry if my particular parchment is the “best kind I can get”
You just plumb the thing on your desk and go to work. Need a new paper? You get dozens of custom-tailored pieces in the box (and can just order more when you are out).
Ease of use is big for me. And this thing is easy to use! Now I HATE to paint without it.
2. The right amount of water is seeping trough
The problem a wet palette needs to fix is to make it easier to make and keep your paint moist.
The everlasting wet palette does this perfectly. I feel the paper they are making is in a pretty good place right now. It is wet, but my paint is not sloshing about on it.
The sponge seems amazing. It holds water really good and light pressure will make the water seep through it. The whole thing is completely flat so you avoid those bugging creases.
In short, it does what it says on the tin!
3. The construction is just great
The Everlasting wet palette is just one of those tools where you get it in the hand and think “yes, this is exactly how I want it”.
- It is low enough to not get in the way, but high enough to hold the sponge, water and paper. It does not feel clunky, even with the lid on
- The lid closes in a nice clean way (airtight), but it is also possible to leave a small gap to let water come out (in case it will take a while before your next session). It can hold water for a very long time (I hated it when my DIY solutions dried out).
- Even when it has been WEEKS since my last paint session, I found that almost no odour comes from the palette. A light scrubbing with soap and you are good to go again.
- I find the XL version to be too big for my tastes, but there are probably people where it is very important for that much space.
4. It has some extra nifty features (and it will be improved over time)
This wet palette has been made to solve real hobbyist problems and it shows in the design.
I am not really a fan of dry palettes, but if that is your jam you can (magnetically) attach the dry palette that comes with the box.
The band and the lid sealing makes sure I can pack it in my bag without getting water all over the place.
I was looking around the sales pitch on the Redgrass Games website to figure out if I had missed some extra features.
Turns out I did not know you could use the lid as an impromptu secondary wet palette for a friend (the pack even comes with an extra sponge).
The lid of the everlasting wet palette can be used as an extra palette in a pinch.
It is clear that Redgrass Games are miles ahead of the competition on the Wet Palette market, but they are not stopping there. They have told me they are working on a new and improved version of the paper.
Ohh yeah, and if you are the kind of person why constantly spills your newly bought shades all over the carpet you should be excited about their upcoming feature:
— RedgrassGames (@RedgrassGames) February 26, 2020
My conclusion on the best Wet Palette
It is rare that I feel so confident that a specific hobby tool is the right purchase for almost any hobbyist (be it beginners or experienced painters). But in the case of a wet palette, I just feel like the competition to the everlasting wet palette is way behind.
The price is low and the improvement in your painting enjoyment is instant.
Unless you really know you are going to need that big real estate, I think the XL version is overkill. There is plenty of space on the starter pack version.
Tired of reading about the hype? Watch the excellent video about wet palettes by Squiadmar below.