Making a Wet Palette

A wet pallet is a model painter’s tool that preserves paint from drying out keeping it fresh during a long painting session or across multiple sessions.


If you are mixing washes, diluted with water or alcohol, you keep them fresh and ready to go by sealing the wash in small glass bottles available in most hobby shops.

But they are impractical for storage when mixing small bits of acrylic paints together.

Still given the low cost of acrylic hobby paint available from craft stores like Michael’s Crafts, I never thought much about a wet palette until I started mixing custom colors. Fortunately there are many colors available in the acrylic hobby paints used to paint trains and rolling stock. But occasionally to achieve a certain look it’s necessary to mix two or more paint colors into a custom color. Being able to use a custom mixed color during multiple sessions spanning days is a bit of trick. But it can be done.

wet-palette-2If I was mixing a unique color and my painting project was going to go long or be done in multiple sessions I’d have to count on being able to mix more paint and get the exact same color when the paint previously mixed dried out. To avoid having my paint dry out (single color or mixes) I tried keeping the paint moist by spraying it with a water mist. Not much success with that beyond an hour or so.

Clearly a wet palette was needed. Being cheap I set out to create a no-cost wet palette using whatever I could find around the house instead of buying one.

wet-palette-3First you need an air-tight container. A small Tupperware or Rubbermaid or similar type container was called for and I took, er, borrowed one from my wife’s kitchen.




Next, you want to cut a paper towel the size and shape of your container.





Place the paper towel in the bottom of the contain and wet it. Just drip some wet-water on it until the paper towel is completely wet but not so much as to as any water would pour out if you turn the container on its side. Cut a piece of wax paper the same size as the paper towel and place it in the container on top of the paper towel.


You add your paints on the wax paper. The water will actually permeate the wax paper and keep the paint moist and usable for quite a while. Add more water to the paper towel as necessary. I’ve kept paints usable in this manner for over a week.



You can mix custom colors and the paint will keep and remain useable across multiple work sessions.





Just make sure the paper towel is wet and snap the lid on. Your paint should remain usable for several days.

Let me know your painting tips. –TJ




(Originally posted 7/29/2011, revised 6/1/2012)

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One Response to Making a Wet Palette

  1. TrainMax says:

    Very clever

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