Thursday, July 11, 2013

Quick Tips: Making a Paint Palette

This is a new series I'll be running on my blog that I'm calling Quick Tips. If you've read any of my previous tutorials they are usually pretty long and involved and often span multiple posts. Quick Tips are mini tutorials or short pieces of advice for the wargaming hobby.

Today I'm going to talk about paint palettes and how to make your own that isn't only easy to clean, but will last you a long time and cost you only $5.

How many of you have palettes that look like this?

While plastic palettes are cheap and you can paint over the dried paint, getting them cleaned is a major pain. Not only that, the palettes are really small and you can easily use up all your space in a single session of painting. Porcelain palettes work great, but they are really expensive and will cost you more than $75.

Today we're going to use a piece of glass to make a palette. Glass is cheap, easy to clean, and gives you a lot of surface areas to work on. Let's get started!

First, you'll need a piece of glass. Mine is 8"x10", but you can go bigger or smaller if you prefer. You can buy precut glass at a DIY store such as Lowes or Home Depot. You'll also need masking tape or duct tape (I use ScotchBlue Painters Tape). All you have to do is line the edges of the glass with the tape so you don't get cut and that's it! Our palette is done.

If you want to get really fancy, you can paint the bottom of the palette white. I'd recommend using house paint and a roller. You can also add bumpons to the bottom so the palette doesn't slide around on you while you are painting.

The desk I work on is white, so I didn't paint my palette. I wanted to use both sides of my paIette so I had twice the surface area, so I didn't use the bumpons either. I have a transparent rubber mat to protect my table, so I don't have issues with it sliding at all.

Cleaning the palette is a snap. All you need is a razor blade and the paint will scratch off easily.

Here's a before and after pic and clean up didn't take me more than 5 minutes. The rest will clean up with some glass cleaner and a paper towel.

After using a glass palette like this I would never switch back to a plastic one. I do keep a couple plastic palettes around as the glass palette doesn't travel as well, but that's one drawback I'm willing to live with.

If you have a Quick Tip, pass it along to me and I may feature it on my blog in the future.

Till next time,
–The Harrower


  1. Here's a quick tip: Easy, portable wet-palette. Child's pencil box ($5, the flatter the bottom, the better), Sham-wow ($1 each at CVS, paper towel works fine too), and a roll of parchment paper (baking section, $3 or so).

    Just cut a couple layers of the towel and one of parchment paper to the size of the pencil box, soak the sham-wow in the box, and layer the parchment on top. Keeps paint wet for days and days... great if you're a slow painter (like me) and want to keep all of your blends from one session to the next.

    Also great if you want your supplies to tuck away real neat. Cleanup is easy: throw away the parchment. I precut a number of pieces to size and keep them tucked on my desk.

    1. That's a great tip Mattias. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Cheap, white, ceramic plate. Non slip, white and to clean, just soak in hot water for 5 mins and it rubs off. Really liking this blog, especially these quick tips. Any tips on stripping acrylic paint off plastic and resin minis?

    1. Thanks Rich. Glad you are enjoying it. My friends use Simple Green, but I've never tried that on resin or plastic. On pewter it works great. I'll try a couple things and see what I come up with. Good tip on the ceramic plate. I've seen people use white ceramic bathroom tiles and they work really well too.

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