When I made my first DIY wet palette years ago, it changed my life. Today, miniature hobbyists don’t have to rely on jury-rigged versions like I did. There are so many great wet palettes out there.
A bit too many, in fact.
How do you choose a wet palette that suits your painting habits and miniatures? What even makes for a good wet palette.
I’ll tell you. In this article, I’ll go through the best wet palettes for miniature painting that can help you get gorgeous results.
Table of Contents
- Best Wet Palettes for Painting Miniatures in 2023
- 1. Masterson Sta-Wet (Best Choice)
- 2. The Army Painter Hydropack Bundle (Best Value)
- 3. Redgrass Games Studio XL Lite (Premium Choice)
- 4. Game Envy Exemplar (Best Portability)
- 5. Redgrass Games Painter Lite (Best Small Wet Palette)
- 6. Soho Urban Artist Stay Wet Palette (Best for Naturally Thin Paints)
- 7. Frisk Keep-Wet Palette (Best Large Wet Palette)
- What is a Wet Palette?
- Why Use a Wet Palette?
- How to Use a Wet Palette for Miniature Painting?
- How Do You Mix Colors for Miniature Painting?
- How Do You Wet Blend Miniature Paints?
- What Can You Use as an Alternative Wet Palette
- Considerations When Buying a Wet Palette
- Which Palette is Best for Your Paints?
Best Wet Palettes for Painting Miniatures in 2023
1. Masterson Sta-Wet (Best Choice)
2. The Army Painter Hydropack Bundle (Best Value)
3. Redgrass Games Studio XL Lite (Premium Choice)
4. Game Envy Exemplar (Best Portability)
5. Redgrass Games Painter Lite (Best Small Wet Palette)
6. Soho Urban Artist Stay Wet Palette (Best for Naturally Thin Paints)
7. Frisk Keep-Wet Palette (Best Large Wet Palette)
Sometimes, you don’t want to spend ages pondering your every purchase. If you want a good wet palette that reliably keeps your paints wet and doesn’t break the bank, buy the Masterson Sta-Wet.
Although the manufacturer forgot the “Y” from the product label, the Sta-Wet palette does what it promises — it stays wet. The lid is tight, the sponges are absorbent, and the paper lets water seep through effectively but not too quickly.
Your paints stay nice and runny for days on end. This palette just works.
At 8 x 7 inches, the Sta-Wet is decently sized. It’s not as big as the Redgrass Studio XL Lite, but it has plenty of room for blending multiple paints at once.
The tight lid also makes this palette a good choice if you like weathering your miniatures with oil paints. Take out the sponge and palette paper, stick in an oil paper, and close the lid. The tight construction slows down the drying time noticeably, although you’ll have to buy oil paper separately.
I said the palette paper lets water through well, but it unfortunately works the other way around too. I’ve noticed the palette paper lets acrylics soak through into the sponge. Considering that the Masterson-branded replacements are a bit pricey, I’d say just buy Raynolds parchment from the grocery store and use that instead.
Overall, though, I can recommend the Sta-Wet, particularly for beginners.
The Army Painter paints divide opinions, but I’ve never heard anyone badmouth their wet palette. This bundle is a great value package that will keep you painting for a long time.
On top of the excellent Army Painter wet palette, you get 100 palette paper sheets (or Hydro sheets if you want to be brand loyal) and four sponges. They’ll last for a good year or so even if you’re a hyperactive painter.
Another benefit to Army Painter products is that they’re everywhere. Once you finally run out of the sheets or sponges, you can find replacements at virtually any hobby store (although they’re a bit pricier than need be).
The palette itself is on the small side, but the sheets work really well. They saturate well and keep the paints wet for a long time.
I once forgot mine sitting around for a week and the paint was still usable.
I also have to mention the palette’s material. I don’t know what it is about it but it just feels good to handle. It’s also treated with an anti-mold agent, which I assume works because my palette has never gotten moldy.
The lid isn’t the tightest, though, and I could see it allowing the palette to dry quickly. The sheets are also very thin. That’s great for keeping your paints wet, but they do rip easily.
In terms of value, I’m handing the grand prize to the Army Painter wet palette bundle.
Painting miniatures on commission can be a dream job, but it needs professional tools. The Studio XL Lite wet palette from Redgrass Games is just what a professional miniature painter needs.
In fact, a lot of pros actually use this palette. Several Golden Demon winners have the Studio XL Lite in their tool box.
I’m not exactly sure why this palette is called “Lite” because there’s nothing light about it — the thing weighs half a pound. But that heft gets you a big, 8 x 12-inch palette surface.
You can keep and mix an entire Warhammer 40,000 army’s worth of paint on the palette at once. Say goodbye to constantly having to get more paint and concentrate on the painting.
Redgrass has dubbed its moisture system the Everlasting wet palette and that’s not an empty boast. The thick sponges hold a lot of water and the rubber-sealed lid keeps your paint wet for ages — though keep an eye out for mold.
With the palette, you get 50 palette sheets, which will last you for several months at a hobbyist level. Once you need them, the replacement sheets are pretty pricey, but I’d say they’re worth it. Redgrass makes some of the smoothest sheets I’ve seen, and they work even with heavy gouache paints if you’re more of a traditional artist.
As to downsides… Well, the palette costs a lot. But it’s worth it.
The Studio XL Lite is the best wet palette for professional miniature painters.
Want a handy miniature hobbyist’s toolbox that lets you take everything you need with you — bar the models themselves? Let me introduce you to the Game Envy Exemplar wet palette.
This palette’s lid includes a compartment that fits a pair of side cutters, an Xacto knife, green stuff, and several brushes. The Exemplar takes your miniature hobby wherever you go.
If you like listening to music while you paint (I sure do), the lid functions as a phone stand so you can play your favorite tunes. You also get a regular dry palette in the box.
The lid closes securely with clips to keep your paint moist for days. Just squeeze what paint you need on the palette and hit the road.
The wet palette itself is nice and big. Not quite Studio XL Lite level, but it still has plenty of room.
You get two sponges and 50 sheets of palette paper with the Exemplar. Yet, those sheets are my biggest problem with this wet palette.
The paper is thin and allows water through very well. However, it’s so thin that it starts curling as soon as some water evaporates from the sponge.
You have to keep the sponge super wet to prevent curling, but that risks mold growth. There’s a vent in the lid that lets excess moisture escape, but I would look into using different paper.
If you want a compact and portable modeling toolbox, though, I can’t think of a better option than the Game Envy Exemplar.
Maybe the Redgrass Studio XL Lite caught your attention but you don’t want to blow quite that much money on a wet palette. Good news — the Painter Lite brings you the same quality in a more affordable package.
I can heap all the same praise I gave Studio XL Lite onto the Painter Lite. Its hydration sheets and foam work excellently and the rubber-sealed lid keep paint moist for ages. The sponges have an anti-mold treatment on them, so you shouldn’t see fungus growing on your palette.
Being roughly the same size as the Army Painter palette, the Painter Lite is on the smaller side. However, it pulls a surprise ace out of its sleeve.
The detachable lid functions as a separate wet palette.
That’s right, you’re essentially getting two palettes when you buy the Painter Lite. That goes a long way to justify the admittedly pretty high price.
Sadly, I’ve found it impossible to close the lid if you have a palette sheet and paint on both halves. No matter what, the top sheet will fall off and smudge the paints together.
As with the Studio XL Lite, Redgrass’ replacement sheets are also pricey and can be difficult to find. That puts a damper on the double palette’s functionality. You don’t want to throw such expensive sheets after just one painting session.
Despite this design oversight, Redgrass Painter Lite is an excellent choice for those who need a professional-grade small wet palette.
Let me be clear — this is not a wet palette. Instead, Soho Urban Artist has created a stay-wet palette.
So what’s the difference?
This palette doesn’t use a sponge and paper like a wet palette. It’s a regular dry palette with one crucial difference.
The lid forms a completely airtight seal to keep paints moist even without added water.
I know what you’re thinking — that can’t work. Yet, it does. The lid is so tight that it doesn’t allow moisture to evaporate, maintaining your paints like a genuine wet palette.
That makes this palette a great option if you prefer naturally thin acrylic paints (like Reaper, for example) that might get too runny on a wet palette. You can take a break from painting knowing your paints will be usable when you come back to your models.
If you want to extend your paints’ lifespan even more, here’s a neat trick. Wet a small piece of kitchen sponge and leave it in the palette for extra moisture.
The hard plastic palette also makes it easy to clean off dried acrylic paint. All it takes is a bit of scraping, or you may even be able to just peel the paint off.
The Soho palette doesn’t last forever, though. The lid’s seal wears down over time and eventually your paints start drying.
Fortunately, the palette isn’t too expensive. Soho Urban Artist Stay Wet palette is a good choice for maintaining paints that can’t withstand a normal wet palette.
Once you learn to blend paints on a wet palette, you’ll want to do it for all the colors, all the models, all the time. Frisk Keep-Wet palette gives you the space to blend colors to your heart’s content.
At 13.5-by-8.3 inches, this is the biggest wet palette on my list. It’s only slightly larger than the Redgrass Studio XL Lite, but every inch counts once you start loading your palette full of colors.
With the extra space, this wet palette is excellent for intricate paint jobs that require a lot of custom colors. It works great for Warhammer and D&D miniatures, of course, but it particularly shines when painting larger miniatures — such as scale model tanks or 1:14-scale busts.
These kinds of models require plenty of detail. With this palette’s large surface, you can blend your paints to the precisely right tone.
Oh, and at this price, this palette is a steal.
I have to warn you about a couple of caveats, though. First, the palette is made of cheap-feeling, flimsy plastic. Make sure not to drop it, since it will shatter easily.
Second, you only get 12 palette paper sheets and 3 thick blotting papers that Frisk uses instead of sponges. That’s not much, and branded replacements can be almost impossible to find.
You can replace both papers with a regular sponge and kitchen parchment. Just be aware of what you’re getting into.
If you happen to have a hobby shop near you that sells Frisk’s replacements, though, this is an excellent big palette for blending all the paints you need.
What is a Wet Palette?
A wet palette is a paint palette that uses a sponge and parchment-like palette paper to keep paint wet and usable for a long time.
Wet palettes work on a simple principle. The sponge retains water that slowly seeps through the palette paper resting on top of it. The paint absorbs water from the paper, which prevents it from drying out.
There are many options for buying wet palettes (as you can see on my list) but you can also make a nice wet palette at home. I’ll teach you how to make a DIY wet palette later, so keep reading!
Why Use a Wet Palette?
There are three reasons to use a wet palette — maintaining your paints, thinning paint naturally, and making blending paints easier.
The wet palette slowly introduces moisture into your paints, which compensates for water that naturally evaporates from paints. As a result, the paints will last for a longer time and you can extend your miniature painting sessions. If your wet palette has a lid with a tight seal, you can even take a break from painting for a couple of days and return to paints that are as good as new.
The extra water thins your paints slightly, which can reduce or completely eliminate the need to separately thin your paints. That can make miniature painting less of a hassle (which I personally appreciate). Just make sure your palette doesn’t thin your paints too much, or they will become too runny.
Blending paints on a wet palette isn’t any easier or harder than on a dry palette, but wet palettes keep your paint blend usable for a long time. Trust me, few things are more frustrating than achieving a perfect color and it drying out five minutes later. If you love blending your paints as much as I do, you need a wet palette.
How to Use a Wet Palette for Miniature Painting?
Using wet palettes might seem complicated to beginners, but it’s really simple. Just follow these steps and you’ll be painting models in no time:
- Soak the sponge or blotting paper with water.
- Squeeze out excess water until the sponge is wet but not dripping.
- Put the sponge in the palette tray.
- Place a sheet of palette or parchment paper on top of the sponge (if the sheet curls, the sponge is too dry and you should add water).
- Squeeze paint on top of the palette paper and paint as you would with a dry palette.
- Close the lid once you’re done painting to keep your paints wet.
How Do You Mix Colors for Miniature Painting?
To mix colors for painting miniatures, start by adding two different paints on your mixing tray or wet palette. Leave some space between the blobs of paint — that’s where you’ll do the mixing.
Thin the paints appropriately, and then draw a little bit of the first color towards the space between the paints. Next, take some of the second paint and pull it to the center so that it touches the first color.
You can now start stirring the two streaks of color together with your brush until they form a uniform, blended color. If the tone isn’t quite right, add some more of one of the colors until you have the results you want.
You can then clean your brush, grab some of the mixed paint, and brush it onto your miniature. A wet palette is a handy platform for mixing since it helps your blended color stay fresh. You won’t have to keep doing new batches and risk unwelcome color variation!
How Do You Wet Blend Miniature Paints?
Wet blending is an advanced miniature painting technique that involves mixing colors on the miniature itself while the paints are still wet. There’s a learning curve, but once you master wet blending, you can create amazingly smooth color transitions and gradients.
Here’s how the basic process works:
- Add two (or more) paints to your palette and thin them.
- Wet your brush and draw some paint into it.
- Paint a streak of color onto your miniature.
- Quickly clean our brush with fresh water and draw some of the second paint into it.
- Paint another color streak next to the still-wet paint and carefully start blending their edges together to form a stripe of a third, mixed color.
You can make the transition even smoother by mixing the two paints together on your palette and adding additional streaks of paint around the edges. Just make sure the paints don’t dry completely on the miniature, and you can keep working until you have a perfect transition from one color to the next.
I suggest practicing this technique on a flat surface before moving on to a miniature. A wet palette is a great tool for this since it keeps the paint wet and allows you to effortlessly build your blending skills.
What Can You Use as an Alternative Wet Palette
You can easily make alternative wet palettes if you want to see how it works before buying a commercially produced one. Here’s how to make your own wet palette alternative at home.
DIY Wet Palette
To make a basic DIY wet palette, you will need:
- A shallow plastic tub (preferably with a lid)
- A piece of sponge or a wad of paper towels
- Parchment paper (the type used for cooking)
Get the sponge wet and squeeze out excess water. Place it in the plastic tub and place a suitably-sized piece of parchment on top of it with the smoothest side facing upwards. And there you have it — your very own wet palette!
Note that kitchen parchment is thicker than most palette papers. If it keeps curling or doesn’t seem to be soaking up moisture, you can dip it in water before putting it on the sponge. The extra hydration helps the already-wet paper start drawing water from the sponge.
3D Printed Wet Palette
You can also 3D print a tray for a DIY wet palette. The process to make one is the same — you’ll just replace the plastic tub with your 3D printed one.
You must choose the right kind of filament to ensure your wet palette is waterproof, though. The best material for waterproof 3D prints, like wet palettes, is polypropylene (PP). It can be difficult to 3D print, though, so PETG and ABS are good alternatives.
PLA can work too, but I recommend sealing it with epoxy resin after printing to ensure it doesn’t absorb water. Also, remember to never drink out of your 3D printed tray — plastic filaments aren’t generally food-safe.
Considerations When Buying a Wet Palette
My list includes quite a few wet palettes. How can you pick the one that suits your painting style the best?
Here’s my breakdown of the most important things to consider when choosing a wet palette.
Match your wet palette’s size to the size and number of miniatures you paint.
Go for a larger palette if you like to paint many models at a time, paint big miniatures, or like to blend a lot of paints. On the other hand, if you rely on pre-mixed model paints to paint a few models for D&D, a smaller wet palette is enough and will save you a bit of money.
Always look for wet palettes with the tightest possible lid. I recommend picking palettes with a rubber seal around the edges.
A loose lid will allow water to evaporate quickly, which shortens your paints’ lifespan. An airtight lid — like that on Game Envy and Soho Urban Artist palettes — will keep your paints alive for days or even weeks.
Pick a wet palette made of durable, waterproof plastic. Even the smallest gap will allow water to seep through, which will not only dry out your palette and paints but could also cause water damage.
A flimsy palette made of cheap materials can crack and leak easily. Wet palettes made of strong, high-grade plastic, like Redgrass Games, are the best options.
Try to find a wet palette that has a tray and sponges treated with anti-bacterial and mold-resistant chemicals. Any moist, tightly closed space can grow moldy and your wet palette is no exception.
Mold will ruin your paints, palette paper, and sponge, and may even permanently stain the tray itself. Mold-treated palettes, like Army Painter and Redgrass Games, can keep your trays mold-free for a long time, although you still have to wash them regularly.
Here’s another tip from an experienced painter — don’t use tap water in your wet palette. Tap water can contain bacteria and contaminants that encourage mold growth. Instead, I recommend using distilled water in wet palettes.
Decide how much you’re willing to spend before you start looking through wet palettes. I can’t tell you how much you should spend — it depends entirely on your needs. When you know your budget beforehand, you can easily narrow down your search to wet palettes you can afford.
Which Palette is Best for Your Paints?
Dry palettes are perfectly good for painting miniatures and you can still get amazing results. But trust me — once you get your first good wet palette, you won’t go back. They help you save so much paint by keeping them fresh until your next session when you’re done painting for the day.
I realize I listed a lot of wet palettes. To help you pick the right one, here are my top recommendations: