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"Warspite painting tip No 2 - ceramic dinner plates" Topic

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Warspite123 Mar 2017 4:47 p.m. PST

Popping into my local Games Workshop branch from time-to-time I always notice the painting group beavering away at the back of the shop on fabulous 'heroic' 28mm stuff in great colours and producing fab finishes while struggling with a small plastic palette to mix and dilute their paints on. This thing is about the size of a postcard, white plastic and does not wash-off well, especially once it becomes scratched. It also needs to be cleaned regularly as its small size means it soon gets dirty. You run out of space.

My solution? White ceramic dinner plates from a supermarket or homeware shop.
1) a much larger area to work in, most are 9 or 10 inches across and give you a superb amount of space.
2) the ceramic is tough and almost impossible to stain – soak the plate in hot soapy water for an hour and the acrylic just falls off, while a quick scrub with a nylon pan brush or soft scourer, say the sort intended for non-stick pans, takes even enamel and oil-based paint off as well.
3) the pure white of the ceramic allows you to see the opacity of the paint and make sure it is not too diluted. I keep an open bottle of acrylic thinner next to it and add a spot to the paint on first mix and a little more later to retard drying and keep the paint fresh. Move the paint around on the ceramic and you can gauge the 'creaminess' or expected flow rate when doing awkward stuff like shafts of weapons, musket barrels and belts, cross belts and baldrics.
4) one dinner plate can normally last an entire day so there are fewer trips to the sink to wash off old paint and try to clean it.

Pure white is best (for gauging opacity) but any old coloured or floral plate would do at a push. I bought mine new from the Sainsbury's white dinner ware range a few years ago for about £1.00 GBP each and they are still giving me good service.

Forget the little plastic palette, invest in three white dinner plates – one in use, one ready for use and the old one soaking in warm water.


Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 5:29 p.m. PST

Lots to recommend here. Lack of space would be my objection. My paint table is crammed.

Maybe a saucer is a good compromise.

Warspite123 Mar 2017 5:42 p.m. PST

I agree and disagree with you in equal parts. Yes a dinner plate is large but that is (for me) also the joy of using one. It is a great big white palette with plenty of space to mix and clean brushes. I even stand some paint pots on the plate, especially the currently open one. If I knock it over, the spillage will remain on the plate.

My table working area is also relatively small but I shift other projects to a side table and concentrate on the white plate, my current project, an angle poise lamp and a castle tower. Yes… an old castle tower. This last is a spare and just the right height to put freshly painted figures on top of when I take a rest. I pull the angle poise lamp down so that the radiant heat from the bulb gently warms my metal figures and go off and make a cup of tea. I do NOT recommend this with plastic figures. The figures dry nicely under the lamp and that speeds the work.

On brush cleaning, I found before (just using water) that my brushes did not clean properly. Now I swish the brush in a water pot to remove the bulk, wipe that on my newspaper covering my worktop, dip into acrylic thinner and it is amazing how much pigment still drops out of the brush when it is worked on the plate. The clean white surface shows just how much pigment a pot wash did NOT shift, it shows clearly against the white. Gently tapping the brush on the plate allows the acrylic to get up into the ferrule and clear it. Another swish in water and then another wipe on the newspaper normally suffices. Bigger brushes get washed under a running tap with washing up liquid after a dose of the acrylic thinner.


Allen5723 Mar 2017 7:44 p.m. PST

I have done the same for years but use a white ceramic tile of the type put on the walls of a bathroom. I like the size. Think a dinner plate might take up too much room on my work table. Your point of being able to soak a plate is a great point. The tiles tend to be porous and I clean them up immediately after the days painting session. Good idea to pass on.

Nissei23 Mar 2017 8:10 p.m. PST

I've used a white ceramic tile that I bought from Home Depot for about $1.50 USD.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2017 1:14 a.m. PST

I've never had a problem with white plastic lids from yogurt containers, or other similar-sized plastic lids. Sometimes I have two or three in front of me at the same time.

If I wanted to go big, I would buy white paper plates and just throw them away.

dampfpanzerwagon Fezian24 Mar 2017 1:14 a.m. PST

Like Allen57, I prefer a white tile, I have two or three on my worktop.

I would also add that I know of a professional figure painter who used white plates that he has never washed – the acrylic paint is literally Cms deep!


jacksarge24 Mar 2017 2:44 a.m. PST

My preferences these days are for a wet palette in combination with a disposable paper palette. Used to use the ceramic plate, paint dried out too quick for my liking.

Warspite124 Mar 2017 5:15 a.m. PST

All good input and all reflecting diverse personal ways of working. If anyone is new to the hobby, and reading this, experiment with them and choose the one which works best for you.

Alternatively… you might come across a better way. If you know of one, tell us! :)


attilathepun4724 Mar 2017 11:11 a.m. PST

Like Oberlindes, I prefer using assorted plastic lids saved from various products, such as milk jugs, pill bottles, etc. After their original purpose is over, they can be run through an automatic dishwasher. Since they are essentially free, each one gets just one use in painting and are then discarded, saving any time wasted on clean-up. You can keep several in front of you on the work space at any given time.

Warspite124 Mar 2017 4:43 p.m. PST


That works too!

BTW I used to write newspaper headlines for a living and – at work – my nickname was 'Attila The Pun' :)


attilathepun4725 Mar 2017 12:03 p.m. PST


Here's a collegial salute from one Attila to another!

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 5:13 p.m. PST

@attilathepun47: I usually wipe them with a paper towel and throw that away, not the lid. When a lid has too much paint on it not to be useful, I do finally throw it away.

ced110627 Mar 2017 1:21 p.m. PST

Wet palette. Want a new surface? Toss out the used parchment paper. I do this for metallics, which, I've read, you should keep away from your other paints.

gpruitt31 Mar 2017 7:21 a.m. PST

I also use a white ceramic tile. But I wanted to comment on cleaning my brushes. After buying cheap brushes and throwing them away after they "hook over" I finally, finally bought some good quality kolinsky sable brushes and this brush soap:
I've had the same brushes for about a year now and they are still fantastic, hold a good point and have some "snap" to them. Best painting investment I've ever made.

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