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Saturday, 8 August 2015

Cleaning painting palettes

Acrylic paints are extremely popular, and for good reason - they have good adhesion properties, good coverage, sensible price points, low odour and toxicity, are water soluble and so on. Of course, when you're painting minis you frequently use small quantities of paint for specific tasks, then move on etc. If you're using a plastic palette, this means you often end up with this;

This is actually one of the cleaner examples of one of my palettes! Now some acrylics will obligingly come up in a single piece if you pull at them, others flake and crack, some others need real work. If you've little pieces anywhere, they will always find their way into your next lot of paint and you end up with flakes of different colours adhered to your models in a wash or something, usually in the worst place possible!

So to avoid this, I use a method I discovered by accident, which in retrospect is obvious - PVA glue.

Simply pour normal white PVA glue into one of your palette cups

Then spread liberally all over your palette tray. Don't be afraid to add more glue if you need to,

You should end up with something like this. Now all you need to do is find somewhere safe to put the palette and leave it until the glue dries. Overnight is usually fine, though if you've got a lot in the cups it can take 24h or so.

When it's dry, it will look something like this - it's not that easy to see here, since PVA dries clear, but you should be able to see the matt finish. At this stage you can repeat the glue application, which will result in a better and easier paint removal - the surface of the PVA grabs the new application and leads to a better, more even film.

Anyway, now all you need to do is peel the PVA glue off - the paint adheres to the PVA, and the PVA is flexible enough to pick up the paint and not flake off etc. Here you can see the PVA lifted up on the edge, pulling the paint with it.

Here its coming off across the palette...

First pass - don't necessarily expect one single sheet of glue/paint - this is easier when you've done a secondary application. Above you can see where isolated cells haven't pulled off, but you go back and pull these out separately - they come off in the same way.

And voila! One almost-new paint palette ready for further abuse! I hope this very simple trick helps you to keep your tools in good shape and continue to paint better models.

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