Author: jecarlisle13

Born in Fayetteville, NC – November 1971 I moved to the Metro-Atlanta area in 2010 and am currently living in Cumming, GA with my wonderful fiancee, Roxanne. I make my living doing technical support. I enjoy Role Playing Games, reading (mostly fantasy and science-fiction, but I try not to limit my choices). I also occasionally enjoy games such as Diablo III and I used to play World of Warcraft. I use blogging as a method of expression, but it’s mostly because I find the process of writing to be cathartic and relaxing; I make no claims to being a “real” writer.

Wet Paint

The preferred type of paint when painting miniatures is water based acrylic paint. It thins easily with water and it dries quickly. That last bit can, however, be troublesome at times. The paint can dry out on the palette prematurely. To that end I’ve been experimenting lately with using a wet palette. As the name implies, a wet palette is a moistened palette designed to keep the paint from drying out. It also tends to help with thinning the paints.

There are several wet palettes on the market for purchase as well as instructions for creating DIY varieties. I’ve used both. Which do I like best? Frankly my experience thus far has been six of one, half-dozen of the other. But there are some advantages and disadvantages to both.

The biggest advantage of the DIY version of course is cost. All you need is a sponge or paper towels, a suitable plastic container, and baking parchment, all of which can easily be obtained from a dollar store if you don’t already have them in your kitchen. So, the cost can range from $0 to around $3. The disadvantage (in my opinion) is that the shallowest container I could find still had a fairly high side compared to a store-bought wet palette which I found more difficult to deal with. Another issue I had with the DIY version is that the parchment tended to curl up on the edges no matter how much water I tried to keep in the sponge. The DIY version also tends to need constant re-adding of water regardless of using a sponge or paper towel; I even tried using both in conjunction.

The store-bought wet palette I selected is called Sta-Wet® by Masterson Art Products. It comes with a plastic container, cellulose sponge, and special permeable paper. The principle is the same; put the special paper on top of the wet sponge inside the plastic container. So, why pay upwards of $20* when you can make one for $0-3? For starters, the size of the container provides more area to work with. True you could probably use a larger container on the DIY version, but the larger containers are also going to have higher sides. The cellulose sponge also seems to be a big advantage; it just seems to hold the moisture better and its thinness seems to help with this, as odd as that sounds. The special paper on the other hand isn’t all that special in my opinion. For one, you must prepare it by soaking it in scalding hot water for up to fifteen minutes before placing it in the palette. However, it does not curl up like the baking parchment. Using baking parchment, though, had the same edge curling issues when using it with the DIY palette.

The verdict for me is that I prefer the container and sponge for the Sta-Wet® but to use baking parchment instead of the special paper. While the special paper doesn’t curl like the parchment it also tends to soak up the paint instead of actually keeping it moist on the surface. The parchment works better for keeping the paint wet, but the curling is annoying. The way to overcome that though is to cut the parchment about a quarter of an inch shorter on the edges than the size of the sponge. This allows the water in the cellulose sponge to keep the parchment wet enough to not curl up. Note though that you may have to add water as needed especially during a longer painting session where the lid is off. I’ve also started adding a little water before lidding it at the end of a paint session. I also have found that keeping the sponge wet rather than just moist works best. I don’t ring out the sponge, I just turn the palette up and let the extra water pour off to start with but typically add more later if needed.

The parchment will roll up the first time you put it down on the sponge. Simply flip it over and keep forcing the air bubbles out until it lays flat. It doesn’t hurt to cut several sheets together ahead of time and keep them pressed inside a heavy book, like say, the D&D Monster Manual *wink*. For the Sta-Wet® I cut mine to around 6″ by 7″/7.5″ and that seems to do the trick. Just be mindful of that edge when putting you paints on the palette as it can be hard to see when the palette is wet as the parchment becomes nearly transparent. As mentioned before, I also keep the sponge more wet than the instructions suggest.

I should also note that with the special paper that comes with the Sta-Wet® tending to absorb paint, especially inks, is that it left stains on the cellulose sponge. Thankfully those came out with a simple rinse.

For me, switching to a wet palette has helped a lot with my endeavors at miniature painting in a couple of ways. First, I don’t always have time to paint as much as I would like to and so I can close my palette and come back to it even a few days later and my paints are still useable versus a standard plastic palette where they will have dried up within hours if not sooner. This not only saves time but money as good model paints like Vallejo Model Color® can be expensive at roughly $3.50 per 17ml. The second benefit is that it is best to thin your acrylic paints and I have always been hard headed about this, wanting to do one coat. The wet palette forces me to do multiple thin coats as just having the paints on a wet palette naturally helps thin them out. Even the cheap 50¢ per 2oz craft paints such as Apple Barrel® and Craftsmart®, et.,al. benefit from being put on wet palette instead of a plastic one.

Whether your choice of palette is wet or dry, have fun! That’s the most important part of any hobby after all.

~ JC

*The Sta-Wet® costs around $13.44 on and $16.99 at Michael’s at the time this was written. Privateer Press Formula P3 wet palette goes for $19.99 on their website. I had considered this one as its special paper seemed more like the baking parchment and doesn’t need to be soaked in hot water first plus it’s not on a roll so perhaps wouldn’t curl so much, but I could never find it in stock anywhere even online including their own store. I also had a 40% off coupon for Michael’s at the time.


Primed for Painting

To say that I started painting miniatures eight or so years ago when I moved to Atlanta and started accompanying my, at that time, roommate to the game store and got sucked into the world of tabletop wargaming probably wouldn’t be entirely true. I actually painted miniatures way back in the 1980s when I first started playing Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games. Back in those days the minis were made of lead (yes, lead – the stuff everyone is afraid of getting poised by in their water supply now). I also did not know any better about types of paint or thinning them or layers and coats so I naturally just pulled out my Testors enamels that I used on my scale model cars. These days I know better and use acrylic paints and thin them properly and know about using thin coats instead of globing things on. I also know how important it is to first make sure the model has a coat of primer first, so the paint will actually adhere.

A decent primer coat is important enough, in fact, that one company has taken it upon themselves to pre-prime their minis before packaging and therefore market them as ready to paint right out of the box! I don’t agree that they are though. While I appreciate the detailed sculpts of the Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder miniatures from WizKids, I disagree with their choice to have already applied primer to them. I understand why they do it; they want to appeal to the novice painter and having them “Paint Ready Out-Of-The-Box!” would certainly appeal to someone just getting started in the hobby. However, there are things to consider before one starts picking colors and pulling out the brushes.

Any mass produced miniatures are undoubtedly going to have been made using injection molding which means a mold is made then the resin or plastic or whatever material that’s being used is injected into the mold in liquid form and allowed to cure and harden before the finished model is removed from the mold. This leads to there being burrs and mold-lines that need to be removed. Let’s be honest, the manufacturer might do some of that but I’ve never bought a miniature that I didn’t have to get out my hobby knife as well files and sandpaper to clean up those rough places. On these pre-primed minis that means you are going to scrape off some of the primer. For the most part, it’s not that much but I recently had one that a lot of the primer came off in one spot.

Notice the section right under her arm on what would be her rib cage. See how much of the primer came off there? What might cause this, you ask? Well, most likely what happened was that the release agent in mold wasn’t fully washed off of the model, then the primer was sprayed on too thick instead of in nice even thing coats. The result it, well, this – a big old chunk of primer getting pulled off while I was trying to scrape of what was a rather small mold line. If I tried to paint or even re-prime over that it would have been very noticeable in the finished product.

So the solution? Soak her in a plastic container full of Simple Green for a couple of days then scrub all (or as much as possible) of the primer off with a toothbrush and hobby knife. Was it a pain in the ass? Yes. Is it going to be worth the extra effort to make sure this mini looks good once I paint it? Also, Yes.

I do feel the need to comment on the primer itself. On one of my Facebook groups where the members share their endeavors at painting minis, several folks had negative things to say about the primer used, which is Vallejo’s Surface Primer. I’d like to say in that regard that that is the same primer I use myself. I don’t think the peeling problem is the fault of the brand of primer but rather the fact that these are all mass produced on an assembly line where it’s very possible to have issues like this and occasionally quality control might miss one that’s been over-primed. After I got all the primer off my Barmaid mini and the rest of the mold lines scraped off, I re-primed here with the very same brand, and color, of primer she came pre-primed with. The paint adheres to it just fine now.

While this is honestly the first WizKids model I’ve ever had do this to me, I have no implemented a self-imposed step of doing this to all of their pre-primed miniatures. It’s an extra step and very adds more un-fun to what was already the un-fun part of the hobby, but it helps insure that the end result doesn’t look like crap. To make sure I kind of have a good rhythm going with the pile of minis I currently have on the “to-be-painted’ shelf I figure I’ll just soak a few at a time; let them soak a few days; then when I’m at a point on a current mini (or minis) where I’m waiting for a something to dry or I’m contemplating color choice I can scrub the ones that have soaked. Eventually I figure I’ll have all the ones I currently own stripped well before I’ll be ready to paint them (especially since I also have another shelf of to-be-painted Reaper Bones which don’t have to be stripped first because they don’t come pre-primed).

Happy Painting!


Where Have I Been?

Wow! I didn’t realize it’s been three years since I had written a blog. I guess trying to continue previous “series” such as “Adventures in Home Ownership” would be pointless this far removed, but frankly that is probably, largely a causal factor in my lengthy absence from WordPress.

So, let’s see. What’s transpired from January 2016 until now? I’ve defiantly had further adventures in home ownership including breaking a toilet tank, having to have the cable company rewire the house due to signal loss, ladybug infestations, an abundance of birds and squirrels making our back deck home due to putting out feeders and having to chase away the neighbor’s cats because of it. I’ve lost a job due to corporate downsizing and been unemployed for four months before finding a new one just before the severance pay ran out. I joined and left a D&D group, then started my own using an online application called Roll20. I’ve started working nights. I started painting miniatures again for the first time in several years as well as started making table top scenery to use with them. I’ve made new friends and probably even lost some. I even became an uncle for the second time.

Some of the above will likely end up becoming blog topics since I’d very much like to start writing again. As for the name of the blog, I think I’ll keep it as is. I really don’t see spinning off a “v3”. Hell, I never even finished linking all the v1 titles in the V1 Archive list so I’m not about to have to do that with v2 as well. 😛

Until then, Happy 2019!


Looking Ahead To 2016

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions, and I’m certainly not about to start now. Last year, I wrote about certain goals such as quitting smoking (which I’ve accomplished) and losing weight (which I’m still working on). I bought a house in 2015, so there’s lots to do with upkeep and projects I’d like to undertake to make improvements. My career is bit weird right now – on the one hand I was just given another promotion and moved from being hourly to salaried with a raise coming sometime within the next month or so, but on the other hand the product I support is being discontinued which could mean either having to start looking or could be an opportunity to train in something different soon.

I can’t say what 2016 will hold, but if it is even half as successful as 2015 was, it’ll be a good year.

~ JC