20090417

Friday Quick Tip: Easy Clean Up

Here's a really quick tip for this Friday; one that will help you clean up faster and gain more time for painting. I love the cheap, white plastic palettes that are available in different sizes and configurations from just about every hobby store around. Being white they provide good color representation, have plenty of places to store mixed colors for blending, cost next to nothing and have a nice center space I use either for bits during model assembly or paint garbage like clumps from old paint or basing rocks that were brushed off.

The one thing I don't love about them is cleaning up. Normally I'd spend a few minutes at the sink, with the palette under running water peeling the little colors off, or scraping them with my thumbnail. With Earth Day next Wednesday, I was inspired to find a way to clean it that didn't use a bunch of water running down the drain.

The solution is gloss medium. When I built my Black Templar army, I purchased a bottle of Liquitex Gloss Medium
for the wet mud "look". After basing about 60 models and painting a whole display board I've got more than three-quarters left of the 8 ounce bottle. I'm never going to use this much gloss, but it turns out the medium is an excellent and easy way to remove paint from those white plastic palettes.

Once all the paint is dry on the palette, just glob on a thick coat of medium and let it dry completely. (Sometimes really dirty palettes require two coats.) Once dry, it is easy to grab an edge and peel the medium off and, when you do, the existing paint on the palette is magically removed.



After a little peeling, you'll have a big glob of acrylic paint and a palette that looks brand new!



I usually use a clean cloth to wipe off any flecks I've missed and it is good to go. This doesn't work well if you have a lot of dried gouache on your palette and white glue will also be a problem, but if you have kids you might even be able to get them to do all the dirty work. My 4 year-old loves to help by peeling the paint all off; maybe I should show him how to paint on the gloss medium on and save myself some time.

What tips do you have for clean up or other those other non-hobby tasks that just need to be done to keep the painting machine running smoothly?

18 comments:

  1. Brilliant! I use a wet palette for regular paint, but I do use one of those "well" palettes for mixed washes and what-not. Great tip!

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  2. I've got a different version of the palette you use, but still dread the clean up. This is a great tip. Thanks!

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  3. Nice tip. I use a white palette myself. Normally I'll clean it using a non-scratch Scotch-Brite pad and HOT water. I find that hot water works better, but the non-scratch pad isn't so non-scratch and after awhile the palette needs replaced because of staining - paint will stay in the small scratches.

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  4. I use the same method you do, except I use plain old White Glue. I slop it on thick and spread it around with an easily washable finger. Then the next morning I just peel it off like a sunburn. Mind you, I've only started using the pallets like you show in the last week or so. My old pallet may be made from a different kind of plastic.

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  5. :D I use white glue for wood called "Vikol" Im wondering if that method could work for removing paint from old miniatures lol :P

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  6. Akozz,

    I'd not try that. The glue would harden within some detailed parts and never come out! On a marine Shoulder Pad you might get away with it... maybe.

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  7. Hmmm maybe You are right but tkis kind of glue im using is really easy to come off when it's dry. I think it's very poor quality lol :P

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  8. Akozz, that is an interesting idea to try with gloss medium. Unlike wood glue it remains pretty soft and flexible when dry so it might just be a perfect way to strip old paint.

    Or would be even more amazing would be to pull off the acrylic paint and leave the original primer behind. I can dream, right? :)

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  9. Oni, that's another reason to go with the gloss medium technique-- I have an old palette that I've scrubbed to death and the scratches really hold onto paint. Time to make that old one a terrain piece or something.

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  10. This is pure genius! Thank you so much, you've saved my pallets and my sanity!

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  11. I use the same palettes, but clean them using Simple Green and paper towels. Spray them, let them sit for a bit, then wipe them out under hot water.

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  12. Hey dude, just found your blog, nice stuff! I am going to add you to my blog roll. Jawaballs

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  13. I have to agree. I've been using this technique with plain old white craft glue (never tried it with Elmer's, but the PVA stuff I've had for literally years now has always worked great). I just squeeze a few ounces into the large middle well, splash a few drops of water to thin it a bit, then grab an old tank brush and cover the entire surface. The next day it peels up and I'm left with a bright shiny white pallette.

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  14. Nice easy way to clean a palette but I wouldn't tout it as a way to save water - production of that medium will have consumed gallons of water, energy & transport costs!

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  15. There is actually a type of white plastic palette that is coated so the paint will peel off without introducing another medium. They cost about 4 dollars US as opposed to 69 cents like the ones we're talking about here, but I find it well worth it.

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  16. I used a tone of paint stripper once now i use a sculpting tool.

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  17. i find if i roll a ball of blue tac around the pallete it all peels off rather quickly

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