Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Watercolor Basics: Assembling (Or Cleaning) Your Pan Palette

Last Sunday we covered selecting paints for your palettes, and the virtues of tube vs pan paints.  Now that you've got your paints, it's time to assemble your palette if it didn't arrive assembled!

So now that you've got your metal palette and your pans, its time to assemble everything.  Wait, you don't have your palette yet?  Why not try this one, it's the one I'm using.  And when it comes to pans and half pans, you have a few options there as well.  I buy both filled and empty pans- I like Winsor and Newton's watercolor pans best, and I fill my empty half pans with Daniel Smith, SoHo, Winsor Newton, and Holbein tube watercolors.  For often used colors, I recommend you go with a full pan.

Filling your own pans from your tube watercolors is easy, but it doesn't work for every tube or every brand.  Some watercolors will crack and flake out once they've been dried in a pan, others remain liquidy.  You'll have to test for yourself to find your favorites.  All I do is squeeze my tube into my half pan until the half pan is full, leave it out in front of a fan to dry out for a couple days, and then proceed with filling up my palette, which we're going to cover today!

You can also use this technique to top off pans that are running low before a big project.

So once all your pans are assembled and filled, you're ready to start.  The first thing you want to do is determine a color order that works best for you, your palette, and how you paint.  This takes some time and experience though, so go ahead and make a best guess and arrange as necessary.

Assembling and Disassembling your metal palette

Most metal watercolor palettes come in two main parts- the box of the palette, and the tray that holds your pans in place.  Most palettes will have a few mixing areas- this is handy if you engage in plein air painting, but not so useful for comics.

The materials you'll need to fill your palette are:

Your palette
Filled pans or half pans
Double stick tape or washi tape

Apply the tape of your choice to the bottom of your pan- if you're using double stick, you only need one piece, but if you're using washi tape, make sure to double it over so you have two sticky sides.

Bend the metal tongs outward, place pan in palette, push pan down so tape adheres, push tongs forward to hold pan securely in place.

Continue working your way through your colors

Once you have your set assembled, it's time to swatch!  Cut a sheet of watercolor paper to fit the inside of your palette.

Drop a drop of water into each pan to activate the pigments, and allow it time to soak in.

Swatch in the order that your paints are in, and this handy reference can stay in the lid of your palette, ready for you whenever you want to paint.

So what about your used half pans?  You can clean them out and refill them!  Scrape out the excess paint, and let them soak to remove additional paint.  Once they're clean, refill and begin the process anew!

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