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How to Fill Your Empty Watercolor Palette

Preparation: Begin by gathering all the materials you'll need. This includes your watercolor paint tubes, an empty watercolor palette (tin, plastic or ceramic), and if using a set with removeable pans, you will need half or full pans, depending on the size of your palette and personal preference.

  1. Setting Up Your Pans (if you are using a set that comes with removable pans): The pans are small containers that will hold your watercolor paint. If your tin doesn't come with these, you can purchase them separately. They usually clip into the tin's tracks, allowing for easy arrangement and rearrangement. Clip your pans into the tin.

  2. Filling Your Pans: Fill the pans with your favorite watercolor paints. Gently squeeze your watercolor tube and let the paint flow into each pan. Try to fill only about three-quarters of each pan; this leaves room for the paint to expand as it dries and prevents it from overflowing.

  3. Drying Your Paints: Once all your pans are filled, it's time to let the paint dry. This step is crucial for watercolor paint as it needs to harden before use. Leave the palette open and let it dry for at least 24-48 hours, or until the paints are completely hard to the touch.

  4. Creating a Color Chart: While waiting for the paint to dry, create a color chart. This step is optional but highly recommended. It allows you to see at a glance how each color looks when dry, and you can keep it for reference as you paint. You can do this by painting a small swatch of each color on a piece of watercolor paper, writing the name of each color below its corresponding swatch.

  5. Using Your Palette: After your paints are thoroughly dry, your palette is ready to use! Simply wet your paints with clean water to activate. You can also mix colors on any mixing space your palette might provide.

  6. Cleaning and Storing: After each painting session, you can wipe out any mixed colors from the lid or mixing space, or save it to use next time. Close the lid if one is provided to protect the paints from dust. When traveling, ensure the tin is securely closed to prevent any accidental opening.

Empty Palette Tins Require You To Purchase Pans (or Half Pans) Separately.

These are Empty Watercolor Palette Tins, you can see the metal tracks that will hold your pans inside the tin. Depending on the brand, they may or may not come with pans. In the case they do not, you can buy empty or prefilled pans or half pans separately.

These are empty pans you can purchase. You will fill them with paint from your tubes, then insert into te tracks of your tin. These are great for swapping out and rearranging your colors.

You can also purchase pre-filled pans, there are many brands and colors and you can mix and match because all pans and half pans sizing are universal, they will fit any brand palettes.


Options for Palettes That Do Not Require Pans:

Lightweight, durable plastic, great for travel. Features 20 small color wells, five large mixing areas, three holes for holding brushes, and a thumbhole. It measures 8" × 8" when open and 8" × 4" when closed.

Super cute and great for small projects, 4 3/4" in diameter and 3/4" tall, the size is ideal for providing ample space for color mixing without taking up too much space on your work table.

Blick's Covered Palette is made of heavy-duty, white plastic, and has a large area in the center for mixing. Dimensions are 12" × 15". Great for traveling to class or using outdoors.

Made of porcelain, heavy, breakable, so not so great for travel, but great for at home work. 17 wells plus 2 large mixing areas. 13 x 10 x 2"


The beauty of an empty watercolor palette is that it's fully customizable to suit your personal preferences. Don't be afraid to experiment with different paint arrangements until you find what works best for you.

Happy painting!


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