I needed to keep this as cost effective as possible, so I selected a fairly inexpensive palette. The quality seems to be pretty good, but the palette, including the mixing tray does stain, which is not ideal for mixing transparent color. I may purchase a non-staining mixing tray in the future.
Thankfully, I still had many tubes of artist quality watercolors from about ten years ago when I dabbled in the medium for a few months. I did have to buy a few colors to round out my palette. Many watercolor artists use a more limited palette, but I love having a lot of colors to choose from. I'd actually like more than the thirty-three that this palette holds. I'm sure once I've used these colors a while I'll find ones that I'm missing and will create another palette of color.
I started by roughing the palette up a bit with a slightly abrasive cleaner. I used Soft Scrub. I read that this will help the paint stay-put in the wells and keep your paint from beading up when mixing it in the tray. I rinsed, and rinsed, and rinsed the palette to make sure all the cleaner was off - Soft Scrub laced paint - not good. Once the palette was dry I started filling the wells with paint. As I filled the wells I noted what color was in each well on a sheet of scrap paper.
With the paint dry, I created a color chart on watercolor paper to keep inside my palette, stored under the mixing tray. The colors are laid out on the chart the same as they are in my palette. I started by laying down three, thick, waterproof black lines with a brush marker. I then used a 1" flat brush to lay down a swatch of each color over the black lines. This shows the opacity of each color and how it will react when painted over a darker color.
Once dry, I lifted color from each swatch below the black line. To lift color, simply rewet the surface with clean water and blot with a clean rag or paper towel. This will show which colors stain. Most watercolorists use lifting regularly in their painting, and staining colors will not lift completely which is important to know when working on a painting.
I love my new palette!
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments. I'll leave you with the aftermath from building my palette. ;-)