10 Best Palette for Oil Painting: Top Choices for Artists

When selecting the best palette for oil painting, different types and materials play a significant role.

Glass palettes, for instance, are popular as they are non-porous, sturdy, and easy to clean, while wooden and plastic palettes come with their own set of properties that can make them viable alternatives for many artists.

I am also happy to use old ceramic tiles placed on a stool as a palette.

To get the most out of your oil painting experience, finding the right palette that suits your needs and style, whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional artist, is essential.

Key Callouts

  • Choosing the best palette for oil painting significantly impacts your oil painting experience and results.
  • Different types and materials, such as glass, traditional wooden palettes, and plastic or acrylic palettes, each offer unique benefits.
  • Palettes come in either flat or wells. This simply means some have a flat surface and wells means they have small wells that act as containers that hold liquid paints or mediums. Some palettes are flat with small wells around the edges.
  • Considering features like durability, size, and ease of cleaning, among others, helps in finding the perfect palette for your artistic vision.

The Best Palette for Oil Painting – 10 Listed

Below are the 10 best palette for oil painting (in alphabetical order) based on my own experience over the years and also from my discussions with my artist friends and also based on online feedback from forums and product reviews.

The best-rated palette for oil painting is the New Wave Glass palette.

All images and names are clickable if you’re interested in learning more about each item.

Art AlternativesMelaminehttps://amzn.to/44eOwxIWells
Guerrilla PainterAluminumguerilla paletteFlat
HolbeinAluminum (for watercolors but can be used with oils)https://amzn.to/3JFEkppFlat with wells
Jack Richeson (Stephen Quiller)Porcelainhttps://amzn.to/3NYOlQfFlat with wells
John PikePlasticJohn Pike paletteFlat with wells
Mijello Artelier AirtightAcrylichttps://amzn.to/43bcpF4Flat with wells
MEEDENPorcelainmeedenFlat with wells
New WaveGlass (Best Rated)https://amzn.to/3pA8RyhFlat
New WaveWoodenhttps://amzn.to/3psfQtfFlat
U.S. Art SupplyAcrylichttps://amzn.to/43bnwh8N/A
10 Best Palette for Oil Painting

Choosing the Right Palette

Picking the perfect palette for oil painting can be a fun process! There are many factors to consider, such as material, size, shape, and personal preference. The goal is to find the best fit for your needs and artistic style.

Material plays an essential role in selecting a palette. There are various options, such as wood palettes, paper palettes, plastic palettes, and acrylic palettes.

Each has its benefits and drawbacks. In general, wood palettes are durable and comfortable to hold, while paper palettes are disposable and easy to clean.

Acrylic palettes are lightweight and versatile, and plastic palettes are affordable and widely available.

Size and shape matter when choosing a palette too. Smaller palettes are portable and great for on-the-go artists, while larger palettes offer more working space for those who enjoy mixing colors in the studio.

Shapes like rectangular, oval, or even kidney-shaped palettes serve different purposes and preferences. Some artists prefer a handheld palette, while others would rather have a table-top option. It all comes down to your personal preference and what feels comfortable for your painting process.

There are some fantastic palette options on the market to explore. For example, the New Wave Glass Palette is a high-quality tempered glass palette suitable for studio work. It provides a smooth surface for mixing colors and is easy to clean.

Clear acrylic palettes and grey glass palettes are other options that offer a helpful background for color mixing and judgment. White acrylic palettes are bright and easy to clean, making them a popular choice.

Traditional wooden palettes are a classic option loved by many oil painters for their natural feel and durability. Pochade boxes are another favorite, as they combine a palette with an easel and storage for your paints.

For artists who want an organized workspace, the Palette Garage offers a nifty solution with compartments for storing brushes and paints. Stay-wet palettes are a bonus for those who want to avoid paint drying up between sessions.

In the end, the best palette for oil painting is the one that fits your needs and preferences. By considering factors like material, size, and shape, you will find a palette that enhances your creative process.

For years I used a ceramic tile and even the lids from ice cream containers. You do not need to spend a lot of money to have workable tools.

Palette Types and Materials

Traditional Wooden Palette

New wooden palettes offer a traditional choice for oil painters. They typically feature a thumbhole for comfortable holding, are lightweight, and can be easily cleaned with solvents after use.

Over time, these palettes develop a patina, which can help you see colors more accurately as you mix them. Wooden palettes come in various shapes and sizes, so choose one that works for your style and workspace.

Plastic Palettes

Plastic palettes provide an inexpensive and durable alternative to wooden ones.

They’re lightweight, easy to clean, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and well configurations. Some may even have thumbholes, similar to traditional wooden palettes.

One key benefit of plastic palettes is that they are less prone to warping and cracking compared to their wooden counterparts.

Paper Palettes

Oil painters seeking a disposable option might consider paper palettes.

These disposable sheets allow for easy cleanup—simply toss the paper and move to the next clean sheet.

Paper palettes often come with multiple sheets per pad, offering a fresh surface for each session.

This can make them a convenient choice for those who don’t want the mess and hassle of cleaning other palette types.

Glass Palette for Oil Painting

A glass palette for oil painting is a popular choice for artists who prefer a smooth, non-porous surface for mixing their oil paints.

Glass palettes are durable and easy to clean, requiring minimal effort and little to no solvents.

One of the main advantages is their ability to be a neutral color, such as gray or white, which helps the artist make better judgments when mixing colors.

Be careful when using a glass palette for oil painting though, make sure you use a high quality glass palette made of tempered glass otherwise, they can break, and the sharp edges can be hazardous.

Tempered glass is less likely to shatter and when it does it breaks into small harmless squares of glass instead of sharp shards.

Clear Acrylic Palette

Clear acrylic palettes are palettes made from transparent or translucent acrylic material. These palettes allow artists to see the true colors of their paints without any color distortion.

They are typically flat and smooth, providing a non-porous surface for mixing and blending oil paints. Clear acrylic palettes are popular among artists because they are easy to clean, durable, and provide a convenient way to observe the color values and mixtures accurately.

They are available in various sizes and shapes, ranging from handheld to larger studio palettes.

Oil Paint Palette Box (also known as a Pochade box)

An oil paint palette box, also known as a pochade box or plein air box, is a portable box designed specifically for oil painting on location.

An oil paint palette box serves as a compact and convenient setup for outdoor or on-the-go painting sessions.

Your usual oil paint palette box might consist of the following components:

  1. Palette: The lid of the box usually functions as the palette. It provides a flat surface for color mixing and often comes with a neutral color to provide a suitable background for assessing colors accurately.
  2. Storage Space: The main body of the box contains compartments or drawers for storing paint tubes, brushes, and other painting supplies. These storage areas help keep your materials organized and protected during transportation.
  3. Easel and Panel/Canvas Holder: Some palette boxes have an integrated easel or a mechanism for securely holding panels or canvases. This allows you to paint directly on the lid of the box or attach your support to the box for painting.
  4. Carrying Handle: A sturdy handle is typically attached to the box for easy transportation.

The advantages of using an oil paint palette box include:

  • Portability: Palette boxes are designed to be lightweight and portable, making them convenient for outdoor painting excursions or traveling to different painting locations.
  • Organization: With dedicated compartments for paint tubes and brushes, palette boxes help you stay organized and easily access your materials while painting on the go.
  • Protection: The box provides a protective case for your paints, brushes, and other supplies, shielding them from damage during transport.
  • Stability: Many palette boxes have features that allow them to be set up as a compact easel, providing stability for painting outdoors.

Palette boxes come in various sizes, configurations, and materials, such as wood or aluminum. Some models even offer additional features like adjustable easel heights, palette extensions, or removable palettes for easy cleaning.

Whether you are a plein air painter or prefer a portable setup for painting in different locations, an oil paint palette box can be a practical and efficient tool for your oil painting practice.

Oil Paint Palette with Lid

An oil paint palette with a lid refers to a palette specifically designed for oil painting that comes with a cover or lid. The lid serves the purpose of protecting the paint and keeping it fresh between painting sessions. It also helps prevent the oil paint from drying out and becoming unusable.

Oil paint palettes with lids typically have a flat mixing area for blending colors and individual wells or compartments for holding different paint colors. The lid fits securely over the palette, creating an airtight or semi-airtight seal to preserve the paint.

The main advantage of an oil paint palette with a lid is that it allows artists to work on their paintings over an extended period without the need to clean and replace the paint each time. It helps keep the paint workable and prevents waste. The lid also helps to protect the palette and its contents from dust, debris, and potential spills.

Oil paint palettes with lids come in various materials such as plastic, wood, or metal. Some may have additional features like a mixing area with a non-stick surface or a removable tray for easy cleaning.

Overall, an oil paint palette with a lid is a convenient tool for oil painters who want to preserve and reuse their paint between sessions, allowing for more flexibility and efficiency in their painting process.

You shouldn’t leave oil paint on palette

Yes, you can leave oil paint on a palette between painting sessions but try not to leave it for too long. Oil paint has a slow drying time compared to other types of paint, such as acrylic or watercolor.

This allows artists to work with the same paint for extended periods without it drying out on the palette. You can add more medium or linseed oil to extend the drying time but this will affect the quality of the paint.

So if you want to preserve the oil paint on the palette for a little while longer (by a few days), you can cover it with a lid, plastic wrap, or a palette sealant.

These methods help create a barrier to minimize air exposure, which slows down the drying process. Ensuring airtight or semi-airtight coverage is essential to prevent the paint from drying too quickly and becoming unusable.

It’s also important to note that even with proper protection, leaving oil paint on a palette for an extended period of time may eventually dry out or form a skin on the surface.

The length of time it takes for oil paint to dry on a palette can vary depending on factors such as the thickness of the paint, the brand, and the ambient temperature and humidity.

To prevent the paint from drying out completely, I recommend you should periodically check and mist the palette with oil or medium to keep the paint workable but as I mentioned earlier, don’t do this too much as it dilutes the paint.

It’s also good practice to regularly scrape off any dried or hardened paint from the palette surface before each painting session so that you minimize the risk of small flakes of dried paint appearing on your canvas.

By taking proper precautions and using techniques to slow down the drying process, you can leave oil paint on a palette for a few more days longer and continue working with it in subsequent painting sessions.

Oil painting palette setup

The best oil painting palette setup can vary depending on personal preference and painting style. I have put together some key considerations and suggestions for an effective oil painting palette setup:

Palette Material: Choose a palette material that suits your needs. Popular options include glass, wood, acrylic, or disposable paper palettes. Glass and acrylic palettes are easiest to clean and provide a smooth surface for color mixing. Wooden palettes can be traditional and offer a warm surface, while disposable paper palettes offer convenience and easy cleanup.

Size and Shape: Select a palette size and shape that accommodates your painting needs. Consider the size of your brushes, the number of colors you typically use, and the available workspace. A larger palette allows for more room to mix colors, while a smaller palette may be more portable.

Layout: Organize your paint colors in a logical and systematic manner. You can arrange them by color groups, value ranges, or any other system that helps you easily locate and access the colors you need. Placing white paint in a separate area can be helpful, as it is often used frequently in oil painting.

Mixing Area: Dedicate a spacious area on your palette for color mixing. This area should be large enough to allow for easy blending and mixing of colors without them getting contaminated. Having a separate space for lighter and darker mixtures can be useful.

Palette Knife: Keep a palette knife handy for mixing colors, scraping the palette surface, and applying paint to the canvas. Palette knives with a flexible blade and a pointed tip are versatile tools for manipulating the paint.

Palette Cover or Lid: Consider using a palette with a lid or cover to protect your paint between painting sessions. This helps prevent the paint from drying out and allows you to work with the same paint for extended periods.

Remember, the best oil painting palette setup is ultimately the one that suits your working style, preferences, and painting techniques. I always say that experimenting with different setups and adapting them to your specific needs will help you find the most efficient and enjoyable palette arrangement. So you will need to go through a few variations and adapt. Not only that, as you mature so will your oil painting palette setup.

You Can Use a Palette Made for Oil Paint with Acrylic Paint

Yes, you can use a palette made for oil and acrylic paint. Both oil and acrylic paints can be mixed and blended on most types of palettes (just not together!), including those made specifically for oil painting. 

However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Cleanliness – Acrylic paint dries quickly, so it’s important to clean the palette promptly after each painting session to prevent the paint from drying and becoming difficult to remove. Acrylic paint can be easily cleaned with water, whereas oil paint requires solvents like mineral spirits or turpentine.
  2. Staining – Acrylic paint can stain some types of palettes, especially if left to dry for an extended period. While oil paints are more forgiving in this regard, acrylic paint may leave a permanent stain on certain palette materials. It’s advisable to use a palette that is resistant to staining, such as glass or certain types of plastic.
  3. Palette Surface – Acrylic paint tends to adhere well to most palette surfaces but can dry quickly on porous surfaces like wood or cardboard. To prevent this, you can use a palette with a non-porous surface, such as glass, or plastic, or a palette with a special coating designed for easy paint removal.
  4. Compatibility – Some palettes may be marketed specifically for either oil or acrylic paint due to slight differences in their handling characteristics. While these differences are generally minor, it’s always a good idea to check the product description or consult the manufacturer to ensure that the palette you choose is suitable for oil and acrylic paint.

Features to Consider

Size and Shape

The right palette size for you depends on the space and convenience you need for mixing colors. Some artists prefer larger palettes to have ample mixing area, while others lean towards smaller, more manageable sizes.

There’s no right answer; it’s all about your preference. Along with size, shape matters too. Rectangular, circular, and oval options are available, so choose the one that feels most comfortable for your artistic endeavors.

Surface Texture

A palette’s surface should be smooth, allowing for easy color blending and avoiding unwanted texture in your painting.

Make sure the palette has a non-stick, glossy surface for effortless mixing and cleaning. Never forget that a clean, efficient palette is necessary for your oil painting journey.


Palettes come in different colors, often white, gray, or transparent. A neutral color, like white or gray, makes it easier to judge the colors on your palette and in your painting. While transparent palettes can be helpful while working on a light background, remember that neutral palettes are vital for a more accurate color representation.

Thumb Hole and Grip

Many palettes have a thumb hole, offering an improved grip and balance while you paint. This feature can be especially beneficial for plein air painters who need extra stability during their outdoor sessions.

Some artists opt for a handheld palette to have more freedom, while others prefer palettes with a handle to ensure a secure grip. It’s worth trying out multiple options to find the best fit for you.

Adapt your palette choice to the unique needs of oil painting, considering size, shape, surface texture, color, and grip. By doing so, you’re setting yourself up for artistic success, making your creative process enjoyable and efficient.

Maintaining Your Palette

Taking care of your palette is vital for making your oil painting process smooth and enjoyable. Developing habits to maintain the palette will ensure its longevity and help your paintings look their best. Here are some friendly tips on keeping your palette in top shape.

Cleaning Leftover Paint

At the end of a painting session, remove any leftover paint from your palette. Wet or dry paint can be scraped off with a palette knife or a razor blade. Fresh paint can be easily wiped away with a paper towel or a lint-free cloth. Be gentle while removing dry or dried paint to avoid damaging the palette.

Prepping for the Next Day

If you plan to continue painting the next day and want to keep your paint wet, consider placing your palette in an airtight container or wrapping it with plastic wrap. This way, your left-over paints will remain fresh when you start your new session, and it will save you from wasting paint.

Regular Maintenance

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your palette are necessary, especially for wooden palettes. Apply a thin layer of linseed oil with a lint-free cloth to keep the wood from absorbing paint and to prevent paint stains. This will help you clean the palette more easily and keep it in good condition.

Remember, investing some time in maintaining your palette will make your painting process enjoyable. The effort you put into caring for your palette will be reflected in the beautiful artwork you create.

Palette Knives and Accessories

A palette knife is a necessary tool for oil painters. These handy utensils help you mix colors, spread paint, and create unique textures on the canvas. palette knives come in different shapes and sizes, allowing for various techniques and effects.

When selecting a palette knife, remember that a straight one with a rounded tip is ideal for mixing paints. On the other hand, a pointed, slightly bent knife works well when applying paint directly onto the canvas.

Some popular options include the CONDA Palette Knife Painting Stainless Steel Spatula and the Blick Painting Knives, Starter Set. Both sets offer flexibility and durability, making them great choices for artists.

For a cleaner workspace, always have some paper towels nearby. Using them to wipe excess paint off your palette knife between strokes will prevent muddy colors in your artwork. Paper towels are also great for cleaning brushes or absorbing accidental spills.

Remember to be careful when handling palette knives. Keep them clean and sharp, but also treat them with caution to prevent any accidents. Using the right tools and techniques, you’ll soon master the art of oil painting with palette knives. Enjoy exploring new textures and effects in your artwork!

Paint Selection

Primary Colors

Selecting the right oil paint colors begins with the primary colors. These are essential for your palette and you’ll use them to create other colors through mixing. The primary colors include:

  • Cadmium Yellow: A bright and bold yellow shade
  • Ultramarine Blue: A deep and rich blue tone
  • Alizarin Crimson: A strong and vivid red hue

Keep these oil paints in your collection as they are the foundation for creating various shades and hues.

Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are made by mixing primary colors. To achieve secondary shades on your oil painting palette, you can use:

  • Lemon Yellow: Mix Cadmium Yellow with a touch of Ultramarine Blue
  • Cerulean Blue: Combine Ultramarine Blue with a small amount of Alizarin Crimson
  • Indian Yellow: Blend Cadmium Yellow and Alizarin Crimson to create this warm orange shade

By incorporating these secondary colors, your palette will offer a wider range of shades to choose from.

Skin Tones

Capturing realistic skin tones in oil painting is key to creating lifelike portraits. Here are a few colors and mixing tips for achieving skin tones:

  • Yellow Ochre: A soft yellow hue that can be mixed with other colors to develop a variety of tones
  • Burnt Sienna: A reddish-brown color; mix with Yellow Ochre for warmth
  • Raw Umber: A versatile neutral brown shade that works well for darker skin tones

For lighter skin tones, combine Lemon Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue, while adding White to adjust the hue. Keep Ivory Black on hand to darken colors if necessary. Remember to experiment and adjust your mixes to suit the specific skin tones you aim to capture.

Incorporating these oil paint colors into your palette will help you create compelling and visually appealing oil paintings.

Mixing Techniques

Understanding color mixing techniques enhances your oil painting skills. Let’s dive into some fundamental principles that help you create beautiful artworks.

Start with the color wheel. A color wheel displays primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. Primary colors consist of red, yellow, and blue. Mixing two primary colors produces secondary colors: green, orange, and purple. Mixing a primary color with a secondary color results in tertiary colors. Expanding your knowledge about the color wheel helps you predict the outcomes of your color mixtures.

Familiarize yourself with cool and warm colors. Cool colors include hues like blue, green, and purple, while warm colors encompass red, orange, and yellow. Using cool colors can create a sense of depth, while warm colors tend to pop from the canvas. It’s vital to strike a balance and utilize cool and warm colors to build dynamic compositions.

When preparing for a painting session, arrange colors on your palette. Place different colors in a logical order, for example, in the order of the color wheel or according to the value. Creating an organized palette allows you to mix various colors quickly and more accurately.

Mix your colors on the palette using a palette knife. This technique prevents colors from becoming muddy and maintains each color’s brightness. Plus, a palette knife allows you to control the color mixtures more efficiently.

Here are some tips for successful color mixing in oil painting:

  • Familiarize yourself with color schemes
  • Understand the color wheel relationships
  • Be cautious of color mixtures that could lead to muddy hues
  • Experiment with various shades and tones
  • Practice color mixing regularly

Plein Air and Studio Setups

En plein air, or painting outdoors, requires a different approach compared to a studio setup. With plein air painting, you need a simpler, lighter, and more compact setup. Next time you plan to paint outdoors, consider using a pochade box. These boxes are designed to hold all your painting essentials in a compact and portable fashion. Let’s look at some of the necessary components for successful plein air and studio setups!

When selecting colors for plein air painting, minimize the weight and space needed for your outdoor palette. Unlike in a studio, where you may have a vast array of colors, opt for a limited palette featuring a few key colors. This will keep your plein air setup portable and efficient.

Pochade boxes are a game-changer for plein air painting. They typically come with a clear glass palette, a side tray, and cinches or carabiners to secure the box to a tripod.

A camera tripod is often used to hold the pochade box, providing stabilization and versatility for a variety of painting locations.

Brushes are another vital component for both plein air and studio setups. A variety of brush types, such as flats and filberts, can make a big difference in your work. While you can have a larger collection in your studio, it’s a good idea to keep a smaller, curated set of brushes for plein air sessions.

For your studio setup, consider investing in a high-quality easel and palette with ample mixing space. These will allow you to tackle larger projects with ease and precision.

In summary, both plein air and studio setups have their unique requirements:

  • Plein air setup: Limited palette, pochade box, camera tripod, and smaller brush selection.
  • Studio setup: More comprehensive palette, quality easel, and larger brush collection.

Remember, the key to successful plein air and studio painting lies in a thoughtful, organized, and adaptable setup that suits your personal artistic preferences.

Tips for Students and Professionals

Art students and professional artists alike can benefit from selecting the right palette for oil painting. A great option for both groups is to choose a palette made from a suitable material, such as glass or wooden.

Picking the right palette is a necessary step for an enjoyable painting experience.

Consider the benefits of different materials for artist’s palettes. Glass palettes are smooth, durable, and easy to clean.

Be careful to place them on a secure surface and store properly to avoid breaking. On the other hand, wooden palettes feel comfortable in your hand and have a traditional aesthetic. However, cleaning wooden palettes takes more effort than glass ones.

Size and shape are also vital when choosing an oil painting palette. A larger palette might be a good idea if you work with many colors or larger brushes. On the contrary, a smaller palette will be convenient if you need a lightweight, portable option.

Art students should practice with different types of palettes to discover their preferences. This exploration is key to understanding which material, size, or shape works best for them. Professional artists might have more specific needs, so seeking authoritative and relevant advice from experienced painters is beneficial.

Both art students and professional artists should stay open to trying new palettes. As you grow in your artistic journey, your palette preferences might change. Experimenting with new palettes can lead to the discovery of better options that suit your evolving style.

By following these friendly suggestions, you can find the perfect palette for your oil painting projects and enjoy a rewarding creative experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of palette is recommended for beginners?

For beginners, a plastic or acrylic palette is a good choice. They’re affordable, lightweight, and easy to clean. Experimenting with various palette shapes and sizes will help you find what works best for your painting style.

Which palettes work well on canvas?

There isn’t a specific palette designed for canvas use. However, choosing a palette that feels comfortable in your hand and provides ample mixing surface is key. Some artists prefer wooden palettes, while others opt for glass or plastic. Try different materials to find out what suits your technique and preferences.

Are wooden palettes suitable for oil paints?

Yes, wooden palettes are suitable for oil paints. They have been used by artists for centuries and provide a sturdy surface for mixing colors. Remember to clean them regularly and prevent the build-up of dried paint to maintain a smooth working surface.

How does a glass palette compare for oil painting?

Glass palettes offer several advantages for oil painting. They are easy to clean, non-porous, and often have a neutral color that doesn’t impact color mixing. Glass palettes can be heavy, though, so make sure it’s a comfortable weight for you.

Are Glass Palette’s fragile?

Good quality glass palette’s will use what is called tempered glass. Tempered glass is a type of safety glass that is treated with heat or chemicals to increase its strength and resistance to breakage. It undergoes a process of rapid heating and cooling, which creates internal stress and makes it stronger than regular glass.

The use of tempered glass for artist palettes offers several benefits. It is more durable and less likely to break or shatter compared to regular glass. In the event that tempered glass does break, it fractures into small, relatively harmless pieces instead of sharp shards, reducing the risk of injury. This makes it a safer option for artists to use in their studios.

Tempered glass palettes are often preferred by artists because they provide a smooth, non-porous surface that is easy to clean and maintain. Additionally, the transparency of tempered glass allows for accurate color mixing and evaluation.

It’s also worth noting that not all glass palettes are made of tempered glass so buyer beware. Some may use regular glass, which is more prone to breakage and can result in sharp shards when broken. If you are specifically looking for a tempered glass palette, it is recommended to check the product description or consult with the manufacturer to ensure that the palette you choose is made from tempered glass.

Can you use a palette knife with oil paints?

A palette knife is an excellent tool for mixing and applying oil paints. It allows for precise color blending and expressive application of paint on the canvas. So yes, you can use a palette knife with oil paints for a variety of effects.

Are there any DIY oil paint palette options?

Creating a DIY oil paint palette is simple. Common household items, such as a ceramic tile, a sheet of glass, or a plastic container lid, can serve as makeshift palettes. Be sure those items are clean, have no sharp edges, and provide enough mixing surface for your needs.

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