Introduction: Fantasy Altoids Tins!

About: My passions include art, natural sciences, collecting weird bugs, and reading. I am an amateur writer, and I enjoy coming up with stories and character designs. I love to draw, sew, needle felt, and try my han…

This Instructable is about how to make Altoids tins into a forest/ monster lair scene. The general idea that I started with was of a layered miniature scene that had a lot of depth inside of this tin, like a portal or a series of doorways, which evolved into a dragon's lair, which evolved into a general monster's lair in a crowded forest.There are so many different variations that you could do of this project, and I hope that you enjoy it! (Sorry about the image quality, I'm not the best photographer.)

So bear with me, as this is my first instructable, and let's get started!


- Altoids Tin

- Bookboard/chipboard(This is probably the best material, but you could also try cardboard or something like it)

- Glue( Hot glue and glue sticks will be the most handy.)

- Paint(Depending on what you make, the colors will vary, you'll definitely need black, gray, and something preferably metallic.)

- Moss

- Black Fabric/Paper

- Patterned Paper(I happen to just have a bunch of scrapbook paper lying around, but you could draw or paint your own paper, or try using fabric)

- Parchment Paper

- A bead that looks like a doorknb

-White clay(Not required)

- A cool forest-y poem that you can put on the other side of the tin

Step 1: Background+ Bookboard Tree Layers

Your first step is to take your piece of black fabric/paper, and make two slits in it which will be the monster's eyes in the back of the cave. Place the scrap over a piece of white(or yellow or green or whatever color you like.) and place on the very bottom of the tin. Next, trace the tin and cut out a hole in the shape of a cave(this will go over the black fabric but under everything else, cut out the trees in various layers: three small ones for behind the mouth of the cave, one medium one for the middle ground, and two for framing the front. Lastly, cut out the shape you will want for the mouth of the cave. I painted all of the trees black and the cave gray, but you could see how other colors look as well. Place everything in the tin and fiddle around to see how you want things to be, but you will have to take them out soon in order to put the moss in. To get a clearer idea of what I mean, check out the pictures.

(Also, I decided to cut holes for eyes when I was almost done with the project, so in these pictures you won't see them.)

For the three small trees in the first layer: I based their shape around the shape of the tin so that they would fit perfectly, but most of this is going to be covered up with other stuff so they don't have to.

For the middle tree: Just cut out a tree shape that's slightly shorter than the height of the tin. You can fix it depending on how much moss you put in.

For the two trees in the foreground: Draw them within a traced outline of the Altoids tin so that they fit more or less seamlessly. You will probably have to trim them a little, but it doesn't have to be perfect.

Step 2: Adding Details to the Cave

So you have the cave mouth cutout from the last step, yes? Okay! This part is hard to explain...

Trace the whole cave shape, and section off a piece for either side, like the purple-shaded sections in the picture. Cut them out, and trace them onto another part of the bookboard. Then section off those(like the green-shaded pieces), and keep going until you are satisfied with the amount of layers you have. All of the pieces, getting progressively smaller, all should fit on the whole cave shape. Paint them gray and glue in place.

Step 3: Putting in the Back Layer

Place down the background layer of reindeer moss. It should not be thick, just enough to cover the edges of the tin. Set down your three little trees, and put the completed cave on next. If you like the way it looks, feel free to glue everything into place.

Step 4: Adding in the Next Layers

Put a few pieces of moss in the bottom half of the tin, so that they overlap and are clearly in front of the cave. Place the middle tree down, preferably off-center so that the cave isn't covered up. Add in some more moss pieces, and see how it looks. Honestly, they stay in by themselves pretty much but you can glue them into place if you like.

Step 5: Foreground

If you are satisfied with everything so far, then you can go ahead and put in your last two trees. By now this should be at nearly the very top of the tin's space. If you want, you can tuck in a piece of moss on either side, in between the foreground trees and the cave, to make the forest denser. Glue everything in place.

Step 6: Trimmings: Act 1

Now lets move on to the extra stuff. I used the general idea found in this tutorial for the Trailing Sedum, however I did not use wire. I made four separate leaves, and glued them together at the base.

Step 7: Trimmings: Act 2-3

I made mushrooms by cutting them in regards to a certain block-y pattern on some paper, but you could definitely color them yourself, and I made vines by taking a thin strip of green paper and twisting it until I was satisfied with the consistency and texture.

Step 8: Putting the Trimmings in Place

I glued the frond-looking plant in the bottom left corner, and glued a little piece of moss over the base. I then tucked the little fungi in the roots of the right tree. To glue the vines, place a dot of glue at their tips and insert in whatever layer of forest you think they look best.

If you want to make bone shards from white clay, now would be the time. Glue in whatever layer seems right. (I used pieces of animal bone that I found long ago at a lake.)

Step 9: Misty Mist

For fun, I decided to put some fog made out of parchment paper to emphasize the spookiness of the forest. I drew in some swirly shapes on the paper, cut them out(an X-acto knife works best) and put them in using a glue stick.

Yay! You made a forest scene! The next steps are about decorating the outside, so if you want to leave it a plain Altoids tin, you are done! (If you want, you can scroll down to see about the poem, too.)

Step 10: For the Outside...

I found some excellent snake-scale pattern for the outside. To make it, I traced the bottom of the tin, cut it out, and glued it on. Then, I measured how wide the container's side was(without the lid), and cut as long a strip of paper as I could of that width. I then fixed it around the sides of the tin, using a glue stick. However, it is okay if it does not reach the side with the hinges. We will fix that in the next step.

Step 11: More Outer Stuff

For the hinged side, cut a shorter strip the same width as the first one. Mark the length of the two hinges with a pencil, and cut teeny-tiny slits on either ends of them so you can fold the paper down, and not cover the hinges. Glue in place.

Step 12: Making the Door

For a realistic door, trace the lid of the Altoids tin twice on a piece of book board. Cut them both out, BUT cut one(or both could also work) out with pointed edges, not rounded ones(I mean, you could have a door with rounded edges, but it might look a little funny).

Step 13: Making the Door: More Stuff

Set aside the rounded-edge door piece for now. Carefully cut out four symmetrical rectangles on the pointy-edged piece. With the smaller cut-out rectangles, trim them on all sides so that there's about 1/4 cm in between them and the rectangular holes when you put them inside(see pictures). When that is done, glue the pointy-edged rectangle on top of the rounded edge rectangle, and glue the smaller rectangles inside their holes.

Paint whatever color suits your fancy.

Step 14: Making the Doorknob

I made a doorknob plate using a tiny rectangular piece of book board, whose corners I inverted. I raised the keyhole(which I made by punching a hole with a pin)by making it out of a tiny scrap of paper plate. I painted it bronze(any color would do, really), glued a bead on for a knob, and voila!

Step 15: Poem Time!

I thought that the first stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem, Evangeline, was particularly suitable for the shadowbox, and it really is beautiful.

"THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,

Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,

Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,

Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.

Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean

Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest."

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I printed it out, colored the edges, and spattered it with brown and green watercolors, although you could use other methods of coloring it. I also crumpled it up to emphasize the weathered look.

Step 16: Hurrah!

We did it! I hope you enjoyed making this as much as I did! Please leave any thoughts or suggestions in the comments below.

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