Movable Pallet Altoid Tin Watercolor Set




Introduction: Movable Pallet Altoid Tin Watercolor Set

There are many Altoids Tin Pocket Watercolor Paint sets out there in Instructibles Land... and for those, I think you all.  But I wanted something a little more adaptable and conformed to some artists' standards.  I am a big fan of 1/2-Pan watercolors by Winsor & Newton, VanGogh, and other paint companies.  I love my Winsor & Newton field set, but wanted something a little smaller.  W&N's pocket set is nice but a little too spartan.  So, after reading many of the Instructibles here, I set off to make an Altoid tin watercolor set based on artists's 1/2-Pans and with interchangeable parts.  On with the show...

Step 1: The Pans

First, I needed some 1/2-pans.  My local store did not carry empty ones.  You COULD do this project with filled 1/2-pans from your favorite manufacturer... I suggest Winsor & Newton's COTMAN line for the price verses quality... but other lines are good too.  All the following steps would be the same for factory filled pans (except for the "filling" stage... that would be... well... silly).

Step 2: The Tin

Of course you need a clean Tin.  Altoids is not common here in Taiwan... but my family sends me a few in the mail.  I have also used this project with metal pencil boxes.  Metal construction is the key to this particular project.

Step 3: The Magnets

You will also need some thin, self-adhesive craft magnets.  These can be had many places.  I found mine at the Dollar Store for about... let me find that receipt... oh!  It was a Dollar.

Step 4: The Sticky

Now we are going to glue these (with the self-adhesive on the magnet) to the bottoms of some 1/2-pans.  Press them on firmly.  You MAY need to cut the magnets to fit, as I did.  Normal craft scissors should do the trick.

Step 5: The Paint

Fill the pans with your choice of paint.  I wanted Winsor & Newton Artist's Grade... but my checkbook said Winsor & Newton's Cotman student's grade.  Still Cotman's student grade (as well as VanGogh and Rembrandt) is still a world above many company's artists' grade colors.  Your milage may vary. 

Step 6: The O.C.D.

I also label my pans for easy recharging later.

Step 7: The Lid

Paint that lid white with some enamel spray paint so you have a mixing pallet!

Step 8: The Fit

12 1/2-pans fit inside nicely... notice I also have two extra 1/2-pans for white and black (yes, yes, I know, REAL artists don't use black... I only eat it between paint strokes).  Don't crowd the pans too much, leave some finger room to pull them out later. Remember, the magnets make them movable and changeable and removable and delectable and and... sorry, I get excited.

Step 9: The Divider

Place a wax paper sheet or thin plastic over the paints.  This could be an extra pallet for mixing or just a barrier for your tools to rest on top.  This is especially true right after you have loaded the paints as they are STICKY... you know... let them DRY first over night before you do this... you see... I did this while they were wet and they got stuck to the paper.

Step 10: The Tools

Now you can add some tools to the top... there's room!  Cut down some brushes and a sponge and you are in business!

Step 11: The Comparison

Here is the Altoids tin next to my Winsor and Newton (no, I do not work for them... I just like them... OKAY?) Deluxe Field Kit.  The field kit is THE BEST... but sometimes I don't want to just throw it in a bag "just in case" I need it.  I want to take better care of it.  For those times I need to travel light and I am not sure I will paint... here comes the TIN! 

Step 12: The Big Brother

This process works for any metal pencil box.  Here is my homemade Studio Set of Cotman colors (all 40... well... all 37 I could buy locally... still waiting for the remaining 3 tubes in the mail... hence the empty pans in the large set).  With this set up, I can use all my studio colors... but when I want to travel... I can CHOOSE the colors I need for the day I will have, place them out of my Studio Set and into my Pocket Set.  I can move colors around... I can take them out, and place them on the lid-mixing-pallet to more readily access the triad of colors I am using.  Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oh my aching head!  The Studio set is itself a portable set, with room under the tray for more brushes and tools (it is a tray that sets in the tin just under the lid, like most two level metal pencil boxes).
The Haggard

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42 Discussions

When you fill the trays, do you use watercolor paint directly from the tube? I saw another tutorial where the person mixed the paint with water in the tray, then let it dry.

Does it make a mess if it is accidentally held upside down though?

1 reply

here I thought this was my original idea, but I'm glad it's out there for others to use. It works well. I used a bunch of free magnetic business cards and some glue instead of buying. FYI. Sources of empty pans. Daniel Smith no longer sells them. Amazon does. Plus the big mail order art suppliers such as Dick Blick. Enjoy

Love the magnets and changing colors. Love the big tin, too.

1 reply

As a watercolor artist, I love this idea, but I would never recommend COTMAN or any other "student" paint for cost/quality. There is no comparison and if you are going to take the time to do a painting you might as well give yourself every advantage you can. Use high quality stuff. Even if you do something you really love you will never know how nice it could have looked if you used quality materials. However, I'm a snob.

4 replies

ignore the negitive comments missy ignorence is abound lol

I work selling art works for a living so i totaly understand why you would pay for the best materials you can. Keep painting your way maybe il be selling your works somtime.

Cotman is just fine.Expensive watercolors won't magically improve your work. It's not about the brand you use, it's about either the skill you bring to it or the act of enjoying what you're doing. I personally know quite a few artists that use student grade paints (or even hobby paints) in their work. I use Cotman and I live off the work I produce with them.

Premium grade watercolors can have properties that make them difficult and frustrating for beginners or hobbyists; many expensive brands of tube paint have additives that mean they will never dry in pans, or they develop mold outside the tube.

And well... why would any self proclaimed snob even be interested in an inexpensive Altoids travel palette when you could be using a $50-100 collectors edition bijou box? Just sayin.

i agree and dissagree with your comment. I am an art gallery coordinator and Any "artist" selling there work will use the best quality materials possible. it creates longjevity for the life of the painting, and increases its value and resale value over time. If your a serious artist get better materials, no one wants a half faded watercolour on there walls making them feel cheated.

Mee too I like to use watercolours, expecially for sketching, as hobby and relax.
And I like Winsor&Newton Cotmans. BTW I use artists for fewer inspired projects.

It's true that if you can, you should use the best quality colors if you are an artist (aka you live with the artwork you produce, not hobby).

But it's more true what you wrote:
"it's about either the skill you bring to it or the act of enjoying what you're doing".
Enojoying to go outside in the park for sketching, just an excuse to enjoy.
Worth to live!

Here is a source for the empty pans. Great idea, thanks.

1 reply

Great idea, my only problem is that I have never seen the pans sold separately in any art supply store that I have been in. Even downtown Chicago stores. I even looked online. Any suggestions?

4 replies

Down the list of comments you can read:
The half-pans are from but I have also used small bottle caps in this same way.

There are also other sources...keep looking at places like Blick Arts and others...ask them in email if it is not on their page.

You did a really great portable palette!