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).