Travel Watercolor Palette (eye Shadow Box)




 I have been looking to make a travel sized watercolor palette for when I am on vacation or out and just want to paint.  I have found that this is an extremely effective palette, and also extremely affordable.  I bought it at the dollar store so it was only $1 but if you have one laying around at home, that is even better because it is free.  I also like it because it is about the same size as an ipod, in all dimensions.  A GREAT piece to add to a portable kit!

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Step 1: Remove Eye Shadow

After you take it out of the package, remove the eye shadow.  I used a knife to get under the corner of the eye shadow, and this particular eye shadow box had the makeup in a little tin, so it came out effortlessly.  Also, make sure to remove any adhesive that is under the tin.  Be sure to wash it out clean to remove any debris.

Step 2: Add Pigment to the Cups

Go ahead and squeeze the pigment from the tube into the individual cups.  This is where the palette comes alive.

Step 3: Paint the Cover White

Because the eye shadow kit that I bought had a clear lid, I wanted to paint it white so I would have a good surface (even though it is small) to mix color.  If the eye shadow kit that you are using already had a white lid, you are in business.  The reason that you want it to be white is to be able to see the color that you are mixing properly.  MAKE SURE YOU PAINT THE OUTSIDE and not where you will be mixing color.

You may want to do this step before you put the pigment in the cups...i didn't think about it...but it was OK.  just shut the lid and paint the outside and it is all good.

Step 4: Let the Pigment Dry (24 Hrs)

This is the last step and I would definitely recommend letting it dry out.  Just a good idea before you take it out and start using it.


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21 Discussions


3 years ago

This is a great affordable alternative to the pricey pocket and travel palettes.

I've gone another direction inspired by make-up. I saw a pricey travel palette made out of a business card case. I bought a bag of 100 small eyeshadow tins and then I put a magnetic business card older in an old business card case. (Check to make sure the lid will close first with the tins and magnetic card.) I glued in the card, but you can get blank self-adhesive magnetic cards at Home Depot. Then I filled the eyeshadow tins with paint and they stick to the magnet. I can fit about 14 small ones in. They only hold maybe an eighth of a pan of pan or not quite a quarter. Enough for at least a day's sketching. Plus I can switch them in and out if I want to change colors or do a quick refill.

I've done the same with empty plastic half and whole pans and used hinged tins like Altoids and old candy tins. I cut the magnetic plastic small enough for the bottom of the half pan, then peel and stick. They'll attach to most tins. I can still switch out colors and rearrange. I like this method best. The half pans are pretty cheap, I can use my own paints and customize anything with sizes. My favorites are using empty cigar tins. I have two. I haven't even painted the inside with white for mixing because both are mostly white already except for the logo in the middle. Plus, if for any reason they are lost or stolen while I travel, the entire thing is easy to replace. I don't have to mourn a favorite travel palette that might be irreplaceable.


4 years ago on Introduction

For water color and Gouache white is the better back ground for discerning colors. Yes Gouache is water soluble just like water color. (not the new acrylic Gouache though.) In stead of sanding use "Goof Off" to rub all services to be painted white. It will also remove the black Logo on the front of the clear lid. I intend to paint everything white with the exception of leaving the inside clear lid cover blank.


4 years ago on Introduction

There is a product called "Goof Off" available at most hardware stores. Instead of sanding wipe everything down with Goof off it will also remove the back labeling on the clear lid. Every where you wipe goof of it will dry leaving a good tack that will attach very well to sprayed on white. Dont wipe it on the inside of the clear lid. But, every where else you wipe the Goof will become ideal to be painted white. White not gray is the better color for discerning correct colors of the water color medium spoken of here. .


7 years ago on Introduction

This s funny because I just bought a cheap watercolor paint set and made it into a makeup palette!


8 years ago on Introduction

great idea, but i already have a watercolor palette. do you think i could do this with gouache? Do they reconstitute the same way watercolors do?


9 years ago on Introduction

This is good thinking!

I would suggest several tweaks:

First, see if any eyeshadow-wearing humans you know have old compacts they should be replacing, thus making this project more green. (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and all that.) (One should get rid of old eye makeup fairly often for health reasons.)

Second, paint the lid a medium grey to make a more neutral and thus better mixing surface than white.

For acrylics, try using a wet sponge under a bit of blotting paper to keep them from drying out. The paints sit right on the paper. Make sure to create a good seal for the lid, you could probably do so with some silicone caulking and petroleum jelly. And keep that paper damp or it'll all dry out. (Now that I think of this, this is probably a better idea for an altoid tin than an eye shadow compact)

(Probably don't do this with oil paints. They can have toxic qualities, from the solvents to some pigments.)

1 reply

 Oil paint is toxic, yes, but if you handle it properly its perfectly safe. I would suggest if you were going to put oil paints in one of these, make sure that the case was water tight. What's nice about oils is that they don't dry out very quickly, meaning you could squirt a glob into the trays and it would probably be good for a week or so, depending on where you live. 

Acrylics dry far too fast.

 i suppose it could work with acrylics, but acrylics dry soo fast and dont reactivate with water, so you would probably have to bring the paints with you and squirt them in the cups. but hey, whatever works

I used to use styrofoam egg cartons to squirt my acrylics into. If you put a moist paper towel across the top of the cups it will keep the paint for about a day. There have been times when i have worked with one carton for weeks and just re-wet the towel for storage each time. Also, if you want to be extra cautious, you can cover the towel with some plastic wrap. This is a really great system. It's not portable enough to go in a backpack, but you could definitely carry it from one location to another.

If you put the egg carton in a plastic container with a lid and lay some damp papertowel in the bottom you have a cheap wetpallette that can keep acrylics workable for a week of more

Today I thought of an even better idea for a portable acrylic pallet:

1. Acquire a bead organizer box (plastic box with many small compartments      and a hinged lid.).
2. Cut a terry cloth towel (or other absorbent material) to be slightly larger than the box's lid.
3. Fill the compartments with acrylic paint.
4. Moisten the towel, lay it over the top (let the excess hang over the sides) and firmly shut the lid.
5. Use the lid as a pallet when you are painting, wash it after use.
6. Always keep the towel moist and wash out the entire box when you will not be using it for an extended period of time.

For an even more travel friendly pallet, use a pill organizer.

Maybe I'll make an instructable for this when I get the chance!


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

nope sorry acrylics are a type of liquid plastic and dry like plastic.
watercolors are the only re-activatable (new word!) art medium there is.


9 years ago on Introduction

 This is a really cool idea. Being colorblind I don't know for sure but I read that a light gray is better for mixing against than pure white. I work in acrylics and my mixing pallette is probably 1/4 thick in old paint (shrug)

 There's a really great forum for artists at artists of all mediums and skill levels share experiences and knowledge, I think this idea would be a big hit in the watercolor section

2 replies

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

 i have never heard about the light gray for a palette, but i guess it makes sense now, i have seen a few commercially made light gray palettes, but all i have ever had was white.

i work in all sorts of mediums, but recently really started enjoying watercolor. 

i made an account on wetcanvas...waiting for it to get activated, THANKS!


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

 I can get lost for hours on WC, even though most of my painting is with acrylics theres tips and ideas that I can use from watercolor or oil painters, theres a tutorial on painting ocean waves in the marine section that is totally awesome but there is so much more. I hope you get as much from it as I do

peace, love, art

9 years ago on Step 3

To improve this slightly, you could probably remove the logo from the lid by scrubbing it with a scouring pad. That is, if you wanted to be super picky. :)