DIY a Watercolour Palette Using Altoids Mint Tin


Aster Hu


August 27, 2021

This is a recipe to make your own watercolour palette using an Altoids mint tin —— or any other tin you have.

Things You Need


My watercolour paints are already squeezed into half pans and ready to be placed. I partially filled them based on Jane Blundell’s advice, who wrote an awesome post1 to explain the advantages of it.

As for the tin, any metal tin can do the job, as long as the size works for you.

The blue tac can be replaced by double side tape. The glue doesn’t need to be very strong as the tin has a cover to prevent pans from falling out.

Altoids Watercolour Tin Recipe

1. Put something as filling

The goal here is to raise the bottom level a bit so that the pan can be parallel to the side of the tin once put in. It will protect the brush because the brush will stay at a less vertical angle when dipping into the case. It will also be easier to get the paint, especially from the pan close to the edge.

It’s not necessary though - you could jump to Step 4 and have them sit right onto the bottom of the case.

Foam will be ideal. Since I don’t have it, I just folded a kitchen paper and put it into the tin.

2. Cut Paper and plastic

Both of them need to be cut into the size of tin. Simply put the tin on top of the material, use a pencil to mark the trace, and cut it.

3. Stick paper and plastic together

I used blue tac to stick them together, but any glue will do. Put this piece to the top of the filling.

4. Plan the position of watercolour pans

Altoids tin

No matter how many pans you want to put in, it’s better to plan ahead.

I put 10 half pans into two rows, and there’s still space available. For a regular size (50g) Altoids tin, it can accommodate a maximum of 15 watercolour half pans in three rows.

5. Stick the pan into the case

Grab a tiny amount of blue tac to stick the pan into the planned position. Push it few times firmly with the thumb to ensure it has been placed properly.

If you have some white enamel paint, you can spray it inside of the tin so that you have a good mixing area.


That’s it. It’s really simple, and the size makes it super handy for outdoor sketching.

I love it. It’s portable, has a retro look, and most importantly - it’s handmade by myself!

The only downside is that the metal is flimsy so I don’t expect it to last very long; but I’m not going to worry about that for now since the setup is so easy.