Turn an Altoid Box into a Mini Watercolor Travel Set

this little creative project which turns an ordinary Altoid mint box into a pocket-sized watercolor travel set
I am always on the lookout for money saving ideas for the artist. A couple of websites (links below) shared this little creative project which turns an ordinary Altoid mint box into a pocket-sized watercolor travel set…

altoid watercolor paint box

watercolor travel box by Nita Leland



  1. Use an empty Altoid mint metal container
  2. Empty plastic ‘half-pan’ wells for the watercolor paint
  3. Hot glue gun
  4. Paint brushes (cut the handles to fit in box)
  5. Mini squeeze cosmetic bottle (for the water)

Easy Construction:

  1. Glue the empty half-pans into the box.
  2. Fill the wells with tube watercolors using a basic palette or customize it for your own specific palette.
  3. Let it all dry and you are ready to go!

Don’t forget to bring a small packet of travel tissue and watercolor postcards or a mini sketchbook! The whole mini watercolor travel set fits neatly in a plastic sandwich bag and costs around $5 (depending on the quality of brushes)!

Happy Travels!


You may also like to read:

How to Build a Pochade Box from a Cigar Box
6 Tips for a Stress Free Sketchbook
Watercolor Painting & Its Materials for the Beginner

For variations on this project please checkout > Instructables & Nitaleland



  1. Maria May 17, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I love pocket watercolor kits and recently a student of mine shared with me a wonderful tip- instead of securing the half-pans with glue, use magnets! The thin, flexible sheet magnets often sent with advertisements work great (or can be purchased). They can be cut with scissors and glued to the bottom of the pans. The magnets are strong enough to stick to the tin and can be easily rearranged, switched out for new colors, or removed for cleaning out the tin. I also paint the interiors of my tins with glossy spraypaint for a better mixing surface. Happy painting!

    • Lori McNee May 17, 2010 at 10:20 am

      Hi Maria and thanks for sharing that little tips with us! Magnets are a great idea and like you said, they make it easer to clean. The spraypaint idea is good too. Maybe you’d like to share a guest article???
      Thanks, Lori 🙂

  2. Karen Koch August 12, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Lori, Maria – thanks both for the ideas! I hadn’t thought about using half-paint pans or magnets. Or spray paint. Will give that a try.

    I recently made a tiny paint box out of a mini Altoids tin. It’ about half the size of a standard Altoids box. I carry it with me in my purse with several waterbrushes. It saved the day when I was out with my niece and nephew one day. They played with the paint and the brushes for quite a while and had a blast.


    • Lori McNee August 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm

      Hello Karen,

      I love the little watercolor box you made! What a great idea. Thanks for sharing it here. If you are interested, I can repost your article as a guest post and link to you. Let me know what you think!


    • George May 29, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      I hope that you don’t mind my weird sense of humor, but have any of you ladies been sitting at a red light, realized your lipstick need re-working and pulled out your lipstick, and just as you painted the top lip you looked down and realized that you were instead holding your altoid container of watercolors and using a mini-brush, and the driver in the car next to you showed you her lipstick applicator for comparison? 😉

      • Lori McNee June 15, 2014 at 10:44 pm

        Haha…that hasn’t happened to me, but that is a funny thought! Thanks for the laugh George. 😀

  3. Louise Douglas September 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I love this idea. I am a Altoids junkie and now I know what to do with all those empty boxes. I am going to make little gifts for my art guild plein air friends. How cool. Again Lori I admire your hard work to provide others with a wealth of information. If I had to choose only one person to follow it would be you!
    And your a wonderful fine artist! Appreciate it xo

    • Lori McNee September 23, 2011 at 9:08 am

      Thank you Louise, I love those little boxes too! Let me know how it works for you.

      Lori 🙂

  4. George May 29, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I will have to give this a go. Anyone here tried this with acrylics or oils? I know, it could be really, really messy.

    • Lori McNee June 15, 2014 at 10:43 pm

      Acrylics would dry to quickly, but oils might work. Let me know if you give it a try, George! Thanks 🙂

Comments are closed.