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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Jane

Watercolour Paint Tin DIY

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

Scroll the bottom of the page here for a complete list of components to make your own.

I made this travel tin of watercolour paints completely from scratch as a birthday gift for a friend. The idea came to me after I found myself trying to source additional watercolour paint pans. None of my local art supplies shops had them in stock, and I realised I could 3D print my own. Once I was in DIY mode, the ideas kept on coming and before long, I had a plan.

I started by designing and 3D printing some little heart-shaped watercolour paint pans (you can get the 3D print file here!). I figured if i'm 3D printing them myself, I may as well make them look cute! My biggest frustration with travel palettes is how easily the paint pans fall out and start jingling around when i'm on the move. Since I wanted to use a metal tin, I designed a hole in the bottom so that I could fix in tiny magnets which would keep the paints held in place in the tin.

It then came to choosing paints. With help from the sales assistant at my local art supply shop, I picked out eight colours that would be best suited to a beginner painter. We settled on a warm and a cool set of primary colours, as well as a burnt umber and my absolute favourite Payne's Grey. This combination of colours is typical of small paint sets, as it allows for the widest range of colour mixing. The great thing about this DIY is that you can choose any colours you like! If you do a lot of painting at the coast or by rivers and lakes you might want to use more blue tones, or if like me you paint a lot of brick buildings you could opt for a wider range of reds. I used watercolour paints from Winsor & Newton, but you could use any brand of watercolour paint to suit your budget.

Using Procreate on the iPad Pro, I drew up a design to go on the front. I considered my friend's interests and hobbies and ended up with a fairly simple illustration of a moon in the sky surrounded by stars, over a field of wildflowers and mushrooms (v. cottagecore!).

I was recently given a Cricut Joy as a birthday gift. I'm now determined to create labels for everything I own, but this was my first actual project using the Cricut! It was super fiddly, as the design wasn't as simple as I thought it was, but it actually came out way better than I expected it would.

My friend also writes poetry, so I wrote out my favourite poem of hers and I cut it out to stick on the back. I could've just typed it out, but I loved how the hand-written style looked on the back of the tin. It almost looked engraved, and I really wanted to keep as much of that handmade feel as possible.

This tin contains (almost!) everything you need to paint on the go, and what use is a tiny paint palette without a tiny pad of paper!? I cut up some larger sheets of watercolour paper to A8 size and clipped them together with a binder clip. Bonus: the binder clip can be used to attach the paper to tin, or something larger, to help keep the page steady whilst painting!

I spent a long time trying to find the perfect tiny paintbrush, as they're pretty hard to come by online. This tin is so small that very few paintbrushes will actually fit, and it was looking like I would fall at the final hurdle. I ended up finding some travel size brushes from Da Vinci in my local art supply shop which fit inside the tin perfectly.

The cherry on top, and final piece to this gift, was the swatch card. I took the top sheet of my tiny new paper pad and drew up a grid of eight rectangles in which I could swatch each of the eight paints inside of the tin. I almost had to use a magnifying glass to write out the paint colour names under each swatch, but my shaky hands just managed to get the job done.

It took a lot of self-control to hand the tin over to my friend. I'm still so proud of how the palette turned out, especially since I’ve never made anything like it before. Safe to say she loved her gift, and I can't wait to finally have a friend to come painting with me!

All the supplies used to make this DIY are linked in this post. Some are affiliate links.

Da Vinci XS Watercolour Paintbrush - Amazon Affiliate Link

Gold Metal Binder Clips - HAY (Click here for similar on Amazon (Affiliate))

5mm Neodymium Magnets - Amazon Affiliate Link


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