ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PAINT BY NUMBERS

Have you wondered what a paint by numbers kit would be like and whether it would be fun and/or easy to do? Here's all the inside information.

SHOULD YOU EVEN ATTEMPT A PAINT BY NUMBERS?

I started my first ever paint-by-numbers project recently and thought I’d write an honest post about what it’s like and how to begin one successfully. This isn't a sponsored post, it's just me sharing the sort of information I was looking for when I was thinking about trying my hand at one of the paint by numbers projects that were popping up in my Facebook feed.

First of all, I would definitely advise that you don’t bother starting one if:

  • You aren’t a lover of things like adult colouring books, or 1000 piece jigsaws, or cross-stitch, or other time consuming projects - if you want quick results this will do your head in!
  • You don’t like finicky, fiddly projects – these paintings are SUPER fiddly! Patience is vital and the only way not to make a mess is to go very slowly.
  • You don’t have great eyesight (or a magnifying light to compensate) the numbers are very small - and some of the areas to colour are tiny.
  • You don’t have really steady hands – if you shake when you’re doing fine work, it will be very hard to tackle these paintings. I used to work in dentistry – I gave injections, filled teeth, and did scale and cleans…. I have very steady hands and an eye for detail, and it was still quite a challenge to get the paint into the tiny areas.
  • You think the finished product will look like the original artwork - it won't!

TIPS BEFORE YOU BEGIN

If I haven’t turned you off yet, here are a few tips for before you begin the painting:

1. Buy a good quality kit – mine was from Paint Art and they supplied a rolled canvas – so no creases to have to iron out. They also supplied four paintbrushes and more than enough paint. I’ve included a picture of what was in the box.
Paint Art paint by numbers kit - what's included

2. Make sure you’re getting a canvas – some of the cheaper versions come on cardboard.

3. You can use a warm iron on the back of the canvas to smooth any creases.

4. You can paint on an easel or on a flat surface – we had a desktop easel and it’s been great.

5. If your painting doesn’t come with an extra sheet showing the picture and numbers, it would be worth taking a photo or two in case you need to go back and re-paint any areas where you’ve covered the numbers.

6. I chose the 30cm x 40cm canvas and it was well and truly big enough for a first attempt, if you go too large you may find it too daunting to finish.

7. There was a choice between a plain canvas or one with light shading – I chose the latter and it made it a lot easier to keep track of colour placement.

normal vs colourized paint by numbers canvases

8. You may want to get one with a frame included for making it easier to work on and to display afterwards.

TIPS ONCE YOU START

1. Start at the top left if you’re right handed, and the top right if you’re left handed. It reduces the risk of leaning your hand on any wet paint areas.

2. Try to stay within the lines – but try to just cover the line with each colour to reduce seeing the lines in the final work.

3. Don’t worry if you go over the lines slightly, the colours can be painted over (including if you paint the wrong colour in a spot). Keeping as close as possible to the lines will save fiddling around with corrections later.

4. It’s suggested that you paint dark colours first and then light colours – I don’t think it really matters that much – I chose to paint in sections of colour starting from the top left. And I think I'll do the girl last because I'll be more experienced then and she's the focus.

paint by numbers in progress - 7 hours
7 hours of painting and still a long way to go...

5. Stick with one colour at a time so it dries well and you don’t smudge colours.

6. Wash your brushes well and treat them kindly – they’re not all that robust and when the paint dries on them it’s hard to get it off.

7. Painting straight from the pot is great but the paint is fairly thick (and gets thicker if you leave the lid open while you're painting). You can thin it down with water, but I found that I had to be really careful to add only a small amount of water as coverage wasn’t as consistent and I had to go back and paint over some areas to cover the numbers properly, especially with the really light shades of colour.  

8. Don’t paint for much more than an hour at a time – the longer you paint, the more you’ll be prone to mistakes, eye fatigue, and a sore neck or back.

OTHER RANDOM TIPS

1. Don’t rush – the more you rush, the more you’ll make mistakes. It’s not a race to be the first finished.

2. Enjoy the process – you need to be focused and concentrate on what you’re doing. As soon as it’s a chore, stop and come back to it later.

easel set up for paint by numbers canvas

3. I listened to music but found anything too loud or with a fast beat made it harder to paint calmly and carefully.

4. Choose somewhere with good light to work in – it makes seeing the numbers easier.

5. Mistakes can be corrected but it’s better to not make them in the first place – you can’t erase them like you do with colouring in.

6. Keep in mind that the painting will look somewhat like the original artwork, but will be a rather ‘simplified’ version. Much like Diamond Dotz, it works on clumps of colour rather than on blending. You can try blending the colours, but I wasn’t artistic enough to feel confident with doing it successfully.

paint by numbers comparison of original artwork and actual paint by numbers picture

THE FINISHED PRODUCT

It took 13 hours of painting to finish but I'm happy with the end result - it's definitely darker than I expected and looks better from a distance than close up - the colours merge more when you step back from the painting. We have a guest bedroom with an ocean wave doona cover, so she fits in very nicely above the bed. And we already owned the frame, so that was a win - my clever husband just needed to adjust the matting to fit. 

paint by numbers girl by the sea finished and framed

All in all it was a great project, but I don't think I'll be rushing off to do another one any time soon - where would I hang all that art?

RELATED POSTS

Have you wondered what a paint by numbers kit would be like and whether it would be fun and/or easy to do? Here's all the inside information.

Have you wondered what a paint by numbers kit would be like and whether it would be fun and/or easy to do? Here's all the inside information.

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive
Have you wondered what a paint by numbers kit would be like and whether it would be fun and/or easy to do? Here's all the inside information.

22 comments

  1. That's so cool. I'm not into colouring etc so probs not for me, but I know Sares has just gotten into these adult colouring books of late - it relaxes her after a hard day at work.

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    1. This is kind of relaxing - but not as much as jigsaws or colouring - they're a bit more fluid and less finicky. I don't think it'd be your thing at all - although you are good at following recipes...

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  2. Well done Leanne, although I used to do counted cross stitch and still have one on the go, but don't seem to be making any progress, I can imagine the need to concentrate. It does look quite fiddly with some very small areas to paint! My husband likes to do something like this on his phone in an app, he also enjoys doing fiddly jigsaw puzzles which I skirt around at all times! An honest review.

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    1. Hi Deb - I think it would be right up Grant's alley - he's amazing at the jigsaws he tackles - so this would be a walk in the park for him. I find it quite challenging but I was really glad to have had a go or I'd have always wondered. I did a Diamond Dotz a year or so ago and had a similar reaction.

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  3. Hi, Leanne - This looks like an awesome project. I can't wait to see your finished piece. Thank you for the tips. Your list of 'do not begin if...' sadly lists a few of my traits. I will however look into a kit like this for gifts for Christmas. I know a few family members who would love this!

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    1. It's one of those things that either you get or you don't Donna - it's very fiddly and I think it'll be a one-off for me. But I had to try my hand at it to see if it was something I wanted to do more of. Also I don't know where I'd hang all my "masterpieces" if I got into it in a big way!

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  4. I am glad you are giving this new creativity a go and sharing it with others. The teensy tiny areas would be hard for me, even though I have a steady hand and a reasonably good eye.Great practice though in blending and effects I imagine. "YOU also filled teeth?" I was surprised at that as I hadn't realised it was part of your dental nurse duties. Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week, I am sharing my self care stories for the last time in 2021. Where DID that year go?
    Hope to see you then too, on or off prompt!
    Denyse.

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    1. Yes - I was a school dental therapist - so we did all kinds of dentistry on kids - then I worked in private practice doing more dental hygienist type stuff like scale and cleans. A bit different to a dental nurse who does the chairside assisting.
      The painting has been a new challenge - probably a one off though :)

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  5. Thanks for clearing that up for me Leanne. Yes, I do know of the dental hygienist and her work where I see my dentist. And as far as the painting by numbers is..you gave it a go!

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    1. Hi Denyse - you're going to be an expert on all things dental after all your H&N stuff plus reading bits of my blog. I feel like a bit of a teacher expert after our daughter became one and then took on a Head of Dept role for a while. :)

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  6. Thank you for sharing the good, the bad, and the pretty of paint-by-number. I used to do a child's version when I was a young girl, and I loved them. I'm not sure I have the eyesight for it now, though possibly with good light and my readers. I'm not ruling anything out at this point. I'm looking forward to playing more and experimenting with new hobbies.

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    1. It's been one of several little projects I've tackled over the last few years Christie (along with Diamond Dotz a while back). The concept is very similar to Diamond Dotz and both are interesting to have a go at, but I don't think either of them is going to be my go-to craft pastime. Good to experiment though :)

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  7. I love coming here and finding you exploring your creative side. Not sure if I have the patience for this.

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    1. It is definitely a short interval project Jennifer - and hour here and there to keep me focused and not messing colours etc up. I'm loving trying my hand at different creative pastimes and seeing what sticks and what was a fun one-off and move on project.

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  8. Hi Leanne, I would like to try my hand at art and maybe this is a good alternative for those of us who aren't naturally artistic. Maybe a project to think about in 2022 if I can find the time.

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    1. You definitely don't need to be artistic to do one of these Sue - just have a steady hand and good focus (you definitely tick those boxes). You can just do an hour here or there and it's a nice break when you want to defuse the busyness here and there.

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  9. Good for you. It's always good to give something a try. Looks lovely. #Weeekendcoffeeshare

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    1. Thanks Lydia - it's been a fun project to try my hand at - hopefully the finished product will be hangable!

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  10. Leanne, I enjoyed reading your informative and practical tips. It's good to experiment with various hobbies. I'd love to see your finished piece. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

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    1. Hi Natalie - I thought it might be helpful for anyone who had seen them online but wasn't sure about how to tackle one as a beginner. It's been fun to do and definitely challenged my patience and fine motor skills!

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  11. That turned out pretty. I've actually looked at some and wondered if I should give them a try, but not sure it's for me. Your tips were VERY helpful. I have a feeling I would get frustrated. I love puzzles and coloring but this might be a bit much for me.

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    1. Hi Kirstin - it was fun in small "bites" any more than an hour a day and it would have grown tedious very quickly! I must admit that I was much happier with the final framed result than I expected to be as I painted it.

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