How To Paint By Number

Can’t-Miss Tips on How to Paint by Number

Paint by number became a popular hobby in the 1950’s. Manufacturers experimented with abstract designs, but research showed people preferred landscapes, animals, children, historical figures. Today manufacturers offer kits easy enough for children to do, to advanced portraits for adult to tackle. Some supplemental tools and techniques can turn your paint by number into a masterpiece good enough to hang.



  1. Choose a paint-by-number kit that fits your skill level. More color variations in the picture and the need to mix colors make the project more difficult. Acrylic and watercolor paints are easier to work with than oil paint.
  2. Cover your work area with newspapers, or an old sheet. Arrange your painting where there is ample light. Set out your brushes, paint pots and a cup half full with water. Have paper towels and rags handy. Wear old clothes and roll up your sleeves.
  3. Read the instructions enclosed with your kit to get a general idea of how to proceed. Study the finished picture on the box and the numbers on your canvas or board to decide where to start. It is not necessarily wise to paint in numbered order. Generally, smaller areas should be painted first.
  4. Open only the first paint you will be using. Stir the paint completely with the popsicle stick, scraping the bottom of the pot to reach any pigment that may have settled. Scrape both sides of the stick against the paint pot to collect excess paint. Some kits give you just enough paint to complete the picture, and you don’t want to run out of a color.
  5. Paint all areas numbered with the color you have chosen. Allow the paint to dry completely. Acrylic and watercolor paints dry fairly quickly; oils take more time to dry.
  6. Wash your brush after painting with each color. Wipe the brush on a paper towel to remove excess water and paint. Change the water frequently to keep your colors pure. If you wash your brush thoroughly after painting each color, you can reuse the brush for different colors.
  7. Continue painting each color, washing and wiping your brush each time and allowing the color to dry. It is best to paint with each individual color before you mix colors. Follow the directions in your kit if you are mixing colors to see how many parts of each paint color to use.