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Grid Drawing Method, Paint by Numbers and Other Gateway Drugs to Art

Grid Drawing

Most beginner painters start out by using the grid drawing method to test their painting skills. It’s one of the many gateways to art, specifically painting. But it’s not the only one.

You can opt to use paint by numbers, tracing or even diamond painting. They’re all simple (kind of), straightforward gateways to real painting. You don’t believe it?

How about this for an experiment: visit a local art group or club. While there, talk to a number of established, experienced painters and ask them how they started. Most of them will tell you that they used a gateway to learn painting before going pro.

Although the gateways might vary, the point remains the same: we all need a gateway to start out. It’s at that level – when you’re dipping your toes in the water – that you get to develop your artistic skills.

With that in mind, what’s the best gateway drug to art? The grid drawing method is a good place to start. Otherwise you might consider painting by numbers or diamond painting. Here’s a breakdown of those three and some more gateways to painting.


Grid Drawing Method of Painting

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First things first, the grid drawing method reproduces or enlarges an already existing image. For example, you may have a treasured picture that you want to see on the wall. But you don’t want to hang that original version.

Although you have the option to digitally print it on canvas (or any other material for that matter), the artist in you will feel more excitement from painting it. Therefore, you devise a plan to draw and paint it.

Now, if you want to reproduce the most accurate version of the painting, you will need to use the grid drawing method. Besides, it’s a very simple style of painting. Therefore, beginner painters can use it to perfect their skill; which makes it an excellent gateway to real painting.


How do you make a grid drawing?


You’ll find an excellent guide for the grid drawing method here. But in case you’re strapped for time, here’s a simplified version:

  1. Take the photo you want to paint and draw a grid over it. If you want to preserve the photo, then consider placing an acetate on top of the photo before drawing grids.


Pro tip: use small grids for small photos and large grids for large photos.


  1. Draw the same amount of grids on the surface on which you want to paint the photo. If you’re enlarging the photo, then enlarge the grids in the same proportion.


For example, if you want to produce a 20 x 30 painting from a 4 x 6, it would mean that you’re enlarging the photo by a factor of 5. Therefore, if the grids on the photo measure 1 x 1, the ones on the surface should measure 5 x 5. Consequently, you would have enlarged the grids by the same factor to get an equal number of grids on the painting surface as the original photo.


Pro tip: if the number of grids on the surface is not equal to the number of grids on the photo, then you’ve done something wrong.


  1. Now, draw the image that appears in each square on the photo to the corresponding square on the surface.




Pro tip: just focus on the square you are drawing. Don’t focus on the entire photo because that can distort your perception of what should appear on each square.

  1. Paint the drawing to match the photo.


Even if it’s a black and white photo, you’ll need to paint the blacks and the whites to match the original. That notwithstanding, you’ll love this step if the photo has many colors. One of the best things about painting is bringing an image to life with paint.


Pro tip: acrylic and oil paints are excellent at creating depth while watercolor is great for vibrant colors.

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And with that you’ve finished creating a painting. Simple, right? That’s precisely why the grid drawing method is an excellent gateway to real painting. Do this a few more times and soon you won’t need grids to produce a masterpiece.


Paint by Numbers


Alongside the grid drawing method, painting by numbers is the closest thing to real painting.

But can paint by numbers teach you to paint? Absolutely! It provides a pre-designed surface to work with, thereby relieving the pressure of creativity. That leaves you with enough room to focus on developing your technical painting skills.

Once you get those skills spot on, you can refocus your energy on the creative side of painting. And that’s what makes painting by numbers an excellent gateway into real painting.

With that in mind, let’s backtrack to where we should’ve began from. What is paint by numbers? It’s an artistic process that involves placing paint on a surface which has a picture that’s divided into shapes.

Each shape is numbered and each number corresponds to a particular color.  Below is an example




Once you’ve finished painting every shape on the surface, it reveals a colorful artwork. If you choose a good painting, like what you’ll find on Ledgebay’s store, you’ll get an amazing piece of art that you can frame, share, sell or gift to someone.


Are paint by numbers hard?

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No, painting by numbers is not hard. It’s a simple-to-do task that only requires you to place paint on shapes that are drawn on a surface. If you have the time, please read this piece for more information on the difficulty of paint by numbers.

Despite its simplicity, paint by numbers is highly beneficial to adults and kids alike. More importantly to this context, after a few trials it will set you on the path to real painting. And here’s how to go about painting by numbers:

  1. Get a paint by numbers kit, preferably from Ledgebay. Unpack the contents and lay them out – including the canvas, brushes and paints – on a flat surface. Hence you need something like a table or a work surface.


Pro tip: consider buying paint by numbers kits that come with an easel.

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  1. Stretch the canvas to remove any wrinkles and creases. Tape it to the working surface/table.


Pro tip: Take a picture of the canvas design with a camera or phone before starting to paint. That’s because you may need a reference image later on.


  1. Get a cup full of water and some towels for cleaning your brushes. You’ll need to clean them before switching from one paint to another. Otherwise you risk contaminating the paints.


Pro tip: if the kit has oil paints, you may need to use turpentine or white spirit. That’s because water doesn’t clean oil paint effectively.


  1. Start painting. Most kits will come with particular instructions on how to do paint by numbers. Nonetheless, the process generally involves matching each numbered paint container with a corresponding numbered shape on the canvas. For example, if paint #1 is red, you will paint each shape numbered 1 red on the surface.


Pro tip: paint one number at a time so that you don’t contaminate paints. That will also give each paint time to dry.


That’s the gist of paint by numbers. Need a more detailed guide? Check out this step-by-step guide for painting by numbers.

Keep in mind that the final artwork will only be as good as the contents in the kit. If you buy suspiciously cheap paint by numbers materials, chances are your final piece won’t look as nice as you would wish.

Which then leads to a question: what is the best paint by number kit? Check out Ledgebay’s store. It has some cool paint by numbers kits for adults. Alternatively, you can visit Amazon and search for paint by numbers kits. While at it, consider those that are highest rated. You just might get your hands on some of the best paint by numbers kits.


How long does a paint by number take?


Generally speaking, you should take anywhere between a few hours and weeks to complete a paint by numbers painting. Why the wide range? Because large and detailed paintings take more time while small and simple ones are easier to complete.

Want to learn more about the time it takes to complete a paint by numbers project? This might help.


Diamond Painting


Diamond painting is a bit different from the grid drawing method and paint by numbers. That’s because it doesn’t involve paint. Instead, you place small drills on a surface, and when you’re done, it reveals an artwork.

Nevertheless, diamond painting provides a deep understanding of perspective, form, anatomy, lighting and many other skills that are essential to real painting. That’s what makes it one of the best gateways to painting.


How do you paint diamond art?


  1. Buy and unpack a diamond painting kit. If you have some experience with diamond painting, then you probably already know the kit to buy. Otherwise, you’re probably wondering: what is the best diamond painting brand?


Well, Suptikes have one of the best kits –>

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  1. Lay out the surface (usually a canvas) on a clean, flat surface.
  2. Choose one color diamond to start with. For example, you can choose blue first.
  3. Dip the applicator in wax and then use it to pick up the diamonds. Some kits come with tweezers for picking up the diamonds (instead of wax). Either way, they do the same thing.
  4. Slightly press the applicator on the rounded part of the diamond.
  5. Place the diamond on top of its corresponding symbol.
  6. Repeat the process with all the symbols until the entire surface is covered.

Here’s a more detailed, step-by-step guide for diamond painting in case you need one.


How long does it take to do a diamond painting?


While smaller kits take less than 12 hours (typically 6 to 10 hours), larger ones can take up to 48 or more hours to complete. Nevertheless, by the time you’re done you’ll have the essence of painting.


Other Gateways to Painting


In addition to the grid drawing method, painting by numbers and diamond painting, you can introduce yourself to painting by tracing or using a digital software for painting.

Tracing: this method involves copying an already-made painting by drawing over its lines. You start by placing a superimposed, transparent paper on top of the original painting. Next, draw the lines and shapes as they appear on that transparent paper to reproduce the original.

You can also use a projector to project the image onto a surface like canvas. From there, simply draw and paint the projected image on that surface.

Digital software: there are tons of digital software for painting. Adobe Photoshop CC is probably the most popular. However, it’s not the only one. Others include Corel Painter, Krita, Clip Studio Paint Ex and Artrage. You can either use them to create paintings from scratch or to enhance an already existing painting.



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