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Top Paint by Number Techniques That Make Your Work Look Better


Whether you’re an amateur, a hobbyist, or a professional, here are the top paint by number techniques that will make your work look better!

Painting by numbers may seem absolutely straightforward—yet there are techniques that will greatly improve your experience.

Paint by Number Techniques – Organize Your Work Space

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Before you get started, make sure the area you’re working in is completely organized. Working in a disorganized and cluttered space can have a negative effect on your productivity, and may likely prevent you from completing your project in a timely manner. Moreover, a chaotic working environment might cause unwarranted accidents and ruin your painting!

There are multiple ways to keep your work area clean while you work. For one, place your pencils, markers, and painting instruments in a small container at arm’s reach.

To prevent accidental spillage, splatters, or stains, cover the area you’re planning to work on with newspapers, Manila papers, or plastic.

It’s also important to keep your watercolor water dish away from your work so it won’t tip all over your painting.

Gather All the Necessary Supplies

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Gather all the necessary supplies before you start. Most paint by number kits already come with different-sized brushes and acrylic paints. But you need more than that to start your project.

First, you need a watercolor dish or cup to clean your brushes. You might also need paper towels, masking tape, a magnifying glass, a canvas, and a clear acrylic sealer.

Masking tape, also known as painter’s tape, plays a big part in creating a clean, straight border for your painting. They’re thin and easy to tear, plus they won’t leave any gross sticky residue on your paper. It’s a painter’s best friend—don’t start painting without it!

The magnifying glass is a great tool to use when you need help seeing extra small numbers. The canvas and clear acrylic sealer are both optional, but they’ll turn an unfinished painting into a masterpiece once you’re done. It’s likewise common to use an easel to paint, but, again, it’s not necessary.

Paint by Number Techniques – Find a Color Pattern and Stick to It

There are multiple ways to fill a paint by number painting. Once you find the color pattern you’re most comfortable with, try to stick to it as much as you can. Work on one thing at a time rather than jumping from pattern to pattern.

Here are some of the most popular suggestions given by users and professionals alike:

Color by Number

Coloring by number prevents you from constantly changing or cleaning your paintbrushes while you work. It also keeps the paint from drying, as you’re not using more than one color at a time.

Most importantly, it gives the colors on the canvas the opportunity to dry until you’re ready to start the second number. Doing so prevents the colors from mixing into each other and creating a splotchy mess.

Paint by Number Techniques – Follow a Descending Pattern

Work on the larger areas first before moving towards the smaller areas. Not only will this consume less time, but it’ll also prevent the colors from smudging against each other.

Start from the Top

Start from the top of the painting and gradually make your way to the bottom. Again, this technique avoids smudging. If you’re right-handed, we recommend painting from the top left corner. If you’re left-handed, start from the top right.

Prioritize the Background

Painting the background first allows you to create a general outline of the picture you’re about to paint.

If you choose this method, it’s best to prioritize lighter colors first before moving on to the darker colors. After all, it’s usually much easier to layer darker colors over lighter colors rather than vise versa.

Once you’re done with the background, you can then concentrate on the primary points of your painting.

If you’d like to give your background a nice, blurry look, simply stroke the painted color over the nearest color next to it using a small brush. You can use your finger, as well.

Paint by Number Techniques – Clean Your Brushes Thoroughly Between Colors

Keep all your colors pure by thoroughly cleaning your brush every time you switch colors or brushes. This prevents the colors from blending with each other and keeps your painting as true-to-form as possible.

The easiest way to clean your brushes is to dip the brush into your water cup and wipe it clean with a paper towel after. Repeat this step until the brush doesn’t bleed out the previous color you used.

Alternatively, you can place an old kitchen sponge inside a container and fill it with hot water. When it’s time to switch colors, wash the brush by dragging the bristles back and forth over the hot sponge. Then, rinse the brush in a separate container filled with clean, warm water.

After every painting session, remember to wash your brushes with mild soap and water so they’re ready to use anytime you want to paint. Paint is extremely difficult to remove from brushes when it dries, so it’s best to clean them immediately to avoid damaging your brushes.

Completely Cover the Numbers

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The numbers on the canvas shouldn’t be visible when you’ve finished painting.

If you don’t want to do a double coat, apply a thick layer of paint from the get-go. You can also use a white color pencil to cover the numbers before painting so you won’t see the ghosts of the numbers at certain angles or lighting. This is especially true with the lighter colors.

That being said, make sure you don’t use too much color. You don’t want to run out of paint and reorder a new set from the manufacturers. Moreover, the thicker the layer of paint, the longer it’ll take to dry, making it susceptible to smudges. Only use enough paint to cover the area and be precise while doing so.

Use a Task Light (If You Have One)

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A task light allows you to easily see the fine details on a paint by number painting. Some paint by number kits are notoriously difficult to complete because of their extreme details and tiny printed numbers. Task lighting makes completing said painting as trouble-free as possible.

Paint by Number Techniques – It’s Ok to Make Mistakes

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We’re human, so mistakes are bound to happen. If it does, that’s okay! Surely, it’s nothing you can’t fix.

If you fill in a number with the wrong color, simply wait for it to dry and cover the surface with the right one. Smudges can be covered by another layer of paint. If the corrections still show through, try applying an isolation coat and the same paint with Titanium White. No one will be any the wiser once the painting is complete.

To quote Boss Ross, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents!”

Remember: Have Fun!

Paint by numbers is meant to be a fun and relaxing hobby. Don’t force yourself to complete the project if you’re starting to feel exhausted or frustrated; there’s no rush!

Take several breaks in between and occasionally step back to admire what you’ve completed so far. Perfection, or something close to it, takes time and patience, why not enjoy the process while you’re at it?

Paint by Number Techniques – Bottom Line

Paint by numbers opens a world of creative possibilities. The paint by numbers techniques above are a sure-fire way to make your projects look as fantastic and true-to-life as possible. Good luck, and have fun!

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