What Strategy to Use for a Paint by Number?


One of our favorite questions to get here at Paintable Pictures is how to get started with a paint by number. You've just cracked open your one of a kind custom painting kit and you don't want to mess anything up. What do paint first? There's hundreds or perhaps thousands of regions and many paint colors. It can be a bit overwhelming if you've never done one before.

Fear not! We've compiled some of our favorite tips and we're excited to share them with you here.

First and foremost, don't be afraid to make mistakes. When you do something "out of bounds," you've got two choices. One option is to treat it as an invitation to apply your creativity. Mistakes, as Bob Ross says, are just happy little accidents. The other possibility is to paint over it. Accidental brushstrokes can be painted over once the misapplied paint dries. 

The next thing to consider is whether you want to paint by color or by area of the canvas. The traditional approach is to pick a color & number combination and paint all the applicable regions at once. This approach is more "efficient" and requires far less brush washing as you work. 

The other approach is the scenic approach. You pick some area of the canvas that you want to see completed. Then you work exclusively on that area. For example you may want to paint someone's face first, regardless of which colors are involved. The advantage of this method is that you get to see the painting come together sooner and it can be a bit more rewarding as you work. It is also a bit easier to manage your hand placement as you work since there isn't wet paint all over the entire canvas.

With lighter colors, you'll generally want to apply the paint a bit more heavily than darker colors to get good coverage on the canvas. Be smart about which brush you use for which regions - you'll want the finer brushes for the smaller and more detailed regions, while the bigger brushes can make quick work of the larger regions.

You'll want to take good care of the painting gear. Make sure you carefully seal up any paint not in use. Clean brushes thoroughly between colors and when done for the session. A paper towel can be a great asset for drying off a clean, wet brush before diving into a new color. 

The right atmosphere can really enhance your guided painting experience. Put on some relaxing music. Brew some tea. Light a candle. 

There are a lot of ways to successfully & enjoyably do a paint by number! Experiment and figure out what works best for you - there's no one right way. The only wrong way is not having fun!


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