Paint Your Numbers

11 Pro Tips to Make Paint-by-Numbers Look Better

The concept of painting by numbers can be traced back to the times of Leonardo da Vinci. However, the credit for popularizing it in modern times goes to Dan Robbins and Max S. Klein of the Palmer Paint Company. 

The duo launched their first DIY paint-by-numbers kit in 1951. People in the 50s loved the concept, and the kits sold like hotcakes.

Paint-by-numbers kits have found a resurgence in popularity, and people seem to love painting pictures using them. The biggest reason is that you can create stunning paintings using these kits, even as a novice. Using some simple tips, you can transform your artwork into a masterpiece.

You can elevate the quality of your paint-by-numbers custom picture using some simple, actionable tips. These paint-by-numbers tips can make your experience more enjoyable and help you create fabulous artwork.

In this post, we will look at eleven pro tips you can implement in your next paint-by-numbers project to create an artwork you would love to flaunt. So, let’s get going, shall we?

Invest in the best materials

1. Invest in the best materials

You must invest in high-quality materials to create a beautiful, professional-looking paint-by-numbers custom photo. 

Not all kits available on the market are created equal. From the quality of the canvas and the shades of the colors to the acrylic paint quality and brushes, everything matters when creating a realistic paint-by-numbers painting.

The canvas

The paint-by-number canvas is the backbone of a high-quality kit. A low-quality rolled canvas can cause the paint to bleed through, ruining your painting. Most paint-by-numbers kits provide canvas made from either linen or cotton.

Linen is generally the better of the two due to its high quality and longevity. However, it is more expensive than cotton, providing an excellent surface to paint.

The canvas


The quality of the acrylic paints will determine how well they cover the canvas and blend. You want to work with the best paint that is bright and vibrant with good spreadability and coverage.



Brushes also affect the finish of your paint-by-numbers paintings. You need high-quality brushes that are easy to work with to blend colors perfectly on the canvas. 

Unfortunately, many paint-by-numbers kits come with shabby brushes with sharp edges that give you a mediocre painting experience at best.


Type and quality of the solid wooden frame

The frame can help stretch and hold your canvas when you paint. When your canvas is steady, painting within the lines becomes more manageable, especially in smaller areas of the image.

Paint Your Numbers kits are made from the highest quality material for a smooth painting experience. We use high-quality cotton and acrylic paints in our kits that won’t fade over time, and you can preserve your artwork for years to come.

Paint Your Numbers kits

2. Make sure you get the color values right

The key to creating a beautiful, realistic paint-by-numbers painting is using the right colors. It might seem like an obvious, essential tip, but it is an integral part of your paint-by-numbers project.

If you don't get the colors right, it can be challenging to cover them up later by applying the right colors. So it is better to use the right paint colors every time.

When you are hours into a painting, you tend to get lost in a calming trance. It is at this time that you tend to make mistakes. Even veterans who have created tens of paintings can fall prey to this phase.

You should pay close attention while choosing the color whenever you dip your brush into a paint bottle.

It is even more important when you paint by numbers from a photo. The more complex the piece, the more attention to detail you should pay when picking the right shades.

If you have picked up the wrong color, don't panic. Wait for the wet paint to dry completely before trying to paint it with the correct color.

Thankfully, acrylic paints are very opaque, and when you apply enough layers over the base layer, you can completely cover the wrong color.

Make sure you get the color values right

3. Thin the paints with water

Acrylic paints that come with your paint-by-number kit are water-soluble. Colors with the right consistency can spread easily on the canvas. 

If the paints are too thick, applying them on the paint-by-numbers canvas can be a nightmare. You will end up with blobs of paint on the canvas that are very difficult to blend. 

On the other hand, if the acrylic paint is too diluted, it can easily go out of bounds. A thin paint also has less opacity, and you might need more coats to cover the numbers and lines.

As you can imagine, choosing the right consistency before you begin painting is essential.

Here is a tip we recommend to paint-by-number craft enthusiasts to check the consistency of their paint- a piece of scrap paper!

Yes, a simple piece of scrap paper can help you know whether your paint is too thick or thin. Just apply your diluted paint on the scrap paper with your largest brush and see if it spreads easily.

You are looking for a smooth trail of paint dragged by your brush over the paper. If the paint comes out to be too dark after drying, we strongly encourage you to dilute it with a few drops of water.

Water tends to break down the binder in the acrylic paint, making it more difficult to stick to the canvas. We recommend adding water to your paint in batches and testing your diluted paint before committing to it.

Thin the paints with water

4. Blend the colors when the acrylic paint is wet

Blending is what gives your painting a professional aesthetic. If you are good at blending edges, the color transitions appear seamless, giving your painting a more polished look. That said, it can take some practice to get this technique down.

The best blending is achieved when the colors are wet enough to intermix. However, as acrylics dry much faster than watercolors or oils, you have a much narrower window to blend your colors. As a rule of thumb, blend your colors when wet.

If you want to take your paint-by-numbers picture to the next level, it is important to learn and, perhaps, master this useful technique. The key is to use the technique sparingly, as too much blending can be worse than not blending at all.

Many beginners blend their colors too aggressively, leading to a loss of precision and the picture looking blurry and not crisp.

Use blending to create soft edges and lines between colors. Although you want to create the illusion that the colors magically transitioned from a darker to a lighter shade, you don’t want to overdo it.

Blend the colors when the acrylic paint is wet

Here are some blending tips that might help you in your paint-by-number crafts:

  • Use the right brushes to blend. Round mop and flat brushes with nylon bristles are best for blending edges.
  • Moving the brush vertically to the original stroke will give you the best blending.
  • If your paint is drying too fast, spray water on your entire painting using a small spray bottle.
  • Apply small strokes while blending.
Apply small strokes while blending

5. Add plenty of extra layers

We recommend using at least two coats of paint on your paint-by-numbers painting. More paint will help you cover the numbers fully so that your finished product will look more polished and elegant.

While applying the second paint coat, always remember to let the first coat dry completely before putting on the next coat. Most beginners make the mistake of applying multiple coats in a single sitting, which can warp the canvas or, worse, make the colors bleed through it. 

Letting the first coat dry also lets you know the final shade of your color after it dries off. In some cases, you might not need extra coats. For example, a single coat might suffice when filling in the darker colors in your pictures with enough paint.

The second (and possibly third coat) will also smooth out the texture and random brush strokes, giving your painting a more professional look.

That said, here is a critical warning you must understand when painting multiple layers- avoid overdoing it!

Like most things, too much layering is not good for your painting. It can create an “orange peel” effect where one layer of the paint sits unevenly on the other, creating a bumpy appearance.

Add plenty of extra layers

So, when applying multiple layers of acrylic paint on your paint-by-numbers picture, we would advise you to do two things:

  • Apply an additional coat with extra paint only after the base coat fully dries
  • Avoid adding too many layers on a specific section of the painting

If you steer clear of these two pitfalls of layering, you can create a beautifully vibrant painting without a doubt!

Things to remember when adding layers

6. Apply blurring effects

Have you seen those portraits taken using high-quality cameras with the "Bokeh" effect? The picture's subject seems to be popping out at you, isn't it? What if we tell you it is possible to create a similar effect with your paint-by-numbers kit?

How? One word-blurring!

Blurring is an excellent painting technique that can create the illusion that some subjects in your painting are in focus while others are out of focus. People with a lot of experience creating paint-by-numbers art can create such a high-quality blurring effect that the subject pops out of the frame.

We highly recommend using the painting technique when painting a portrait to get subtle shifts in focus. You can achieve a high-quality effect with practice, making your image appear more artistic and beautiful.

That said, blurring takes a long time to master, and don't expect you will get it right the first time you try it. But trust us, if you can master it, it can elevate your painting to the absolute stratosphere.

Apply blurring effects

7. Enrich the painting with personal touches

You love a painting for several reasons, but most of all, you love it because it reflects the painter's personality. Adding your personal touch is your way of truly making the painting your own.  

Your Paint Your Numbers kit comes with instructions on how to fill in the colors. But if you want to carve your path and create your journey, that is fine too. You can experiment with colors and shades and even change the whole color theme of the kit; it is up to you.  

If you have a vision that your tweaks will enhance the result, then we say, why not? The boundaries and numbers on the paint-by-numbers canvas are not there to stifle your creativity.

Go have fun painting with your colors, and create different textures using a dry brush or a paper towel. The goal is to get the creative juices flowing, and if it means breaking a few rules, then by all means, go for it!

You will be astounded at what you can accomplish when you get your creative juices flowing. So, cut loose, and be bold in making a few mistakes along the way.

Enrich the painting with personal touches

8. Think and visualize the painting like an artist

At Paint Your Numbers, we firmly believe everyone is born with a strong sense of observing and recording their surroundings. We might lose this incredible ability over time, but we can train ourselves to regain it.

One of the first steps to creating great art, and yes, even with paint-by-numbers kits, is to think like an artist.

Agreed, developing the eye of an artiste won’t happen overnight, and you will have to train your brain to get there. But with dedication and perseverance, you will get there.

When you get your paint-by-numbers kit, try to see the painting carefully before filling it in with paint. Try to visualize how you want your final product to look and start painting once you can visualize the finished artwork.

Initially, it might be challenging to visualize the blank spaces and numbers turning into beautiful intermingling shades of colors. But with enough practice, you will be able to get there.

Think and visualize the painting like an artist

When you talk to paint-by-number veterans, you realize they have developed a unique approach to their projects. In many cases, they have developed what can only be called “an artist’s eye,” which helps them visualize their paintings before working on them.

Paint-by-numbers is supposed to be a therapeutic exercise for many, and if you use this tip, you can gain much more than a beautiful painting. Who knows, you might be able to unleash your inner artist you never knew existed there!

9. Give a professional look to the finished painting with sealing

Now that you have created your masterpiece, you want to preserve it. But how can you prevent the colors from fading and tarnishing?

Even the best paint used in most paint-by-number kits tends to react with the weather elements and fade over time. The best way to preserve the vibrancy of the color is by applying a layer of sealant on the finished painting.

Give a professional look to the finished painting with sealing

The sealant can protect your beautiful painting from moisture and oxygen and give a luxurious finish we know from the works of professional painters.

You can create a glossy, matte, or satin finish, depending on your sealant. You can even get spray sealants that you can spray on top of your final painting.

10. Choose the complexity of your paint-by-numbers kit wisely

Almost any picture can be converted to our Custom Paint By Numbers Kit. However, we recommend starting simple, especially if you have limited technical skills, before moving on to more complex subjects. 

If you are a beginner, start by trying out a landscape, they are easier to paint than portraits with intricate details.

Remember, the goal is to have fun and relax when you paint. While we are not against you challenging yourself with a complex project, there is no point if you are not enjoying the painting process.

Choose the complexity of your paint-by-numbers kit wisely

11. Invest in a quality wooden frame

The best way to show off your masterpiece is to frame it in a beautiful wooden frame and display it where everyone can admire it, right? 

It would be best to stretch your canvas over a solid frame before you start, as it can help prevent the warping of the canvas and gives you a steady surface to work on. 

Invest in a high-quality DIY Wooden Canvas Frame from Paint Your Numbers.

Invest in a quality wooden frame

Find your inner artist with our paint-by-number kits

Painting is a great hobby that gives you a creative outlet and exerts a meditative, therapeutic effect on your body and mind. Our paint-by-numbers custom kits make this fantastic hobby accessible to everyone, regardless of whether you have basic skills or any experience in painting on canvas.

With the right paint-by-number kit, high-quality paint, and brushes, you can create beautiful paintings worth displaying in your living room, if not an art gallery!

Please visit Paint Your Numbers to order your custom, high-quality kit today.