Paint Your Numbers

How to Paint by Numbers on Canvas (7 Tips & Tricks)

Creating art can be just the therapeutic and immersive experience you need to take a break from the fast-paced world, relax and let your creative juices flow. While not everyone is a great artist, a paint-by-numbers kit can bring you close to being one!   

Paint-by-numbers sets have been around for quite a while, and the technique can be traced back to the great Leonardo da Vinci. He used a set of patterns and numbers to instruct his apprentices where to paint what colors during a specific stage of the project. 

The idea was expanded upon in the 1950s by Dan Robins, and the first paint-by-number kits were born. These kits help individuals who normally would have never picked up a brush create beautiful, complex art pieces.

Most modern paint-by-number kits use acrylic paints on canvas as a medium. While the kits have all the necessary tools, painting on a canvas can be tricky for some people. Tips on preparing your canvas, where to start, how to blend properly, and more can make the experience more enjoyable.

In this article, let's discuss some time-tested top tips that will help you elevate your DIY paint-by-numbers project to the next level.

How do you start a paint-by-numbers canvas?

As they say, you must learn to walk before you can run. The saying is as true regarding your paint-by-numbers journey as it is with any facet of your life. When you get your Paint Your Numbers kit, the first step is to get your canvas prepped and ready for the painting.

Open the packaging and carefully remove the custom paint-by-numbers canvas from the packaging. One of the most important things you should ensure before starting is that there are no wrinkles or folds on your canvas.

How do you start a paint-by-numbers canvas


How to prepare your paint-by-numbers canvas?

One of the best tips for creating paint-by-numbers artwork, which is often not followed by beginners, is the preparation of the canvas. If you don’t prepare your canvas, staying within the lines can be very difficult, ruining your experience.  

Another thing you should remember is that wet acrylic paint can make your canvas crinkle and warp as the paint dries, and painting on a warped canvas can quickly get complex. The best solution to this problem is framing your canvas before painting.

You can hold your canvas tight with a solid wooden DIY frame, so there is no unwanted warping or crinkling. You can get our custom, easy DIY Canvas Frames in different sizes to avoid this problem.

The frame can not only help your canvas stay taut when you paint, but it can also be a great way to display your masterpiece once it is done.

How to prepare your paint-by-numbers canvas

What is gesso? Do you need to apply it on your canvas paint by numbers?

Gesso is an integral part of any painting on canvas as it gives your painting depth and texture. Apart from preparing your canvas, gesso can add texture and dimensions to your artwork. You can apply gesso with a dry brush or a palette knife, which comes in various grades, from very thin to thick.  

One of the most significant advantages of applying gesso on your canvas is that it makes it smooth and ready for the paint. It is beneficial for people who have never painted before.

A smooth canvas makes it easy to apply acrylic paint layers. If you are just starting, you will not have to worry about paint quality if you have prepared your canvas with gesso.

Another significant benefit of preparing your canvas with clear gesso is that it helps minimize the excess paint bleeding through the canvas. Gesso also prevents dust from settling on your canvas, making mixing colors and blending your colors easy.

Before starting, preparing your canvas with gesso dissolved in warm water is a great idea to achieve greater detail on your paint-by-number custom picture.

Clear gesso is made from non-toxic natural ingredients like clay, linseed oil, and acacia gum. These ingredients don’t interact with acrylic paint and give your artwork a matte finish.  

If you decide to gesso your canvas, here are the simple steps to get started-

  • Clean your canvas and remove any dust or debris present.
  • Apply clear gesso evenly to the clean canvas and avoid applying too much on one area. Try to use an even and thin layer as much as possible.
  • Wait till the gesso is completely dry before applying the paint.
  • As gesso contains linseed oil, it can dry quickly, but make sure you give it time to dry completely before applying paint.
What is gesso? Do you need to apply it on your canvas paint by numbers?


Should you mount the canvas before or after painting?

Anyone with even minimal experience in creating art with a paint-by-numbers kit can tell you that the stability of the canvas is very important. Painting can be a nightmare if the canvas keeps moving under your brush. 

Using a wooden frame or a mounting board can solve this problem. 

As the canvas is firmly anchored, you can paint without worrying about the canvas shifting below your brush.

Should you mount the canvas before or after painting?


Tips for painting-by-numbers on canvas

Let’s take a look at some of the most useful paint-by-numbers tips that you can use to enhance your experience and create a masterpiece you would love to flaunt.  

1. Keep your canvas firm

A steady canvas is essential for creating any artwork, including paint-by-numbers. With a steady workspace, you are more comfortable painting and can carry out your work peacefully.

Also, with a stretched canvas, painting within smaller areas with many details will become easier. Mounting your canvas before starting to paint is a great way to ensure it is sturdy and won't move as you paint it.

If your canvas is straight and wrinkle-free, you can focus on the painting and have a lot more fun as it becomes easier to paint within the lines.

If you mount your rolled canvas on a mounting foam board before painting, you can quickly shift locations as you go along. If you want to paint in your living room, simply lift the mounting board and carry it there. It can be as simple as that.

Keep your canvas firm


2. Maintain your work location clean and tidy

Cleanliness is crucial whenever you use a paint-by-numbers kit. The last thing you want is dust or a spilled paint pot ruining your art piece. If you are working on a complex piece with acrylic paints, you will use many brushes and colors. Having them organized can help you get the most out of your experience.

Choose a well-lit and ventilated place to begin. Also, ensure your table has enough space to hold your canvas, paint brushes, colors, and other things you might need. 

Using a plastic sheet or a drop cloth to protect your work surface from a few drops of paint is also a good idea.

It might take you several hours to complete your paint-by-number masterpiece, and you might have to work in sessions over several days on the piece. 

When you finish a working session, ensure that your dark and light colors and brushes are well-organized and kept away safely. It will help you start off the next session quicker, and you can start where you left off.

When you start painting a complex piece with multiple colors, thoroughly clean your paint brushes before changing colors. Even if your colors mix a little bit, it can ruin your painting as you will get inaccurate shades.

Maintain your work location clean and tidy


3. Don’t rush. Work gently and slowly

Remember, paint-by-numbers should be a fun and relaxing individual or group activity. You are not running against a clock to finish the painting. Rather than rushing into the process, try to enjoy each step as much as possible.

When relaxed, you will get the best results and allow your creative side to take over. Even if it takes several days to finish your art piece. You should enjoy the process rather than fixate on the result.

Paint-by-numbers is a cumulative result of several smaller steps. The more careful you take each step, the better your artwork will become with sharp edges and a professional look.

Making mistakes is perfectly okay. Your goal is not to create a flawless painting but to impart your personality to your artwork. A simple mistake here or there can only make the artwork more personal and intimate. So, let your creative self take control, and don’t be afraid of committing mistakes as you go along.

If and when you commit a mistake, don't try to remove the paint right away. Removing wet paint will spread it, making a mistake more challenging to rectify. Instead, wait for the paint to dry completely.

Once the paint is dry, apply one or more layers of the correct color over the existing color till the bottom layer is no longer visible.

Paint-by-colors is supposed to be a relaxing and fun activity. Try to enjoy the creative aspect of it rather than trying to be a perfectionist.

Don’t rush. Work gently and slowly


4. Start with small areas

One of the best paint-by-number tips you can implement is starting with small areas. While the temptation of finishing the larger areas first is always there, it is best to start small. Covering smaller areas first gives you a greater chance of maintaining accuracy and staying within the lines.

Once the smaller areas are done, you can move on to the larger areas. However, it is always best to cover an entire area in one sitting when working on a larger one.

It is also essential to use the right brushes when dealing with different areas of the canvas. Use broader brushes when dealing with larger areas and finer brushes when painting smaller areas.

When painting different shades, it is better to paint the darker color before you paint the lighter shade. Filling out the darker colors ensures your entire painting has a neat and clean look. Once the darker shades are dried, you can move on to the lighter colors.

Start with small areas


5. Blend acrylic paints where appropriate

Blending is perhaps one of the most important paint-by-numbers tips. The blending of the colors imparts reality to the painting. Without colors adequately blended, the picture looks artificial and amateur. Using your paint-by-number kits, you must learn to blend colors properly to create artistic and real-looking paintings.

Start by blending smaller areas and then move on to the larger areas. It might take some practice to perfect it, but blending is not difficult once you get the hang of it.

Another added benefit of blending is that it can help mask some of the flaws and errors in your work. Blending can remove minor blemishes and occasionally a wrong color to give your work a more realistic and artistic look.

A good tip is to make sure that you are blending when the extra paint is wet. Use the right brushes to blend- a smaller brush for smaller areas and a larger brush for larger areas.

The blending process aims to make the transition from darker to lighter colors seamless.

The hallmark of a realistic painting is a smoother blend of colors. While blending colors can take a long time to master, you can get quite good at it by practicing regularly. Your first few paintings might not be as perfect as you might like, but soon, you will get a hang of it and will be able to create quite beautiful, realistic paintings.

Blend acrylic paints where appropriate


6. Apply two layers of acrylic paint to cover the numbers

The printed numbers and area demarcations on your paint-by-number canvas are great for guiding you during the first coat. However, if you don't cover the numbers and lines adequately, they can show in the final piece, making the painting less attractive.

Your goal should be to thoroughly paint over the lines and printed numbers so that they are not visible in the final piece.

The best way to achieve this is by using two layers of paint rather than one. When you paint the first layer, the numbers will still be visible, which is okay. However, you should aim to mask the numbers and lines with your second coat completely. 

Here is a pro tip - always ensure that the first coat has dried completely before you apply the subsequent coats. If you apply multiple coats without allowing the base coat to dry, you will create a mess and a shabby-looking paint-by-numbers artwork.

Apply two layers of acrylic paint to cover the numbers


7. Use the correct amount of paint from paint pots

When painting on canvas, always remember the saying a little goes a long way. You don't need to use much paint to fill the space. A small amount of color from your paint pot can spread over a large area and cover it comfortably. You can even use a magnifying glass to see whether the numbers are covered.

Many novice paint-by-numbers users think they can get better color saturation with more paint. However, it is not true. Using more color than required increases the chance of the color bleeding or damaging the canvas. If you want to get more saturation, use more coats with just enough paint to cover the area. 

Applying two coats can not only improve the texture of your painting, but it can also give it a more vibrant look. Besides, once you are done with the painting and feel it lacks some detail, you can easily add it using some strategically applied extra coats of paint.

It might take some practice to learn how much paint you need, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature, and you will never have to think about it while painting again.

Use the correct amount of paint from paint pots


How to flatten a paint-by-number canvas?

A wrinkled canvas is never good for painting. If your paint-by-numbers canvas has many folds and wrinkles on it, you will find it difficult to paint within the likes. Even the best paint won’t spread evenly, and you will end up with an uneven and unfinished painting.

Many beginners make a mistake by not paying enough time to straighten their canvas. While you are excited to start as soon as possible, and that is understandable, you can’t skip this important step. 

You can flatten your paint-by-number canvas by dampening the back of the canvas and counter-weighing each corner. Another solution to unwrinkle your canvas is to use some heavy books to flatten the sheet as much as possible. The books will weigh down on the creases and flatten them. 

You can also use an iron to get wrinkles out of a canvas. In this case, make sure to keep it at a mid-range heat setting to avoid ruining the material.

How to flatten a paint-by-number canvas?


How do you print paint-by-numbers on canvas?

It is possible to print your paint-by-number paintings at home. You will need a few things to create your paint-by-numbers kit from any photo. To begin, you will need canvas paper, a printer, a set of colors, and new brushes.

You will first need canvas paper and a printer that can print on this paper. While most household printers can print on canvas, checking whether your printer can handle canvas before printing is good.

Once you have your paper and printer ready, the next step is to select the image you want to convert into a paint-by-number kit. Several websites can help you convert your image into a pint-by-number style image.

You can upload your image on one of these websites and print and outline the image with numbers.

While the process seems simple enough, it has a few problems. Firstly, you can’t customize the size of your paint-by-numbers painting. You are limited to the size of the paper your printer can accept.

Secondly, it can be difficult to match the correct shades of colors, especially if you are new to paint-by-numbers.

The best alternative to this tedious and time-consuming process is ordering a custom Paint Your Numbers kit.

All you need to do is upload the photo you want to convert into a paint-by-number kit on our website, choose the size you want, and we will take care of the rest. Within a few days, you will get a detailed canvas paint-by-numbers kit with all the colors and brushes you need to start.

How do you print paint-by-numbers on canvas?


How to frame your paint by numbers on canvas?

Framing is a great way to protect and showcase your paint-b-number crafts. It is easy to frame your canvas once you finish the painting. While you can frame the canvas before or after painting, it is recommended to frame it pre-paint.

Thumbtacks and an Easy DIY Canvas Frame from Paint Your Numbers best secure the canvas to a frame.

Our solid frame comes with four stretcher bars that are easy to assemble. Once you assemble the frame, the next step is to stretch your rolled canvas and secure it at the corners with thumbtacks.

Fold the corners of your canvas and tuck one corner into another, ensuring the canvas is correctly stretched across the frame. Repeat for other sides to get a secure fit.

You can remove the thumbtacks after you also staple the canvas to the frame.

How to frame your paint by numbers on canvas?


How to transfer paint by number to canvas?

Our paint-by-numbers designs come on canvas, pre-printed with the outline and numbers. However, if you have a paint-by-number design that you want to transfer on a blank canvas, you can do that using transfer paper.

Cut the transfer paper to fit the size of your design and prepare your canvas. Once the transfer paper is ready, place it on the design you want to transfer with the carbon side facing down.

Tape your transfer paper on the design to be copied and traced using a ballpoint pen or a white pencil.

Once the transfer is complete, carefully lift the transfer paper, place it on your canvas, and use a pencil to trace the design.

How to transfer paint by number to canvas?


How to hang a paint-by-numbers canvas?

Hanging your paint-by-numbers art is a straightforward process. If you have already framed the canvas, you can just hang it using nails or clips on your wall.

However, if you are considering hanging your masterpiece on your wall, ensure that the painting is straight with the help of a level checker.

How to hang a paint-by-numbers canvas?

Your custom paint-by-numbers kit is just a click away

Using the tips above, you can create beautiful, realistic paintings using our paint-by-number kits. You can even convert any image into a paint-by-number canvas and enjoy seeing your artwork come to life one color at a time!

At Paint Your Numbers, we offer various canvas sizes and different color detail options to ensure you will enjoy your journey.

Our kits contain high-quality pre-mix paint pots, brushes, and reference guides to help you stay on track.

Order your paint-by-numbers kits today to start your journey to a relaxing and calming realm of colors!