Things You Should Know Before You Start Paint By Numbers

Paint by numbers is a fun and easy way to get into painting. But there are a few things you should know before you start. Then it’s just a matter of choosing your colors and getting started.

What You’ll Need

To start with paint by numbers, you will need the following items:


Choose any color you like except metallic paint. Metallic paints are extremely difficult to work with because they’re usually very thin which makes them hard to control. The brush bristles also tend to spread out more on metallic paints which can make it more difficult to achieve crisp lines. A little bit of gold or silver can be nice on some projects, but not all crafts are enhanced by glittery highlights. So unless you really want them, skip the metallic for now.



These need to be good quality synthetic brushes only! Cheap natural bristle brushes are difficult to control and will likely fall apart quickly. You can definitely use a brush just once, but keep in mind that the bristles will start to separate after you’ve used them once. So if your project is large or complicated, you might want to get more than one brush while you’re buying paint supplies.

Other Supplies

Here are some other supplies that will be helpful while painting by numbers:

  • A palette for mixing paint (a plastic lid from something like sour cream or cottage cheese works well) Paper plates or foam plates for drying your brushes An old dishcloth, a sock filled with rice (like a “snakey”), or another absorbent item for wiping excess water off of your brushes
  • A Piece of Bristol Board Paper (heavyweight paper that is sturdy enough for firm pressure, but not too thick)
  • A Backing Board (like a piece of plywood, heavy cardboard, or foam board) to help your paint by numbers stay flat while you work on them. Art Boards are ideal because they are smooth and the measurements are printed right on them. You can use any size or shape you like. Just make sure it’s big enough to fit your finished painting comfortably without having to stretch it.

Instructions for Paint By Numbers


When choosing your paint by numbers kit, there are several things you’ll want to think about:


Choose a painting that will suit your taste and skill level. If this is your first time doing paint by numbers then I recommend something very simple for your first project. The easiest paint by numbers kits is usually half sheets (11×14 inches). They don’t cost very much and they come with everything you need to complete the painting, including excellent instructions which will guide you every step of the way. We recommend checking out by numbers because their instructions are clear and well done (and free) but there are many other brands available as well. Once you’re more comfortable with painting, then move on to smaller designs like quarter sheets (14×11 inches) which only require a few hours rather than days to finish. Full Sheets (22×28 inches or 24×36 inches) take longer so if you want something larger than half sheet, I suggest starting with a 14 x 11-inch painting.


Again, this depends on your skills and experience level. If you are experienced in painting then you may be able to work with more detailed designs, but if you are new to painting by numbers, something less complicated will be a good place to start until you get the hang of it.

Gloss or Matte Finish

This is a personal preference. Some people prefer the shine of a gloss finish while others like the matte effect. It’s up to you!

Now that you have your supplies and your piece picked out, let’s get started!

  1. Always refer to the instructions that come with your paint by numbers kit for specific information about mixing colors and how long they need to dry before starting. Assemble everything needed for your painting before you start. This will help avoid any unnecessary interruptions.
  2. When you’re ready, begin with the background of your painting. In general, it’s best to start with the lighter colors and work your way up to the darker ones. Be sure to follow the instructions that come with your kit about which order to paint the colors in.
  3. Once the background is complete, move on to the next step according to as directed in the instructions. Again, be sure to mix each color according to the instructions so that you get the desired shade. Paint carefully and steadily for a smooth, even finish.
  4. Allow each layer of paint to dry completely before moving on to the next step – this may take several hours or even overnight depend on the paint and type of project. Drying times will vary from paint by numbers kit to kit so be sure to read those instructions carefully. For a smooth finish, avoid any unnecessary scraping or handling until the paint is completely dry.

HINT: When you’re done painting, frame your finished piece as soon as possible for best results. If it’s going to be a gift then you’ll want to have it ready in time for Christmas!

Advanced Tips


Here are some advanced tips that can help make painting easier and more fun:

Turn off your phone and lock the door – Painting requires patience and uninterrupted focus, so turn everything else off and give yourself plenty of time to relax and enjoy. is supposed to be fun!

Don’t rush

Painting is an experience that should be enjoyed and remembered, so be mindful of the time and let yourself get into a rhythm. Relax and just paint!

Sketch your painting first

If you’re worried about making a mistake then try sketching your piece first. You can do this by coloring lightly in pencil over the lines of the numbers. When you fill in your colors, any mistakes will blend right in with the color underneath it.

Use a lightbox

This is a great tool for helping to get perfectly straight lines. A lightbox is a translucent surface that you can trace your design onto with a light source behind it. This will help keep your lines neat and accurate.

We hope you found this guide helpful!

About Nina Smith