The 15 Most Important Adults Paint by Numbers Tips

The whole purpose of a paint by number kit is that it's got everything you need but water to get started. As a beginner, you should get used to the hobby at first and then get creative as you get more comfortable. The beautiful thing is that there is no real right or wrong way. Think of it as a recipe. You never did it before so you go step by step as the recipe calls. Then after you finished you realize you could possibly change a few things the next time you make it. Same goes for paint by numbers. Everything you need to start is right in the box.

Having said that, here is our “recipe” on how to make the best out of your paint by numbers.

1. Have fun with your project!

First of all... breathe! Relax and lose yourself in the painting. Nobody is ever going to know if you don’t do a spot perfectly or if you go over the lines! We all cross the lines at some point or another yet we can rarely tell where and the finished result always looks amazing. Just enjoy the painting, it’s all that matters.

2. A glass of water and paper towels will be your best friends

Prepare them before you start painting as you’ll need them to clean your brushes when they start to get all gunked up. Remember to wash your brush completely when changing to a new color. With acrylic paints, lukewarm water usually works best.

3. Start from top left to bottom right (or top right to bottom left if you’re left-handed)

Where to start? Always come to mind when beginning a new project. There’s no correct answer as you definitely can start from wherever you want. The only thing you must keep in mind is that when you finish a numbered area you’ll probably move to another area with the same number. If like me, you’re right-handed, you’ll move to an area on the right otherwise you’ll touch the wet paint and smudge it.

4. How to make the numbers not show through

Most of the time a single coat of painting will be enough to completely cover the numbers. With lighter colors though, numbers might be seen through the paint if you look at them closely. Putting a second (or third) layer of paint on the number should make the number disappear. Another option highly suggested is to cover the number with a white colored pen before painting it.

5. Get a good lightning

When you paint (or read) in the darkness your eyes are subjected to more stress to discern what you see. Even though it has never been scientifically proven as “bad” for your eyes, it is more tiring and can cause red eyes or even small headaches. Having a good lamp or painting next to a window is, therefore, the way to go!

6. Find a flat surface

If your adult paint by numbers is a canvas and not a board, you’ll want to fix it to a hard a flat surface. If you prefer painting on an easel or on your sofa, I’d suggest mounting the canvas onto a foam core or a cardboard. The easiest way though remains in taping it to a table to ensure it stays flat and doesn’t move.

7. Have a magnifying glass within reach

It might not be useful if you chose an easy paint by numbers but If you went for a more difficult one, you may have to paint (really) small and tricky areas. If you don’t have one or don’t want to use one, feel free to contact us and we’ll send you a high-quality digital chart of your painting. You’ll be able to zoom in any small areas and see the numbers you’d have troubles seeing.

8. Take your time

You’re not in a race! The aim is to have fun and to do so, you must take your time. You’ll quickly discover that this hobby is an amazing way to relax and to relieve your stress.

9. Take care of your brushes and use them all

Use bigger brushes for the inside of large areas and smaller brushes to paint the edges with care.

Try not to let your brush dry out as you’ll risk damaging the bristles when you’ll clean the brush.

Don’t let your brushes stand up vertically for too long or you’ll risk bending their bristles. Each time you clean them, lay them down on their side and let their bristles hang.

10. Make sure to close the paint pots when you stop with a specific color

That may seem like a piece of silly advice but poorly closing a cap happens to anyone. The issue with acrylic is that it dries up pretty fast and once the paint dries up it’s always difficult to thin it back. In the event that happens, the next tip might save you!

11. Get yourself some flow improver

Flow improver is a liquid you add to the paint (one drop at a time) to thin it down and keep it workable. Water does the same thing, but the great benefits of the flow improver are that it doesn’t change the paint’s color strength, it slightly slows drying and allows the paint to spread evenly. This is not something you have to have, however, it does help thicker paint to be more spreadable.

In addition to that, mixing the paint with a toothpick before painting may also help if the paint is too thick.

12. Flatten out the wrinkles

It shouldn’t happen as Winnie’s Picks canvases are all rolled but some canvases may come wrinkled. Don’t worry if that happens, as they’re easy to remove. Place it face down with a damp towel on it (or spray a light mist of water on it) and iron on low heat on the back side. Needless to say, do that before you paint it J

For a more in-depth explanation, here is a video covering the subject:

13. Go one number at a time

Try to paint with one color at a time if possible, and let areas dry completely before painting neighboring sections.

14. Gesso

All of our canvases already have a coat of gesso but some customers like to apply another layer. Gesso is like paint, but it's clear, and you use it to prepare your canvas before you start painting. It can make the paint go on smoother and more evenly.

Make sure you get clear gesso and not white gesso. You then have to apply 1 or 2 coats on the whole canvas before painting. Once dried, use a fine sandpaper to lightly sand the canvas.

15. Frame and hang your beautiful piece of art

Framing your painting is the icing on the cake!

You can either get wooden stretcher bars at our store that will fit all of our paintings. We’ll soon write an article on how to frame a paint by numbers with these stretcher bars.

It is also possible to buy another style of frame that’s more suited to your interior, just remember the size of your painting before buying the frame (ours are mostly 16 by 20 inches/40 by 50 cm).


Now that you’ve read the 15 most important paint by numbers tips, you should be ready to start your own project. We’d love to hear what you find is essential when making a painting so please comment this guide below.

Last but not least, remember that it’s crucial to take your time, to relax and to enjoy yourself.


  • I would like to see a few more tall ships with sails drawing hard and so evening colour in them.

  • Do you have acrylic paint by number kits for adults? I do not like oil

    Patricia Moschee
  • I’m looking for a painting of a scene in Norway. Not sure of the title. Can you help me ??
    Thank you, Shirley White

    Shirley White

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