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Five Fun Variations For Paint By Number Projects

Updated on August 18, 2011
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Barbara Anne Helberg is a Fiction freelancer, Internet writer, WordPress blogger, former Journalist, and a Famous Writers School graduate.


Although Paint By Number paintings are drawing market value interest in today's world of artistry, Paint By Number projects have traditionally been a source of relaxation art for the novice artist and the stay-at-homer, as well as an outlet to introduce the discipline of painting to children. Young persons eagerly lift brush, pen, pencil, crayon, or marker to explore with paints and color.

There are a number of ways to vary Paint By Number projects. However, the fun begins when one explores the possibilities of expanding the Paint By Number concept.

No. 1 -- A Paint By Number Variation

Use a lift-brush-have-imagination approach on a Paint By Number picture. If the main subject of the Paint By Number painting is a horse, or other animal, for instance, fill that in using markers that closely match the colors of the paints indicated for those spaces. Then use the Paint By Number paints included with the project to fill out the rest of the painting.

This is a simple mixed media variation that adds personal imagination to the project. It can be done in a variety of ways, as well. Reverse the process, using markers to color the surrounding spaces of the animal (or main object of the painting), and the Paint By Number paints to fill in the animal.

Don't be limited. Use thick-, or soft-leaded colored pencils. Their texture gives a wonderful varied look to a Paint By Number picture. Gel ink pens may also be used, but their tips are sharper than a marker or paint brush, so application must be done with care not to rip, or flake the surface of the Paint By Number.


No. 2 -- Expanding the Paint By Number Concept

A non-drawer can become a drawer by using an expansion of the Paint By Number concept. In the drawing above, rough geometric figures were used to represent rocks upon which a lighthouse stands. The lighthouse is also a ruler-based drawing, which allows the amateur "quick" artist to succeed in creating a presentation that conveys a real-life picture.

Originally, this picture was done in color. Each "rock" was painted a different color, as in the Paint By Number concept. The drawing was then machine copied in black and white mode to present yet another variation of the artist's imagination.

A border was designed by randomly trimming parts from a colored file folder and stapling them on top of the edges of the drawing.


No. 3 -- Piled Rocks and Notebook Paper

More than geometrics are used in the picture above and in the drawing at the right. They are done on ordinary notebook paper. The Paint By Number concept is varied by separating the paper into sections, using the usual blue horizontal lines of the paper (picture right), or using the landscape shape (picture above) which make the blue lines vertical. Filling in the separated sections with different colors completes the "color by number" idea.

In the picture at the top right of this article's introductory sentences, a colored paper backdrop and "piled rocks" spaces were drawn first with a black marker to make the Paint By Number fill-in areas.


No. 4 -- Graph Paper and Brown Wrapping Paper

Ordinary graph paper and brown wrapping paper from newspaper route bundles make great creative canvases.

Graph paper contains ready-made squares that can be colored in with abundant design possibilities. Use a small stencil to create a simple shape, then fill in the squares in any chosen color combination. Some squares may be eliminated if desired, or some squares can be left void of color. Rows of squares, up, down, or diagonally can be colored-filled, giving the main stenciled area endless interpretations.

Brown wrapping paper is a wonderful canvas. It invites acrylic paints, markers, colored pencils, even liquid white-out with equal adaptation.


The Paint By Number expansion drawing to the right is done on brown wrapping paper. The variations in the color applications are brilliant. The bright orange and the white areas were done with acrylic paints. Other Paint By Number facsimile areas are finished with markers and colored pencils.

The stenciled horse was the first thing drawn in this painting. Next came the black lines randomly drawn with separations from top to bottom of the paper, which is cut into a one quarter working piece from a full newspaper route brown wrapping sheet. The areas were then filled in with color just as a Paint By Number picture is done.

The horse stencil could also be varied by using black lines within the body, horizontally, or vertically for coloring.


No. 5 -- Canvas and Slanted Fill-In Lines

Regular artist's canvas can also be used to enhance the Paint By Number experience.

Using the black marker fill-in lines from top to bottom on a sheet of wrapping paper also works on canvas. For variation, present the black lines flowing right to left to convey the sense of a river behind a lighthouse, as in the picture at the right; then pick a variety of blues to represent the river.

For the sky, vary the black lines back to a horizontal design to separate the sky from the river. Add horizontal black fill-in lines below the lighthouse and color the areas in shades of green to convey land.


On canvas, as in the painting at the right, use slanted black fill-in lines to spark the appeal of a wild sky, then use bright colors like yellows and whites around reds and pinks and purples to enhance the rulered lighthouse's light glowing in the dark of a storm.

Vary the river lines in more or less wavy appearance to capture the water's increased flow. Markers and colored pencils can be used on a canvas as easily as acrylics.

And there are no rules for amateurs expanding and exploring their Paint By Number-like options on a Sunday afternoon. If it's relaxation with colors, creating new ways to enjoy painting and drawing, or letting the imagination run -- no matter. An amateur can take satisfaction any way he pleases!


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    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @BkCreative...Actually, I think that person would be creative, but inspired by tried and true traditional paint by numbers.

      I'm happy this Hub sparked some ideas for you! Thanks for commenting.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Yay! I used to do this as a child and just the other day I was wondering if I can find a set. But isn't it time to be creative...well, so it would be more than just a paint by numbers painting that I may find in someone else home who was not creative?

      You have given me great ideas. Oh yay! And rated way up and more.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      Absolutely, RTalloni! Paint By Number variations are so wide open, and the exploring is half the fun of the creativity. Thanks for stopping by!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      So interesting. I've been reading bits and pieces re paint-by-number and have been surprised at how popular it is. Maybe I need to think past grandchildren...