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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
20 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
104 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best adult paint-by-number kits

One of the most important skills we lose when growing up is the ability to slow down. We promise ourselves again and again that we'll make time for happiness once all the important stuff has been accomplished. But unless we make downtime a priority, it never ends up on our to-do list. That’s why it’s vital to have a stress-reducing hobby to engage in on a regular basis, and a paint-by-number kit is exactly that.

The right paint-by-number kit can reduce anxiety, help maintain mental health, enhance cognitive function, and increase focus and productivity. Engaging in the calming practice of living in and focusing on the moment while enjoying a paint-by-number kit can impact your life in many of the same ways that yoga or meditation can.

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A paint-by-number kit is one of those rare activities that can engage an individual no matter their skill level. The more techniques you know, the further you can bend (or break) the rules to give the finished work a splash of your unique personality.

Key considerations


If you don't like what you're painting, it's not going to be a very rewarding experience. If you love streams and waterfalls, for instance, and you purchase a paint-by-number kit of a still life, you might never even finish it. And, if you do finish it, you may not feel very proud of your accomplishment. The first and most important aspect of being successful in this endeavor is to choose a kit that features subject matter that you like. When you’re painting something that you care about, you’ll care about how you're painting.


Acrylic paints: These are the easiest paints for beginners to use. They dry quickly, allow you to paint over mistakes, and offer vibrant colors. Additionally, acrylic paints are non-toxic and easy to clean up.

Oil paints: These paints are far more flexible but can be harder for a beginner to master. Oil paints take much longer to dry, and some may contain toxic pigments. Additionally, cleanup requires the use of toxic chemicals.

Watercolor paints: These paints are unforgiving and unpredictable. A watercolor-by-number kit can be frustrating and hard to master. If you're a painting novice, watercolor painting may not be the best choice for you.

Colored pencils: If you'd like to inch your way into a paint-by-number kit, you could first try a pencil-by-number kit. These colored pencil kits can give you the confidence to move on to an acrylic kit.


If you're a beginner, look for a paint-by-number kit that has larger areas to fill and fewer colors. You will first need to learn how to control your brush before moving on to more complex kits. Once you have a few paint-by-number sets under your belt, you can consider a more challenging option. Some kits require you to paint in seemingly impossibly small areas while others require you to mix paints. It’s important to choose a paint-by-number kit that matches your skill level. The purpose is to relax you, not frustrate you!

While the hours you spend working on a paint-by-number can help you appreciate the journey, you also earn the right to feel proud of yourself when you hold your finished work of art in your hands.




Size: When you're starting out, it's best to stick with a smaller canvas. As you progress, you can graduate to a larger canvas.

Frame: The best paint-by-number kits come with a framed canvas. If you can find a theme that you like and the kit is in your budget, this is the way to go. Otherwise, you could wind up with a canvas that’s folded and needs to be ironed before you can even begin your painting.


A beginner's paint-by-number kit might only come with one brush, which can make completing the painting more difficult. It's best to use the right size brush for the job. While it can be frustrating to paint a large area with a small brush, it’s nearly impossible to paint a small area with a large brush. If your chosen paint-by-number kit only includes one brush, consider purchasing an assortment of brushes separately.


More expensive paint-by-number kits may include extras that you won't find in lower-priced kits, such as paint in tubes instead of tiny cups, the inclusion of an easel, or even multiple projects. If this sounds like something that appeals to you, look for a paint-by-number kit that includes extras that you would use.

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Ultimately, creating art is its own reward. The brain of an individual engaged in the creative process increases the production of dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for positive feelings such as happiness.

Adult paint-by-number kit prices

Inexpensive: You can get a very basic, introductory paint-by-number kit for under $10. This would be a good place to look if this is your first time. These kits don’t include many colors, the designs typically aren't too complex or large, and you won’t find any bells and whistles such as a framed canvas. The kit may only include one brush.

Mid-range: If you're more experienced, you only need to spend roughly $10 to $20. In this price range, there is a wide variety of projects, and some may be extremely complex. You have a larger assortment of paints, possibly more brushes, and larger canvases. However, you still won't find any kits with framed canvases in this price range.

Higher-end: After you cross the $25 or $30 mark, the kits include a framed canvas. Some sets offer paint in tubes instead of tiny plastic cups. You may even get an easel and two or more projects in this price range. While these are the best kits, many people stay in the middle range for the larger variety of subject matter.

To preserve your finished painting, you need to varnish it. Varnish helps protect your artwork from dust, dirt, UV rays, and yellowing.



You might think that all it takes to complete a paint-by-number picture is filling in the numbered shapes with the correct color of paint. While that definitely works, it also sets the bar pretty low. If you'd like to learn how to produce your best work, consider the following tips.

  • Prepare the space and your materials. You want to relax and focus, so don't try to work on your paint-by-number kit in a room where you’ll be constantly interrupted. Cover your workspace with newspapers. Have a cup of water and some rags or paper towels handy. If the canvas is folded, iron out the creases from the back.
  • Take a picture of the canvas before you start. This serves two purposes: One, if anything happens to the canvas, you’ll have a record of what it originally looked like. Two, if some of the numbers are too small to see, you can zoom in for a closer look.
  • Start at the top with dark colors. The danger of smudging paint with your palm is real. Start at the top of the canvas and work your way down. Also, start with dark colors and progress to the highlights.
  • Paint like a pro. Never fully submerge your brush in the paint. For the greatest control, only dip the tip in the paint. Paint one number at a time. Choose your first color and stick with it until every space with that number is filled. For some colors, you might need to apply a second coat, so give the paint plenty of time to dry between coats. Don't try to remove a mistake, because there's a good chance that it will only make things worse. Instead, let it dry thoroughly and apply the correct color on top. Some painting kits have tiny spots to fill. It's okay to improvise and use a toothpick if needed.
  • Clean up as you work and after you’re done. Periodically stop and clean your hands, brushes, and work area. That splotch of green on your palm can ruin hours of work in an instant. As soon as you're done painting for the day, close the lids on the paints so they won’t dry out and clean your brushes.
  • Take your time and enjoy yourself. It's not a race. The whole point of doing a paint-by-number is to slow your pace, live in the moment, and have fun. Don't let that inner perfectionist out. As you get more comfortable with the process, feel free to bend or completely break the rules, try new techniques, and express yourself. Don't let lines define your creativity.
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If you'd like to practice mindfulness — the art of focusing all your attention on the present moment — a paint-by-number kit is an excellent tool.


Q. Is using a paint-by-number kit cheating?

A. To complete a paint-by-number, you must follow a set of specific instructions to accomplish a task. it's up to you to execute each and every step to the best of your abilities in order to produce the painting. To cook a recipe, you also must follow specific instructions. If following the directions to complete a paint-by-number is cheating, then preparing food using a recipe would also be considered cheating. In short, if the finished work is the result of the individual's own efforts, it's not cheating.

Q. What can I learn from a paint-by-number kit?

A. Believe it or not, a paint-by-number kit is more than a relaxing pastime. To become accomplished at completing a kit, you need to learn such crucial skills as how to hold a brush, how different brushes and strokes affect a painting, and how paint interacts with the canvas. You will also hone your hand-eye coordination, learn how seemingly fragmented colors fit together to create a whole, and gain the confidence needed to explore other areas of painting.

Q. Is completing a paint-by-number hard?

A. Completing a paint-by-number takes patience. You must be willing to go slowly and pay attention to details. If this is hard for you, you might consider the kit difficult. However, most individuals find that getting lost in a moment of intense focus (being in the zone) is extremely relaxing and remarkably rewarding.


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