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How to Judge the Quality of Paint by Numbers Kits

How to judge the quality of a Painting by Numbers set (A Professional Guide)

There are thousands of Paint by Numbers kits offers in the market, how can you effectively judge the quality? As a Paint by Numbers design & producer since 20 years, let us break down the essential details and stories behind a Paint by Numbers kit and explain you how to judge the quality of a Paint by Numbers kit.

The visible components of a Paint by Numbers set includes: the canvas with printed Paint by Numbers patterns of the theme you ordered, paints in pots and brushes, wood stretcher bars, as well as the packaging, the invisible part of the kit is the professional Customer Service (which is not to underestimate in some cases). Let us go through the items one by one.

The canvas.The canvas is the most important and decisive element of the whole package, which shall be examined in 3 further perspectives:

1. The quality of the printed patterns.

At the end of the day, you buy the theme presented in the online store. The first pitfall to watch out is: does the image presented in the online store really represent the final painting result? In another word, will you get what you see? Many online stores try to use real PHOTOs to present the Paint by Numbers kit offered, and not the final Paint by Numbers result you will get after painting. The major difference between photos and paintings is that the photos replicate all real-life details and paintings don’t! The two images below explain the differences. The one to the left is a photo, and the one to the left is a Painting from Paint by Numbers.

This is a typical example because in general, it is very difficult or impossible for Paint by Numbers paintings to depict the gradient effect such as sunshine and lightings.

Therefore, the Paint by Numbers paintings will have obvious borders between different color zones as shown below right in the clouds around the sun. In such cases the photos will look much more brilliant than the outcome of the Paint by Numbers painting Many sellers attempt to use photos as advertised product image and not the actual painting results.

On the other hand, the real photos contain thousands of colors, but Paint by Numbers paintings always have limited colors. The results can be very different from a photo to the actual painting derived from a Paint by Numbers kit.

We are not saying the painting effects are not as good as photos, they are just two different things and have their own advantages. The main point here is to let you be aware of, that it should be crystally clear what you will get is what you see, to avoid any negative surprises / disappointments after you spent weeks working on your Paint by Numbers kit.

Fake Paint by Numbers painting result
Real Paint by Numbers painting result

2.The clarity of the printed patterns and numbers on the canvas.

Experienced painters often encounter situations that the printed patterns and digits are too small to read. Yes, this can be an issue, but you also need to look at this issue from 2 different perspectives. On the one hand, tiny details are difficult to recognize, but on the other hand, a Paint by Numbers canvas needs to capture more details to present a more vivid painting result. More details in the same size of canvas also means the details are smaller than those on a larger canvas and hence more difficult to read. So, a canvas template that is difficult to read may not simply equal to bad quality because they are designed to depict more details. Below is a comparison of a painting with more details vs a painting with much less details. Painting with more details is much vivid and nicer but also more difficult to paint with.

Simple Paint by Numbers
Advanced Paint by Numbers

To cope with this dilemma, here are some proposed solutions from profis:

For complicated themes, try to order larger sizes of Paint by Numbers kits, a 40*50cm standard size cannot easily handle a very complicated theme. You can have a 40*50cm canvas that is perfectly easy to read, but then you can be almost sure this Paint by Numbers kit was not designed to depict much details that would make the painting more beautiful. Ease of reading vs. detail capturing is always Paint by Numbers’ dilemma and cannot be fulfilled at the same time!

For a complicated theme, if you still want to decide for a standard 40*50cm size due to whatever reasons (i.e. prices, or no choice), then try to ask the seller for a digital copy of the canvas patterns and numbering. Zoom it up to see the details in your PC or tablet while painting. When the details are small, a normal reference hardcopy in A3 or A4 may not be helpful because they will also not be clear enough to read.

If both solutions above don’t work, then try to choose a motive that is easier. You can normally tell the level of difficulty from the image presented in the online store. If a theme looks to have a lot of small details, it must be a complicated one. It is therefore again critical that the sellers present the “honest” painting images in their offers so that you can make right judgements. If you are happy with the authentic painting effect, then even a painting with less details can satisfy you and you do not need to pursue a super difficult theme.

Another final professional tips here: Don’t panic if there are some very tiny areas you cannot read the numbers. If the areas are tiny, as long as they are not the areas in the key parts of the painting and will have deciding impacts on the overall result, i.e. in people’s eyes or faces, then either leave them for the moment and paint them in the last steps (by then you shall also have better idea how to fill them up), or simply ignore them and paint with your own judgements. No one will see any differences from a tiny area. Focus on the major work and move on!

Paint by Numbers template qualiity

3. Quality of the canvas material and brushes.

Actually, canvas material types make least differences, regardless if it is cotton, polyester or linen, as long as the canvas is with reasonable thickness and strength, the material won’t actually make much difference after painted. The polyester canvas is normally brighter and makes the colors more vivid and can be better stretched over wood bars and look nicer. While cotton and line could give you a more natural feeling.

There is one thing however to bear in mind, some suppliers in the market offers canvas over cardboards, these Paint by Numbers can NOT be stretched over wood bars and can only be framed with photo frames. Some suppliers even offer paper as painting media instead of canvas. So make sure you know what you will get prior to the purchase.

Brushes won’t make too much difference either, the free brushes provided are normally enough for beginners to do their work. If you want to be sure to have a super painting experience, order an advance set of brushes. Brushes are also quite easy to get in any supermarket for any forms & sizes an experienced painter would prefer.

4.Stretcher bars and stretching quality

Stretcher bars shall be in wood. Besides having a quick control if they are broken or straight, there is one important thing to watch for is the thickness of the stretcher bars. Some cheap stretcher bars have less than 2cm in width which will make the stretching unstable. We normally offer wood bars of 3.0 cm in width to ensure a tight and stable stretching results.

High quality Paint by Numbers wood frames

To check the stretching quality, a professionally stretched canvas shall look like the below left one (tight and clean) and not like the below right one. For DIY stretchers of course you can try your best to get an acceptable result.

Professional stretching service for Paint by Numbers canvas
Unprofessional stretching service for Paint by Numbers canvas

5. Paints quality

Paints are another essential part of a Paint by Numbers kit. You want to look at the paints from the following perspectives:

The covering power of the acrylic paints. After you apply the paints to the canvas, it shall be able to cover the digits and lines pre-printed on the canvas. Exceptions are for the very light color paints, i.e. the white colors, you may need to apply many times to cover darker numbers or colors below. A tip is that you can always use cotton swab dipped with water to first “wash away” the black lines / numbers to be covered by white or light colors, and then apply the white color over.

The fluidity of the paints is also to be watched. It shall not be too dry and neither too fluid. However due to unnoticeable crevices of the paint pot, paints could get somehow drier. This is however not that problematic as long as they are not yet fully dried. Add some water and wait for a while and the paint shall be again in good shape.

Last but not the least is the safety of the paints. Check if the paints have irritating odor after opening the pots. The easiest thing is to order Paint by Numbers kits from leading brands. Manufactures such as myPaintLab has already done the safety check in the early stage of material sourcing to ensure only highly safe and qualified paint materials are used.

However well you store the paints; It can still go dry over time. Especially when your painting period is long. It is therefore important to choose suppliers that have the capability to resupply the paints you need quickly. Sometimes you will never be able to finish a painting without a color resent by the supplier. This is also an important Paint by Numbers service you want to watch for prior to purchasing.

However well you store the paints; It can still go dry over time. Especially when your painting period is long. It is therefore important to choose suppliers that have the capability to resupply the paints you need quickly. Sometimes you will never be able to finish a painting without a color resent by the supplier. This is also an important Paint by Numbers service you want to watch for prior to purchasing.

Color deviations are often the topics people talk about. This can be a complicated thing because many factors can cause the color discrepancies. We have a separate article explaining the color discrepancy possibilities and reasons. Again, you first need to buy from stores that present the “honest” product images, and if you see major color differences between you painting result and the advertised image, you need a responsible service team to help you identify the issues and find solutions.

6. Service quality

Product is only one side of the coin. In many cases you need the service team who is responsible, close to you and speak your languages and to help you make the decisions, check the status of your delivery, resend the paints to you, identify the reasons for the major issues you encounter during painting and help you with the solutions. Especially for large format or multi panel paintings, you want to ensure you have good after-sale support when needed to start your big project.

Paint by Numbers product safty
Good quality Paint by Numbers paints
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