How to Create Your Own Paint by Number

Updated March 23, 2017

Many children love to do paint by numbers art. While you can purchase books or sheets of these drawings, or print out ones that you find online, you children would probably more impressed and pleased with a paint by number drawing that is based on a family photo. This photo can be of you, your children, a family pet or almost anything. However, it helps to make it a closeup shot with a very simple background. Beyond that, all you need is a graphics program like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or the freeware program GIMP.

Load the image you want to work with onto your computer. Click on the desktop shortcut to start Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or GIMP.

Select "Filter" from the menu and choose "Artistic." From the options, choose "Cutout" (in GIMP, choose "Cartoon"). In the dialogue that appears, set the "Levels" to 4 and the "Simplicity" and "Fidelity" to 1 (in GIMP, set the "Mask Radius" to 50 and the "Percent Black" to .5).

Click on the "Create New Layer" button at the bottom of the "Layers" palette. Select the "Pencil" tool from the toolbar.

Set the "Pencil" tool to black and make the width to about 2 pixels. Now trace the colour patterns you see in the image.

Find a colour on the canvas that you want to call "1" and use the "Type" tool (in GIMP, it is called the "Text" tool) to type in this number in any of the tracing areas that contain that colour. Repeat this to add numbers for all the other colours in the image.

Go to the "Layers" palette and click on the "Eye" next to the background layer to hide it. Print out your paint by numbers drawing. Provide your children with a numbered list of the colours they will need.

Things You'll Need

  • Photoshop
  • Photoshop Elements
  • GIMP
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About the Author

Carol Adams has been writing since 2009. She writes about graphics, 3D and video software for various websites. Adams earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and a Master of Arts in liberal arts from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.