The 6 Best Paint By Numbers Kits of 2021

Paint your way to a clearer mind

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Pink Picasso “Sensitive Succulents” Paint-by-Numbers Kit at Amazon

"This high-quality kit is based upon an original photo, which makes the finished product look realistic and polished."

Best Original-Looking Painting: Colorwork DIY “Lakeside Boat” Paint-by-Numbers Kit at Amazon

"Add some zen to your life with this option, which is both calming to complete and look at when completed."

Best Famous Knock-Off Art: Colour Talk “Sunflowers” by Van Gogh Paint-by-Numbers Kit at Amazon

"Paint a classic but make it your own with this Van Gogh-inspired kit, whose color scheme varies from the original."

Best for Kids: Color Talk “Little Turtle” Paint-by-Numbers Kit for Kids at Amazon

"Perfect for aspiring artists, this option is smaller than adult-sized versions, making it easy for little hands to work with."

Best for Seniors: Ledgebay “October” Paint-by-Numbers Kit at Amazon

"A great choice for anyone who may not have perfect vision, it features a relatively simple design and color scheme. "

Best Watercolor: Tumovo “Mason Jar Floral” Paint-by-Numbers Kit at Amazon

"The design is versatile enough to match the decor of any room and while the paint may be finicky, it offers a mindful experience."

Whether or not people realize it, they’ve probably developed their own strategies for coping with stress throughout their lives. Maybe it involves taking a trip to the batting cages to release some pent-up energy, or going for a walk in the woods to quiet their restless mind. Art is another calming, stress-relieving activity, but one many people forget about as they head into adulthood. 

If someone wasn’t “good” at art in school, it may not even occur to them to try their hand at it again as an adult. But there’s a key difference: Now no one is being graded, there are no assignments, and, most importantly, the idea is to help people manage stress—not create it. There are many different types of art therapy to explore, so it may take some trial-and-error before finding one that truly helps with relaxation. 

For some people, paint-by-number kits offer the meditative, relaxing escape they need. Yes, the same paint-by-number kits many people may have received as a present as a child, where there is a black-and-white drawing on a piece of paper or canvas, with each section marked with a number that corresponds to a particular color. This gives people the opportunity to take advantage of the calming aspects of painting, without having the stress of having to come up with a design, or how to color it.

Paint-by-number kits can be an effective stress management tool for people of any age—particularly if they deal with anxiety (though it may be a little advanced for toddlers). When purchasing a paint-by-number kit, there are several things to keep in mind, like whether you’d rather paint larger areas or smaller details, and the kind of paint included with the kit.

Here, the best paint-by-number kits to help you shed some stress.

Best Overall: Pink Picasso “Sensitive Succulents” Paint-by-Numbers Kit

Pink Picasso “Sensitive Succulents” Paint-by-Numbers Kit

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Looks like art you’d buy to hang in your home

  • 1.5-inch border around the print allows for framing options

  • Backup map of numbers included

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Must follow instructions carefully to avoid running out of paint

There’s a reason why this kit costs around three times as much as the others on the list: all of the materials are of a higher quality—from the pre-mixed acrylic paints, to the wooden paint brushes, to the sturdy canvas. And while it’s perfect for adult beginners, given the price point, you may want to start out with a more affordable paint-by-numbers kit to make sure you enjoy the experience (and confirm that it does help calm you down, instead of feeling like another chore you “have” to do).

Each of the paintings is based on an original photo, so the Pink Picasso kits tend to result in more realistic-looking and polished final products. One particularly useful feature is that the kits come with a backup map of all the numbers. This way, if you miss (or accidentally paint over) one while you’re in your blissed-out, relaxed state, there’s nothing to stress about (defeating the purpose of this stress-reducing activity).

And though everyone paints at their own speed, these kits come with an estimated amount of time it could take to complete the painting. For example, “Sensitive Succulents” takes most people around 12 hours to finish. Time may not be a factor for everyone, but for those who like to go into a project with some type of plan and timeline, this is another helpful detail.

Size: 16 x 20 inches | Framed: No | Brushes: 4 included | Difficulty: Adult beginner

What is art therapy?

"Art Therapy is a specialized form of psychotherapy that combines traditional talk therapy with a creative twist. Art therapists support clients in unique ways that can enhance self-esteem, improve sensory-motor functioning and express distressing emotions. Some exercises include painting, paper-making for a journal or self-portrait work. While art therapy can be provided through a licensed clinician, there are many therapeutic art activities you can do on your own!" — Mary Tate, LCSW and Member of Hope for Depression Research Foundation's Media Advisory Group

Best Original-Looking Painting: Colorwork DIY “Lakeside Boat” Paint-by-Numbers Kit

What We Like
  • Only one coat of paint needed

  • Smaller details good for those looking for more of a meditative experience

  • Comes with hooks to hang the finished product

What We Don't Like
  • Paint may thicken over time

  • May require ironing to get creases out of the canvas

First of all, the picture itself—a single row boat on a lake at dusk—is calming to look at, which sets the tone for the rest of the project. There are some smaller details in this painting, which require some additional time and concentration. If that’s not something that appeals to you, it might be best to skip this one. But if you’re looking for a painting that lends itself to a more meditative experience, this kit is a great option.

The Colorwork DIY kit comes in attractive packaging, making it ideal for a gift—especially for someone who could use a little more zen in their life right now. Plus, once it’s completed, this doesn’t look like the product of a typical paint-by-numbers kit and could be easily integrated into someone’s interior decor—serving as a tangible reminder of what they can accomplish when they slow down and take a breath.

Size: 16 x 20 inches | Framed: No | Brushes: 3 different sizes included | Difficulty: Advanced beginner

What the Experts Say

“A paint-by-number kit can increase attention span, patience and allow you to set a personal-care goal. Every minute spent on your paint-by-number project means progress, which can feel encouraging during times when progress is lacking in other areas of life." — Mary Tate, LCSW and Member of Hope for Depression Research Foundation's Media Advisory Group

Best Famous Knock-Off Art: Colour Talk “Sunflowers” by Van Gogh Paint-by-Numbers Kit

What We Like
  • Based on a Van Gogh masterpiece

What We Don't Like
  • Some may run out of paint

  • Color scheme not true to the original painting

Sometimes, you just want to paint something familiar, but at the same time, make it your own—and that’s part of the appeal of this kit. While the paint colors provided aren’t an exact match for the hues Vincent Van Gogh used in his original painting, it does give users the chance to put their own signature spin on the classic (while still sticking to his iconic sunflower design). Although, be careful not to use a heavy hand when painting: as with many paint-by-numbers kits, you are only provided exactly as much as the manufacturer thinks you need.

While the design may look simple, this painting may be deceptively more intricate than expected. But the key here is remembering that this isn’t a race: the whole point of painting-by-numbers is to be a relaxing activity to help reduce stress. Plus, as at least one study has shown, flowers make people happy, so this particular painting may also help boost your mood.

Size: 16 x 20 inches | Framed: No | Brushes: 3 included | Difficulty: Beginner

Best for Kids: Color Talk “Little Turtle” Paint-by-Numbers Kit for Kids

What We Like
  • Large, kid-friendly design

  • Easy-to-follow instructions

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller canvas than most

  • Not recommended for children under the age of 4

This isn’t the paint-by-numbers kit you got for your 8th birthday that only came with blue, green, red, and yellow dull watercolors and a stringy brush. This one, featuring a picture of a little turtle happily swimming underwater, comes with high-quality materials, and results in a piece of art you (or your little one) would be proud to hang on the wall.

The 8 x 8-inch canvas in this kit is smaller than most of the “adult-sized” versions, but that’s not necessarily a good—or bad—thing. The smaller size may be easier for little hands to work with, and more proportional to their height. On the other hand, bigger canvasses (and pictures) may give beginning painters a little more leeway when it comes to getting the right colors in the right places.

Size: 8 x 8 inches | Framed: No | Brushes: 3 included | Difficulty: Beginner (though recommended for children ages 4 and up)

What the Experts Say

“Some individuals who are perfectionistic may fixate on painting things in a specific way and may actually experience more anxiety for this reason. Thus, paint-by-number can divert attention from picking the right colors or painting perfectly, and help individuals let go, have fun and enjoy the process.” — Dr. Leela R. Magavi, a psychiatrist and Regional Medical Director for Community Psychiatry 

Best for Seniors: Ledgebay “October” Paint-by-Numbers Kit

What We Like
  • Large, easy-to-paint shapes


  • Exclusive design, where a portion of sales goes to the artist of the original

  • Limited color palette, which keeps it simple

What We Don't LIke
  • Paint consistency may vary in thickness

Of course, older adults are not one homogenous group who all share certain characteristics, but gradually diminishing eyesight is relatively widespread among older adults. But that’s no reason why they shouldn’t have the opportunity to work on a calming paint-by-numbers kit. This one—featuring “October,” an original work by Judy Buswell—is a great choice for anyone who may not have perfect vision, given the relatively simple design and color scheme. 

At the same time, people with especially poor vision may have difficulty with the project, or may want to use a magnifying glass while working on it. And this is a great beginner kit for anyone, regardless of the quality of their vision. One particularly useful feature of the kit is that it comes with a wrinkle-free canvas, that’s ready to go as soon as you unroll it—instead of having to wait around for it to flatten or iron.

Size: 16 x 20 inches | Framed: No | Brushes: 4 ergonomic grip brushes included | Difficulty: Beginner

Best Watercolor: Tumovo “Mason Jar Floral” Paint-by-Numbers Kit

What We Like
  • Makes watercolor painting more accessible

  • Cotton canvas aids in water absorption

What We Don't Like
  • May require ironing to get creases out of the canvas

  • Paint containers may dry out quickly, if left uncovered

If you’re a fan of watercolors, you may be disappointed when you do a quick search and find that most paint-by-number kits available come with thicker acrylic paints, instead of the dreamier, muted hues you prefer. But this kit—featuring a picture of different shades of blue flowers, each in unique jars or bottles—delivers. The design is versatile enough to fit into the decor in any room of the house, so if you were looking for something subtle for the bathroom, this could be it.

Of course, as an appreciator of the watercolor technique and final product, you’re already aware that this type of paint can be a little finicky to work with—especially if you’re not used to it. But this also offers another dimension to the mindful experience of painting: taking the time to pay attention to details like that, and the adjustments you need to make in order to accommodate the medium. 

Size: 16 x 20 inches | Framed: No | Brushes: 3 included | Difficulty: Advanced beginner

Final Verdict

While the Pink Picasso “Sensitive Succulents” Kit is worth the splurge, those just getting started with paint-by-number kits should consider the Colorwork “Lakeside Boat” Kit, which also produces a beautiful final product, but for approximately one-third of the cost. And since the goal of this activity is reducing stress, the calming scene—featuring still waters and a stunning sunset—can help ease you into relaxation.

What to Look for in a Paint-by-Numbers Kit

Paint-by-number kits come in many different levels of quality and difficulty—not to mention endless designs. Here’s what to consider before making a purchase.

Difficulty:

This should be a relaxing activity, so pick a kit that matches your skill level. Trying to do an advanced painting as your first attempt may increase your stress, instead of decreasing it.

Size:

Most kits come with a canvas for a 16 x 20-inch painting. That is a good size for a beginner. And if you notice a kit that costs significantly more or less than the others, check the size of the canvas to see if it matches the price.

Design:

Paint-by-number kits may have a reputation as being as original and visually appealing as motel art, but with so many new companies getting in the game, the designs being offered are now ones you would willingly hang in your living room. If it seems like you’re only coming across duds, keep searching, or do a specialized search to help you find what you’re looking for.

Quality of Materials:

By their nature, paint-by-number kits are made to be discarded once the project is complete, so it makes sense that the quality of the canvas, paint, and paint brushes might be lower than if you were to go to an art supply store and buy everything individually. Still, some kits hold up better than others. Pay attention to whether the canvas is made of paper, or something stronger, like linen or cotton. Look at how other reviewers describe the paint and brushes included, to get an idea of whether the paints dry out quickly, or the brushes fall apart after one use.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does Painting Relieve Stress?

    Art therapy—including painting— is one of many stress-relieving activities. "Painting is a wonderful tool for stress relief. We live in a world with constant interruptions and demands on our time. Painting allows an escape from these daily stressors," Mary Tate, LCSW and Member of Hope for Depression Research Foundation's Media Advisory Group, tells Verywell Mind.

    In addition to providing an escape, Dr. Leela R. Magavi, a psychiatrist and Regional Medical Director for Community Psychiatry says painting can help "quiet intrusive, ruminative thoughts and improve mindfulness, which can assuage pain and stress." And according to Dr. Magavi, "painting can improve mindfulness and overall mood states. It can divert attention from painful rumination. It can slow breathing and enhance attention to bodily sensations.”

  • What Skills Does Painting Develop?

    According to experts, painting as a form of art therapy is about more than simply creating a piece of art. “Painting and art can help foster neuronal connectivity and improve cognition," Dr. Magavi says. "Painting can allow individuals to creatively implement ideas into positive outcomes...Art can alleviate anxiety and decrease the detrimental effects of stress. It can help release dopamine and improve motivation and energy levels."

    Painting can also be a vehicle for self-reflection. “You can often tell a lot about your feelings while painting. Are your brush strokes really tough on the canvas? Are you selecting dark colors over bright colors? True self awareness can be challenging; painting encourages the practice of true mindfulness."

    Painting can also aid in meditation. According to Tate, "many people experience calmer breathing and the surfacing of repressed emotions through the process of creating art."

Why Trust Verywell Mind? 

As a seasoned health writer and editor with a special focus on mental health and well-being, Elizabeth Yuko, PhD understands how powerful stress-relieving activities can be for many people—as well as the fact that they’re not one-size-fits-all. With decades of first-hand experience dealing with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, she’s always on the lookout for new (and research-backed) products, techniques, and services that can help people cope with stress and other mental health challenges.

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