9.01.2011

DIY Paint By Numbers


Recently I've been seeing some paint by numbers stuff on Pinterest. There's these cool murals, where they copied a paint by numbers painting onto a whole wall.

And this one where they painted over a traditional painting with brighter colors.
But as someone who can't draw to save their life I felt the paint by numbers selection on Pinterest was lacking something. That something is a tutorial on how to make your own picture into a paint by numbers painting. So I got out the camera a took some pictures of my favorite subject, my cat Barbara! (before you call me a crazy cat lady, I have a boyfriend and therefore can NOT be a crazy cat lady! Besides, I only have 2 cats.)
I was going for a picture that was really clean with an uncluttered background.


Once you have your picture, upload it onto Picnik. It's a really awesome FREE online photo editing software. I decided to make mine square, so I used their cropping tools to cut out the rest of the picture.


Then I started playing around with the actual picture itself. I don't exactly remember every little tweak that I made, and every picture is going to be different but I'll give you some pointers that worked for me.

Use this soften tool, over and over again. Make sure to click reverse effect and slide the softness to 100%. It smooths out the lines and clutter that don't really contribute to the subject of your picture. You can adjust the brush size and zoom in really close.


Once things are looking a little hazy you can select this doodle tool and completely smooth out your background. it also has a color selector so you can match your existing background.


Think of how you would describe your subject. For Babbs I would tell you she has a little skunk face with green eyes and a pink nose. Make those features pop! You can use the tint tool to exaggerate the colors you want to stand out, like I did on her eyes.


Or you can use the boost tool to heighten the color like I used on her nose.


After about an hour of playing with that one picture I came up with this! I think it looks pretty cool.


Now for the paint by numbers part! Picnik has this feature called 'posterize' that will magically paint-by-numbers-ify the picture for you. You can also use this to check the progress of simplifying your picture, if its not quite where you want it just don't apply it to your picture. You may need to adjust how many colors it uses and the amount of detail to get the look you're going for. Isn't she presh?


Now that you have your image, go get a canvas. I bought a small 10" x 10" one from Joann's. While I was there I also got the cheapest craft paint I could find in black, white, green, and pink, and some small paint brushes. You don't need to buy every single color that's in your picture, most of the colors will be varied shades of the same tone. If you were doing an entire wall I think buying those little samples of wall paint matched to your colors would be a great idea. Then you'll need to transfer your image to your canvas. To do that you will need to print out your picture onto plain old piece of copy paper. Flip it over and start filling up the back side with pencil. Yep, pencil.

Once you get the back looks like a hot mess lay it on your canvas with the picture facing up. Use a little tape to secure the picture where you want it, that way you can check the canvas to make sure you transferred everything. Then just follow all the lines with something kinda pokey (like your pencil with the led twisted inside) using firm pressure to transfer the pencil from the back of the paper onto the canvas. I was also a little worried that I might rub off some of the lines with the side of my hand while painting, so I went over all the lines again with a sharpie pen.


Once you're done you can take the picture off your canvas and start painting. Just be sure to keep it handy for reference while you're filling in the colors.


The paint I used was a little thin, but 2 coats were plenty to cover it. I also gave it a coat of clear matte spray paint just to make sure nothing happens to it. I know I'm a little biased but I love it! Even Matt was pleasantly surprised. His initial reaction to the news that I was going to paint a picture of our cat Barbara was less than enthusiastic. I haven't decided where to put it yet, and I need to make one for Detective Tubbs, but I'll be sure to share some pictures when we hang then up.


So have you ever done a paint by numbers painting before? Do you think you might give this a try? Do people wonder when you'll become a crazy cat lady? Bee tee dubs, how come those women that bring their little dogs everywhere don't get called crazy dog ladies? At least I leave my cats at home. Can someone say double standard? Anyways if you do make your own paint by number painting I'd love to see what you create!

- Nikki

Update!
I finally made one fro my other cat, Detective Tubbs (from Miami Vice). He loves it! Just look at the joy in his eyes.




I am linking up to Tatertots and Jello's Weekend Wrap Up Party, The DIY Show Off's DIY Project Parade, and Under the Table and Dreaming's Sunday Showcase Party House of Hepworths Hookin' up with HoH #65
This post has been featured on Curbly, Decor Hacks, and Under The Table and Dreaming: Showcase Party Features


23 comments:

  1. Hey! I just found your blog from one of your comments on the humble abowed (about denver) and since i'm [newly] a denver girl too, i hopped on over! And I also could be considered a crazy cat lady if I weren't married..we have 2 cats and I'm obsessed with them. All that to say, i like your blog and i like this idea... i may just have to try it! thanks for the tutorial!

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  2. you are FUNNY!! You're first cat looks exactly like my cat (Le Monstaire) - and has even crazier eyes - and I have wanted to do this of her forever - thanks for the tips!

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  3. btw Barbara and Detective Tubbs?? Love it.

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  4. Wonderful!!
    I just bought my 12 yr old her first paint by numbers, to fight some summer boredom, and she's enjoying it. Your ideas are inspiring us to do our pets and make a gallery! It beats tv and iPod touch....;)

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you like it! Making your own takes a little patience, but I think it's totally worth it! I'd love to see them if they ever get made!

      Nikki

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  5. I think Barbara and Ralph could be related. Ralph's got longer hair, but maybe that just makes him the hippie of the family. He's got the little nose dot and everything!

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    1. Agreed! Barbara would be the mentally unstable one in the family. She would avoid all large family functions.

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    2. Poor Barbara. There's a black sheep in every family...

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  6. Picnik is now part of Google+ and no longer has the same features. Any suggestions on other software to use?

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  7. I know, I miss picnik so much! Some of the creators of Picnik created Picmonkey. I haven't played around with it too much, but maybe between the two of them (G+ and PicMonkey) they might have the features you need.

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  8. My husband collects vintage Paint-by-Numbers and I love them. The examples of murals you've shown are great. Google's Picasa has the "Posterize" feature. I'm going to try it out with one of my many cats' photos. (Yes, many cats. I prefer the term "eccentric" as opposed to "crazy.") http://picasa.google.com/

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    1. I personally feel there is nothing wrong with being crazy for cats i.e. crazy cat lady. There are so many in this world who do not like cats, I try to make up for their misfortune! =^..^=

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  9. Found you through Pinterest. I'm a little obsessed with PBNs, and love the idea of making my own. My dog has always wanted a painting of herself. I just know it.

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    1. Ha ha ha!! "...my dog has always wanted a painting of herself. I just know it..." You. Are. Hilarious!!!

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  10. Love this idea. I've seen all the paint by numbers pins, but they still looked way out of my league. This is perfect!

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  11. Hi, I found you through a search engine, looking for DIY paint by numbers. Your ideas are wonderful and I will definitely be trying this. I'm thinking my very elderly mom might like doing this with photos of her two cats, and I want to try it with one (or more) of my four. I'm a bit nutty, married, cats - so I guess that qualifies as a crazy cat lady?

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  12. This is very very cool - I LOVE the 2 canvases you have produced!

    Love from a crazy cat-dog-rabbit lady ;)

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  13. Hi. Love your tutorial! And love your cats!!!! I have a small old PBN painting that I would like to convert back to line art. Then I would like to blow it up to about 30 x 20, re-paint it in bright colors, and hang it on a wall. I'd value your opinion on this! So far everything I have seen is on a small canvas. Somewhere in some magazine I saw a photo of a wall-size PBN and this is what I am heading toward. Thanks and keep creating!! Jane

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  14. Incredible! I'm so inspired to go make one right now! I'd love for you to share this as a guest post on my blog: decoryouadore.com. Whadaya say?

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  15. I've been looking for cubist paintings for needlepoint, because there isn't so much intricate shading. I love your cat idea.

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