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How to Turn a Photo Into a Custom Paint by Number

How to Pick the Best Custom Paint by Number Image

The Top 4 Secrets to Making the BEST Custom Paint by Number Kit

Already have the perfect image for a custom paint by number kit? No need to wait: Click here to transform that picture into your next masterpiece!

Not quite ready? Continue reading below to answer all the questions you might have about your next personalized paint by number! If it seems like too much, don't worry. We look at and optimize all images before production. Every kit is then hand made and shipped right to your door!

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  1. Pick the Right Size Canvas for your Image Dimensions (Aspect Ratio)
  2. Choose a Large & High-Resolution image of at least 500 pixels
  3. Be Mindful of How the Paint Works with Colors and Shading in your Original Photo
  4. Make sure the subject matter of your image takes up most of the space!

1. Pick the Right Size Canvas for Your Image Dimensions (Aspect Ratio)

Choosing the right size canvas can be tricky and can require a little bit of math, but have no fear—we manually check each image to make sure that the dimensions of your image are suited for the canvas size selected! We are Photoshop experts and will always ensure that your image is optimized to maximize the surface area of the canvas.

Aspect Ratio

What is aspect ratio and how can you choose the right size canvas for your image?

Aspect ratio is the ratio between the width and height of your image, you can calculate it by dividing the width of your picture by the height. Ideally you want the image you send to have the same or a similar aspect ratio as the canvas you select for your kit. If the two are very off, we have to add white space, crop the image, or choose a size canvas that better matches your image. We will always maximize the surface area and working space of your custom kit so that your image takes up as much room as possible!

How do I find and change the aspect ratio of an image?

Open the image with the photos application (usually the default in windows PC’s)

Go to “Edit & Create” and select “Edit” from the dropdown

Custom Paint by Number Aspect Ratio Selection

Once you edit it, you can crop the image to one of the most popular aspect ratios.

Custom Paint by Number Aspect Ratio Selection

The following aspect ratios from our custom paint by number kit drop down will work perfectly with the corresponding kit sizes:

4:3 Aspect Ratio (the standard ratio for most iPhone and Samsung devices):

  • 30x40cm
  • 45x60cm
  • 60x80cm

10:8 Aspect Ratio:

  • 40x50cm
  • 60x75cm
  • 80x100cm

Square Aspect Ratio:

  • 40x40cm
  • 50x50cm
  • 60x60cm
  • 70x70cm

3:2 Aspect Ratio:

  • 40x60cm
  • 50x75cm
  • 60x90cm
  • 80x120cm

7:5 Aspect Ratio:

  • 50x70cm

We keep our dimensions in centimeters because it uses more whole numbers and makes the calculation quite a bit easier.

How can you make your custom kit landscape or portrait?

Some of our customers ask us how to choose whether the image is landscape or portrait (or as my 1st grade teacher would say, hamburger or hot dog style). It doesn’t matter if you choose a 30x40 or a 40x30, we will make it is landscape or portrait based on the image!

2. Choose a Large & High-Resolution Image of at least 500 pixels

Your custom paint by number can only come out as good as the image you put in. As our MPBN accountants say, “Garbage in, Garbage Out.”

What is a pixel? A pixel is a small dot on your screen that is roughly 1/96th of an inch (or .26mm). That’s REALLY tiny! A paint by number kit of 40x50cm (16”x20”) is about 1500x2000 pixels. That means that any image that does not have enough pixels needs to be blown up, so each pixel is larger than it was intended. This process causes details of that image to be lost. When there are not enough pixels, we need to zoom-in on the image, which makes each pixel bigger. If the image sent in is too small and we have to zoom in a lot, the image will not blend well, and you may be able to see each pixel as a square and the image may be considered “pixelated”. You can see how large the pixels in your image might be if you zoom in on the image to fill up your entire screen. Consider the example of a high-resolution vs a low-resolution image below!

Custom Paint by Number High vs Low Resolution Example

How can you check for the pixels on your image?


  1. Find the file on your computer
  2. Right click on the image and select “Properties”
    How to Check Pixels using a windows computer part 1
  3. Click on the “Details” tab
  4. Check the image width and height in pixels to make sure each dimension is greater than 500 pixels to prevent any pixilation.
    How to Check Pixels using a windows computer part 2


  1. Right click on the file in “Finder”
  2. Click “Get Info”
  3. Under “More Info” you can find the dimensions (pixels) of the image
  4. Check for the image width and height in pixels to make sure each dimension is greater than 500 pixels to prevent any pixilation.

How to Check Pixels using a mac

3. Be Mindful of How the Paint Works with the Colors and Shading in your Original Photo

High contrast and vibrant color are the deciding factors between a good and great paint by number kit. Read more to see how to make the right choices for your kit.

What is contrast?

Contrast is the difference between elements of an image. An image or photograph can have several types of contrast, including color contrast and tonal contrast. Color contrast is usually the most important to focus on for paint by number kits—if your kit is mostly one color, it doesn’t turn out as well. The best images kits are made with images that have a different background color than the subject matter, providing a significant amount of contrast in the image.

There are many types of color schemes from which to choose, but choosing colors with an aesthetically pleasing relationship with other colors in the image typically produces the best result. You can read more about color theory and choosing the best color relationships at Wikipedia. We recommend checking out this article on Color Theory https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_theory

The Optical Illusion of “White”

White can be a very tricky and often misleading color for our human eyes. It is easiest to think of this as an optical illusion or a trick that the image plays on us. Take for instance the photo below, and the belly of this very cute dolphin. What looks to our eyes as a slightly off white, is actually a very strong shade of blue that our software will pick up as such! This picture also lacks a lot of color contrast, so it would not make for the very best paint by number kit.

Dolphin white pixel illusion example

Dolphin white pixel illusion example

4. Make sure the subject matter of your image takes up most of the space!

We highly recommend cropping out as much background as possible when creating a custom kit. The subject matter (say your family, loved one, fur baby, pet, etc.) should be the main focus of your image, and take up at least 70% of the image for the details to be prominent!

Subject Matter should take up 70% of image

Ready to paint your next sentimental masterpiece? You don't need to worry about mastering everything in the above guide if you order with My Paint by Numbers! We go through each image with our experts to optimize your image before producing your custom kit. Click here to order your next custom paint by number kit with us!

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