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The Best Paint-by-Numbers Sets for Creating Your Own Masterpieces

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Paint-by-numbers sets, in which a numbered outline of an image comes with correspondingly numbered shades of paint, were first developed as a marketing scheme by a paint company. As legend would have it, Dan Robbins, an employee of the Detroit-based Palmer Show Card Paint Company, was inspired by no less than Leonardo da Vinci, who would number patterns for his apprentices to use. By the mid-1950s, kits were flying off the shelves. Although some have viewed the phenomenon as exemplary of the conformism of the midcentury, Robbins’s kits not only introduced countless amateur artists to the joys of putting brush to canvas (much like Bob Ross would do several decades later) but also brought the possibility of displaying hand-painted artwork to many households that would not have been able to afford it otherwise. The ubiquitous product now is mostly marketed towards adults as a relaxing, mindful activity in the vein of coloring books and mandalas. To embark on your own satisfying paint-by-numbers journey, browse our selection of the best adult sets below.


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