How to create your own Paint by Numbers

According to the very reliable Wikipedia, paint by numbers kits were in introduced by the the Craft Master brand in1951, selling over 12 million kits. The kits said proclaimed, “A BEAUTIFUL OIL PAINTING THE FIRST TIME YOU TRY”, although I’m not sure they’d envisaged a 5 year old me making a complete pigs ear of one I got for Christmas…

The public response to these kits led other companies to produce their own versions of paint by number. I’m going to show you how to create your own.  Well, without the paint….well actually, just the outline picture, but its a start.  The paint mixing bit you’ll have to have a go at yourself – just remember, most skin colours need a bit of blue to make them realistic (even very pale or pinky skinned people).

I love taking portrait photos, and also like to paint portraits, but am bobbins at getting face dimensions right…so here’s how to cheat and create a work of art with a little help.


  • You’ll need Adobe Photoshop for this…or any other photo package that allows you to create a cut out (cartoony type) effect.

I’ll show you two ways of doing this – one give less detail (good for practice runs/kids) the other gives more detail and involves using a Photoshop plug in called Simplify from Topaz Labs

IMPORTANT Remember to use layers in Photoshop so you can turn different images (the original, the cut out version, the outline, the cutout version with the outline on etc) on and off.

The simple way:

  • First find your photo – I nicked one of Mr Beckham from the t’internet which is probably naughty but hey, I’m not saying its mine…
  • Open in Photoshop and copy the background.  Name it Outline.
  • Select the Outline layer and go to Filter – Artistic – Cut out
  • Select these settings: 8 levels, 5 edge simplicity, 1 edge fidelity
  •  Click ok and go back to the Photoshop screen
  • Select the Pencil Tool – set it to 2pt and a mid grey colour
  • Now draw around the chunks of colour.  You can also do this by using the Magic Wand tool and clicking on each area, then selecting Edit>Stroke with 2pts set but I prefer the by hand method.
  •  Do this with each colour section – if you use Stoke, you’ll get duplicate lines in some areas – we’ll tidy these up later.
  • Now you have lines around each colour section you can deleted the colour out of it to leave just the outline.  Use the Magic Wand tool do this.  I turned the background layer off so you can see the deleted sections.
  • Once you’ve deleted all the sections you can tidy up the double outlines – they may come through as you paint over the sections.
  • If you go wrong, use the Pencil tool on 2pt to fill the line back in.
  •  Save your image as a jpg (File, Save As, Jpg).
  • Print it out and paint in the sections 🙂
  • Here’s one I made earlier….I did this with the more detailed version below.  Not exactly perfect, but you can see where I’m going with this…

The more complicated version uses Topaz Lads Simplicity plug in – you can try it out with a 30 day trial here. 

  •  Open the file in Photoshop and choose Filter>Topaz Labs
  • Faff about with the settings until you get something that looks like it has lines drawn around the colour changes – but with more detail than in Photoshop Cut Out.  Not being deliberately vague here, its just that different settings work better with different pictures.
  • Save your file
  • Go back to Photoshop and go to Filter>Artistic>Cut Out (use the same settings as above – 8 levels, 5 smoothing and fidelity 1)
  • Draw around each of the colour change sections you want – I tend to make the sections quite curvy and less complex than you get with the Simplicity tool (ironically) – remember, you have to paint inside these areas – don’t make it too hard for yourself.
  •  Use the Magic Wand tool in Photoshop to select each area and delete the colour.
  • You”ll be left with something like this – I didn’t do the hair cos I wanted to see if the outline had worked for the face..not because I was just too lazy…

And that’s it – just colour it in using the original photo and/or the photo with the outline over it as a template.


Have fun…and do share what you’ve created…I’d love to see your works of art.


Ring or Cheerio Bead Chain Maille jewellery set

I had a lovely time today making a jewellery set with the Czech glass ring beads from the Gyre&Gimble shop.  I adore these beads – they’re perfect for Chain Maille jewellery, which is my new favorite hobby.  Its threatening to take over from crochet…

The AB clear ring bead jewellery set pics – taken at slightly different times in the evening light, you can see the effect it has on the AB clear beads – beautiful aren’t they.  And only 10p.

The bracelet took 15 beads, the necklace took 39 and the earrings took 3 each.

These were so quick to make I made another bracelet with buttons and blue ring beads – I post pics tomorrow as its too dark to take photos now…

QR Code Crochet Cushion

I’ve got a bit of a thing about monochrome, black and white stuff just turns me on.  So when QR codes came out I loved them from the start.  Before I was obsessed with barcodes – now I’m finding ways to incorporate QR codes into my crafts.

My beaded QR earrings just didn’t work, but I thought I’d share my latest effort with you – combining my love of QR codes with my love of crochet.

Introducing – the very prototype QR cushion

Despite my best efforts my mobile doesn’t read it – it should say OneStickWonder which is the name I sell my own handmade crafts under.  But I made the code with too large a hook/too heavy weight yarn. With a smaller hook and/ or lighter weight yarn it should work…I’m going to keep experimenting.

I’ll post a “how to” when I’ve worked out what size hook works. Until then, have a go yourself. All you have to do is…

  • Go to a free QR code creator site like QuickQR
  • Generate the code you want for your design (fewer words seem to make less complex patterns).  This one says Be Happy
  • Convert into a plan using excel or similar – our use graph paper…the excel example above is the OneStickWonder version
  • Crochet the QR code square – I think I used doubles…change colour by crocheting half the stitch in the existing colour, and finish the stitch in the new colour.
  • The granny square effect around the edges is just a 4 or 5 trebles + 2 ch pattern.

Like I said, I’ll do a proper how to when I’ve got it to the stage when you can read the code with a code reader.

Interactive crochet – its the future 🙂

Wath Ladies go Guerilla

I was quite surprised when a friend sent me these pictures of some Guerilla Knitting (or Yarn Bombing) efforts in Wath Upon Dearne, South Yorkshire. Not because the people of South Yorkshire had picked up on what is quite a modern way of making our environment look so much nicer, but that the Women’s Institute were the perps!  WI graffiti!  Whatever next…

They’ve kind of given themselves away a bit by putting the words to Jerusalem on the banner…I blame Danny Boyle for using it in the Olympics opening ceremony, even if it was somewhat tongue in cheek…

How to make a Shamballa Bracelet

As promised, here’s how to make your very own Shamballa Bracelet – kits with instructions available from Gyre & Gimble on Ebay

Download Shamballa Bracelet Instructions

Shamballa Bracelet Instructions
You Will Need

  • 2m black waxed cotton cord
  • 2 x 8mm Hematite beads
  • 2 x 10mm Hematite beads
  • 6 x 10mm rhinestone Shamballa beads
  • Clear nail varnish or GM Cement
  • Scissors
  • Pin
1. To start, cut a 40cm long length of the cord.  This is your anchor cord. Put a little clear nail varnish on each end to make it easier to thread on your beads.
2. Make a knot close to one end of the cord then thread on an 8mm Hematite bead (fig 2).
3. Now tie another knot 9mm from the previous knot.  Pin your cord to a bead mat or sheet of paper to keep it steady.
4. Now cut a 100cm length of cord and knot it to the anchor cord below the second knot (see fig 2).  You are ready to start making square knots.
5. Take the left hand cord and make a sail shape pointing to the left (see fig 3).  Now take the right hand cord and thread it under the left hand cord and the anchor cord and up through the sail shaped loop (see fig 4).  Pull the knot tight.  You have now completed 1/2 of a square knot.
6. The second half of the square knot is completed in the same way as the first half, but this time the “sail” is pointing to the right (see fig 5).
7. Make a sail shape with the right hand cord. Now take the left hand cord and thread it under the right hand cord and the anchor cord and up through the sail shaped loop (see fig 6).
8. Tie another knot by repeating steps 5 to 7. You are now ready to thread on the first 10mm bead.
9. Thread a 10mm Hematite bead onto the anchor cord (fig 7). Now make two square knots under the bead by repeating steps 5 to 7 twice (fig 8).
10. Next thread on a rhinestone bead and repeat steps 5 to 7 twice. Continue adding all 6 rhinestone beads with two knots in between each (fig 9). Finish with the second 10mm Hematite bead.
11. Knot the remaining lengths in a reef knot (left over right then right over left) and cut the excess close to the knot. Dab a little clear nail varnish on the cut ends to seal them.
12. Thread the second 8mm Hematite bead on the end of the anchor cord and tie a knot to secure it. You are ready to make the bracelet fastener.
13. Loop the bracelet so the ends cross over. Cut a 60mm length of cord and knot it around the crossed lengths (fig 10).
14. Make 5 square knots following steps 5 to 7 (fig 11) and try on the bracelet. These knots should fill the gap between the two Hematite beads. Add more knots if required.
15. Knot the remaining lengths in a reef knot as in step 11 and cut the excess close to the knot. Dab a little clear nail varnish on the cut ends to seal them. Don’t forget to let it dry before you handle your bracelet.
Congratulations! You’ve completed your bracelet.
We hope you enjoy wearing it.
Ready to make another one? Get everything you need in a lovely little kit from us atGyre & Gimble Craft Supplies

Shamballa Bracelet Kits Now on Sale!

Finally, I’ve finished the Shamballa Bracelet kits which are on sale in the Gyre&Gimble Shop

There’s a pink kit, a blue kit and a green kit.  All contain 2m black waxed cotton cord, 2 x 8mm Hematite beads, 2 x 10mm Hematite beads, 6 beautiful rhinestone Shamballa beads and a full colour mini instruction book.

I’ll put up the instructions in the next post for those of you who want to get your own supplies but still want some a clear guide to making your very own Shamballa bracelet.

Shamballa – a place of peace, tranquility and happiness 🙂

Happy Saturday ~ Mrs Gimble