Color by Number: Tips & Techniques

Color by Number Tips & Techniques: How to Get the Most Out of Your Color by Number Pages

Color by number coloring pages combine the challenge of a puzzle with the fun of coloring. These puzzles come with a color key and a picture containing numbered shapes to color in. They can be challenging for a few different reasons. One of these challenges is finding the right color that matches the color indicated for a particular number on the key. Another is that the pictures can get pretty detailed and intricate, with shapes so small as to not even contain a number! This article will help you overcome these challenges.

1. Start with as big of a coloring set as possible



When it comes to the more complex color by number puzzles, finding the “right” colors according to the color key can be an issue. Many times, a set of 8 colors just won’t do!

There are a few ways to overcome this challenge:

1. Practice blending two or more colors to achieve the desired color, or

2. Use a set of colors that includes a large variety of hues and tones

Since blending colors can be very time consuming, I recommend simply starting with a large set of colors. It doesn’t have to be costly. These days, thanks to the growing popularity of adult coloring books, you can find many reasonably priced quality sets of 100 colors or more.

2. Save the shapes with no number for the end

Color by number example

The example above shows a closeup of a landscape in Color by Number for Adults: Landscapes. As you can see, not all shapes are numbered (this is where that ‘puzzle’ element really comes in.)

******SPOILER ALERT****** To color these in correctly, the best thing to do is to save these shapes for the end. Why? When you’re able to see how the surrounding shapes are colored in, a pattern will emerge, and it becomes apparent what color these little shapes should be.

3. Exercise your creativity

Color by number coloring books are a chance to explore your creativity. It is good to use the color key and numbers as a starting point. If you decide you want to make the sky purple or green or yellow instead of blue, you can – it’s up to you!

Additionally, once you have all the shapes colored in, their edges may look unnaturally sharp and abrupt. Go back over the picture with your colored pencils or other choice of medium, and blend the colors freehand to create a smoother, more dynamic image.


To download free color by number pages for adults and children, click here.



  • I have not done a colored pencil project by numbers yet. I purchased one of your coloring books. I was waiting to purchase the colored pencils next. After seeing the color guide I am at a loss because I am color blind so the color indices don’t help me at all. What do you suggest I do thanks.

    • Hi Gary,

      Well that is a great question, but a tough one indeed! Here is what I would suggest: It’s normally pretty obvious what the subject of the color by number is, so you can use that knowledge to improvise your own set of colors (colors as you normally see them). Begin coloring in the shapes that are the most obvious to you, and go from there. You didn’t mention if you are fully color blind or lean towards the red-green axis or blue-yellow axis, but if you have found through experience that you see a particular set of colors more accurately than others, you can also use that knowledge when choosing your starting colors. For the spaces that aren’t so obvious improvisation will again be your friend, and you may come up with some brilliant combinations this way. There are also glasses for color blindness available which may help.

      Another thing to consider is that you can ask a non-color blind person for help picking out which colored pencils, once they arrive, match most closely the colors on the indices. Some sets have individual numbers on the pencils which you can write down in the blank spaces of the Color Test Area. If there are no numbers on the pencils you can always write your own numbers on a small piece of paper and tape them to the pencil.

      I hope this has helped! Please let me know how you make out.


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