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What Is Diamond Painting? [A Beginner’s Guide]


Diamond painting, a combination of paint-by-numbers and cross-stitch, is a mosaic art form where the painter applies drills — diamonds — one by one to a color-coded, adhesive canvas. The result is sparkling artwork that can be framed and hung in your home or gifted. Diamond painting is easy. Both children and adults find the process of applying the diamonds to the canvas relaxing and fun.

Diamond Painting Tools and Supplies

The basic tools and supplies to get started with diamond painting are: 


The diamond drills adhere to a canvas which can be pre-printed, customized, or blank. Start with a canvas pre-printed with a color-coded design, or learn how to design and order a custom diamond painting canvas to make your painting unique. You can also use a blank canvas, which comes with no design except for the printed grid pattern, allowing you to create your own design. 

Diamond Pen 

The diamond pen, also called a diamond applicator or drill pen, transfers the drills to the canvas. A standard drill pen is the common applicator included in diamond painting kits and is used with diamond painting wax (also included in the diamond painting kit). 

Diamond Painting Wax 

Diamond painting wax, also called paddy wax, helps to pick up the drills and ensures their smooth transfer to the canvas.


Diamond painting drills are also called sparkling resin rhinestones, diamonds, gems, beads, or crystals, and they are available in three types: round, square, and AB or Aurora Borealis rhinestones. The diamonds, available in more than 440 colors, and in various sizes and shapes, embellish the canvas to create a picture.

Diamond Tray

A diamond tray is an open plastic container with grooved lines that organize the drills so their colors are on top. Gently shake the diamond tray to flip the drills color-side up. 

Diamond Painting Ruler 

The diamond painting ruler or drill ruler helps keep your drills straight and in line when placed on the canvas. Choose a square drill ruler for square drills, or a round drill ruler for round drills. 

Parchment Paper 

Parchment paper helps to prevent the canvas from collecting dust and losing its adhesiveness. Cut the parchment paper into squares that measure 2 by 2 inches or 3 by 3 inches, and cover the canvas block by block with the parchment squares, leaving the area you’re working on uncovered.

Washi Tape 

Washi tape helps to keep the parchment paper in place and can be used when preparing the canvas for framing. Learn how to use washi tape in diamond painting to protect the edges of your canvas, section off your canvas, make a decorative frame, and even to decorate your diamond painting accessories.

Fixed Tool 

The fixed tool helps to straighten a couple of drills simultaneously instead of fixing the drills one by one with tweezers. 

Wooden Roller 

A wooden roller helps press the drills into the canvas so they don’t pop off. Diamond art painters use the wooden roller before they modge podge the canvas.

What is Diamond Painting

Diamond Painting Kits

A diamond painting kit is a set of supplies, tools, and a printed canvas — everything a beginner diamond painter needs to begin the art with ease. 

Here’s a list of items included in a diamond painting kit: 

  • Guide — Explains the color code, or which colors correlate with which numbers, letters, or symbols printed on the canvas 
  • Canvas — Printed with the design and color code, and covered with a layer of adhesive so the drills stick to the canvas easily. Every canvas includes a plastic protector that keeps the adhesive sticky before the drills are applied 
  • Drills — Make a unique diamond painting. Options include rounded, square, or AB drills, and each color comes sealed in a color-coded package 
  • Diamond tray Organizes the drills and makes drill-pickup easy 
  • Single-drill diamond pen — Helps transfer the drills, one at a time, onto the canvas when wax is applied to the nib. Resembles an ink pen, making it easier to use 
  • Diamond painting wax — Sticks the drills to the drill pen nib. Comes in a small square

what is diamond painting

Diamond Painting Methods

Here are four popular diamond painting techniques: 

The Color-by-Color Method 

The color-by-color method uses one diamond color at a time to complete the painting by color.  

To use the color-by-color strategy, follow these steps: 

  1. Peel back one-third of the plastic layer covering the canvas, and identify one required color using the color-code guide. Prepare the appropriately colored drills in the diamond tray 
  2. Apply the drills to the uncovered third of the canvas with the diamond painting pen. When all of the chosen color is complete on the uncovered third of the canvas, move on to the next color and so on, until the uncovered third is completely painted. Follow these steps for the second and then the final third, individually 

The benefit of the color-by-color method is that it follows an organized process so that losing drills while opening multiple color packs is less likely. This method also makes it easier to see where each drill color goes.

The Checkerboard Method 

The checkerboard method is ideal for diamond painting large canvas areas of the same color. 

Follow these steps to use the checkerboard technique: 

  1. Identify a large area on the canvas that is coded with one color 
  2. Peel back the plastic layer so the adhesive is exposed for the chosen section
  3. Begin by placing the chosen-color drills along the border of the single-color area to create a self-guide to avoid placing a drill in the wrong color code
  4. Fill the outlined section with drills, following an every-other pattern. Imagine the canvas is a checkerboard with alternating black and white squares. Place drills on the imaginary “black” squares first, following with drills in the “white” or every-other squares that have been left blank 

A benefit of the checkerboard method is that you won’t get bored easily, and it encourages speedy progress of a large area of drills.

The Row-by-Row Method 

Each canvas is printed with a grid to guide you on where to place every drill. The grid is especially helpful when placing drills one row at a time. Extra diamond trays are useful for this painting method. 

To use the row-by-row method, follow these steps: 

  1. Peel back the first row’s plastic layer to read what color of drills are called for by the color-coding written in each grid square
  2. Use several diamond trays to organize the drills by color, and arrange the trays near you in order of color called for in the current canvas row
  3. Insert the drills using a drill pen, working from left to right in one row on the canvas
  4. Repeat steps 1–3 by peeling back the next bit of plastic canvas cover for each subsequent row. Continue until the whole canvas is complete 

The row-by-row method is the best for keeping the adhesive surface of the canvas protected as you work on complicated paintings that take a long time to complete. Mark the drill trays with tape colored the same as the drills that they hold to help you stay organized.

The Farm Plot Method 

The farm plot method requires that you “harvest a little plot at a time.” A “plot” is a small square area of the canvas, and one plot is painted at a time. 

Follow these steps to use the farm plot technique: 

  1. Identify a “plot,” or square area on the canvas, that measures around 2 or 3 inches in height and length 
  2. Peel off the plastic canvas layer to expose the adhesive of the chosen plot 
  3. Review the color coding within the chosen plot and select the appropriate drills 
  4. Place drills in a drill tray, and set out the diamond pen and wax
  5. Apply the drills to the adhesive using the waxed diamond pen, and following either the row-by-row, color-by-color, or checkerboard method 

The farm plot method is a good way to paint large-scale canvases while protecting the adhesive quality of the canvas. 

  What is Diamond Painting 

Tips for Diamond Painting

Follow these tips to help you get started with diamond painting: 

Prepare Your Tools and Work Space 

  • Choose a small canvas (smaller than 12 by 12 inches) with a design you love for your first diamond painting 
  • Smooth out canvas wrinkles before painting by applying weights, like books, with parchment paper between to protect the canvas 
  • Place a small towel under the drill trays to prevent the drills from scattering far if you knock a tray over
  • Place the canvas on a light pad or use a professional light pad stand with a magnifier to help reduce eye strain for canvases with small drills 

Protect Your Painting Before and After 

  • Peel back the plastic canvas protective layer only for your current work space, or use parchment paper to cover and protect the exposed sticky canvas until the drills have been applied 
  • Cover the work area with a cotton cloth between work sessions to protect the painting and prevent dust from forming on the drills or canvas
  • Secure drills snugly once the canvas is complete by using a wooden roller to press the drills down firmly, then seal the painting with Mod Podge or another sealant

Make Diamond Painting Easy 

  • Use a multi-tool or multi-placer like a 3-drill, 6-drill, or 9-drill diamond painting pen, that picks up several drills at a time from the diamond tray, to paint faster  
  • Substitute diamond painting wax if you run out with a mounting or adhesive putty-like Blu Tack, or remove the dry glue from a glue stick and rub and knead it to soften the glue’s texture  
  • Apply drills gently to avoid transferring wax from the drill pen to the drill head

Stay Organized

  • Use a sponge tray organizer to work with up to six drill colors at a time and to keep your workspace tidy
  • If all the drills accidentally fall on the floor, cover a vacuum cleaner’s nozzle with pantyhose or sheer tights to suction the drills for easy collection

comment 4 comments

K calendar_today

There are places the tiles don’t stick. What can I use to make them stick

Luciana Riley calendar_today

Can you lamenate diamond painting when compleated ?

yvonne harveyshea calendar_today

First time I am doing an squire drill canvas , size 30×40, when I have to insert a drill in between other colors, the row about 3 or 4 pop up and I really have to push them back in place, is this normal?

Judy Pyle calendar_today

Do I peel the plastic cover completely off at beginning? Should I start in the middle, working my way to the edge?

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