Diamond Painting: Techniques That Make It Easier

From unboxing your DIY diamond painting kit to finishing it and hanging it on the wall this beautiful and meditative practice has more to it than you might imagine. As a crossover between cross stitch and paint by numbers the relatively new craft of diamond painting has come into its own.

Over the years people have discovered various diamond painting techniques that both make the whole process easier and make the final masterpiece even more beautiful. Some techniques are a matter of preference while others are indispensable. Either way, you should definitely try them all so you don’t miss out on the methods that can make this fun hobby even better.    

Techniques to flatten out the canvas and remove creases 

When you order diamond painting kits the cross-stitch like canvas will typically come rolled up. That’s great for shipping but terrible for unboxing and getting started. Usually the canvas sort of conforms to the rolled-up state it was in and you have to flatten it out very well before you can begin. Luckily there are a few simple and clever ways to take care of this. 

Depending on how tightly rolled and how big your canvas is this first technique might be all you need. You can simply flatten one corner, peel back the adhesive layer, and then reapply it with the canvas still flattened. If you repeat this with all four corners, and maybe a little on the sides, you will be surprised how easily and quickly the whole canvas flattens out. Still, with larger or more tightly rolled canvases you might encounter some trouble with this technique alone. 

If peeling and then reapplying the edges doesn’t work you can then try another technique. You can flatten out the canvas by hand and then tape each corner down to a solid flat surface. This alone might hold it and over time the canvas will hold its form. You can expedite the process though. Try taking a rolling pin from your kitchen and go over the canvas a few times in different directions. You can also try placing a stack of heavy books on top of the canvas.

If the flattening techniques aren’t removing creases effectively then you might want to try cutting the creases with a crafting knife. A very light and delicate touch is all you need to make a small cut in these stubborn spots. You want to do it just enough to let out trapped air which causes the creases but not so much as to cut the canvas underneath. 

If none of that works and you still feel the canvas needs to be flatter there is another method you can try. Take the canvas, roll it out flat, and place it between two mattresses. The longer you leave it there the more likely it is to flatten out. This method is very effective so if the canvas still isn’t flat after this then you should exchange it for another. 

A color palette.

Techniques to make the canvas easier to work with 

Even once a diamond painting canvas is nice and flat there are still a few minor issues that can pop up which makes it difficult to work with. Missing adhesive, air bubbles and sticky edges can all chip away at the joy of simply getting started. 

Sometimes when you pull back the top layer and go to apply a drill you find the adhesive isn’t there. This happens when the glue sticks to the top layer, instead of the canvas, like it is supposed to. There is an easy enough fix for this. All you have to do is reapply the top layer and then go over it with a roller of some kind. You want to apply enough pressure evenly to help force the adhesive from the top layer onto the canvas. Once you have done this you should then start peeling the top layer from another location and work back towards the original spot.

Similarly, if you have been working on an area for a while it might become less sticky over time. This happens when the adhesive is exposed to air. You can rectify this with baby wipes or a lightly damp cloth. Gently dab the area to wet it and this should restore its stickiness. Baby wipes are also particularly good for keeping the canvas and diamonds clean as you work in case hair, dust or other debris fall on them.  

As you peel back the top layer of some canvasses you will find that edges also have adhesive on them and yet they are not part of the image. This can become annoying because your sleeves, hair, and other things will get stuck there as you work. To prevent this just run a strip of paper, plastic film or washi tape over these sticky edges. You can leave it there or remove it later when you go to frame the image, both are just fine. Of course, if you are feeling extra creative, you can apply diamonds to these edges in a design or color of your own choice. That way you make your own frame. 

For larger or more intricate diamond art projects it can be really helpful to use a light table or light pad. These are available commercially and provide a nice source of backlighting from underneath the canvas. A similar effect can be had with any DIY thin light source that you can slide under the canvas. The whole idea is that the light helps add contrast to dark colors in the image which makes them easier to distinguish and work with.    

Techniques to make working with diamonds easier

The little diamonds, or drills, are at the heart of diamond painting. These rhinestone pieces can be frustrating sometimes though because they are so small and there is such a variety. They also have a flat side and a rounded side and the direction matters. Sorting that out, again and again, can become repetitive. There is some consensus among the diamond painting community on how to make working with them much more enjoyable though. 

It is worth addressing the classic debate of square diamonds versus round diamonds, which is better? Really that is a matter of preference but it seems that more people opt for square over round. Although the round drills are typically easier to work with the square drills are known to give a more complete and satisfying image when all is said and done. So, this is less a technique and more of a suggestion. If the premium is on the process then go for round drills, but if you want the best-looking image, in the end, go for square. The differences between 3d and 5d diamond paintings aren’t as pronounced thankfully.  

Regardless of the type, you use there are some pervasive challenges when you paint with diamonds. One of the more bothersome ones which are easily fixed is that the drills like to stick to each other and everything else but the canvas with a strong electrostatic attachment. This is simply remedied by storing the diamonds with a piece of a dryer sheet. You can also take a particularly stubborn diamond and rub it with a dryer sheet to alleviate the static. This will make them much easier to work with. 

The diamonds themselves should be stored in little baggies, with dryer sheet pieces added in, and a DMC code label written on the bag in black permanent marker so you can easily identify what it is. These baggies can then be stored in a number of ways. Pill organizers and old egg cartons seem to be very effective for separating and holding the bags. 

Others have even used old K-cup spinners to put little cups of diamonds in while others hang little baggies from hangers. The best option might just be a proper organizing tray. A growing collection is certainly a good thing and you will want to keep it organized from the beginning. Storing the diamonds in a tray before, during, and after use is also a good option. 

Actually identifying and using the right diamonds can be challenging sometimes too. Already having them in labeled baggies or trays helps but you can do more. Before starting a new diamond painting you should glue or tape each diamond next to its symbol on the canvas. Over time this quick reference will help you work faster and more efficiently. 

Another good technique is to make use of a multi-diamond applicator tool. There are 3, 7 and 11-drill tools available which allow you to pick up and apply multiple drills at once. These are perfect for doing large sections of the same color and they are on every hobbyist’s wishlist if they don’t have one. 

A diamond painting.

Techniques to make applying the diamonds easier       

Some of the techniques previously mentioned for diamond painting kits overlap and help with multiple aspects of diamond painting. Using a light table and multi-diamond applicator tool, for example, both make applying the diamonds easier. There are some other techniques worth considering as well for diamond art. 

When you’re actually applying the drills to the canvas be careful not to do so with too much pressure. If you push too hard the wax from the tool pen can be transferred to the diamond. If this does happen by accident though then wait for everything to settle and come back to the spot with a microfiber cloth to wipe away the wax. 

Some enthusiasts even suggest making your own DIY tac and using that in lieu of the wax that comes with most diamond painting kits. To do this you just need an old, dried up, glue stick. Then you just remove the glue, make sure it isn’t too sticky and slowly work it into a soft kneadable texture. That’s tac and it should hold better than the wax. Some people skip the need for wax or tac entirely and just use tweezers, it’s just a matter of preference. 

How you start working on the canvas can also have a big impact on the ease of the process and the quality of the overall outcome. It is generally a good idea to start at the top of the canvas in the same corner as your dominant hand. So, if you’re right-handed you would start in the top right corner. This method actually helps hold the canvas in place as the diamonds add weight and help you not to interfere with the adhesive or placed diamonds. You can work in a little 2-inch by 2-inch section as well to really make things easier. 

Techniques to help you finish the image   

Sure, you could just barrel your way through your diamond painting running line by line from right to left but that can quickly become monotonous at best and ineffective at worst. There are some key techniques you can employ to create a better image in a more enjoyable way. 

Large sections of the same color can be approached in a few different ways. You might try placing down a grid of drills leaving little square and rectangular openings between the lines. You can then fill in these squares one by one either filling in the columns and rows sequentially or by closing the space with concentric circles. Regardless, if you’ve made sure the grid lines are well placed and straight the overall area will look tighter and better done. 

These large spaces can also be done with a checkerboard method. This involves placing a drill on every other spot so that there are gaps between them. Once you finish that first pass you can then go back for a second to fill in all the empty spaces. 

Then there are more general whole canvas methods. These require removing the top layer from the whole canvas so this is better for smaller images. For the first technique, you can cover every spot of one color, then the next color and then the next. You go one color at a time as you slowly fill the canvas. The other technique entails starting with the least frequent color and working your way up to the most frequent. You can do that in reverse too but starting low and working your way up is more fun. 

Once all the drills are down and the beauty of the image is shining through you can still touch it up a little more. You can take a card, like a credit card for example, and run it along the lines in between the diamonds to help straighten them and push them into place. This will create a more uniform and solid look overall.  

Techniques to display your work

When all is said and done you will have a beautiful piece of art in front of you. There are a few things you can do with it. The most obvious of these is that you can frame the canvas and put it on display. If you go this route then make sure to measure the frame using the amount of the canvas you want to show. This means you need to exclude the white borders around the image. If you can spare even more room at the borders then you might also want to consider framing the image with a mat to add depth and help complement the colors of the image. 

Aside from a frame, you can also take the finished canvas and glue it to a pre-stretched canvas or poster board. You could also try stretching it yourself. This can be presented as is, placed in a frame, and, best of all in both cases, sealed. Sealing a diamond painting is an excellent technique that really helps to preserve your work and gives it the durability it needs to stand the test of time. 

To do this you would start doing the same things you should do when every diamond painting is finished. Place some parchment paper or the top layer back over the finished image and roll it out to help set all the drills. Make sure the canvas is on a hard flat surface, a cutting board would be perfect. Then you might also want to put some heavy books on top of it and leave it for a time to make sure everything settles. Once that has all been done you can then go on. 

Next, you’ll want to remove extra wax and dust and use some tweezers to correct any diamonds that are out of place. From there you apply the sealant per its instructions and let it dry. The result will be a high quality properly finished work of art.   

Some people have tried taking their finished diamond canvas and applying it to pillows or bags. This certainly works but the life of the art will be directly proportional to how often the item is used. With a well-worn pillow or bag, the diamonds will chip and fall off and the image quality will soon fall apart. The best way to appreciate the beauty of an intricate and time-consuming diamond painting is to seal it, reinforce it on canvas or poster board and then frame it to be hung up. Don’t let your best diamond painting fall apart.     

Creative techniques for the creative minded

At every step of the diamond painting process, there are plenty of techniques and methods to make the act more productive and more enjoyable. It is just a matter of implementing them and testing them in different situations. The creative people who create these works of art are always coming up with new and innovative diamond painting tips to expand their craft so it is a good idea to keep on the lookout. The diamond painting techniques mentioned here can certainly improve your creative craft so give them a try and start creating.