Square vs. Round Drill: Which is Better for Diamond Painting?

If you are new to the world of diamond painting, you may have a few questions about which tools to use, how to achieve the look you are going for, and where to go to find the right materials or a good diamond painting kit. Maybe you have passed the point where you wondered, what is diamond painting, exactly, but you still have questions.  

After you have read a good beginner’s guide to diamond painting to pick the basic tips and tools from the paint with diamonds (PWD) community, you may be curious about which diamond beads, also known as diamond dots, rhinestones, diamond dotz, or diamond drills, are best for diamond painting. Do you choose 3D or 5D? Which applicator tool is best? Should you use square drills or round drills? 

This detailed guide will explore the various choices and options available to the diamond art hobbyist, and you will be sure to gather a few diamond painting tips and techniques along the way. 

What Is the Difference Between a 3D Painting and a 5D Painting?

First, let us explain what the terms 3D and 5D diamond painting kits mean in the world of diamond painting. The explanation is simple enough: Diamonds that are considered 3D have three facets on each side, while 5D diamonds have five facets on each side. Just like real diamonds can reflect and refract light with more brilliance when they have multiple facets, the same holds true for 3D diamond beads vs. 5D diamond beads. 

It may help to think of 3D diamond beads as analogous to an emerald cut or Asscher cut in terms of their sparkle meter, while 5D diamond beads or drills are similar to the sparkle level that is seen in round cut or princess cut stones. In diamond painting, you will find that 5D diamond drills seem to pop off the canvas more than their slightly less brilliant 3D counterparts. For this reason, the majority of the DIY diamond painting kits that are available for purchase contain only 5D diamonds. 

If you do happen to acquire both 3D diamond drills and 5D diamond drills, you may even choose to combine them for different levels of brilliance within your diamond painting creation, much like shading or highlighting works in oil painting or charcoal drawing. Most crafters generally consider 5D diamond drills and 5D diamond painting kits as their preferred facet level when entering this newest trend in DIY home decor. 

What Is the Best Tool to Use to Apply Diamond Drills to the Canvas?

Each and every diamond painting kit from a respected retailer like VizuArts includes an applicator tool that is designed specifically for picking up and applying diamond beads with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. The tool resembles a double-side pen or stylus, and it is hollow so that the diamond pen can take in wax. The wax enables the diamond painter to pick up the diamond drills and place them firmly on the canvas. The applicator tool, also known as a diamond pen or diamond drill pen, boasts a comfort grip so that your hands and fingers do not get overtired or sore during longer diamond painting sessions. 

So what then is the point of the super-sharp tweezers that are also included in most good diamond painting kits? While tweezers can be used in lieu of the diamond drill pen, especially for experienced crafters who prefer not to use wax (more on that below), most diamond painting hobbyists find that the tweezers are better used for detail work like putting in the last bead in a large section or securing and adjusting beads that are a little off-center, but the tweezers are also useful for the crafter who is using leftover diamond beads to create other diamond art projects. 

People diamond painting.

Wax On or Wax Off?

A square wax pad is included in every diamond painting art kit, but those who are experienced in the art of diamond embroidery (diamond embroidery and diamond cross stitch are some of the alternative names for diamond painting) may find that while using the wax pad and the diamond drill pen together is the easiest way to complete their diamond paintings, there are some other options to consider

Wax is included with the diamond painting kit because it is easy to use and most diamond painters find that a wax pad and a diamond applicator pen are all they need to complete their diamond painting masterpiece. For diamond painting hobbyists who are working in warmer climates, wax or other semi-solid adhesives can become too soft for effective use. If this happens to your wax or other adhesive, pop it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to allow it to cool down to a usable temp. Some diamond painting hobbyists also find it useful to have two wax pads, one for active work and one that is chilled, so they can be alternating as needed. 

Wax can leave a bit of residue on the diamond beads even after they are applied to the canvas, so the diamond artist may find herself in the position of having to wipe excess wax away before recovering with the protective plastic sheeting, as well as before sealing or framing the finished diamond painting. 

Wax alternatives include using different adhesives like Blu tack or craft putty as well as using different tools, such as tweezers, a manicurist pencil, or a rotating rolling tool. As mentioned previously, using tweezers rather than the diamond applicator tool is a hard skill to master, particularly if you are using round diamond drills rather than square ones (more on round vs. square drills later). 

Both tweezers and the manicurist pencil allows the diamond artist to only pick up one diamond bead at a time and because they must pay attention to the grip of the tweezers or manicurist tool, the diamond bead they have selected, and the DMC code. As a result, tools that only pick up one diamond at a time may actually help with the methodical, meditative aspect of diamond painting that many consider to be one of the primary advantages of diamond painting

The rotating rolling tool is a circular roller that allows the diamond painter to place multiple diamonds at a time without using wax or other adhesives. The rotating roller tool is similar in concept to the traditional roller vs. the paintbrush when painting a wall. Like a painting roller, the rotating roller tool is a good choice for larger sections of the same color, but it is not recommended for smaller sections or more detailed work. The advantage of a rotating roller tool is speed, but the biggest drawback is the lack of precision that is so critical in creating a professional looking finished product. 

Blu tack and craft putty are wax alternatives that can also be considered. Blu tack is more durable and lasts longer in the drill pen than wax, and the methodology is exactly the same as when using the wax in conjunction with a diamond drill pen. Craft putty has similar properties to Blu tack except that it is not a firm, though it is a little firmer than wax. 

Despite the varied alternatives, most diamond painters would recommend starting with items included in the diamond painting kit before testing other alternative applicator tools and adhesives. 

Does It Matter If You Choose Full Drill or Partial Drill?

All diamond painting kits come with a heavy-duty adhesive canvas, and the canvases range in size from 20 x 20 centimeters (8  x 8 inches) up to 90 centimeters (36 inches) in width, and all 5D diamond painting kits from established retailers like VizuArts come in full drill. Each canvas is DMC coded with symbols that match the individually packaged bag of diamond drills included in the diamond painting art kit, and canvases are weather resistant and heavy enough to resist creasing and wrinkling. 

But what is a full drill diamond painting? As you know, diamond beads, or drills, are what DIY diamond painting crafters use to paint. When a canvas is considered full drill, it just means that the entire surface of the canvas is coded for diamond placement. 

By contrast, partial drill means that while much of the canvas is coded for diamond drill placements, a portion of the canvas is already printed with color. This portion of the canvas is typically a monochromatic background section, so a completed partial drill diamond painting will have flat sections that do not shimmer in addition to the sparkling sections that are fully covered by rhinestones. 

If you are on the fence about which option is right for you, consider going with a full drill canvas so that your finished work will have maximum sparkle and optimal consistency. 

Should I Use Square Drills vs. Round Drills and What Can I Expect From Each?

Next to choosing the right size and image for your diamond painting, the choice between square drills and round drills is the most important decision you can make that will affect how your completed diamond painting turns out. Each diamond drill is made from deeply pigmented resin and each drill is flat on one side and multi-faceted on the other, as we discussed when comparing 3D diamond drills to 5D diamond drills. Although 3D and 5D diamonds can be mixed on most creative diamond craft projects, round diamonds should not be used on the same piece as square diamonds as the result looks mismatched and inconsistent, like using different fonts within the same sentence. 

For crafters who are new to the paint with diamonds community, consider starting your diamond painting journey using round drills. Because the rhinestone is round, it is easier to pick up with the diamond pen applicator tool, and it is also easier to complete a diamond painting without gaps or mismatched rows because the circular nature of the round drill provides a little margin for error in placement. Round diamonds also catch and reflect light with more sparkle than their square counterparts. 

More experienced crafters and cross stitchers find that working with square diamonds is a little more satisfying. Since square diamonds are angular, they require a little more precision when being placed on the canvas. Square diamonds are easier to pick up with tweezers, and diamond artists may find that they alternate between using tweezers and the diamond drill pen more often when using square drills. 

The biggest benefit to round drills is the higher sparkle level and ease of use, while one of the benefits of using square drills is that the finished diamond painting has a more polished, seamless look, likely tightly woven needlepoint. Perhaps one of the most satisfying reasons diamond painters use square drills is that they produce a rewarding “pop” sound as they are snapped into place by the artist, and the simple thrill of that pop provides a sense of accomplishment when finishing a section of the diamond painting. 

In summary, consider starting with round drills if you are new to crafting in general or diamond painting in particular. After you have a diamond painting or two under your belt, try your hand at square drills and see which you like best, both in terms of the completed project as well as in terms of how much you enjoy working with each shape. 

Whimsical, Fantastical, Disney, or Choose Your Own Image: So Many Options

Are you drawn to the life supported by the deep blue sea? Perhaps Disney is more your thing, or maybe you are drawn to whimsy and fantasy. With so many diamond painting kit options available, you should have no trouble finding an image that suits your interests.

If you want to go for a truly unique look, consider using one of your images to create a one of kind diamond painting. Review your options from your own gallery of high-resolution digital images, and select one that will bring a smile to your face each time you work on it, or, later, each time you come into the room where your original work has been hung. 

As you sort through your photos, consider which one can benefit from being elevated to diamond art status. Is it that one of your best friends dancing when she thought no one was watching? Or maybe you are drawn to the picture of your two cats curled around each other in sleep. Better yet, perhaps the one of your spouse grinning at you with the waves crashing behind her is the one you would like to see sparkling from your walls each time you pass. For more detailed tips on choosing the photo that is right for creating a custom art piece, check out this post

Read On for a Few Bonus Tips from Members of the Diamond Painting Community

  • Keep your canvas covered by the adhesive film when not in use. This keeps the adhesive from drying out and preserves the integrity of the canvas when you have a work in progress. 
  • Use cut up pieces of dryer sheets in your diamond bead storage containers to prevent static build-up. Static can cause the diamonds to stick together, which makes them harder to work with. 
  • A brayer or rolling pin, applied with gentle pressure over the surface of the completed painting, can help ensure all diamond drills are firmly in place. 
  • When you make a mistake, just step back a minute and breather. Although many common diamond painting mistakes can be easily avoided, many mistakes can also be fixed with the right approach.  
  • Lots of options exist for showcasing a completed diamond painting to its best advantage, and the right option for framing can take the look of diamond art from handmade to professional in no time. Whether or not you should seal your completed diamond painting, and how to do so is another consideration, and you can find more on the pros and cons of sealing in this post. 

The Choices Are Yours, But Do Not Let Yourself Get Overwhelmed!

When you are ready to add a custom diamond painting to wishlist, consider the tips and tools in this guide to assess your own skill level before acquiring a diamond art kit and creating your very first diamond painting. Square drills or round drills, big picture or a small one, 3D or 5D, wax or no wax, diamond drill pen or tweezers, full drill or partial drill -- do not be intimidated by the variety of options. Your best bet is simply to pick the image that appeals to you the most in a size and style that feels challenging enough. 

Take a gander at some of the bestselling or currently trending diamond painting art kits to see what kinds of images other diamond painters are already enjoying, and remember -- no matter what you choose, every diamond painting art kit comes with all the tools you need to create a beautiful diamond painting from start to finish.