What is the Difference Between 3D and 5D Diamond Painting?

If you’re new to diamond art and you’ve been confused by the different kinds of rhinestones that come in diamond painting kits, rest assured that their main difference is primarily aesthetic and the choice between 3D diamonds, 5D diamonds, full drill, and partial drill lies with the person crafting the DIY diamond painting. That being said, it can certainly be helpful to get a full explanation of the functional differences between the different shapes of rhinestones and the different effects they can have on your diamond embroidery.

It may seem like overkill for some have yet to complete their first diamond painting, but these decisions can make a huge difference in the appeal of your diamond art piece when it’s hanging on the wall. Certain types of diamond painting kits will look better with one kind of rhinestone while others will be more appealing to another. 

The individual diamond painter also deserves some consideration since their skill level can also factor into the decision to use round diamonds over square drills or to purchase a partial drill diamond painting kit instead of a full drill model. Using an applicator or tweezers can be more difficult on a square diamonds than on a round drill and many diamond painters choose to acclimate themselves with the process using round diamonds before they move on to square drills.

Partial drill models are often completed much more quickly than full drill diamond painting kits because part of their canvases have already been printed and need no additional rhinestones. There is also an added emphasis on certain aspects of a piece of diamond art when you complete a partial drill diamond painting kit. 

What is the difference between a 3D diamond and a 5D diamond?

The difference between a 5D diamond painting and a 3D diamond painting is in the number of facets on the rhinestones used on each of the canvases. A 3D diamond has 3 facets on each side, which is fewer than on a 5D rhinestone. That means while a 3D diamond will still sparkle from a distance, it will do so less than a 5D rhinestone and up close the 3D diamond will not display as much detail at the 5D rhinestone. Just like with real diamonds, resin diamonds in a diamond art kit shine brighter the more facets they have on their surface.

That doesn’t mean 3D rhinestones have no place in diamond painting kits; far from it, they can be used in combination with 5D diamond painting rhinestones to add additional emphasis on certain parts of DIY diamond painting canvases. For those diamond painters who couldn’t figure out a way to add emphasis on a full drill diamond art kit, mixing 5D rhinestones with 3D rhinestones on the same canvas can be just the trick. 

If you’re having trouble imagining how you might mix both types of rhinestones to emphasize certain parts of your diamond art canvases, let’s try a few examples. Say, for example, you’re working on a custom diamond painting kit based on a photograph of a birthday party. Additional 5D rhinestones sprinkled in among the 3D diamonds can add an extra shimmer around candles on a birthday cake, ribbons on gifts, or add dazzling shimmer to a particularly beautiful dress.

Imagine the same application to a custom diamond painting kit of a New Year’s Eve celebration or Fourth of July fireworks! Even sport fishing tournament photographs can benefit from a mixture of 3D and 5D rhinestones in the water as a large bass is pulled from the water. There are plenty of ways to use this clever trick to give your diamond art that extra kick. 

A diamond painting of a tiger.

Round drill diamond art vs. square drill canvases

3D rhinestones can have a different effect depending on their shape as well. Since they have fewer facets, 3D diamonds usually look nicer one the smaller round drill rhinestones, although some prefer square drills with the larger detail of 3D diamonds. Unlike 3D and 5D rhinestones, it’s pretty difficult to successfully mix round drills and square ones on the same canvases. Usually, a diamond art kit is designed with one or the other in mind, and while all the rhinestones on a canvas can be swapped for either square drills or round ones, the canvas itself will have to be designed with the idea of mixing differently shaped rhinestones together in one piece of diamond art. 

One advantage of using round drills is that for newcomers who are working on their first diamond painting or those looking to level up who are intimidated by their first full drill kit, round drills don’t have to be completely straight the way square drills need to be. The flat edges of square drills betray misaligned rows very easily, even from a distance. If diamond painting is a new hobby for you, round drills may be a gentler introduction for your first few diamond painting kits. If you have come to diamond painting from other craft activities and already know, for example, how to cross-stitch, then you can probably choose whichever type of drill you think looks better on the canvases you’ve chosen. That can have a pretty large effect on which kind of drill you use, in fact. 

Large canvases vs. small canvases

Diamond painting kits come in various sizes which is great for times when you want to destress and partake in the active relaxation that diamond art provides but you don’t have tons of time to finish a huge project. From 20x25 cm to 160x100 cm, diamond painting canvases come in just the right size for any amount of time you can commit to finishing them. There are a few things to consider if you have the time to work on larger canvases or don’t mind storing incomplete diamond painting kits and returning to finish them little by little. 

Firstly, the level of detail in the depiction changes when you paint with diamonds on small canvases and large canvases. On smaller canvases, the level of detail is not as high. Think of diamond art like digital photography: the drills are like pixels, and the larger the pixels the lower the detail. Think of when you attempt to zoom in on a smaller digital photograph and how quickly the image quality deteriorates when you do.

If you have a background in painting or know a bit about art history, think about pointillism and how small those points have to be to come together to form a complete, uninterrupted image for the human eye. The same principle applies to photo collages. Two photos look like two distinct images while thousands of tiny pictures can form the color dispersal of a larger image.

If you’re planning to mix 3D and 5D rhinestones, then you should try to spring for one of the larger canvases. The shimmer 5D drills will add will be much more subtle and therefore more enjoyable if there are more drills on the piece of diamond art. If you want to add as much overall sparkle as you possibly can when you paint with diamonds, go ahead and use 5D rhinestones on the whole canvas.

There are some diamond painting kits that depict abstract images that might look better with larger rhinestones that give it less detail to add to the general nonrepresentational quality of the diamond art. Custom diamond paintings based on photographs of people or ornate designs are probably best done with 5D rhinestones to give them the high level of detail they need. 

Partial drill diamond painting kits

Like we already mentioned, some diamond painting kits come with some of the background already printed in its final color. There’s no need to attach any drills with the applicator or tweezers to the section of partial drill canvases that has no color code on it. These canvases add emphasis to one specific area of diamond art. For example, sometimes a sparkly dress on a princess character or the shining surface of a knight’s armor or the surface of the ocean might be filled in with rhinestones and the sky and clouds will not be.

This can be very handy if you want the section you are working on filling in with drills to be high detail (because it is larger and therefore has more drills) but don’t have the time to fill in the large swaths of the canvas for a blue, featureless sky or uniform green areas meant to represent grass. 

If you find a partial drill diamond painting kit more to your liking for convenience or personal taste, then you’re way better off completing it is a 5D diamond painting than you would be using 3D diamonds. Since you’re only filling out a smaller section of the canvas, it doesn’t make as much sense to either use lower-detail 3D diamonds or intermix 3D diamonds and 5D rhinestones. To help give even more emphasis where the partial drill diamond painting kit is already adding some by design, 5D rhinestones work wonderfully. 

A diamond painting of a peacock.

Sealing diamond art

One of the finishing touches of any diamond embroidery piece is sealing the resin diamonds in place to prevent them from falling off the canvas or collecting dust or other debris in the various crevasses between the drills. It’s a very simple process that should be familiar to any seasoned diamond painters who have hung their completed diamond art to display as home decor or to transport, store, or sell online. When it comes to this penultimate stage in the diamond painting process, there can be some things you need to be careful of depending on whether you’re using 3D drills or 5D drills. 

As you know by now, 5D rhinestones have a higher number of facets and therefore they sparkle more once they’re assembled on diamond painting kit canvases. Because of the higher number of facets, the resin used to seal the completed diamond art could collect in a different way on the surface of the drills. That’s what makes a clean seal somewhat difficult. When you’re at that stage of the process, make sure you take care to evenly distribute the sealant over the surface of the diamond drills. You can do this by dabbing with a paper towel or by using a roller to get a nice, evened out surface that’s uniform across the entire canvas. This will also help the drill stick to the adhesive on the canvas more snugly and for a longer period of time. 

Sealing 3D drills should go a little more quickly because the smaller number of facets means a roller will make them stick snugly to the adhesive much faster. Often, it only takes two or three rollovers to make the 3D drills secure. There is also less risk that the sealant will collect in an unfavorable way on the surface of 3D rhinestones since there are fewer edges that could cause it to spread unevenly. Of course, using round drills or square drills will also affect the uneven collecting of a sealant. Square drills have no gaps in between them once they’re fixed to the canvas with an applicator or tweezers and so you won’t have to worry so much about a sealant collecting in between them. That being said, you should always make sure to use the roller to really get the rhinestones fixed to the canvas. 

Using tweezers to complete a 5D diamond painting kit

Some diamond painters prefer to use tweezers rather than use the wax and applicator that come standard in diamond painting kits. It can give greater control over individual drills and increase concentration on difficult parts of a canvas where there are many different colors required and a multi-drill applicator won’t work. If this is the case for you, it might be easier to grasp individual 3D diamonds than it is to pick up single 5D rhinestones simply because of the difference in the number of facets. Like many other crafting skills, learning to ably pick up a 5D rhinestone with tweezers will take a little getting used to, but it is worthwhile because generally speaking the canvases with those areas of frequent color changes are often also designed to show a high level of detail once completed. Since that’s the end goal, 5D rhinestones are the ones you want to fill in the diamond art with. 

A diamond painting of a tiger.

Diamond painting cross stitch conversion

Since the drills provided in diamond painting kits are color-coded with the same DMC codes as those given in cross-stitching patterns, it’s really simple to convert one into the other. If you’re trying to make a diamond painting cross stitch conversion and going from a complicated cross-stitching pattern into a piece of diamond art, it’s more than likely best to use 5D rhinestones to fill in your new custom canvas.

Chances are you want as much shimmer and detail as possible to differentiate your diamond art from the cross-stitching you created it from. Crafting is always more fun when the results are stark and the best way to do that in this scenario is to use rhinestones with a higher number of facets and make a larger canvas to make sure the most detail possible comes out in the finished diamond embroidery. 

At first, the difference between 3D and 5D diamond painting might seem fairly simple, but there are actually several effects that stem from choosing one over the other. Since the 5D resin diamonds have a higher number of facets than the 3D diamonds, they have a greater shine and will give a greater sense of detail to your finished piece.

If you pair the greater shine of 5D resin diamonds with a larger canvas size, you can really increase the level of detail in your finished diamond art. Whatever level of crafting ability you have, you might want to start with 3D diamonds on your first diamond painting until you get the hang of the applicator. 

For that matter, if you want to use tweezers instead of the included wax and applicator on all or part of your diamond painting kit, you’ll definitely want to practice a little with some 3D drills until you can ably pick up the 5D drills with the tweezers without dropping them all over the floor and creating a big mess. 5D DIY diamond painting has stunning results that will really stand out on the wall once you’ve sealed and framed it. 5D rhinestones may take a bit more tender love and care to seal, but it’s always worth it in the end.

Now that you know the difference between 3D rhinestones and 5D drills, try to fill in your next diamond painting kit with both types to add some extra shimmer and highlight certain special parts of the overall picture. It’s especially effective with large-canvas full drill kits since partial drill kits are already designed to highlight certain parts of the frame. For partial drill kits, it’s best to just go ahead and do the whole thing with 5D rhinestones. Happy painting!