Definition of paint-by-numbers in English:



  • 1(of a child's picture) marked out in advance into sections which are numbered according to the colour to be used.

    • ‘We were told by one of the docents that the artists had drawn the figures beforehand, and then filled them in like a paint-by-numbers picture; color by color; all the orange first, and then the blue, and so on, until all were complete.’
    • ‘And while you've seen it before, it's seldom been done this well; even a paint-by-numbers picture can be a work of art if the artist does a careful job colouring within the lines.’
    • ‘But then, I'll look at a paint-by-numbers picture of a little kid, and it'll warm and comfort me.’
    • ‘Sadly, a close examination of this portrait reveals paint-by-numbers outlines faintly detectable behind the color and texture of Callahan's unique baritone.’
    • ‘The photograph was full of dappled light and shade, and I wanted to capture it, so my sketch was very busy, like one of those old paint-by-numbers kits.’
    1. 1.1Denoting something mechanical or formulaic rather than imaginative or natural.
      ‘a paint-by-numbers way to feel or act’
      • ‘Heaven forbid that any of his scenes not be composed with a formal stateliness, or that his cinematography not stick absolutely to a paint-by-numbers colour scheme.’
      • ‘So please, let's stop buying reproductions of paint-by-numbers singing butlers and start having the guts to fill our own houses with art that's intelligent, challenging and truly in tune with the spirit of the age.’
      • ‘The movie's so precious, so obviously delighted by its paint-by-numbers quirkiness, it's actually embarrassing to watch.’
      • ‘Some people might describe that as well-honed natural flow, whereas I think of it being cliche-ridden, paint-by-numbers rubbish.’
      • ‘The earnestness offends - it's not believable because it's a paint-by-numbers concoction of standard themes.’
      • ‘If you do this paint-by-numbers style of music, then audiences will smell that out and think you're a fraud.’
      • ‘This isn't a paint-by-numbers deal either, with adults coddling the young theatre folk.’
      • ‘The rest of the songs aren't quite absolute parallels, but they sound absolutely and uncomfortably familiar anyway due to their paint-by-numbers chord sequences and well-worn lyrical subject matter about life on the road.’
      • ‘The final outcome is a festive, paint-by-numbers Abstract Expressionism, a gimmick made thoroughly improvisatory and formalities made endearingly licentious, all of it as if for the first time.’
      • ‘It's not difficult to identify the central problem with Duets: none of the relationships, which are developed in a perfunctory, paint-by-numbers fashion, are remotely credible.’
      • ‘The results may resemble Pollocks or Stills from a distance, but the smooth, even surfaces suggest a paint-by-numbers version of Abstract Expressionism.’
      • ‘This is strictly paint-by-numbers screenwriting.’
      • ‘Analysts estimate it will take at least three years before a paint-by-numbers guide on how to implement radio systems will emerge, says Hudson.’
      • ‘Focusing on your core allows you to develop and refine your own technique, it is not a step-by-step or paint-by-numbers approach.’
      • ‘We're just looking for a world where characters behave like real people and not like slaves of an idiotic, paint-by-numbers plot.’
      • ‘There's very little character development, and what little there is is wasted upon the paint-by-numbers story.’
      • ‘Some are genuinely funny, and Dante does poke fun at the paint-by-numbers approach of many contemporary films.’
      • ‘This movie wasn't great art - in fact, it wasn't even close to being a paint-by-numbers set.’
      • ‘Otherwise, the paint-by-numbers script is about as hard to follow as a turtle trying to cross an empty street.’
      • ‘The crowd diligently sang along, going through the paint-by-numbers motions with their onstage idols.’