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Sometimes we all have to give our brains a little downtime, but downtime doesn’t necessarily mean going into a vegetative state. It can be helpful to focus on something else, something a little creative but not too challenging when you want to give your head a break. That’s the idea behind the concept of “painting by stickers.”
Workman Publishing almost has a monopoly on the “Paint by Sticker” books currently available and its products are tagged with this brand name. But there a few other notable variations on the market. So the next time work has you stressed to the max, take a breather, grab a book and start peeling off stickers one by one to create a masterpiece.
Best Overall: Masterpieces
Painting by stickers was initially conceived as a new arts and crafts activity for kids, then adults zeroed in on it. Workman Publishing immediately responded by producing books more suitable for grownups, some with up to 400 stickers. One of them is the Masterpieces book. It includes 12 different templates, and here’s how they work.
Each template includes numerous little sections — literally dozens and dozens of them — and each section has a number. Find the sticker with the corresponding number. This sometimes requires a little hunting, but that’s a good thing when you’re trying to redirect your mind from workday stress or tedium.
Now peel the sticker off and stick it to the designated section. Not only is the repetitive peel-and-stick action soothing, but you’ll watch a masterpiece come together before your eyes. The Masterpieces collection includes boats, a hummingbird and flowers, and the stickers create a 3D effect when they’re applied. Just detach the page when you’re done and frame it if you’re really proud of your work. The pages are all perforated for easy removal.
Best for Beginners: Brain Games Sticker by Number – Nature
Game Brains has come up with a similar book that works on the same concept, but its Nature version offers 28 different images. This one is suitable for beginners because the pictures are divided up into categories from “easy” to “hard.” Even if you’re already an expert at painting with stickers, you might not want to tackle “hard” when you’re in the office with a lot of distractions.
The book is spiral bound and includes images plucked from nature. Brain Games offers a Sticker by Number book of animal images as well.
Best for Bird Lovers: Paint by Sticker Birds
This edition offered by Workman Publishing features our fine, feathered friends — from a hummingbird to a woodpecker to an Oriole. The colors are vibrant enough to … well, fly off the page after the stickers are affixed. This book also includes 12 “paintings” and uses computer graphics and polygon shapes to create a 3D effect on each.
All in all, the book is 56 pages, including the stickers. It’s suitable for children as well as adults. The effect is the same: peel, stick, relax.
Best for Free Spirits: Cut and Create Paper Mosaics
This is a bit more of a kit than a book, but it achieves the same result and it includes the same basic components: templates, instructions and stickers. But you can make your own stickers from sheets of intricately detailed mosaics in a wide range of colors.
The kit comes with little scissors, so you can size and create your stickers yourself. More innovative artists aren’t confined to following a pattern of numbers if they don’t want to, although the numbers are there if you feel like you need a little guidance. Otherwise, you’re free to design their own works, or at least give your templates that personal touch. The kit includes five projects ranging from simple to complex.
Best for Travel Lovers: Paint by Sticker Travel Vintage Posters
This is one of Workman Publishing’s most popular Paint by Sticker books. Like the others, it includes 12 templates, but these create old-time Art Deco posters of faraway places. Think Cairo, Monaco, the Taj Mahal and Japan, to name just a few. This book will float you clear away from your desk to a distant, pleasant land. It’s suitable for children, too, ages 10 and up. They might learn something about the world out there in the process.
Best for Framing: Animetrics Color-By-Sticker Challenge
Animetrics calls its paint by sticker concept “color by sticker.” Its book includes 12 animal portraits and 10 pages of numbered stickers. Your finished product will measure about 10 x 14 inches, a little larger than the templates included in most other books, making them perfect for framing if you want to show off your work. They’re also held together by string binding, so you don’t have to tear your finished pages out.
Animetrics is also a bit more forgiving of mistakes than other books. The edges of each section are color-coded to guide you. This should cut down on the hunt-for-the-right-number process a little if that’s not the type of activity that relaxes you. And if you don’t place the sticker exactly right, it’s no big deal. Slivers of white background won’t show through the painting.
Best for Music Lovers: Paint by Sticker Music Icons
Go ahead and launch Spotify while you work on this one if your coworkers don’t mind. It goes well with an atmosphere of a little old time rock ‘n roll.
This book’s templates include a painting of Elvis and one of the Beatles, but the stars of other music genres are represented, too: Kurt Cobain, Madonna, Dolly Parton, Prince — even “Weird Al” Yankovic gets a page. It features another of Workman Publishing’s Paint by Sticker trademarks: A book made of firm, high-quality materials that won’t bend or warp with a lot of handling. You can tuck it on your lap to work on it if you don’t want to advertise what you’re up to.
Best Therapy: Paragon Sticker Therapy Nature
Paragon doesn’t mince words — Sticker Therapy is designed to provide relief. As for the nature component of this book, it’s a hybrid of many of the others, including templates of flowers and mountains. A separate edition offers animals. The templates and pictures are smaller than those offered by some other books, but that just means they’re less time-consuming if you can’t spend hours peeling and sticking. The finished images are designed to be meditative and soothing.