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How to do a color by number on Google Sheets?

Color by number sheets are a fun activity for kids of all ages. They allow you to reveal a hidden picture or pattern by coloring in numbered sections according to a key. While traditionally done with paper and crayons, color by number activities can also be created digitally using a tool like Google Sheets.

Benefits of digital color by number sheets

Doing a color by number activity digitally on Google Sheets has some advantages over using paper:

  • Easily shareable – you can send someone a link to the sheet to work on collaboratively
  • Reusable – the sheets can be reset and used multiple times
  • Customizable – it’s easy to change colors or create new designs
  • Neat and tidy – no risk of going outside the lines or smudging
  • Environmentally friendly – no paper waste

How to make a color by number on Google Sheets

Follow these steps to create your own color by number activity in Google Sheets:

  1. Open Google Sheets and create a new blank spreadsheet.
  2. In the first column, fill down numbers starting from 1 (one number per cell). The number of cells will determine the size of your picture.
  3. Add columns for each color you want to use. For example, if using 4 colors name the columns Color 1, Color 2, Color 3, Color 4.
  4. In each color column, enter the numbers that should be filled with that color. Refer to your original color by number key. For example, in Color 1 enter all cells that should be colored with Color 1.
  5. Highlight the column headers (Color 1, Color 2, etc) in the corresponding color. This will make your key.
  6. Delete any unused rows at the bottom.
  7. Adjust column widths to make square cells.
  8. Add borders to the cells.
  9. To color cells, click on a cell and select the paint format icon. Choose the appropriate color to match the column header.

Here is an example color by number sheet set up in Google Sheets:

Number Color 1 Color 2 Color 3 Color 4
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 5

Tips for making color by number sheets

Here are some tips to help make great color by number activities in Google Sheets:

  • Use thick lines and simple shapes for the design.
  • Stick to using just a few colors – 3-5 works best.
  • Make sure there is clear delineation between numbered sections.
  • Add a title and key at the top for reference.
  • Use large, bold numbers that are easy to see.
  • Leave plenty of open space around the design.
  • Add interactivity by linking the color cells to a color picker.
  • Adjust column widths to create square pixels for painting.

Adding a color palette

To make coloring easier, you can add a color palette that is linked to each color cell. Here is how:

  1. Select the cells under each color column header.
  2. Go to Data > Data Validation.
  3. Under Criteria, select List from the dropdown menu.
  4. Enter your color palette choices, like Red, Blue, Green separated by commas.
  5. Now when you click a cell, you can select a color from the dropdown.

This creates an interactive painting experience right within the spreadsheet!

Using images

For a more visual design, you can also insert images into your sheet. Just make sure to use thick outlines:

  1. Insert image and size it to fill the desired area.
  2. With the image selected, open the Border menu.
  3. Select a thick black border to outline the image sections.
  4. Right click the image and select Order > Bring to Front to keep it above the cells.
  5. Add the number cells on top. Format them to be large and bold.

The border lines will create the sections for coloring in the image.

Advanced options

Once you have the basics down, there are lots of creative ways to enhance your Google Sheets color by number activities:

  • Link to a color by number generator – Automatically pull in color by number patterns
  • Add pixel art – Create designs with filled shapes
  • Include animation – Make parts appear when colored
  • Add worksheet tabs – Make multiple pages for longer activities
  • Include logic puzzles – Color by math patterns or sequences
  • Provide rewards – Unlock new pages or prizes when finished

Benefits for kids

Color by number activities offer many benefits for children, such as:

  • Improving fine motor skills
  • Practicing number recognition
  • Learning color recognition
  • Focusing attention to detail
  • Cultivating patience and persistence
  • Allowing creativity within structure
  • Gaining a sense of achievement

Digital color by number sheets can make these activities even more engaging and rewarding for 21st century learners.


Google Sheets provides a versatile, free platform for making customizable color by number activities. With some simple cell formatting, data validation, and creative design, anyone can make interactive digital color by number sheets to enjoy.

Color by numbers are a great hands-on activity with many benefits for children’s development. Making them in Google Sheets allows for endless reusability, sharing capabilities, and options to enhance the experience even further.

So grab some colors, numbers and get creating your own unique Google Sheets pixel art adventures today!