Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)

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In this “Everything You Need To Know About Mandala Rock Painting (Beginner’s Guide)”, you’ll discover the joys of Mandala rock painting and gain confidence in your artistic ability.

Here’s what’s inside:

  • What is Mandala Art?
  • Mandala Techniques
  • Mandala Art Supplies List
  • How to Paint Dot Mandala Art
  • How to Draw a Mandala
  • Tips from the Pros
  • Therapeutic Benefits
  • Mandala Rock Painting Ideas

What is mandala art?

If you’ve seen a Mandala, then you will recognize the memorizing geometric patterns and beautiful colors. If you haven’t seen one, it’s an amazing piece of artwork made up of geometric shapes and designs meant to symbolize the universe. It means circle or completion in Sanskrit. Often, many people use Mandalas as an art therapy tool: to relax our overworked minds, help treat depression and post-traumatic stress, and as a meditative tool. Painting Mandalas on rocks has become very popular, and it’s easy for beginners to master.

Mandala techniques

There are several techniques for creating Mandalas: grid pattern, Zendalas, and the dotting technique.

The grid pattern technique has geometric patterns using a compass and a protractor for precise lines and shapes of the design. But, since we are painting rocks, I find Mandala stencils to work just as well.

step by step mandala - Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)

Another popular technique is called Zendala. Zendalas uses the basic principle of Zentangle patterns in Mandala art. Creating Zendalas is stress-free activity that allows your mind to slow down and focus on one stroke at a time. This is a therapeutic process which means there are no mistakes to be made because you’re creating art in the moment and with no planned design in mind.

You can practice Zendala with just paper, pens, and pencils. I like to doodle patterns in sections in my sketchbook using my micron pens to create new patterns by adding shading, dots, and geometric shapes.

To learn how to create Zendalas, start by making a dot in the center and then draw sectioned patterns within your design. When you’re finished filling in any white spaces. Step back and see if you want to add more details to your design.

Learn how to draw Zendalas, check out these free resources:


zentangle part - Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)
Totally Easy Zentangle by Craftwhack

mandala - Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)

The dotting technique is how I learned to paint Mandalas stones, and it’s the easiest technique for beginner rock painters.

step by step mandala 1 - Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)
Photo by: Pluckyrox on Facebook

Mandala Rock Painting Supplies

  • Acrylic Craft Paint
  • Paint Palette
  • Pigma Micron pens or even fine line drawing pens of your choice
  • Dotting Tools
  • Gel Pens
  • Paint Pens
  • Fine Line Paint Brushes size: 0,1, and 2
  • Stencils
  • Sealer
  • Water and a cloth to clean tools

Most of the tools listed are standard art supplies. Acrylic paint and a paint palette are nothing new; you may already have those. You’ll want the micron pens and fine line brushes to create fine details to your Mandala. But the signature tools for this style of painting are dotting tools.

Don’t worry; you don’t have to buy anything special for these! You can make your dotting tools with simple items around the house. Bobbie pins, ink pens, tips of paintbrush handles, pencil erasers, the end of crochet hooks, and more! The thing to keep in mind when selecting a dotting tool is to look for something with a smooth surface and bottom (you don’t want something uneven that won’t distribute the paint well).

dotting-tool-how-to-tutorial-alternatives
Photo by: The Digital Dozen

It’s essential to have dotting tools of various sizes. You’ll need 3-5 sizes of dotting tools, depending on your pattern. Select tools that are different enough to be noticeable, but not so different to make the piece look off balance. You can also create dimension on your Mandala when you layer dots of lighter shades on top of darker ones. To create this stair-step pattern, it is important to have a variety of size tools.

Dotting tools are most commonly used for making nail art designs but is becoming popular with rock painting too. Mandala dot art can be achieved by using dotting tools and comes in a variety of sizes.

Dotting Tool Maintenance

  1. Wipe your dotting tools clean with a wet towel while the paint is still wet.
  2. Use isopropyl alcohol to clean dried on paint from your dotting tools. Only on metal tip dotting tools.
  3. Clean plastic and other dotting tools with really hot water and scrub with towel; repeat if needed.
dotting tools

How to Paint A Dot Mandala Stones for Beginners

There are many patterns of dotting techniques. Here are some simple steps for beginners. I found this helpful when I first discovered Mandala art.

Prep Work

1.    Paint a base coat on your rock of choice and let dry. Although it’s unnecessary to prime your rocks for Mandala designs, the patterns and colors will appear crisper against a darker background. Consider black or navy blue, depending on your color scheme. I also used a mandala grid stencil to make my grid lines.

2.    Choose a pattern and practice on paper before starting your Mandala pattern on your stone. Also, test color combinations along with your design to see what you like.

3.    Once you’re happy with your paint color selection and pattern, let the dotting process begin!

Dotting Process

1.    Start by adding a large dot in the center of your rock. Dip the end of your dotting tool into the paint, and press onto the rock.

1 3 - Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)

2. To create the first ring around the center dot, add four smaller dots in a cross around the center dot. Then place a dot in between the four smaller evenly spaced dots to complete the first ring.

2 3 - Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)

3. To create the second ring, place larger dots behind the first round of dots. To do this, you want to offset the placement of the dots in the second ring by putting them behind where there are gaps in the first ring of dots.

3 3 - Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)

4. For the third ring and beyond, continue placing larger or smaller dots around the rock, following the pattern as outlined in Step 3. This will create evenly spaced rings of dots around your rock.

4 3 - Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)

5. Keep going until the pattern covers the rock. The last step is to seal your painted Mandala stone with a clear sealant. Don’t be afraid to add some fun color and pattern combinations! Here is my finished product:

5 2 - Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)

10 helpful mandala rock painting tips

  1. Prepare paint for your color palette ahead of time. If you plan on using dark to light shades of a color on your Mandala design, it will be easier with paint already prepared.
  2. You can create lighter shades by adding white to any color. By creating 2-3 shades of the same color, you can layer the shades from dark to light on each dot for a gradient look.
  3. To Create Lighter Shades: In your paint palette, place a base color, such as a darker shade of blue in 2 to 3 areas. To create a gradient, add a drop of white to the first blue on your paint palette. Then add two drops of white to the second and so on. This will make your blue, gradient colors balanced for your Mandala design.
  4. The acrylic paint should have thick yogurt-like consistency. If it’s too thin, the paint may bleed.
  5. Rotate your rock as you work.
  6. Give your Mandala stone some dimension by placing a smaller dot on top of larger dots using contrasting colors.
  7. Play around with gradients. Try painting the lightest gradient color first and work your way out with darker shades.
  8. When applying dots to your rock, you can two even sized dots before re-applying the paint.
  9. You can “walk the dots” to create a cascading look of large to smaller dots by placing 3-4 dots in a row without re-applying.
  10. Here are some helpful tools to remove paint from your Mandala rock to fix a mistake. Use pointed Q-Tips for smaller mistakes and regular Q-Tips and damp cloths for larger mistakes. If all fails, remove the paint and re-paint that area with the base coat color.

Here are my recommended books for drawing Mandalas. These books have easy beginner-friendly step-by-step designs for you to practice.




To learn more about Mandala Art, check out these helpful YouTube videos:

Lydia May’s Mandalas–How to Paint Dot Mandalas YouTube Beginner’s edition:

How to Draw Mandalas for beginners

I find it helpful to use a grid pattern stencil on rocks. Trace out the lines with a pencil using light pressure. This will keep your design symmetric.

Gel pens, paint markers, and micron pens are great for drawing Mandalas on rocks.

  • Begin in the center of your rock with a circle and then using your imagination to draw shapes in a repeating pattern in a circular pattern.  
  • Take it slow and rotate your rock as you go, building on each shape. This will give each object a symmetrical look.
  • Coloring the Mandala is your preference.

Tips from the Pros!

  • “If you want to have beautiful dots, you have to paint them on a dry surface. I paint my backgrounds in bulk, then I just have to paint the dots next time. This helps to paint lots of rocks in a short amount of time.” Zsuzsanna Szász Mihálykó
  • Here’s timesaving time from Eszter Csóka, Chakra Mandala Stones: Cut circles out of paper and use it to trace and paint circles to base coat lots of rocks at once for Mandala painted rocks.
IMG 20181014 131215 1024x768 - Everything you need to know about Mandala Rock Painting (Beginners Guide)
photo by: Eszter Csóka
  • Lydia May says to prepare a few projects in advance with your base coat so you can get right the painting and to make sure your acrylic paint is the consistency of yogurt to get great results for dot painting.
  • Maria Mercedes Trujillo of MagaMerlina says that you can draw your mandala with a white pencil first and then go over it with the ink and, if you don’t feel confident drawing/painting your mandala straight on the stone, you can draw it on paper first and then transfer your design using tracing carbon paper.
  • Enid Dorsey of rivercityrockart on Instagram is an amazing self-taught Mandala artist says to practice on paper plates and use the notches like a clock face to practice doing quarter turns and work on their symmetry.
  • And of course, patience and practice!

Therapeutic Benefits of the mandala

According to Exploring Your Mind.com, 5 Benefits of Mandalas:

“Designing and coloring mandalas can help you focus your attention. That’s why they’re a great exercise for calming down when you’re stressed and waking up your mind. Here are some benefits of mandalas:

They help with balance.

They bring peace and tranquility.

Looking at them will give you a feeling of calmness.

They help with concentration.

They make it easier to be mindful.

Another thing they do is push aside thoughts and let your creativity flow.

The way all the shapes and designs are laid out brings a feeling of balance.”

Mandala rock Painting Ideas

mandala rock painting ideas
Photos by: Enid Dorsey of River City Rock Art
dot art mandala rock painting
Top Photos by: Lydia May
Bottom Photos by: MagaMerlina
mandala rock painting
Photos by: Carolyn Ford
dot art rock painting
Top Left Photo by: Eszter Csóka
Top Right Photo by: Zsuzsanna Szász Mihálykó
Bottom Left Photo by: Patricia Campo
Bottom Right Photo by: Rock Painting Guide

In Summary

Mandala art doesn’t have to be complicated. Even beginners have to start somewhere, and I hope this guide will give you the confidence and inspire you to create Mandalas.

Have more questions about paint, tools, or rock painting in general?

Check out my Beginner’s Guide Series for Rock Painting or the FAQ section.

Be sure to check out other rock painting techniques in my post 16 Easy Rock Painting Techniques to improve your skills.

Click here for more Mandala rock painting tips from our Featured Artist.


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