Learn How to Paint Mandala Rocks Step By Step

With bright colors and symmetrical patterns, modern rock mandala painting is a beautiful art that fits in the palm of your hand. Learn how to paint mandala rocks and enjoy a craft that is both beautiful to look at and calming to paint.

Light blue background with a red painted rock next to a paintbrush with orange paint on bristles. Rock is painted with a colorful mandala. Text on background reads "Learn to Paint Rock Mandalas"

Creating mandala painted rocks (and other surfaces) is a straightforward process. Mandalas are built from the center of the rock outward toward the edge. They’re made up of repeated shapes or designs, like dots, swishes, and lines. 

The most common rock mandala patterns begin with a large central dot surrounded by a ring of small dots. In the small V-shaped spaces between dots, another ring of dots or swishes is painted.

The smaller dots and other shapes repeat in increasingly larger rows or rings around the center to the edge of the rock.

Mandala Painting Supplies

To paint rock mandalas, you only need a few basic supplies. Additional supplies can be used if desired, especially as your mandala designs get more complex. But at minimum you will need:

  • Dot painting tools and/or small round paintbrushes
  • Acrylic paint in a variety of different colors
  • White chalk pencil and flexible ruler for grids
  • Compass (optional)

The following excerpt and images are from my book, Mandala Rock Painting Made Simple

Step by Step Mandala Painting

Following a set series of steps makes the process of painting mandala rocks go smoothly. The basic method is similar to that of painting other rock designs, except for specific techniques to both mark the rock and paint the design itself.

In addition, steps 1 and 2 can be interchanged depending on whether you are selecting a design to fit on a chosen rock or finding an ideal rock for a chosen design.

18 colorful painted rock mandalas with nature themes, lying next to each other with no gaps between.
Photo by Tom Story for Callisto Media, Mandala Rock Painting Made Simple.

Choose a Design. Think about your mood and how you would like to feel when you finish your project, then find a design that resonates.

Are you in the mood for more rhythmic dotting patterns? Chapter 2 of Mandala Rock Painting Made Simple has fantastic options, especially if you’re a beginner. Wanting to connect to nature? Chapter 3 is filled with nature-inspired ideas.

If designing your own mandala, sketching it on paper first can help you be more “in the moment” later when painting.

An oval tan rock on a bright green background. A spiral mandala is painted in shades of pink, cream, and brown.
Make a Spiral Design Shell-Inspired Mandala on an oval rock. Photo by Carla Schauer

Find and Prepare a Rock. If you have a stash of rocks already, choose one that fits with your chosen design. If not, learn to pick perfect stones for rock painting to help you find one for your project.

Wash the rock thoroughly with water to remove any dirt and debris. Then pat off any excess water and let it air-dry completely before starting.

This drying time gives you an excellent opportunity to decide on colors and collect supplies.

A bright green background with a color wheel in the center. 8 colorful, nature-inspired painted rocks surround the color wheel.
Photo by Tom Story for Callisto Media, Mandala Rock Painting Made Simple

Select Colors. Pick a color scheme for your mandala. Use the suggested colors for a design or choose your own. Look at the world around you for color inspiration.

Learn how colors affect mood and try color combinations that inspire calm or energy.

Assemble Your Supplies. Gather all your rock-painting supplies together before you start, including your paints, dotting tools, brushes, pencil, and any other items you are going to use.

A blue background filled with rock painting supplies, including gray rocks, a color wheel, blue and green paint, paint brushes, and a white paint palette.
Photo by Tom Story for Callisto Media, Mandala Rock Painting Made Simple

Apply a Base Coat. If you would like a painted background under your mandala design, now is the time to paint it.

Choose to paint either one or both sides of the rock. Be sure to let the paint dry between coats and before starting to paint the mandala.

Mark Sections, Circles, or Grids (if desired). Use a pencil and a ruler or compass to divide your rock and mark light painting guides. Learn to Draw a Mandala Grid

This optional step can be especially helpful if you are a beginner learning to space out elements and create a symmetrical design.

An aqua painted stone with white chalk grid markings. A white paint marker is drawing a mandala on the stone.
Draw an Aqua Geometric Mandala easily using a grid. Photo by Carla Schauer, Mandala Rock Painting Made Simple

Paint the Design. Start painting the mandala design from the center, drawing the inner designs first and working outward. Turning the rock as you go will help keep the elements even as you paint around circles or mirror the design.

Make sure to dry between layers if the elements will touch each other. Note: Wipe away any mistakes as soon as possible with a damp cotton swab with most of the cotton removed.

A round navy blue stone with pink ombre dots painted in a circular mandala pattern. A silver dotting tool adds a pink dot to the outermost ring of dots.
Learn to paint an Ombre’ Dot Mandala using ball-end dotting tools. Photo by Carla Schauer for Callisto Media, Mandala Rock Painting Made Simple

Dry the Paint Completely. Let your paint dry completely to keep from smudging or smearing the design.

Depending on the type of paints used, it could take a few minutes to dry or up to 24 hours for specialty paint to cure.

Seal or Varnish the Rock. Once your painted rock has dried completely, erase the grid lines. Then add a clear varnish to seal and protect your design from the elements.

Use multiple thin coats of paint-on or spray sealer for the best results.

Gray painted stone on a yellow background. Stone is painted with a yellow, white, and black mandala with a small bee in the center.
Learn to paint a Bee-Inspired Mandala. Photo by Carla Schauer.

Present or Display Your Design. Display your painted mandala rock to remind you of your mantra and feelings when painting, or give it as a gift.

Frequently Asked Questions about Painting Mandala Stones

What can I do with my finished mandala rock art?

Whatever you choose! They make great gifts and home decorations, add them to fairy gardens, or  You can even drill a hole in small rocks and turn them into necklaces

What dotting tools are best?

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to favorite tools for making a dot mandala. Some prefer a ball-ended dotting tool, and others prefer flat. Even household objects like toothpicks for tiny dots or a pencil eraser for a larger center dot will work. I recommend trying a few different options, then buying a larger set of what works best for you.

How do I make dots and swishes for painting mandala patterns?

Get step by step instruction in these how to paint dots and how to paint mandala swishes tutorials.

Do you have any more rock painting information?

Of Course! Get started Rock Painting.

Share this Rock Mandala Painting Guide with Friends

Your shares are how this site grows, and I am genuinely appreciative when you do. Pin to your favorite Christmas Pinterest board or share this idea to a craft group on Facebook.

Image contains 2 photos. Top photo is a collection of rocks painted with colorful mandalas. Bottom is a blue rock painted with a pink dotted mandala. Between the photos is a yellow bar with a white text overlay that reads "how to Make Painted Rock Mandalas."

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