Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to Tackle a Rock Painting Challenge

Have you ever agreed to paint a rock then asked yourself, "How am I going to paint THAT?!"

A request for Noah's Ark was my rock painting challenge because:
  • It was a complex design
  • I had not painted it on a rock in the past.
I learned (and now apply) these lessons to painted rock designs which seem more ambitious than my skill allows.

Lesson 1: Don't rush to paint. Keep the project in the back of your mind and ideas will start coming to you.

Instead of rushing to paint the Noah's Ark, I spent time:
  • Thinking about and finding suitable rocks for the project
  • Looking at pictures of animals and Noah's Ark
  • Gathering reference materials.

Before I could envision how to paint Noah's Ark, I needed a rock to paint on. I was fortunate to find 3 rocks of a suitable shape in varying sizes - small, medium, and large.

Lesson 2: Paint a practice rock. Test the design and try techniques on one or more practice rocks before tackling the "keeper."

I painted Noah's Ark on the smallest rock first. From this practice rock, I learned:
  • The paint color for the wood portion was too dark and did not feature enough interest
  • The wood-painted portion could have been lower to allow more room at the top for the animals
  • Something should be featured in the windows of the ark
  • It was best to paint the largest animal(s) first then select the remaining animals based on the space available.

Lesson 3: Test Designs and Colors. Try out colors and designs on paper before committing to the rock. Record the steps and paint colors you used.

Before continuing to paint on the medium-sized rock, I sketched a simple ark on paper and played with various paint color combinations for the wood portion of the ark. Noting the colors I used helped me recreate it on the rock.

The 2nd Noah's Ark I painted (medium-size rock) incorporated what I learned from painting the practice rock:
  • The painted wood portion was a lighter color and more interesting
  • More room was allowed at the top portion of the rock for the animals
  • The windows of the ark and the roof now featured animals
  • The animal selection and placement process was easier.

The Noah's Ark challenge wasn't daunting by the time I painted the 3rd and largest rock (which would be gifted to my friend).

Lesson 4: Use reference materials for inspiration and guidance. Don't feel you have to paint from memory.

I referred to photos and these how-to guides to paint the animals:

When you accept a challenge and push yourself to paint a complex design which you've never done before, the sense of accomplishment makes your spirit soar.

Have you been asked to paint a complex or challenging design on a rock? 
Try these tips.

Please leave a comment about your experience painting complex, challenging designs on rocks.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Rock Painting Video Tutorial: Glitter Bugs

Rachel Mitchell demonstrates how to paint her unique, glitter bugs on rocks in this excellent video lesson.

You'll learn to to paint these shiny, glittery bugs with Rachel's video

I have the brushes and paints to create the glitter bugs, however, these are the supplies I want to add to my rock-painting toolkit:
Note: When you click on certain links in this post, I may receive a commission for the purchase of products. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Before & After Painted Rocks: Adorned Elephants

The rock shapes I chose for these adorned, painted elephants were:
  • Round, roly-poly stone (left)
  • Loaf shape (center)
  • Triangular (right) 

My first step was to paint the elephants without any colorful garments. To help with the proportions and shading I referred to Lin Wellford's book - Painting Zoo Animals on Rocks.

Note: When you click on certain links in this post, I may receive a commission for the purchase of products.

Elephant features sketched on the stones

The rock elephants are brought to life with shading and details

I then chose a different head covering and blanket design for each elephant.

Painted rock elephants adorned in festive apparel

Rocks are enlivened by paint to become adorned, decorated elephants.

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks

Helpful Links
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Sunday, December 3, 2017

How to Paint Baby Jesus on a Rock

Useful Links

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© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks

Monday, November 6, 2017

Helpful Rock Painting Tools and Supplies

To paint a rock, all that's required is a rock, paintbrush and paint.

These are the helpful tools and supplies I use to create painted rocks. These products are not necessary but they are nice to have.

(Most of my rock painting tools and supplies are purchased at Hobby Lobby or Occasionally, I'll find something at Walmart, Michael's or JoAnn's.)

Note: When you click on certain links in this post, I may receive a commission for the purchase of products.



I recently discovered gesso and now it's my go-to primer. In the past, I used white acrylic paint as a primer. Now I prefer gesso for it's coverage and "tooth".  You can learn more about gesso here.

Regular gesso is what I use to prime smooth stones.

Regular gesso on a smooth stone

Super heavy gesso is what I use to prime pitted stones.

Super heavy gesso on a pitted rock

The following photo illustrates the difference gesso can make in paint color intensity when used as a primer.

Note the paint color intensity on each stone based on no primer, white paint, and gesso 

Specialty Brushes

Nail Art Brush Set

This set of nail art brushes is helpful for getting the paint into tight spaces. Fingernails are a tiny canvas, so it follows that tools used for nail art would be suitable for rocks too. Learn more about nail art brushes here.

Not only do the nail art brushes get into tight spaces but they're also perfect for painting very small stones.

Script Liner Brush

I paint thin lines and detailing with this script liner brush. It took a little practice to get used to this long, thin brush, but it became my favorite once I did. It's important the paint consistency isn't too thick when using this type of brush for lines and details.

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Paint Pens - I use the extra fine point Posca paint markers for adding details and filling in small areas of my painted rocks. (The Posca pens are also available in bold point, medium point and fine point if you'd like to use them for larger areas.)

0.35mm Black Pen - I use this Pigma Micron 03 pen to add thin details and write on my stones. The line is thinner than the 08 Micron pen.

0.50mm Black Pen - I also use this Pigma Micron 08 pen to add details and write on my stones. The line size is slightly thicker than the 03 Micron pen.

(This 9-piece Micron pen set features a variety of sizes and shows the line width of each size.)

I used acrylic paint, Posca paint pens and the 03 and 08 Pigma Micron pens to create this owl.

Note: When you click on certain links in this post, I may receive a commission for the purchase of products.

Miscellaneous Tools & Supplies

Paint Eraser/Clay Shaper Tool 

I use this two-sided, rubber nib paint eraser tool to wipe away mistakes while my acrylic paint is fresh. It's very handy when the area I've messed up is in a tight or small spot. Just remember, you have to be quick and erase the mistake before the paint dries. Learn more about correcting rock painting mistakes here.

Embossing-Stylus Set

I originally purchased this 3-piece stylus set for tracing a design onto a rock with graphite transfer paper. Now the set does double duty as my dotting tools.

All of the dots on this heart were painted with the 3-piece stylus set.

Graphite Transfer Paper

I use graphite transfer paper to trace a design onto a stone.

For dark stones, white graphite transfer paper is used. And gray graphite transfer paper is used for light-colored stones.

Adhesive Glue

People often ask "what's the best glue for attaching rocks together." I have found E6000 glue to be the best-holding glue to secure painted/unpainted rocks to each other.

E6000 glue was used to attach the snowman's head to his melting body. Learn how to make a melting snowman painted rock here.

How to make a melting snowman painted rock
Brush Conditioner

Painting rocks can be tough on brushes. I clean my brushes with soap and water then condition them with Pink Soap to extend their life. A little goes a long way and a bottle lasts for quite awhile.

When you have the right tool, the task is easier. These are my helpful, rock painting tools and supplies which assist in the creation of unique, painted rocks art.

Note: When you click on certain links in this post, I may receive a commission for the purchase of products.

Helpful Links

Regular gesso
Super heavy gesso
15-Piece nail art brush set
Script liner brush
Posca paint pens (extra fine point)
Posca paint pens (fine point)
Posca paint pens (medium point)
Posca paint pens (bold point)
Pigma micron 03 pen
Pigma micron 08 pen
9-piece Pigma micron pen set
Paint eraser
3-Piece stylus set
Gray graphite transfer paper
White graphite transfer paper
E6000 glue
Pink soap

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks