Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How To Paint Dotted Mandalas on Rocks

Mandala painted on stones using a dotting technique 

Beautiful, dotted mandalas are all over the Internet. 

I wanted to paint some for myself but could not figure out how the simple, yet intricate design was accomplished. 

Then, I came across a fantastic dotted mandala tutorial and look what I painted!

Here are my tips and thoughts about painting these beautiful stones.


I used both acrylic and acrylic craft paints. Acrylic paints will need to be thinned with water more so than the craft paints. Consistency of the paint is very important in order to obtain a nice effect.


I love color and these stones can be painted with any combination. For inspiration, I have a Pinterest board devoted just to color palettes:


The tutorial recommended a certain type and size of brush for painting dotted mandalas. I had 4 suitable brushes on hand. I found the small brushes from a recently purchased nail art set worked best for me. (The nail art brushes are the 2 with white handles in the picture below.)

Dotted Mandala Stones Brush Types


I used 3 types of stones for my dotted mandalas because I wanted to see how the painting technique would work on each one:
  • Round and pitted (bottom left)
  • Flat, smooth and an irregular shape (right)
  • Round and smooth (top left)
Stones for Dotted Mandala Painting

The Tutorial

I recommend reading the detailed steps from the tutorial a few times before starting.


I practiced the brush dotting technique on paper first to get the hang of it before painting my first stone.

Practicing Dotted Mandala Painting on Paper

Painting the Stones

Stone 1 - Round and pitted

You can paint a dotted mandala on a pitted stone. I think my first attempt is OK but the dots appear to be flat.

Cindy Thomas Painted Rock Mandala 1

One stone "dot" painted and two more to go.

Stone 2 - Flat, smooth and an irregular shape

It was definitely easier to paint on the flat, smooth rock and my dots have a little more dimension this time.

Cindy Thomas Mandala Painted Stone 2

Stones 1 and 2 side by side

CindyThomas Stone Mandalas

Stone 3 - Round and smooth

My third stone is nice but I definitely need more practice.

Cindy Thomas Painted Mandala Stone

What I Learned
  • It's not as easy as it looks.
  • Go slowly and don't rush.
  • Practice and practice and practice.

Helpful Links

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks


  1. You are a perfectionist and it shows in your work. These turned out beautifully for first attempts. Many of us will have to work very hard to get to this level.

    As always - thank you for sharing your steps and tips. It is so helpful. It almost feels like painting in the same room with you - very inspirational.

    1. Yours is one of the nicest compliments I have ever received, Kathy, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

      I often wonder if I'm boring my audience by posting the various steps I take to create a painted rock. Your comment assures me that the information is helpful and appreciated.

      Happy rock painting.

    2. Most definitely, YES! your pictures and descriptions of the steps are such a help. I am not very good at this rock painting thing yet, but hope to improve as the year goes on. I want to learn as much as I can. I think painting on rocks is really a neat idea. My husband rolls his eyes at me when we go to a nearby steakhouse where there are so MANY wonderful rocks I would LOVE to bring home! He just says, "you can find rocks that are not part of someone's landscaping. You have to leave them there". I would never take them from the restaurant landscaping, but I have to say it is a temptation. Would rather have the rocks than the steak!!!

    3. Tonilea - your comment brought a smile to my face. I also "salivate" when I see so many beautiful, paintable rocks in parking lots. But, I heed your husband's advice and respect the stones belong to someone else. Thanks for letting me know you find the pictures and descriptions helpful. Just keep practicing and you'll get better and better each time you paint a rock. Happy rock painting!

  2. Pleased to have found your site. I dabble in rock painting (houses, ladybugs etc) Looking forward to getting some new ideas from your site. I love your painted mandalas and will be giving it a try over the winter. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I'm happy you have found my site, too, Linda. I was thrilled to find the dotted mandala tutorial and I think you'll love painting them as much as I did. Happy painting in 2016!

  3. there are all kinds of Acrylic paints. can you tell me what you use. I love your work and want to do some of this for my family. You show the brushes but not the paint you use.

    1. I use acrylic and acrylic craft paints in the 2 oz. bottles. For the dotted mandalas, I find the acrylic craft paint (which is thinner) works better.

  4. Hi Cindy!
    Your stones turned out beautifully!! So glad my tutorial was of help to you. :) I really love your color choices and the placement of the mandalas on the irregular-shaped stones. Also your tip with the nail art brushes is great! I will include that in my blog entry.
    Best regards, Barbara

    1. Hi Barbara.
      I could not have painted the stones without your excellent tutorial! Those nail art brushes have been my first choice of brush lately - they're wonderful for small, detailed strokes (and dots). Happy painting.

  5. Fab tutorial! Thank you! I've just started and found these so hard! My first attempt was awful but my second a little better. Hope with time this improves!

    1. You're welcome, Becky. I've always admired the dotted mandalas and couldn't figure out how to paint them until I discovered the step-by-step tutorial on Pinterest. These do take practice and I'm sure you'll improve the more you paint them.

  6. I'm looking for info on how to mix the graduating colours. My first attempt was not dramatic enough so that the colours were not graduated enough. Any suggestions?

    1. Mixing colors is something I have difficulty with so my only suggestion would be to practice and experiment until you get the graduated colors you're happy with.

  7. I was wondering what you use these rocks for. I want to do this for a decorative add to a rock garden but I am concerned that acrylic paint will easily wash away with rain. Any thoughts?

    1. Jennifer, these rocks can be used as paperweights or any way you wish. All of my painted rocks are coated with a clear sealer (sometimes 2-3 coats) to protect the design. You'd definitely want to do that if you're placing them in a rock garden outdoors. In addition, you can use paints made especially for the outdoors, e.g., DecoArt Patio Paint. Even when the rocks are sealed, weather will have an affect on them and you would need to reapply additional sealer occasionally.

    2. Cindy's right. I work at AC Moore and we have a number of craft paints designed for outdoor use. Most require either baking in your oven (which I would do with glass but not rocks, which might break or explode) or letting cure for three weeks. There are a number of clear coats that also will preserve your rocks' paint jobs. Rustoleum makes some good stuff, as well as ModPodge, which has an outdoor version. Don't use regular ModPodge, it is not 100% waterproof.

    3. Thanks so much for sharing the info about AC Moore and their craft paints, swordwhale. I haven't used a Rustoleum sealer yet but will give it a try one of these days.

  8. Really great! I tried this and suffered Epic Fail. Then googled it, and your picture (the blue dot rock) stood out. So I found this page! Great stuff. I can't go kayaking without coming back with buckets of rocks (Chesapeake Bay cobbles and pebbles, river rocks from the Susquehanna and Sassafras). Now here's another thing to do with them.

    1. You would think painting dots on rocks would be easy, wouldn't you, swordwhale? I think all of us who have tried this technique failed the first time. Thank you for letting me know you found the page helpful. It sounds like you have a great resource for rock collecting - river rocks are the best in my opinion. Happy rock hunting and painting.

  9. Thank you Cindy for an inspiring article. I've been watching mandala stone painting tutorials in a last couple of weeks but wasn't brave enough to try it myself. After reading your blog I've decided to give it a go. I've painted 3 rocks already and really enjoy it :-)

    1. You're welcome, Lenka. I'm happy to hear my blog post inspired you to paint some dotted mandalas. Happy rock painting.