a little mandala tutorial to play with over the weekend.

A friend asked me to show him how to make mandalas recently. He thought mine were quite complex and beautiful, and I remembered how much fun it was to learn when I was starting out as a henna artist a few years ago. So I thought I’d write up a quick tutorial and share it here, on the blog. These are the actual doodles and drawings I ran up in my sketchbook for my buddy, mistakes and all, so I figured why not put them up too.

Y’all, they’re totally easy to make. No, seriously. They are like cake from a box once you figure it out. I think of them as a meditation and make them when I need to calm my mind, be still and focused.


You start in the center and you work your way out to the edges of the page. It can be as symmetrical, or not, as you like. It can be round, triangular, flower shaped, whatever. By the time you get out to the ends of the page it is like, WOW! OMG! COMPLEX! but as you work, it is really very simple and relaxing. Just keep adding elements and working around in layers.


It is kind of a metaphor for life, when you break life down. The big stuff is scary and complicated and overwhelming, but if you break it down to component pieces (Breathe. Eat lunch. Get your tires fixed.) it’s a lot easier. One foot in front of the other. Chop wood and carry water, you know?

mandala tutorial3.jpg

You just keep going around, taking deceptively simple elements and moments, and weaving them into something beautiful. Sound like your life, yet? Dunno, I think of the mandala as a pretty powerful metaphor for life.


Every mandala I make uses really simple elements. Dots. Spirals. Petals. Bumps. As I’ve said before, I come from a henna background, so East Indian art and style really informs the stuff I make. For me, the challenge has been branching out into different symbols, using geometry, mixing it up a little. Every artist has their own style and symbol system. The trick is to take your symbols and style, and create the meditation that works for you. Some folks really like perfection in their work. I’m way more of a just diving in and winging it kind of gal – which is funny, but that’s a lot how I live my life too. There’s precious little perfection, but I come up with some interesting results and it’s never boring.

mandala tutorial5.jpg

And just like life, there are some things that are helpful to know. Like, biscuit cutters working really well if you need a circle, or the fact that you don’t have to stick yourself into some pre-approved shape. That simply playing is important and that you can always go back and add stuff later. There’s no mistake you can’t fix, or work into something else.


Keep playing at it, keep working at it, add some colors, and eventually you wind up with something quite intricate and beautiful.

So that’s my little mandala tutorial, and my weekend challenge to you. Take an hour or two, play with shapes and colors and lines, and try your hand at a circular, mandala life meditation. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Want inspiration? Check out these mandala artists!

Jamie McAlpin’s flickr feed. There are no words for how much I love this artist.

The mandala art of Daisy Yellow, who I have linked to before and who remains one of my favorite blogger/art journalers/art inspirers.

The amazing Stephanie Smith who chronicles her mandala journey at Spiritual Evolution Of The Bean.

The Mandala group feed on Flickr.

Y’all, there’s a ton out there. The other place that’s good to go for basics and inspiration is The Henna Page. Believe it or not, they’ve got tons of free designs up, including a kick ass series on basic motifs you can practice and break down.

Have fun and happy weekending!

PS: I’m so happy to share this tutorial with you, but everything I post on my blog is for your personal artistic use only- not for resale or redistribution. Please contact me if you are interested in using this as a class resource or workshop handout. Thank you!!! All contents of this website are copyright to me, Rain Hannah.

About Maia Rainwood

Owner and Maker at Maia Rainwood Design. Wearable art for wise women, birth keepers, witches, and world-builders.
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27 Responses to a little mandala tutorial to play with over the weekend.

  1. Laura says:

    This is AWESOME! I’ve been wondering the same thing. 🙂 Thank you for giving me inspiration and a little guidance!

  2. Sarah Wheeler says:

    I am so bookmarking this. The potential for freeform embroidery is DELIGHTFUL.

  3. Delia says:

    oooo ahhhhh i see a new kinda a ring coming . . .

  4. Ellen B. says:

    Beautiful, Rainy!!
    Don’t forget the crocheted granny mandala! Tutorial here: http://crochethealingandraymond.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/granny-mandala-tutorial/

  5. Marilyn says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial.

  6. Hi Rainy,

    I have bookmarked this page so I can come back to it again and again.

    I love the way you have it all so neat and clear in one place for me.

    I’ve been making my own on and off for years now but now they are much improved.

    Thank you!

    Hugs, Euphoria

  7. Angelia says:

    LOVE it! Thank you!!

  8. Viv says:

    I followed linke from Andria at Drawing Near to this tutorial and I’m so glad I did. I will definitely give it a try after this.

  9. peony says:

    Merci, super tutoriel!!!

  10. Belinda Hounsell says:

    Hi there – what a lovely site and tutorial. I am way away in Zimbabwe and doing Mandala’s with my daughter for the first time. Loving it! Thank you Belinda

    • Rainy says:

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! Thank you so much for letting me know. I hope your daughter enjoys them. For a little trick that I like, after I color them in, I go back in with a white or silver or gold gel pen and add even more detail over the color, or to decorate on the black lines. She might like that!

  11. Cindy says:

    Oh, this is awesome! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  12. Pingback: Anita Kaiser – My mandala journey – what I learned in yoga

  13. happyhooligans says:

    Oh my goodness, YES! I see now! At first they do look so complex and incredibly artistic, but when you break it down, they DO look very simple to make. Thank you so much for sharing your art, and for explaining it all. I’m so looking forward to creating some of my own! And thank you for participating on my page the other day, and leaving this link there. I’m off to have a look around your site now. 🙂

  14. Pingback: full circle activity.

  15. JustJuanita says:

    Hi Rain….do you have an email address that I could contact you at? I’d like to be able to reference this page in a lecture I’m teaching this semester.

  16. Janette Brock says:

    i just became interested in this… what kind of paper is best to use? and do you use paint, pens, pencils, etc?? I was thinking pens, are there a brand that you prefer? If I was thinking of framing, what do you recommend?? Thanks, they are beautiful!

    • Rainy says:

      I would use a paper that is specifically made for ink pens if you’re going to use those. I like PITT markers a lot. Uniball gel pens, Sakura Gel pens, really you can mix up your color media a lot. I like to layer media in these. Prismacolor, Neocolor IIs, different markers, paints… the combos are endless and it’s really up to your own creativity. Have you tried Twinkling H20s? Mica infused watercolor – great sparkle! Sometimes I do them on watercolor paper (in pencil) and then watercolor them and THEN line them with marker sometimes as well. But I don’t recommend using watercolor paper if you are working only in marker. I have to confess I always get a cheap, plain black frame at Aaron Bros when I frame these. You’d want to do something else ifyou were going for archival framing.

  17. I love that this comes up as the second entry on google when you type in how to draw a mandala. Love you, lady. *hug*

  18. Paula True says:

    I’m a Service Coordinator at an affordable housing for seniors and must come up with two Health and Wellness Programming in the Arts a year. This information is perfect to give the residents so they can feel more comfortable in starting this project. As I’m learning, Mandalas take little materials and will fit into my limited budget. With appreciation….

  19. Celeste says:

    So inspired. Thank you ♥

  20. Hello, thank you for stopping by and following my blog. Welcome! Like Sarah, above, I love the idea of building up a mandala using freeform embroidery, perhaps as a sampler to practise different stitches. I haven’t been drawn to mandalas in the past but somehow you’ve made them sound less daunting and more fun, so I am going to give one a try.

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