How to Make a Mandala: Add A Hand-Carved Rubber Stamp

*A guest post by Mandy Russell.

I’ve been intrigued by mandalas lately; they are seemingly everywhere and very often Zen Doodled. Usually they are highly detailed, and colored or shaded (or both). In their ever-increasing popularity, I decided to give the mandala a shot. After all, I’m quite fond of Zentangle and I am always looking to expand my doodling repertoire. I’ve also carved a rubber stamp or two, so I imagined a repeating stamped image might look quite nice embedded into the mix. And words, I needed words in there too! Since “mandala” actually means “sacred circle” in Sanskrit, I thought making my words a bit meaningful would be lovely. Below is a tutorial on how to start a mandala of your own: one with doodles, stamped images, and a few meaningful words.

how to make a mandala

Begin with drawing-weight paper, a large circular item like a plate or a mixing bowl, an HB pencil, and a clear acrylic ruler (I prefer a 6” x 24” quilting ruler). With the pencil, trace the circular item centered on the paper.

Next, divide the circle into equally sized pie slice-like sections. This is best achieved using a 6” x 24” clear acrylic ruler, the same type used in quilting. First, find the widest point, or diameter, of your circle. Divide this number in half to find the radius. Use the radius and the clear ruler to find the midline of your circle. Place the acrylic ruler vertically on your circle, measuring from the outer, left-most edge, to the middle, the amount of the radius. The wide, clear ruler is perfect for seeing the measurement. Keep the ruler parallel (or squared-up) to the edge of your paper and draw a line down the center of the circle.

Bisect this line in the same way above by drawing another midline in the horizontal direction. Continue bisecting the circle in this way until you have a desired number of same-sized pie slices.

Next carve a small rubber stamp, the simpler the better, to repeat on each slice of your circle. To see just how easy it is to carve your own rubber stamp, find a quick tutorial on my website. If you wish to write a word inside your stamped image, carve out the center. I really liked the idea of a paisley shape. Once carved, mount your stamp onto a clear acrylic block using EZ Mount foam mount. (Double sided tape will work in a pinch!) Stamp the image once on each pie slice, close to the outer border, lining it up in the same spot each time. The clear acrylic block is quite handy to see where you are placing the stamp. Use some of the pencil lines as guidelines to achieve the same placement for each stamping. I use a black MementoLuxe ink pad by Tsukineko. Make sure to let this dry thoroughly to avoid smudging.

how to make a mandala

Next, using a Micron .01 black pen, start a simple doodle in the center of the circle. The simplest one that I love is called “pebbles” and is composed of random-sized, imperfect, touching circles. Fill each stamped image with a short word of your choosing. If you’d like to try your hand at my lettering style, I have two fabulous tutorials on how to accomplish it. I suggest starting here for the basic idea, and following here to widen your vertical strokes a bit.

Choose another Zentangle pattern and begin doodling out from the pebbles in any pie slice. To keep with a symmetrical theme, doodle the same pattern in the opposite pie slice. Repeat this until the slices have been filled almost all the way to the stamped image. Allow some slight “spilling” into neighboring slices.

how to make a mandala

Outline your mandala in pebbles again and add some kind of separating doodle, like the long, super skinny rectangles to enclose each stamped image. Journal just a little about what each word means to you in the moment. Write this journaling around the stamped image. I added several bees here and there too.

how to make a mandala

Once you are satisfied with the inked, or drawn-with-a-pen part of your mandala, you may want to leave it as is and call it finished. However, I particularly love the look of the pencil shaded mandala and Zen Doodled drawing. There’s something quite lovely about the gray of the graphite coupled with the black lines of the pen. It’s simple and preserves the hand of the artist well. I have a super brief tutorial here about Zen Doodle shading. If you want to add color, I say go for it! My only suggestion is to stick with analogous colors at first (colors near each other on the color wheel that blend well and don’t make mud when mixed). I.e. green, blue, purple. Or red, orange, yellow. Also, go light at first. Dark colors tend to almost cover up the delicate pen lines.

how to make a mandala

Mandy Russell specializes in the tinkering of crafty shenanigans. She loves all things art related as well as her wonderful, supportive family. Her German shepherd dog, Odin is pretty great too! To read more about her varied artful endeavors, visit

Learn how to make mandala and other doodles with these titles:
Zen Doodle Oodles of Doodles The Zentangle Untangled Workbook

Color some doodles and tangles with Zen Doodle Coloring Book:
Zen Doodle Coloring Book

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