How to Draw a Mandala Using Grids

*A guest post by Kathryn Costa.

how to draw a mandala

Mandalas are a design within a circle often using a repeating pattern. In this tutorial, you’ll see just how easy it is to create beautiful mandalas that have a sense of symmetry and balance.

What You’ll Need:
Paper – Select your paper based on the medium you want to use. My favorite is Bristol board as it works with a variety of medium. I’ve created mandalas on just about everything including plain copy paper, cardboard, watercolor paper, and canvas.
Compass
Protractor
Pencil and Eraser
Black Fine Point Pen – Micron, Pitt, Sharpie are all good options.
Stencils (optional)
Colors – For today’s example I used Derwent Inktense pencils. Raid your stash and explore the possibilities including colored pencils, markers, and paints.

Step 1: Draw a Circle
Using your compass, draw a circle. I suggest working larger for your first mandala. Create a circle about 7-8 inches in diameter.
how to draw a mandala

Step 2: Find Your Center
At the center of your mandala line up the protractor.
how to draw a mandala

Step 3: Decide How Many Sections
In this example, the final mandala design is divided into 12 equal sections.
Divide 360° by the number of sections to determine how big to draw each section.
For example: 360°/12=30°
Using your protractor and pencil, mark your circle in 30° increments: 30°, 60°, 90°, 120°, etc.
Another Example:
For an 8-sectioned mandala, 360°/8=45°: 45°, 90°, 135°, 180°, 225°
Tip: I like to double the number of sections so I have “mid-point” guidelines.
For today’s example I measured out 24 equal sections. 360°/24=15°
how to draw a mandala

Step 4: Draw the Guidelines
Use a ruler to connect the marks you made in step 3. Be sure to draw your lines lightly as they are guides only and you’ll want to erase them in a later step.
how to draw a mandala

Step 5: Draw Several Circles
Using a compass, draw several more circles. Vary the size of each circle to create an interesting pattern.
how to draw a mandala

Step 6: Begin Your Design
In this example, notice how the flower petal design takes shape connecting the bottom of one grid point to the top of the next guideline and then back down to the next grid point. Repeat the design around the entire circle. I used a black pen at this point. You may want to draw with a pencil and then trace over with a black pen.
how to draw a mandala

Step 7: Build Your Design Outward
Move to the next row and draw a shape, repeating it around the entire circle. Here I have used the same flower petal shape. Feel free to mix and match the shapes that you use. Notice how I alternated the placement of the flower petals in this row with the previous row.
how to draw a mandala

Step 8: Vary the Shapes
In this example, I changed the shape for the third row. You may want to draw the geometric shapes using a ruler, but I like the look of a hand-drawn design within a carefully measured grid. The little imperfections add character and charm. You’ll find that your own style will develop with each mandala that you draw.
how to draw a mandala

Step 9: Try Stencils
In this example I added circles using a stencil.
how to draw a mandala

Step 10: Follow Your Instincts
I didn’t plan out the design for this mandala. I started in the center and worked my way around until I filled the mandala with various shapes. It is fun to work this way as the mandala emerges before your very own eyes. Experiment with different shapes and patterns.
how to draw a mandala

Step 11: Finishing Details
For this example, I returned to the center and drew a couple more circles and followed the grid lines to create a wheel – like design.
how to draw a mandala

Step 12: Erase the Pencil Marks
Before adding any color, be sure to erase all of the pencil marks.
how to draw a mandala

Step 13: Bring Your Mandala to Life With Color
This is my favorite step. I like watching the character of my mandala emerge when I add color.
how to draw a mandala

This mandala was colored using Derwent Inktense pencils. Other favorite mediums include markers, watercolors, acrylics, and colored pencils.
how to draw a mandala

Step 14: Finding Meaning in Our Mandalas
As you work on your mandalas, notice your thoughts and feelings. Consider the different shapes, symbols, and colors. What do they remind you of?
For this design, I saw a sun and it wasn’t until I was coloring the sun’s rays that I made the connection that the circles could be the moon in different phases. After I finish a mandala, I enjoy spending time looking at it and reflecting on the “message of the mandala.”
I like to title my mandalas. The title doesn’t always come to me right away. I may prop up the mandala and look at it over the course of a few days before the name emerges. I’m still considering the title for this mandala. Any suggestions? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Kathryn Costa hosts the 100 Mandalas Challenge and shares her love for mandalas at 100mandalas.org.

For more fun doodles and mandalas, check out our Zen Doodle series:

Click to Purchase Zen Doodle Oodles of Doodles!  Click to Purchase Zen Doodle Coloring Book!

 

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3 Responses to How to Draw a Mandala Using Grids

  1. Lynette says:

    I love design and patterns. I have been painting in watercolor. Also Ive done beading jewellery. Ver

  2. LouAnnB says:

    Kathryn’s narrative was friendly and informative, in fact, when I was done reading her post, I felt as though we had been sitting face-to-face conversing! Kathryn’s step-by-step directions were very easy to follow.
    She is very knowledgeable on the subject of mandalas is also a very talented artist! Enjoyed this very much. Thank you.

  3. Marilynrobin says:

    The name that came to me was Moon Rocks.

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