Mandala Collage

A guest post by Kathryn Costa

Mandala collage - finished

In October 2014, I started the 100 Mandalas Challenge where participants create 100 Mandalas in 100 days. The main purpose of the challenge is to make time for creativity each day and to explore the creative possibilities found within a simple circle. I dove into my art supplies and various art techniques that I’ve learned over the years to create mandalas in new and different ways. In this tutorial I take the idea of using a collage background, a technique that I’ve used in my art journals many times before, to create a beautiful backdrop for a mandala.

The following steps will show you how to create the collage background and build a mandala using a grid.

What You’ll Need
Paper or Canvas (I used watercolor paper.)
Assorted Printed Papers – sheets of music, scrapbook paper, old book pages, etc.
Golden Gel Matte Medium
Paint Brush
Tim Holtz Distress Ink Pads from Ranger (I used Tattered Rose and Vintage Photo.) You may substitute acrylic paint or other inks.
Pencil and Eraser
Black Fine Point Pen – Micron, Pitt, Sharpie are all good options.
Colors – (I used a variety of markers.) Other options include colored pencils, markers, and paints.
White Gel Pen
Charcoal Pencil and Blending Stump

Mandala collage step 1Step 1: Create Your Background
Tear up enough pieces of printed papers to cover the background. In this example I used a variety of scrapbook papers and sheet music. Brush the back of each piece with gel matte medium. Coat the entire surface with gel matte medium. Allow to dry.

mandala collage step 2Step 2: Ink It
Lightly rub the Distress Inks over the surface. This will create an even tone among the various random pieces of paper. I like the smaller size ink pads as they give me more control over the placement of the inks. Run the darker color ink along the outside edge to give it a finished look. Allow to dry.

mandala collage step 3Step 3: Draw a Circle
Using either a large round object like a plate or a compass to draw a circle.

mandala collage step 4Step 4: Decide How Many Sections
In this example, the final mandala design is divided into 8 equal sections.
Divide 360° by the number of sections to determine how big to draw each section.
For an 8-sectioned mandala, 360°/8=45°
Using your protractor and pencil, mark your circle in 45° increments: 45°, 90°, 135°, 180°, 225°

mandala collage step 5Step 5: Draw the Guidelines
Use a ruler to connect the marks you made in step 4. Be sure to draw your lines lightly as they are guides only and you’ll want to erase them in a later step.

mandala collage step 6Step 6: Draw Several Circles
Using a compass, draw several more circles. Vary the size of each circle to create an interesting pattern.

mandala collage step 7Step 7: Build Your Design
Use a black pen to draw a pattern in each row of your mandala. Repeat the shapes within each row.

mandala collage step 8Step 8: Vary the Shapes
In this example I used triangles, hearts, dashed lines, and flower petal shapes.  Before adding any color, be sure to erase all of the pencil marks.

mandal collage step 9Step 9: Bring Your Mandala to Life with Color
For this example I used a variety of markers including TomBow, Prismacolor, Sharpies and other assorted markers from my stash. Some markers are opaque while others are transparent and designed for blending. Experiment and discover how your tools work.

mandala collage step 10Step 10: Add Detail
A white gel pen was used to highlight the details. I traced each shape and in some places added little dots.

mandala collage step 11Step 11: One Last Finishing Touch
To give the mandala a sense of dimension and to lift it off the collage background, charcoal was applied along the outer edge. Blend the charcoal using either a blending stump or your finger.

mandala collage step 12It is fun to work with a collage background. You’ll never know what little words and messages will show up. Here the words, “make love,” shows up within the red petal.

mandala collage step 13Elements from an old postcard appear in the background next to the mandala.

mandal collage step 14The word, “Splendid” is at the center of the collage.

Step 12: Give Your Mandala a Title

I like to give my mandalas a title that reflects either the design or how I was feeling when I was working on the mandala. For this mandala I chose the title, “Make Love Your Guiding Light” based on the lyrics on the sheet music that was worked into the design.

mandala collage step 15

Now it’s your turn. I bet you have collected a variety of art and craft supplies just waiting for you to use. Why not raid that stash to create unique and beautiful mandalas.

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

For more fun doodles and mandalas or collage, check out our these books:

Click to Purchase Zen Doodle Oodles of Doodles!  Collage Paint Draw

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