10 Easy Steps to Drawing a Mandala - A Beginner's Guide

by Swathi Kirthyvasan   |  Sep 13, 2016    




Mandalas are trending all over the Internet. You have seen them, you have marvelled at them, but wondered how they were drawn, right? Gorgeous circle-filled drawings that look impossible to the eye. Your eyes pop at the details and the designs the various artists come up with; and then you think, can I do something like that?


Well, that’s what I am here to tell you about; mandalas are actually pretty easy to draw. No hard and fast rule on how it should be, how simple or detailed, what patterns you use… absolutely none. It is really quite easy, and in a few easy steps, you can easily get around to drawing your very own Mandala.


So, What is Mandala?

The word, “Mandala” originates from Sanskrit, and loosely translated is a “circle”. When you look at the circle, it feels complete, isn’t it. Well that’s what it is all about. Visually, the circle represents completeness. A typical mandala includes intricate designs, usually being symmetrical in nature. According to Wikipedia, a mandala is/has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the universe symbolically.

Off recently, mandalas and mandala colouring books have become very popular. Many consider drawing mandalas a meditative and relaxing process. Studies have proved that either drawing or colouring mandalas give great mental peace and a sense of calmness. So the next time you get stressed out and tired, take a sheet, grab a tool of choice and get drawing. You will feel really, really good after this exercise. Trust me, it works.


So, all excited to beginning your first mandala? Here we go!


01. Essential Tools




Majorly, artists use the tools that they are comfortable with. Below are some of the most handy tools needed for this project.


  1. Good quality drawing paper

  2. Ruler

  3. Compass (or any round objects to make the circles; like the ends of a cup, a bangle or packing/masking tape)

  4. Pencil and Eraser

  5. A Protractor (optional) (for divisions your guides)

  6. Pens (for inking your final drawing; you can use any brand you want)

  7. Color Pencils or Pens (if you want to color your final drawing)

  8. A Good Scanner

  9. Adobe Photoshop (or any other photo editing software to clean/edit your image)


02. The Process

Step 1: Get Started

Mark a centre point on your sheet, and use a compass to draw circles of varying sizes. You can also use some sort of round objects like glasses, tapes etc. If you are really brave, go with a freehand circle. You can draw as many different sized circles as you want from that point.





Step 2: Guidelines

Draw 2 lines across the centre point to give yourself the first guideline. Your circle is now divided into 4 quadrants. Next, use a protractor to create a division at 45 degrees in either quadrant. Join the points to divide the quadrant into more parts. You can divide it into more parts, if required, for more detailed drawings. Alternatively you can use your compass to bisect the 90 degree lines then join the two points to obtain the same result.    





Step 3: Starting the Mandala

Start your drawing from the centre. Use any simple shape to start off. I started out with simple teardrop shapes from the centre. This gave me a small floral element in the first circle. Using the negative space in the circle, draw more simple shapes to complete the inner circle. You can use the same shape as used before or come up with something new.





Step 4: Building the Composition

Keep building up the drawing in the various circles. Use different shapes and patterns to come with the composition. I used a variety of circles and floral shapes to come up with the designs for the next few circles.





Step 5: Final Sketch

Keep adding shapes to your circle, depending on how many circles you drew in the initial stages. Don’t worry about perfection, or your lines going here and there. The main goal here is to get you relaxed with your drawing, not to make something perfect. You will reach there with more practice.




Step 6: Inking

Now if you drew the entire drawing in pencil like I did, then it is time to ink it. You can just redraw over your pencil lines, editing the drawing as you go on.




Step 7: Detailing

While drawing over with ink, you can stick to the same pencilled lines and also add additional detail to the drawing. You can add more shapes into the drawing if you want something more complex or leave it just as it is.




Step 8: The Completed Mandala

Yay! You have a completed Mandala with you. Erase all the pencil lines and voila, you have a simple mandala. I added few more details to the drawing; you can add more too as you desire. Also, if you wish to colour it with sketch pens or colour pencils you are very much free to do so.




Step 9 - Digitization

Now you are ready to scan your drawing. Make sure you have erased all the lines out of your drawing. Scan it and load it into your system. Use any photo editing software to clean it up, edit or colour the image.
I used Adobe Photoshop to clean up the drawing and give it colour. You can also use Adobe Illustrator if you want to trace your design and convert it into a vector ornament to use in your designs.



Step 10: Colouring your Mandala

As I mentioned before, you can colour your mandala even before you scan it. Or you can do it digitally in Photoshop (or any photo editing software). The colours you want to use for your mandala are all upto you. Choosing a colour for your design is all upto you. Try out various colour palettes on your mandala and see which one you like the best. I chose a simple, bright colour palette for my mandala design; below is the image of the completed mandala. You can download this mandala illustration right here.


Quick Mandalas

Some of the best artists don't really use shortcuts to create mandalas, especially if they want extremely detailed ones. There are a few fast ways to creating a mandala. One way to speed up your process is to just draw the circles and start filling them with a pen instead of drawing with a pencil first. Freehand is another way; no circle guidelines, just plain drawing. The results can be quite interesting when done that way. Or if you want to go the digital way (to avoid the long process of drawing and scanning), you can use a drawing/pen tablet to directly draw your mandala into the software (Photoshop or Illustrator) you use. 

Conclusion

There is no rules or guidelines on how a mandala should look like. You can make it look however you want it. You can add more patterns and motifs to make it look detailed or leave it simple and plain. Each one has it's own charm. You can add depth and shading to the drawing to make it more realistic and complex. What's more, you can even draw a Square mandala. That would give Mandalas a geometric and interesting feel. 

Once you keep drawing more mandalas, you will come up with your own shapes and designs to make them and you will draw them faster. Eventually you will develop your own style of creating mandalas. Don't get disheartened in the beginning if your drawings look messy and bad. Keep doing more and more and you will soon be able to make some beautiful mandalas. You can also try making them freehand once you gain the prowess. You can also create mandalas with watercolours, or create watercolour washes based backgrounds and draw mandalas over them. 

Once you start to gain confidence to draw bigger and prettier mandalas, you might be wondering what you could do with those beautiful drawings, am I right? Well, you can sell your artwork on major art marketplaces like Redbubble, Society6, Etsy and more. 

Didn't I tell you it was pretty easy to draw a Mandala? So pick up a paper, grab your favourite tools and get mandala-ing! Enjoy the process, practice, don't beat yourself up for a bad one and soon you will be drawing some gorgeous mandalas.

About Author

Swathi Kirthyvasan

Swathi is a Designer and lllustrator with a love for typography, patterns, illustration, and photography. Apart from working on client projects, and personal creative pursuits, she also writes design articles every now and then. 

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