Drawing mandalas is relaxing and therapeutic, and the finished product can be extremely beautiful. From colorful to black-and-white, from simple to extraordinarily elaborate, there is infinite room for variety in this soothing art form. Sometimes it’s fun to simply doodle mandalas freehand, but when you’d like to be sure that your work is symmetrical there is an easy technique to help you do so.
This may look like a lot of steps, but once you get started you will find it almost intuitive. Personally, I find drawing the guidelines themselves to be very relaxing.
You will need:
- A compass that locks into position
- A ruler
- A pencil for drawing guidelines. If you have a hard drawing pencil, better yet.
- A good pencil eraser.
- A pen or marker for drawing the mandala. You might like black sharpies, black multiliner pens, or other bold inks with good staying power.
- Something for coloring your mandala, if desired.
IMPORTANT: Draw all of the pencil lines as lightly as possible as they will all be erased later. If you have a hard drawing pencil rather than a regular #2, it will make the erasing even easier.
1. Mark a point near the center of your paper. This will be the center point of your mandala. Use your compass to draw a circle about 1/3 the width of your paper.
2. Without changing the compass diameter, place the compass needle at any point on the edge of the circle. Place the lead on the edge of the circle as well. Draw part of the circle, bringing the lead around until it reaches the edge of the original circle again.
3. Place the compass needle at one end of the partial circle you just drew. Place the pencil lead at the center of the partial circle you just drew (indicated in the picture by the green circle). You will not need to adjust the compass. Draw another partial circle, bringing the compass lead around until it again reaches the edge of the original circle.
4. Repeat this process. Place the compass needle at the end of the partial circle you just drew, and the compass lead at the center of that partial circle (indicated in green in the photo). Bring the lead around until you reach the edge of the original circle.
5. Continue this process. After completing the fifth partial circle, you will find that the end point of the fifth partial circle meets the starting point of the first partial circle (indicated in blue in the photo).
6. Place the compass needle at the meeting point described in step four, and the compass lead at the center point of the previous partial circle. Draw the lead around until you reach the edge of the original circle one last time, completing a flower pattern with six pointed “petals” and six round “petals”.
7. Now you will start drawing circular guidelines around the center point of the original circle (the center of the mandala). Reduce the diameter of the compass slightly (how much depends on how intricate you wish for your mandala to be). Place the compass needle at the center of the mandala and draw a circle. It should be perfectly centered inside your original circle because you used the same center point.
8. Continue drawing smaller and smaller circles by reducing the diameter of the compass slightly each time, placing the needle at the center of the mandala, and drawing as many circles of varying sizes as you wish.
9. Now it’s time to divide the mandala into “pie slices”. Find the place where two of the pointed “petals” meet the original circle. Directly across from that point is another point where two pointed petals meet the original circle. These points are indicated in green below. Draw a line connecting these two points, being sure that it also passes through the center point of the original circle. Extend the line out beyond the points. Be sure that the line is at least as long as the shortest edge of your paper.
10. Reapeat the above twice more, so that your drawing looks like this. So far, you have divided your mandala into six sections. Now it’s time to draw more lines, dividing it into twelve sections.
11. Find the tip of one of the pointed “petals”. Directly across from it is the tip of another pointed petal. These points are indicated in green below. Draw a line through these two points, being sure that it also passes through the center point of the mandala. Extend the line out beyond the points of the petals in each direction.
12. Repeat the last step twice more. You have now divided your mandala into twelve equal sections.
13. Add more, larger circles by placing the compass needle at the center of the mandala and drawing larger and larger circles until the paper is full. Begin drawing your mandala by using the guidelines to keep everything evenly spaced and symmetrical.
14. You have many choices of pen or marker for drawing your mandala. If you wish to make your mandala very intricate, you may wish to use a finer pen or marker than I have used in the example. If you plan to color your mandala later, be sure that the pen you used will be unaffected by the medium you plan to color with. For example, if you will be coloring with alcohol markers, you should not draw your lines with a sharpie. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to do a test on a scrap paper before beginning. Just draw some lines with the pen or marker, let it dry, then color over it with the medium you will be coloring with. Check for any muddiness or bleeding. The examples I’ve shown here do not smudge or fade when rubbed over with a pencil eraser. If you’ll be using a different type of pen or marker, you may want want to test for that as well.
15. Relax and have fun while you draw. No stress allowed!
16. When you’re happy with your mandala shape, it’s time to erase the guidelines. If your eraser isn’t getting everything up, I recommend Prismacolor Magic Rub erasers. They leave almost nothing behind, particularly if you’ve drawn lightly from the beginning.
17. Wow, your mandala’s looking awesome. You’re done, right? Or do you want to…
18. …color it? It’s up to you. I like to color mine, and I love to admire the black and white ones others make. It’s your paper. Do what you want on it!