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Create Stunning Dot Mandala Paintings With These 5 Beginners Tips

Learn how to create mesmerizing mandalas using the dot painting technique with these 5 easy tips.

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I've been creating dot mandalas like these for over 8 years now and I've learned ALOT about this form of art during that time. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I started out, it's been a long road of trial & error to get to the level I'm at now with my dot mandala painting, and so I'm here to share what I've learned along the way with the hope that it will help you and ease the learning process.

Here are my top 5 tips for beginners if you're just getting started on your journey creating these beautiful works of art.

Tip #1 - Your tools matter! Choose them wisely.

The tools you choose to work with will affect the outcome of your dots and your pattern. When I started, I used to just use the opposite end of a paint brush for my dots because it was all I had, but that's something I would NOT recommend if you can help it! It's most definitely worth the investment to get the proper tools you need right away. Having proper dotting tools will allow you to make consistent & clean dots in a variety of sizes. Other tools you will need are a palette for your paint, a paint knife for mixing your paint, paint brushes and stencils & a pencil for making pattern guide lines to follow.

Here are some great tools I recommend starting out with:

You may also likely be able to find supplies at your local dollar store or art & craft store if you have one.

Tip #2 - Pick the right paint.

For this style of painting, you will want to use an acrylic paint. Now, there are two options you can choose here - option 1 is you can use a soft body paint, which has a low viscosity meaning it's a thinner more fluid paint, and option 2 is you can use a heavy body paint which has a higher viscosity, meaning it's a thicker less fluid paint, and then you add pouring medium to thin it to the consistency of your liking.

For beginners I recommend starting with option 1, the soft body paint, because you can use it straight out of the tube and don't have to worry about mixing. The benefit of option 2 though is that when you use the heavy body paint and mix it with the pouring medium, you are able to control the consistency of your dots and you can make beautiful textured dots that hold their shape and sit raised upon your surface, whereas using a soft body paint may make your dots seem a bit flat and less textured. I started with the soft body and used that for years before eventually moving on to using heavy body mixed with pouring medium and I love the effect it creates. Once the paint is completely dry, I like to seal it with a gloss acrylic varnish, but you can also use mod podge as a varnish. This is all up to you, it really comes down to personal preference. Here is a list of what I believe to be some of the best paint materials to use:

Soft body:

Heavy Body:

Pouring Medium:


Tip #3 - Explore the surfaces you want to paint on.

Now to play around with what to paint your mandalas on! Personally, I mainly paint my mandalas on beach stones, but the possibilities are limitless. You can paint them on rocks, wood, canvas, plant pots, and so much more. Don't be afraid to experiment and play around with a variety of surfaces to find what you like to paint on.

Here are some great materials you can buy to paint your mandalas on:

Tip #4 - Follow a pattern & learn the pattern elements.

When your just starting out, try not to stress yourself out with the pressure of creating your own pattern. By all means, have a go at it intuitively and see what you come up with, but if you find yourself getting frustrated and need a little inspiration, there is absolutely nothing wrong with recreating free patterns you find online from other creators or using a reference photo as a guide.

When looking at a pattern, try analyzing it & breaking it down into it's individual parts to get a grasp of the pattern elements. You can even practice creating the pattern elements alone to develop your skill before putting them together.

You have what I call your basic dots, accent dots, highlight dots, and swooshes. Basic dots are your main dots that you place down first. Accent dots are dots that you surround your basic dots with. Highlight dots are white dots that you place in between the empty spaces between dots and also on top of your basic dots. Swooshes are more like lines, you dot the paint then drag or "swoosh" it. I can go into more detail on pattern elements, but that will be covered in a whole other post.

Pinterest is a really great source of inspiration and I highly recommend searching there to find patterns to follow. There are so many different patterns you can create for all skill levels, so find some you like and experiment with it!

Tip #5 - Be delicate with your dots.

In order for your dots to come out clean and accurate, you will need to develop your patience, steadiness & precision. This comes with practice, and lots of it. As you continue to create your mandalas, you will learn through practice just how much paint you need to dip onto your tool, how hard or light you need to dot the paint on and where to place your dots.

For example, if you have too much paint on your tool and dot it with too much pressure, you can make a dot too big for the area your trying to place it or the paint can run. Or you may have slightly misplaced a dot and now your pattern looks sort of wonky. Don't be discouraged when these things happen, use your mistakes as stepping stones in your journey and learn from them. Keep practicing and refine your technique. Patience & practice are key here.

In Conclusion

The key points here are to pick all of the right tools & materials you will need, seek out inspiration & learn patterns and develop your delicacy, patience & precision with this form of art. And above all else - HAVE FUN WITH IT. This form of art in particular is a great way to cultivate mindfulness and the creative process is a meditation itself, likely due to its repetitive nature, so allow yourself to become fully enmeshed in the process and don't forget to enjoy yourself along the way.

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