At first glance, it might seem like an impossible artistic feat to learn how to draw a mandala. But these intricate and impressive-looking designs are a surprisingly easy drawing project, appropriate for even beginners.
Photos and artwork via CakeSpy
First things first: what is a mandala? The word comes from Sanskrit, and roughly translates as “circle.” Visually, the circle represents wholeness, and typically, a mandala will include intricate, usually symmetrical imagery. According to The Mandala Project, this pairing of forms within a circle represents “a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds.”
Recently, both drawing mandalas and coloring book pages for grown-ups featuring mandalas have become mindful, meditative activities which can help hone artistic skills and promote mental well-being. As you’ll see when you start drawing mandalas, it is a very meditative practice, and you might just emerge after a mandala-drawing session feeling renewed and creative.
Ready to explore drawing your own mandala? Here is an easy method to get started.
Note: While the tutorial below is shown with a pencil sketch that is later drawn over in pen and ink, you can use whatever drawing material feels most natural to you.
How to draw a mandala
- A pencil, pen, or whatever drawing medium you prefer
- Drawing surface
- A ruler
- Circular objects that you can trace
Draw a circle on your paper; this will be the size of your mandala. You can trace around an object such as a plate, a roll of packing tape or the rim of a drinking glass. If you’re up to the challenge, you can also draw it freehand.
Draw one line horizontally in the center of your circle, then another vertically, so that you have four equal quadrants in the circle.
Start by drawing a small circle in the center of your large circle.
Create organic shapes (I used a flower petal shape here) coming out of each of the four quadrants from the small circle.
Working from the “negative” spaces in your current design, draw additional shapes. These can be a new shape or the same shapes you initially drew at a different height.
From here, you will basically continue this process — building your way out from the central image, maintaining a consistent and symmetrical design. I find that making additional sectors as you work out helps you create evenly spaced imagery.
Continue adding shapes until you run out of space in your circle. Or, if you decide that you want to go bigger, simply expand the circle and keep going. You may find that it’s addictive and you’re not ready to stop.
If you worked in pencil as I did, once you fill your circle, you can ink in your drawing.
From here, you can either leave the mandala as-is or continue drawing within the shapes for an even more intricate look. Once you’re happy with the work, erase any pencil lines still showing, if applicable.
Your mandala is done! You can call it finished, color color it in or scan it and make your own coloring book pages to share.
As an alternative to starting with one circle as shown in step 3, you could start your mandala with a series of circles nestled within a larger circle. Then, you would add shapes within each ring.
Let the mandala be your own unique creation. While mandalas have roots in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, you can create a mandala that suits your sensibilities. For instance, the mandala used in the tutorial above contains little hearts along the outer rim of the circle.
Mandala coloring pages
Want to skip the drawing and jump ahead to the coloring? Download my mandala designs as grown-up coloring pages, and let your favorite colors fly!