A mandala is a beautiful and intricate design. Mandalas have deep spiritual meanings in Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The mandala is a reflection of perfection, eternity, and balance. The designs incorporated in this artwork allow you to express yourself.
You can draw a mandala to connect with your spirituality and the earth, the moon, and the sun. It’s no wonder that Hindus design their prayer and meditation rooms with the mandala. The mandala gives you the freedom to connect with your inner self, and that’s why it’s crucial to learn how to create your own design.
The Tibetan monks may carve temporary mandalas with colored sand that are destined to be washed away in the wind, but you certainly don’t have to go to those great lengths in order to reap the spiritual benefits of mandala artwork. Today, we will walk you through a much simpler process of creating your own mandala on a piece of paper.
Get ready as the magical experience is about to begin!
How to draw your unique mandala
Let us start with the basics. A mandala is an abstract design whose form is circular. This design appears complex, but when you break it down, drawing it becomes easy. There is usually one identifiable center in a mandala. The other forms and symbols incorporated in this artwork emanate from this center point.
You can include geometric and organic forms when learning how to create a unique mandala. It’s okay to include recognizable images that have a particular meaning to you. Remember, the mandala is personal, and if specific images resonate with you, don’t shy away from adding them to your mandala.
The connection that mandalas symbolize is that between your inner world and your outer reality.
Creating your own mandala can be therapeutic, a form of self-discovery, and inspirational.
Now we have the basics covered; it’s time to learn how to create your unique mandala. Get ready since this will be interesting and eye-opening.
Step 1: How to draw Mandala
The first step in the creation of your mandala is defining your intentions. Why are you drawing this intricate and mesmerizing design? Are you drawing the mandala to relieve yourself from stress, for meditation purposes, or enlightenment?
Mandalas are an extension of your soul and many consider mandala artwork a form of meditation. The creation process is even used in modern psychology to help patients reduce stress and connect with themselves.
Before you begin, take a moment to check in with yourself. Define a state of mind you wish to achieve, manifest a wish or desire, or even simply disconnect from reality for a little bit. Your choice is important and should be reflected in your mandala artwork.
Step 2: Gather your materials
The materials you need ultimately depend on which medium you decide to use. For the sake of this tutorial, we will assume that our mandala is going to be drawn on a piece of paper. You’re going to need to gather the following materials before we begin:
- Piece of blank paper
- Sharpened pencil
- 12-inch ruler
- Colored pencils, crayons or colored pens/markers
- Protractor or compass (optional)
Do you know what’s the best thing about creating your mandala is?
The freedom to select the colors and shapes that you feel reveal how you view reality and your sense of self. You want the mandala to be distinctively yours, a true reflection of yourself. This drawing is all about you.
Note: if you would like to skip the preparation and jump straight into Step 6 designing your own mandala check out our Complete Mandala Creation Toolkit here.
Step 3: Mark the center of your mandala
The process of drawing a mandala starts at the center of the design and spreads outward. To begin, use your pencil to draw a tiny dot in the very center of the paper. This dot symbolizes the spiritual center of the universe and the idea of non-duality (everything is one).
When Buddhist monks study mandalas, they imagine their souls journeying from the outermost circles towards the center of the design. This dot serves as their ultimate destination, like a point on a map that an explorer wants to reach. This dot can also represent the wish or desire that you defined for yourself in Step 2.
Step 4: Create a series of points that will mark the innermost circle
The circles in a mandala can represent several different things. They are soft shapes that lack hard edges, making them excellent symbols for peace, harmony, unification and feminine energy. You can add as many circular layers to your mandala as you please.
If you chose to use a protractor or compass, align the center of the tool over your central point and mark points above, below and to each side of the central dot. This process is also easily completed using a ruler. You just need to ensure that each point is equidistant from the center. You can choose whichever length you want to mark these points. For our purposes, I chose to mark the first series of points 1/2 inch from the center mark. Repeat this process, increasing the distance from the center for each layer, until you have added as many layers as you please.
Step 5: Connect your circles
Using your ruler as a straight edge, draw two perpendicular lines that meet through the center of your mandala. The finished product should look like a plus sign. You’ll be using these crosshairs as guides when constructing the remainder of your mandala grid.
Next, you’ll revisit Step 4 to place more marking points in between the four primary points you already made. These series of dots also help mark each circular layer, so it’s vital that you place them the same distance from the center as your other layers. Connect these dots perpendicularly as well, drawing an X through the central point. The finished product should look like a snowflake.
Lastly, you’ll use the markers that you just placed to actually draw your circles. Start at one dot and draw a curved line to the next one until you have completed your circle. You don’t need to worry about making the circles perfect. Just make sure to trace lightly enough that any potential errors can be erased cleanly.
Step 6: Begin designing your mandala
Finally, you can begin incorporating designs into your mandala. Select designs that you personally feel drawn to or designs that symbolize advancement of the desires you set in the beginning of the session. Different shapes and designs carry different meanings. These representations can also vary depending on which culture you ask. At the end of the day, your mandala can symbolize whatever you want.
It’s important to repeat the patterns you choose. For example, if you drew a square in a certain place, make sure you mirror that design in the same place on the other lines.
This repetition is vital to the therapeutic effect of the creation process.
Take your time with your designs and try to focus on connecting your breathing to your artwork as you go.
If you find that your mind is wondering off as you draw, gently pull back its attention to the design. Free yourself so that you’re completely lost and engrossed in the mandala’s design. The deeper you go into the design, the more you’ll start experiencing relaxation in your mind. You’ll feel lighter.
Step 7: Color and finish your mandala
Once you’re satisfied with the shapes and designs in your mandala, you can begin to add splashes of color. Once again, repetition is important. Each specific design should be created in the exact same way, including the shade of color applied.
According to Buddhist Color Theory, there are six main colors that each represent one of the Five Buddha Families (black excluded). Each of these families, in turn, represents a separate concept of spiritual enlightenment. You may wish to incorporate different colors depending on what type of desire or goal you defined for yourself:
- Amitabha (Red): passion, strength, physical energy
- Vairochana (White): peace, contemplation, restfulness
- Amoghasiddhi (Green): nature, physical health
- Akshbhya (Blue): inner peace, emotional health, harmony
- Ratnasambhaba (Yellow): happiness, laughter, wisdom
Of course you can always incorporate more colors into your mandala. These five are simply the primary options.
Every style in a mandala is symbolic and specific and therefore, you can meditate as you create them. During the drawing process, you should feel like you’re being absorbed by the drawing and letting it take you on its distinctive journey.
The more your mandala progresses, the more you begin experiencing the energy you are creating manifest.
As the creator of the mandala, you can infuse your design with your energies.
While learning how to create your unique mandala, avoid thinking of how the artwork will look upon completion or what people will think of it. Don’t use this beautiful artwork as a way to measure your self-worth or drawing skills. This is not a competition.
The mandala is your entire world during the drawing session and you should allow its rhythm to take you round each circle. There’s no right or wrong way of creating your unique mandala.
Never scold yourself for making mistakes when creating your mandala. Mistakes are part of the process.
Instead of beating yourself up for the mistakes, ignore them or incorporate them as part of the rhythm.
Let them become a pattern that you had no thought about.
The mandala allows you to turn your mistakes into something beautiful.
Why Make Your Own Mandala?
The customization process of creating your own mandala has countless therapeutic effects. Getting lost in the intricacies of the design is often considered a form of meditation. Once you complete your mandala, you may find it beneficial to display your artwork. That way, you’ll remember the desire or goal you set for that specific design whenever you see your mandala.
Remember, creating a mandala is all about connecting to your inner self.
Each shape, color, design and aspect of the mandala may carry its own symbolism, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide what you want your art to represent. You have the power to manifest your own dreams and desires through your mandala artwork.
Other Useful Resources
No need to worry if you’ve hit a mental creativity block trying to get started. We have plenty of resources that will help guide you through the tricky bits and drum up some inspiration. If drawing the mandala grid is intimidating to you, you might want to try one of our 8 Ultimate Grids. You can still design a beautiful, unique mandala without plotting the points manually. If you’re more of a visual learner, we also have How-To Videos from experienced mandala artists. If you need some help getting rid of your artists’ block, take a look at 88 Elements to Choose From or 88 Different Pre-Made Mandalas in our Complete Mandala toolkit.
It’s only natural to experience a bit of frustration if you’re not satisfied with the results of your mandala. Mandala art is a skill and, just like any other skill, it will improve with consistent practice. There’s no harm in experimenting with different colors and designs on multiple mandalas to see what you like best. The best part about practicing your mandala artwork is that you’re able to physically see your progress with each new piece of art. Just keep practicing and don’t let yourself get discouraged. Before long, you’ll be able to produce a mandala that you’re proud to display and show off.
To learn more about types of mandalas and how they are present in many cultures you can read this post.
If you would like to learn how to create your personal mindful mandala art from scratch like a PRO check out our bestselling resource here.