One of my favourite things to draw at the moment is a Mandala.

What is a Mandala?

Completed Mandala by Susan
Completed Mandala by Susan

Mandalas are circular designs symbolizing the notion that life is never ending. They represent the universe and originate in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. They are beautifully circular motifs that allow artists to get creative and repeat patterns and shapes around the circular structure. I love drawing them and finding new ways to explore their shapes and patterns.

Why Draw Mandalas?

Drawing Mandalas can give you a really handy formula for mindful creativity. Creating one every day is almost like journalling via drawing in your sketchbook. They can be small or large, simple or complex, themed or just doodles. Just open up a new page and get going. You will also be able to find mindful colouring books that use mandalas as the lines to fill in.

I know that once they are finished they can look a little complex, so I have created a really simple guide here for how to create your own Mandala in your sketchbook or on paper.

So here is my handy guide to creating your own simple Mandala:

1. Choose your tools and materials

Firstly, it’s a good idea to choose some paper to work on and select what materials you will draw with. I like working in square sketchbooks, so that is what I usually choose to work on for drawing mandalas and then I use pencil and a black pen. Square paper can be great to work with as well and all sorts of coloured pencils and paints are also available to use.

2. Draw your overall outline

The starting point for your mandala is the circle. I currently use a compass to get a perfect circle outline, but when I first stated a large circular plate did the trick (I just drew around that). Firstly find the centre of your paper and then place the point of your compass on that – use the pencil to draw  your overall outline i.e. how ever big your overall mandala will be.

Drawing the Main Outline for a Mandala
Drawing the Main Outline for a Mandala

3. Draw additional circles

Once the overall outline is created I then draw a number of other guidelines inside of this. I create usually a small one in the centre and a few more radiating out from this. The gaps between them don’t have to be regular and this is usually leave to chance. If you don’t have a compass, go and find a number of circular items and draw around these – I have used, saucers, cups, cellotape, coins and egg cups in the past!

Drawing additional circles using a compass
Drawing additional circles using a compass
Drawing additional circles using a compass
Drawing additional circles using a compass

 

4. Divide up into sections

Once you have your circular guidelines, its time to divide your mandala into sections. Eight is a good nuebr to start with. Draw a pencil line down the centre of the circle vertically and then one horizontally across – this divides the circles into four. Then half these again – you now have eight sections. However, if you want to work with 6, 10 or 12 sections, then just draw lines across that divide the circles into 6, 10 or 12. I will assume we are working on an 8-sectioned mandala.

   

5. Start from the centre

I always start from the centre and work out. Begin by creating a line, curve or motif in one of your central sections. Then repeat this across the other 7 sections of the mandala. I sometimes work in pencil to draw my lines and other times I work straight in pen. If you are doing it as a sketching or mindfulness exercise, I would say work straight in pen as it then forces you to just go for it and enjoy the process.

Start from the centre
Start from the centre

Work in pen or pencil outwards...
Work in pen or pencil outwards…
The Mandala Hand Drawn in Pen
The Mandala Hand Drawn in Pen – Half Completed

6. Work outwards until you have finished

Work outwards into the next layer to draw another shape, line, curve or motif that builds upon what you have drawn already. Repeat this around the other seven sections of your design. Then keep going until you reach the edges of your guidelines (that very first big circle that you drew). Just remember that whatever you draw needs to be drawn exactly the same in all sections of the circles. I find it easier to turn around the paper or sketchbook as I work. Also – don’t be afraid of blank spaces as well. A good design will have balance in detail and space, light and dark.

The Completed Mandala
The Completed Mandala

7. Add colour (if you want to!)

Once you have drawn your outlines you can then choose to colour in your work.

You can use pencils, crayons, felt-tip pens, paints, inks – whatever you fancy. Another alternative is to work in coloured pencils from the start, so that the lines themselves are in colour.

Once you have had a go once, try them in different sizes, using different motifs or themes and in different colours.

And that’s it – have fun creating your mandalas!

Susan

Hand drawn mandala in pen by Susan Yeates of Magenta Sky
Hand drawn mandala in pen

Another Pen Drawn Mandala Example by Susan Yeates
Another Pen Drawn Mandala Example by Susan Yeates

 

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