Suggested basic supplies and tools for getting started making your own mandalas


Surfaces that are rigid are most useful, as they don’t degrade or warp from acrylic paint and other wet media. Wooden plaques, smooth rocks, canvas board, and art panels work well. My preference is Ampersand Value Series Artist Panels. They’re completely smooth and come in a variety of sizes (or you can use a saw with a sharp, fine-tooth blade to cut to size).

surface preparation

Although artist panels and boards may say “ready to use,” brushing on a base layer of gesso significantly improves adherance of acrylic paint.

Atop the dried gesso layer, apply the chosen mandala background color(s) using a matte acrylic paint, such as Plaid FolkArt matte craft paint. The matte finish makes placement of layout lines easier; a satin or gloss paint finish resists the charcoal or art pencil marks, and sometimes regular pencil marks.


A compass makes perfect circles and arcs. In order to use a variety of marking tools with a compass, a compass meant for carpentry works best. (I find them in the tool department of hardware and home improvement stores and at Amazon.)

The compass pictured is about 6 inches tall. Simply remove the included pencil and screw-on hook holder, then use a small hose clamp (available where tool or auto supplies are sold) and a screwdriver to attach a marker, paint pen, pencil, or even a paintbrush to the compass.


The mandala layout will require placing equally spaced markings around the base circle of your mandala. A protractor enables even placement.

layout marks

Depending on whether the mandala background colors are light or dark, place layout lines and marks using a black or white art pencil. A regular pencil also works but is harder to erase. The General’s soft charcoal pencil and Marco Raffine white pencil work well. To erase visible pencil marks at the end of the project you can use baby wipes or a white polymer eraser.

paint selection

Paint the mandala using thin-body acrylic paints that won’t leave ridges or peaks behind (unless that’s the effect you want). “Fluid acrylics” are the ideal consistency, but any thicker acrylic paints can be thinned by adding a clear acrylic glaze or medium, or by mixing with a white fluid acrylic. (Thinning by mixing with water might result in cracking when the paint dries.)

dotting tools

Any tools with a flat, circular end or a ball-shaped end (ball stylus) suffice for applying dots of paint in graduated sizes. Pictured are a drill bit set that has been embedded in dowel stick handles, plastic crochet hooks, and nail art tools. You can try searching online using “dotting tools” to quickly locate a variety of options.