As many of the Happy Barnet Craft Challenges include trying new crafts or new techniques, we thought we'd share some tips and useful info about our favourite crafts to help you get started.
Today we're looking at Mandala drawing.
What's so great about it?
If you were someone who enjoyed the colouring books for adults craze over the last few years or, like me you are someone who can get a bit nervous when faced with a blank page, then you may relate to one of the reasons I love mandala drawing. You see it's great for both those who are natural drawers (not me!) and those who aren't necessarily confident with their drawing skills (most definitely me!). This is because there's a step by step, structured approach to it, you can build up very intricate and beautiful designs and every one is unique. You also don't need much to get started and you can pick it up and put it down whenever you have few moments to disappear into a creative project.
What you'll need
I first made a mandala drawing at a workshop in a local pub and we really didn't need to bring much along. You can of course experiment with different papers and pens but essentially all you need is:
- Paper - Reasonable quality/thickness is of course better as you will be rubbing out pencil lines and you don't want to rip it. I bought a basic sketchpad of drawing paper and that's worked fine. As you progress you may want to invest in better paper but you don't need to to get started.
- Pencil - I didn't use anything special but as you are rubbing it out you definitely don't want anything too heavy.
- Rubber - one that won't leave grubby marks on your paper
- Pens - Whilst technically you could work with a basic pen it really would make a big difference to opt for something like a gel pin to start with and you could also use sharpies and get a different kind of effect. If you decide to carry on then you'll probably very quickly want a better pen and that's really where you could go a bit fancy although you really don't need to. I bought a set of three pens, derwent graphik line maker drawing pens 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 weight which allows me to play with different line thicknesses.
- Compass, Ruler and Protractor (or Mathematics set) - Yes, like you had in school! Instead of buying these separately you could just get a mathematics set. I got mine in Tesco for a few pound and it keeps it all nice and neat in the tin
That's all there is to it! As you may already have some or all of these in your house already this might even be free to try!
How to get started
Step 1 - Find the centre of your paper (or where you want the centre of your mandala to be) and draw a small circle using your compass. This will be the first ring of your mandala. You don't want these lines to be heavy, remember you will be rubbing these out later.
Step 2 - Draw increasingly wider circles from the same central point. You can make these as wide or as narrow as you like and you can always skip them or add in more later if you feel you've made them too narrow or wide. Don't overthink it :)
Step 2 - Draw two lines at 90 degrees to each other across your page crossing at the central point of your mandala ie where you put your compass point when drawing the circles.
Step 3 - Use your protractor to mark out different points on one of your circles. You'll then use your ruler to draw lines right across the circles which will divide up the different rings and will give you nice guidelines to use, it should look something like a spiders web! Don't worry, you'll end up rubbing up all these lines out. Again, like the rings, you can draw as many or as few as you like. It will depend on the size of your mandala and how detailed you want to be. Hopefully my example images will help you decide what will work well for you.
Step 4 - Using the guidelines you've drawn in your first ring, draw a repeated pattern with pencil (or go straight for it with pen if you feel more confident with that). You can either decide to use each little segment as a box to draw a pattern in and then repeat it in each segment within the ring or you can use the lines as guidelines to draw a repeating pattern eg draw a flower petal with the guidelines as the centre of each petal.
Step 5 - If you've gone for the pencil option you can then draw over it in pen.
Step 6 - Repeat! Work your way out, ring by ring until you are happy with your finished design. You can go back over it with heavier pens or add in other details to make the design how you want it.
Step 7 - When you are finished, rub out all your pencil markings, just be sure you wait until the pen ink has dried!
And that's it! ta-dah, you've made yourself a mandala.
Techniques to learn
Different pens - I don't pretend to be an expert on pens but I do know that they can make quite a difference to the way your finished mandala will look. Even something as simple as working with a finer pen will allow you to create more detailed patterns and work in smaller segments.
Experiment with colour! Blank ink on white paper is all very nice but there are so many lovely coloured pens and paper out there it's great to try something different, something that will work well in your home or as a decorative gift/card. Metallic pens also add a different twist to the more traditional style and mixing colours can really bring a piece to life.
What I wish I'd known
1. Turn your page round to help get consistency in what you are drawing. It's so much easier to repeat the same shape in all the segments if you rotate the paper so you are drawing it at the same angle.
2. You can drawn the ring line in or leave it. By drawing in the edge of some of the rings you can complete change the look of the piece quite quickly.
3. You can make the mandala enclosed by closing off the last ring with a solid line or finish with a different style or even circles floating around it.
4. Do mix up the widths of your rings, thin rings can make nice borders whilst wider ones allow for bigger features or some white space. It all makes it more interesting to look at.
5. Pick patterns and styles you like - you can go swirly, flowery, sharp lines, circles, dark, light, - mix it up or have a repeating pattern in your layers.
6. Look up examples to get inspiration and I don't just mean other mandalas, look at patterns and shapes you like and incorporate them into your design.
I hope you've found this guide helpful and hope you'll share your own designs!