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Dot Painting For Beginners

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Dot painting is fun, relaxing and a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Anyone can dot paint with a little practice

Dot painting is fun, relaxing and a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Anyone can dot paint with a little practice

Getting Started With Dot Painting

I have always been excited about using paper to create art. Mostly, I have been a scrapbook artist, card make, coloring book enthusiast, and journal artist. But I came across a video about dot mandalas and got really excited, thinking about all the things I could create.

Dot painting, is simply put, the art of making dots in different sizes in a pattern. You can make them on paper, canvas, rocks and glassware. You can virtually put them on any surface.

Dot painting is easy on the budget too. Many of the items that you will need, may easily be around your house. Most of them that you may want to purchase, are not expensive at all. The paints are all at your local store at very reasonable prices, so this makes it a very affordable craft.

It's also a craft that you can do with your children, clubs, nursing homes. Because it is so easy to learn and grasp, anyone can do it

Homemade Dotting Tools


Dot Painting Without A Big Investment

You can get started in dot painting without a big investment. All you need are some pencils with clean erasers at the end and some good card stock or heavy paper,

Gather three or so pencils and sharpen the erasers to different sizes. There are your dotting tools. You can use the sharpened lead size to create the smallest dots.

Different pressure on the pencils will create different sized dots.

You can also try things that are around your home. Different sized drill bits, toothpicks, a thumb tack stuck to the bottom of an eraser. will all work. Dowels are the perfect flat tool to dot with. You can purchase different sized dowels in your local home improvement store.

This is a great way to practice making dots. It's a fun project for your kids to do too.


Which Paints Should I Use For Dot Painting?

Most dot painters prefer to use acrylic paints for their artwork. The brand is not what should matter. But the consistency of the paint is more important. Some paint may be thick and leave a point at the top of the dot. Others may be too flat. Find the brand that works well for you.

Acrylic Paints

While acrylic paint may be the most popular kind of paint for dot painters, there is a difference in the quality of paint used. Folk Art and Deco Art brands of acrylic paint that has been successfully used by many dot painters.

Fluid Vs Craft Paint

Regular acrylic paint is perfect for dotting stones because it is permanent when it is dry. Typical craft paints would include brands like Decoart and Craft Smart available online and at local craft stores.

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Fluid paint would be better used on canvass for dot designs. Golden and Opus are the two most well-known fluid paints for dot artists.

Satin Vs Matte

Satin has more shine to it, but be careful, as it can sometimes be a bit thicker than the matte

One thing to consider is the transparency of the paint. That means how much of the black or white paper of your base will show through the paint. It is up to you which way you want to go. But make sure that you understand the type of paint you are buying.

If you have more transparent paint, you can always add some titanium white so that the base paper will not show through.

Thickness Of Paint

Some paints that are too thick will leave a gob of paint rather than a dot. Or they might create a peak of paint that would be difficult to add another layer to if you wanted to. If the paint is too thick, just add a pouring medium like Liquitex Professional Pouring Medium. Just a drop or two will make your paint just the right thickness.

On the flip side, if your paint is too thin, your dots will bleed into each other and just become one huge mess. This is often the case with low-end or no-name products. Some metallic paints will also tend to be thin.

How To Thin Paint

How To Dot From Day 1

Any surface can be used for dot painting

Any surface can be used for dot painting

Dot Painting Bottle Ideas

What Is Your Canvas For Dot Painting

There are so many ways and materials to paint dot paintings. Of course you can use a regular canvas. But there are so many more places to apply dot paintings.

Paper is another popular surface to use dot painting on. You can use it on greeting cards as well as scrapbook pages, journals and any paper projects.

Have you considered painting dots on glass. Consider glass jars, bottles , vases and more.

Wood projects are another way to create dot projects that are unique and custom. Consider wall art, jewelry and other boxes. Christmas ornaments are also a fun way to express your creative side with dot painting.

As a beginner, it is wise to start with inexpensive card stock to practice on. Then graduate to a flat paint board. Once you feel comfortable with that, the world is opened up to you !

Dot painting tools are similar to those used for nail painting

Dot painting tools are similar to those used for nail painting

Dot Painting Tools

There are many painting tools right around your home already ! You just have to see their potential !

  • Very Fine Artists Brushes- You may already have many of these in your stash already. If you have a paint brush that you no longer use, you can remove some of the bristles to create a fine brush
  • Different Size Paint Brushes-For dot painting, you are going to use the ends of the handle to paint with. So check out your stash to see the different sizes you may have
  • Clean Pencil Erasers-Used as a kind of stamp. they can be a handy tool for medium dots. You can use them as they are or taper the eraser to the size of your choice.
  • Nail or Artist Dotting Tools-You might not have these, but you can get them easily enough.They come in different sizes depending on the set that you buy
  • Embossing Tools- They come in different sizes
  • Compass- Used to make circles on surfaces
  • Pencils Or Chalks-Used to draw patterns
  • Pencil Erasers-Everyone has one or two in their homes
  • Dowels-the end of a dowel is the perfect dotting tool.
  • Tooth Picks- these make the tiny dots we all love
  • Plastic Palette- Used to hold paints. Very inexpensive to hold your paints.
  • Paper Towels- Used to wipe off tools
  • Parchment Paper, Craft Mat, Newspapers- Used to protect your work surface
  • Q Tips-handy to have. You can use a left over container of these to dump your used ones into.

Cleaning Your Dot Painting Tools

There is an old saying, " Be good to your tools and they will be good to you" That same saying is true for all of your dot painting tools.

Here are some ideas that will help you keep your tool investment in tip top shape for years to some:

  • Wipe the tool with a napkin or paper towel right after use. That way you will not transfer any color into another paint hue. Make sure to wipe each and every time. Keep a stash of paper towels in your craft space.
  • If you have hardened paint on your tools, soak in super hot water for 10-15 seconds and then wipe with a napkin or paper towel
  • Avoid any solvents as they may corrode the surface of your tools.

Good Beginner Set Of Mandala Tools

Dotting Tools That You Have In Your Home

While, we all love to have the best tools for our art, especially in the beginning, it is good to find tools to dot with that may be right in your home ! If you have been "dotting " for a while, you may want to add these to your dotting tool box.

  • Toothpicks-these make wonderful little tiny dots
  • Old Paint Brush-use the end of the paint brush to paint special dots
  • Small And Large Make Up Brushes-Use the ends of these to create dots in different sizes
  • A Pencil With A Tack On The End- This creates a medium size dot
  • Spray Bottle Filled With Water-Used to thin paints
  • Plastic Crochet Hooks -Good dotting tools

Make A Dot Painting Mug

Dotting Tool Tips

There are a few easy tips that will make your dotting experience easier and much more enjoyable. Here are a few of my favorites on using tools

  • If you are using a dowel or any other flat surface to dot, make sure to only dip the surface in the top of the paint. If you cover the side of the dowel with paint, you will nit get a clean dot.
  • But make sure that the flat surface is covered with paint.
  • A light touch is always better ! You want to barely touch the tool to the surface.
  • When you are making rings and want to keep your dots are the same, use the dip and dot technique. Make sure to wipe the end of your tool frequently.
  • When you want to create descending dots. Dip once and just keep dotting until you run out of paint.

Dot Painting Printables And Patterns

Dot painting is not limited to just mandala. There are many shapes and patterns that you can use to create a shape or design.

Start by looking for printables and patterns that are available free. Many browsers like Bing have free printables and patterns available in their images.Check out what is available on Bing here .

Also check out Google for more printables and patterns that might be available.

You can print these out on your computer. Put them into a page protector and store them for future use.

Creating Mandalas

Mandalas are one of the most often used patterns in dot painting. . The different designs and combinations that can be created are endless.

Mandalas are much more than mere designs. Mandala comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Mandal’ meaning circle. It is a circular symmetrical design with repetitions of patterns, that create an illusion of motion.

Mandalas can be used on all kinds of different projects. Think about canvases of course. But they can also be used on rocks, wood projects and glass projects.

The mandala dot art patterns can be done on any sized canvas, terracotta plates, coasters, pebbles, trays and so on. The paintings can be used as gifts, home décor, wall hangings, fridge magnets, etc

You start with a center dot and work your way out. There are no steadfast rules on how many dots to use or where to place them. Making mandalas are all about relaxing and enjoying the creative journey !

Since ancient times, Dot Mandala Art is considered as a form of meditative art. By drawing them, you can increase concentration levels and helps minds stay calm. Try it! You will end up making more than ONE.

Another mandala pattern

Another mandala pattern

Beginner Dot Patterns And Resources

Swatch Out Your Colors

It is a great idea, especially for beginners to swatch their colors for reference later on. Swatches are just samples of the paint that you have. Sometimes, the color on the paint when wet, will look different when dry. So having swatches, lets you reference the colors to see how they will look together.

This is especially important if you have different brands of paint.

Taking this step will pay off on each project !

  1. Take a piece of 81/2 by 11 1/2 " black paper
  2. Cut a small strip of white paper at about 3-inches ( 2 pieces per page)
  3. Make columns alternating with the black and white paper-spacing them apart
  4. With a white gel pen, write the name of the company and the color number. Start with the left column
  5. Dot the color both on the black and the white column. Make one larger dot and then a few smaller dots.
  6. Paint a line of the paint
  7. Follow along with the colors in the same family- all the reds, yellows, ect.
  8. You can place lines between the colors or not
  9. Once you have finished the left column go to the right side
  10. When your pages are done and dried overnight, place each one in a page protector
  11. You can use a loose leaf binder or connect them with metal rings


You can also do the same thing on a rolodex or just on swatch samples

Creating Mandala Resources

Step By Step Guide To Create A Dot Painting

  1. Prepare Your Surface-Make sure that your surface is clean.
  2. Cover Your Surface - Use a craft mat, glass mat, parchment paper or wax paper. Make sure to tape down the parchment paper or the wax paper so it does not curl
  3. Cover The Surface With A Base Coat Of Paint (Optional)- You can use any color. White and black are the most popular
  4. Gather The Tools That You Plan To Use-That would include your dotting tools, paints, plastic palette, a wet cloth, pencil or chalk, ruler or compass, ect.
  5. Draw Guidelines-Using a ruler and or a compass, make guidelines with a pencil (either a lead or a white pencil) . Find and mark your center and design from that point.
  6. Or Use a stencil to create your design-Stencils come in different patterns. You can use all of the stencil or part of it
  7. Or Use A Mandala Design Printed On Card Stock- I have seen some on Etsy. Perfect for beginners.
  8. Select the colors you plan to Use- Use a color wheel to decide colors. Use what you have. There are no set rules about color combinations
  9. Place The Acrylic Paint That You Plan To Use In Your Plastic Palette. Thinning is usually necessary. You can use a pouring medium or any other acrylic paint medium
  10. Start Dotting-Every time you dot, re-dip into the paint- Start at the center dot and work your way outwards.
  11. Erase Any Visible Guidelines
  12. Spray With Fixative

Walking The Dots Technique

Walking the dots is a simple technique to add some some detail to your design. Unlike the basic technique, where you dip into the paint and then dot, dip and dot.

This technique uses a smaller tool than the dot you made before.

  1. Dip into the paint with your tool
  2. Place a dot outside the dot you made before in the center of that dot.
  3. Without re-dipping, use the paint on your tool to keep dotting around the outside.
  4. Re-dip the tool into the paint
  5. Starting at the center, re dot the center dot
  6. Then go around the mail dot

Getting Started With Dot Painting

Dot Painting Stencils

Dot painting stencils are fun and easy to use. You just hold then down with your hand and draw the stencil

Dot painting stencils are fun and easy to use. You just hold then down with your hand and draw the stencil

Dot Painting With A Stencil

You can use a stencil to create a colorful pattern without having to draw it yourself. This makes dot painting easy, especially for beginners. They can be applied to any surface including rocks.

They are a guide to help you create a pattern. It will help make your project more aligned and even. No guessing on where to put your dots !

Most of these stencils are in a circular or part circular pattern. You can make or use all of the stencil design or part of it. It's up to you.You use the stencil once you have applied the base coat to your project. You can use a pencil to apply the stencil design or you can use a tool that will actually etch the lines into the base coat. Using the etching tool works well, because you do not have to work with erasing the lines later. Your varnish coat will hide any left over lines from your stencil marking.

Another idea is to use chalk to mark your stencils. Fabric chalk markers are good to use.

There are also stone stencils which are actually rounded stencils to fit around your stone

More Ideas For Dot Painting With A Stencil

Dot Painting On Rocks And Stones

Consider using stones to create dot paintings

Consider using stones to create dot paintings

Other Places To Find Rocks For Painting

There are other locations to find rocks for painting dots. Try these:

  1. Amazon- you can even specify rocks for painting
  2. Local hardware store
  3. Garden centers like Lowes and Home Depot
  4. Dollar Tree And Target-watch out these rocks may be coated with a waxy substance
  5. Craft stores both in shop and online. Try Micheal's and Hobby Lobby
  6. Do a browser search for rocks to paint on
  7. Natural places like rivers

Rock Dot Painting

One of the most popular types of dot painting is painting rocks. These are one of a kind rock mandalas. They are pieces of art work that can be displayed anywhere. Since rocks come in different sizes, you can create the art in the exact size that you would like.

You can either use acrylic paint or paint pens or markers. Arcylic brushes are best for this type of project. They are stiffer and will be easier to use to make your dots. Paint pens come loaded with paint and makes them easier and quicker to use.

Choosing Your Rock For Painting

No matter what size rock that you would like, you will want to choose a rock with one flat size to make it easier to paint. It does not need to be totally flat, but a flatter surface makes it easier, especially for beginners.

Preparing Your Rocks For Painting

You will want to rinse your rock off. Use your fingers to loosen any dirt off the rock. You can also use a vegetable brush to get into all the grooves of the rock, Then place it on a towel to dry

If you buy rocks from stores like the dollar store, they may have a waxy residue on them. That residue will not hold the paint well. You can boil them or use nail polish remover to get the residue off of them.

Getting Started

A background color rock on your rock is an optional step. The good part of using a base coat on your rock is that it will show your rock to its' best advantage. If you decide to use a base coat. make sure to set it aside to let it dry.

The Dot Painting

You can use a special stencil made for dot painting or you can draw a pattern on your rock with pencil or chalk. There are lots of patterns to chose from. Head over to the browser on your computer and request rock dot patterns and you will find a wealth of ideas. Chose what you like and dot away

Final Step

Allow your rock to dry overnight. Then following the manufacturers directions, seal your project.

Rock Dot Painting -Fun Project For Anyone-Tips

There are a few tips that you can use to do rock painting with dots that will help with the process.

  • You can use pencil erasers to make your dots. These are great inexpensive dotting tools. Sharpen the erasers to make different size dot tips.
  • Practice on some paper ti get used to using pressure to make different dots. Once you feel comfortable, try dotting a rock
  • You can also use paint pens as long as they have different sized tips
  • Use an upside down cup as a stand to do the base coat, paint and dry
There are a wide variety of sealants that you can use for your rock painting

There are a wide variety of sealants that you can use for your rock painting

Sealing Your Rock Dot Painting

Sealing your rock dot painting is a good idea. They paint will last a lot longer. Spray sealers are perfect because you can seal your rocks quickly and evenly. If you need more ideas for products that will seal your rock, go over to Amazon and click sealants for rock painting. They will give you a host of options.

  • Let the paint dry overnight before you seal the rock.
  • Look for a sealer that prevents yellowing and is weather proof
  • Follow the directions on application- spray at least 10 inches from the rock surface
  • Always spray outdoors or in a well ventilated room
  • Make sure to seal both sides of your rock
  • Leave space between the rocks so that the sealant gets on the sides too
  • Start with a light coat-you can always add more coats later
  • Let the sealer dry between coats
  • Do not dry the sealent in the sun

Rock Dot Painting For Beginners

Free Resources For Rock Dot Painting

Avoiding and Correcting Dot Mistakes

You have options when it comes to the little mistakes that often happen in the process of learning and creating dot designs.

  • Is your dot too small? Just take a larger tool and dot over it.
  • Is your dot too large? Wipe the area with water before it hardens. A qtip works for small areas
  • Made a really big mistake? No problem. Just cover it with black paint and start again.
  • Always start in the middle of the work and work outward. That way you will get a more even design.
  • Use a pencil outline to keep your design even. Use a plate, a glass, a paper towel tube, or a protractor.

Detailed Dotty Image

Your dotty images can be as simple or as detailed as you want them to be

Your dotty images can be as simple or as detailed as you want them to be

Free Mandala Printables and Guides

  • Oval Template
    Grid lined printable to help you create oval shaped dot guide

A Dot Painting Beginner Project

Tips For Making Dot Painting Greeting Cards

  1. Tape the back of the card with low tack tape to your work surface-that way the card will not slip
  2. Place a piece of parchment paper between the card front and the inside of the card. That way you will not get any paint on the inside of your card
  3. You can add dimension by layering dots. You use a lighter color against dark and a darker color against light. The dots must be dry before you layer. Use a smaller tool than the original dot to layer

More Dot Painting Projects And Ideas

Wood Ring Dish


Dot Painting On Wood

Wood is another "canvas" for your dot painting art. You can do bird houses, boxes, trays, plaques and more. There are lots of patterns that you can find on the internet.

1.The first thing that you want to do is to prime your wood with either white or black gesso. Use a foam brush or any other brush you may have. Wet the brush first as the gesso is very thick.Smooth the gesso over the whole board. Brush in one direction only. Then brush the other way. Remember, to paint around the sides as well. Prop your wood piece on two pieces of glass so that you can cover the sides. Allow the piece to dry.

2.Now you can do a second coat. Most artists use black as the base coat. That way, all the colors you chose will be very vivbrant. Cover the top and the sides as you did with the first coat. Allow the piece to dry.

3.Take a white water color pencil to draw a pattern kn your wood. Draw some lines in any pattern you would like, Simply draw lines across the wood. The idea is to create sections on the wood for the dots.

4.Choose your paints. Use complimentary colors. Some basic complimentary colors are red and green, yellow and purple, and orange and blue. Use a color wheel to help you select colors that will be pleasing to the eye.

5.Pour some paint into your pallet. You can use a plastic pallet or even a paper plate.

6.Start by walking your dots with the paint along the edges you have drawn. Walking the dots means that you dip the dotting tool into the paint once then keep dotting. As you dot, the dots will become smaller and smaller.

7.Walk the dots along the lines of the first section.Do the same technique for each section.

8.Make a large white dot in the center of each section. Mix a small amount of white paint to the outline color. Then dot around the white center dot.

9.Continue making dot circles, swirls or any other pattern within the section.Fill in the section until you are happy with the design.

10.You can let each section dry, If you need to leave the paints in your palette, take a damp paper towel and cover the paint with it. Wrap the whole palette tightly with plastic wrap.The paint will stay wet up to 12 hours.

11.Allow your project to dry. Use a spray sealer. Follow directions on the can.

Abstract Art Dot Painting On Canvas

Create your own abstract art using dot techniques

Create your own abstract art using dot techniques

More Abstract Art Dot Painting Inspiration

Dot Art On Glass

Tips For Creating Dot Painting On Glass

If you decide to tackle a dot painting on glass, here are a few tips to get you started on the right track

How To Prepare A Glass Surface For Paint

  1. First, wash the glass thoroughly in warm, soapy water to remove dirt, dust, and grease film.
  2. Next, rinse the glass in warm water and let dry completely.
  3. Dampen a paper towel with rubbing alcohol or white vinegar and wipe the stemware to ensure it is clean of any remaining soap film. Set aside for 15 minutes to air-dry.
  4. The glass surface is now ready for pain

How To Care For A Painted Glass Surface

  1. Once the glass has been painted, allow it to dry for at least 24 hours before curing.
  2. Make sure to cure the painted glass project properly once it has dried. For glass that will be washed in the top rack of the dishwasher, cure the item in the oven; glassware cured using the air-dry method is not safe for use in the top rack of the dishwasher.
  3. After the glass has cured, wash it by hand in mild dish soap or, for items that have been oven-cured, on the top rack of the dishwasher. Do not soak painted items.
  4. Painted glass items are not microwave-safe.

More Glass Dot Art Inspiration

Cleaning Up After Doing Dot Painting

Here are a few suggestions to keep your dotty messes to a minimum:

  1. I use baby wipes or damp cloths for quick clean up and to wipe away unruly dots to redo
  2. For dried on paint, try rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab
  3. Clean brushes with dried paintbrushes. Use a few tablespoons of Murphys Oil Soap in water. Let the brushes sit for at least one day or two.

Final Thoughts On Dot Painting

Dot painting can be inspirational and is a craft that will both relax you and help calm your soul.

I love this hobby! It is easy to do and can be done by anyone. The perfect craft for all ages. It is a great craft to do with your kids.

It is an economical craft! With just a few tools and some paint you can create custom and unique artwork on just about any surface.

You can dot just about any surface you can think of-wood, glass, canvas, fabric, paper and so much more. It is a truly unlimited art form.

Give it a try and you may find yourself dotting everything! Happy crafting !

© 2020 Linda F Correa


Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on August 03, 2020:

Thanks for your comment. It is truly a creative art form that anyone can try and achieve great results. I appreciate your visist

Lakshmi from Chennai on August 03, 2020:

Wow,amazing hub and you gave given a complete guide for dot painting.It was really useful to know about the new craft .

Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on August 03, 2020:

Thank you. We try to share information that will get creative juices flowing. We appreciate your input ! Happy Crafting !

Amy on August 03, 2020:

Interesting hub. You explained it very well. Thanks for sharing.

Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on July 27, 2020:

Thank you for your comment. This is such an easy craft for all ages. Easy to learn and minimal investment. So much fun and relaxing to do

Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on July 26, 2020:

Great hub. Gorgeous effects all made with simple dots! Amazing.

Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on July 23, 2020:

It does take some time to get the dots exactly where you want them. Time, patience and practice, like any other skill can eventually lead to great things. Thank you for the comment

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 23, 2020:

Fabulous and neat work. This looks easy, but I believe it’s not so easy. Needs precision, practice and patience to make such beautiful pieces.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful article, with helpful information.

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