Also called yantras, mandalas came to Hinduism from Buddhism. Traditional yantras are square, with a gate on each side around a center circle that contains one of the Hindu gods. Through the meditative creation of a mandala, the artist summons that god to help them discover cosmic truths.
The first step for any mandala is to make a grid. “We want it to be symmetrical, and we want all of the patterns to be equal,” says Madra. Bonafini suggests drawing grid lines that cross the circle at every 30 or 45 degrees. Whether your overall shape is square or circular, you can start around the center point with a circle. Then decide what basic shapes you want to radiate from that circle, like an inverted U or V. Then, the next layer should be slightly different. You might change the shape a little, fill it in with different strokes or colors. “It’s the same pattern, but these small variations will give you a different look once your piece is completed,” says Madra.
Madra suggests collecting patterns you like. “Create a repository of patterns, so anytime you feel like you’re stuck or like you’re drawing the same patterns again and again, you can refer back to your repository.”
As you get more experienced and add complexity to your patterns, keep in mind Madra’s advice to beginners: “Always remember the three Ps: practice, patience, and perseverance.”