DIY: Make a Digital Mandala in 10 Easy Steps
Follow our steps to make a personalized easy mandala on your computer!
By Lindsay López-Isa Lamken
What is a Mandala?
A mandala is a geometric figure – usually a circular image— that contains repeating symbols and motifs representing the universe and the interconnectedness of living things. Mandalas have been used for centuries in various spiritual traditions as a tool for meditation and spiritual growth. While mandalas are most commonly found in East Asian and South Asian cultures, some Native American cultures also have traditions that involve the use of mandala-like artwork.
For example, the Huichol people, an indigenous group in Mexico, have a tradition of creating yarn paintings known as “nierikas,” which are circular or square designs with repeating patterns and motifs that depict spiritual and cultural themes.
Some Native American cultures in what is now the southwestern United States also have traditions that involve the use of circular or wheel-shaped symbols known as “medicine wheels.” Medicine wheels represent different parts of life and nature and are used as tools believed to improve health and spiritual growth.
The mandala is also big in today’s popular culture as a form of art therapy. For example, mandalas are used in coloring books and rock painting (see our article on mandala rock painting!) and as a beautiful form of decoration. And we totally get why! Mandalas are beautiful and hypnotic, and the process of creating a mandala and then focusing on it is relaxing and can help reduce stress.
Make an Easy Mandala on Your Computer
We’ve found a great way to make beautiful, personalized and easy mandalas on a computer that reflect the personality of our family and friends and can be used to make really special gifts like cards, notebooks, posters, and wall decals. And the best part? It’s unique, doesn’t cost a lot, and can be made with any computer! Here are some examples of easy mandalas we created:
For a colorful friend who’s full of life!
For a real player . . .
For a friend who’s on the baseball team, loves his kicks and boba, pumps it on the side, and just got his license . . .
For your BFF or girlfriend who rocks science, guitar, and lip gloss, loves Mexican and conchas, and just got a new puppy . . .
You could also make a personalized mandala to celebrate Mom on Mother’s Day or to say “thank you” to a special teacher. The only limit is your imagination!
Step 1: Choose the Software
You can make a gorgeous easy mandala using any image-editing software (like Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Canva) in about an hour. We decided on Canva Pro because it was the most intuitive and least expensive for us to use. [BTW: This is our honest opinion. Lateenz does not have a business relationship with and did not get paid by Canva for this article.] Canva’s basic features are free (you just need to make an account – and remember to ask your parents if you are under 18), but for this project you will need to upgrade to a “Canva Pro” account, which costs $12.99/month. The good news is that you can try Canva Pro for free for thirty days and cancel if you decide you don’t want it after that.
Step 2: Choose a Square Format
From the Canva home screen, click on “Create a design” and then . . .
choose a square template like an Instagram Post.
Step 3: Insert a Circle Chart as a Temporary “Frame” for the Mandala
Using the “Elements” feature in the toolbar on the left side of the screen, search for a drawing of a circle divided into 12 parts. You can find the element we used by searching for “voktoriiaablohina” and, within those results, searching again for “pie chart icon 12 segments.” This pie chart will be a temporary guide to help you organize images on your mandala (and which you will delete once the mandala is finished).
Your starting image should look something like this (a circle divided into 12 segments):
Step 4: Pick the Center Image and Remove the Background
Pick a round object for the middle of the mandala. This could be a donut, concha, basketball, baseball, beachball, etc. Go to “Elements” again and do a search for that object. It’s best to pick an object that has a white or minimal background because the next step is going to be to remove the background. So here, we searched for “pink donut” and selected the one that we liked. Once it was inserted onto the page, we clicked on the pink donut image, and then clicked on “Edit image.” From there we clicked on “Background Remover.”
Then we sized the image to fit in the middle of the mandala:
Step 5: Add the Name
Open a new page and select the Text option to add a name in the color and font you like.
When you have finished creating the name, you will need to flip it into a cross shape around the center image. Unfortunately, Canva does not allow text to be flipped, so you will need to download the name as an image (choosing the Remove background option), save it in your computer files, and then load the image back up into Canva. It sounds more complicated than it is, and here are some great instructions on how to flip text in Canva.
Once you have the name uploaded as an image, you can flip it, copy it, and arrange it around the center image (in this case, the donut).
The goal is to get something like this:
Step 6: Add “Mirror Image” Objects
Now start filling the mandala with “mirror images” of meaningful objects in repeating patterns. In the example below, we chose a guitar and removed the background. Then we copied the image, flipped it horizontally, and connected the mirror images in a “V” shape to fit the spaces around the names.
Then we grouped and copied the mirror image object and repeated it in all the remaining spaces.
Continue filling the mandala with as many mirror-image objects as you would like. We only used 3 mirror-image objects (the guitar, the puppy, and the chip and guacamole) and they easily filled up a lot of the mandala.
Step 7: Fill in Empty Spaces
At this point, you can start filling empty spaces with repeating (but not mirrored) objects. So, for example, in our mandala, the spaces between the puppies’ ears are good for a round object like a concha. Just keep filling it with repeating, meaningful objects until the mandala is complete. Here we added the conchas and some calculators:
And then the “heart hands” and so on:
Step 8: Remove the Circle Guide
Once you have filled the mandala, select the wheel template and delete it. This will leave you with the finished mandala.
Step 9: Download the Mandala
See Step 5 above for instructions on downloading the finished mandala as an image, and then get ready to create something special!
Step 10: Decide How to Display the Mandala
This part is also super fun! Here are some ideas:
On a card . . .
As a wall decal . . .
As a framed poster . . .
On a notebook cover . . .
The possibilities are endless for this easy mandala technique!
Hey – Before You Go . . . Check Out Some Art and Design Internships, Programs, and Competitions for High School Students
If you’re a teen who’s interested in art and design (or you know one who is!), be sure to check out all the great art and design internships, programs, and competitions for middle and high school students in our Lateenz Teen Resources database. Here are just a few of the opportunities you will find (there are many, many, many more):
Artists for Humanity: Youth Arts Enterprise Employee Program
The Artists for Humanity: Youth Arts Enterprise Employee Program is a paid employment program in arts and design for high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors ages 14 and up who are enrolled in and regularly attending a Boston Public School and/or who are residents of Boston. Student artists collaborate with designers on innovative projects commissioned by clients in one of seven creative studios—Painting, 3D Design, Graphic Design, Printmaking, Creative Technology, Video Production, and Photography. The program is available both during the school year and during the summer. Interns must complete an unpaid apprenticeship period of 36 hours (which provides community service hours) before becoming a paid employees. Previous art experience is not necessary.
Architectural Foundation San Francisco: Build SF Summer Design Institute
The Architectural Foundation San Francisco: Build SF Summer Design Institute is a 3-week summer program for high school students interested in design and urban development. The AFSF Summer Design Institute offers students an opportunity to develop their own design skills and to use professional tools to create a digital portfolio of work they can use for college applications and career opportunities. Students learn 3D modeling, video, and animation and work with a range of computer-aided design tools including SketchUp and the Autodesk family of modeling software. Each participant will receive 1-on-1 mentoring by a professional architect or engineer, to experience the profession and receive guidance on their career path. Tuition is $3,000, but need-based financial aid is available.
Congressional Art Competition
The Congressional Art Competition is an annual, nationwide high school visual arts competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and each congressional district. Students submit entries to their Representative’s office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries. Artwork must be two-dimensional and in one of the following accepted media: Paintings (oil, acrylics, watercolor, etc.); Drawings (colored pencil, pencil, ink, marker, pastels, charcoal); Collages (must be two-dimensional); Prints (lithographs, silkscreen, block prints); Mixed Media (use of more than two mediums such as pencil, ink, watercolor, etc.); Computer-Generated Art; and Photographs. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, DC. The winning works are displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol.
Art Institute of Chicago: Teen Council Program
Art Institute of Chicago Teen Council Program members design programs and resources that make the Art Institute a more welcoming, accessible, and relevant space for Chicagoland youth. Previous Teen Council projects include teen art exhibitions, teen museum overnighters, teen parties, and a teen audio guide.
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