Art Lesson Plan: Mandala Pen and Ink Drawing

Mandala Pen and Ink Drawing

Submitted by: Linda Woods, St. John's Lower School, Houston, Texas
Unit: Design - Math Integration - Mandalas
Lesson Plan: Inked Geometric Mandalas
Grade Level: Elementary grade five (adaptable to middle school and high school)
See more examples on Linda's site (Go to the drop-down menu on the lower left)



12" (30.5 cm) square white Tag board. or heavy drawing paper (such as Bristol Board.), Circle Master Compass. (or other brand that will accept markers as well as pencil), Protractors. and rulers (clear are best), Drawing Pencils., Ultra-Fine Point Markers., Kneaded Rubber Erasers., Optional: Gold Metallic Artist Pens. and Sharpie Fine Point Markers..


Objectives: Students

  1. Gain an appreciation for mandalas in many cultures. Compare and contrast designs from many cultures

  2. See geometric design in mandalas - become aware of symmetrical balance and radial balance

  3. Create a mandala design using compass and protractor - showing radial balance and/or symmetrical balance. Develop skills in using compass, ruler and protractor.

  4. Demonstrate craftsmanship in using art media

  5. Use of line, pattern and texture to show value and contrast


Arc, concentric, geometric, radial, balance, contrast, angle, protractor, parallel, compass, symmetry, pattern, intersect, bisect


Mandela-linda.jpg (44481 bytes)      Mandela-linda2.jpg (40509 bytes)      Mandela-linda3.jpg (41280 bytes)
Click on the images for full size


  1. Mandalas have been present in many cultures throughout history. They are a wonderful source of study in a Geometry classroom. Show PowerPoint with examples from the Aztecs, Tibetans, Hindus, Islamic art and from a modern artists. Discuss symbolism and meaning - discuss balance.

  2. Demonstrate use of compass and protractor. Demonstrate steps to create design

  3. Demonstrate using fine point marker to design. Optional: Demonstrate accent with gold pen and fine point marker.



The Mandala Workbook. - Susanne Fincher invites you to make mandala creation a practice, and to experience the insights and delights it can provide. Based on ancient European artifacts, contemporary religious iconography, and traditional tantric art, mandalas are circular designs that offer a profound symbol of the wholeness of the self.


Mandala Designs. - Forty-four ready-to-color original designs, based on an ancient motif symbolizing "universe" or "wholeness," will challenge and excite colorists of all ages. Typically containing circles, squares, triangles, and other geometrical figures rotating around a common center, these intriguing patterns will provide a wealth of inspiration, as well, for artists, designers and craftspeople.



Deco Mandala-Designer® Drawing Machine. - At the touch of a button the stencil moves forwards or backwards, enabling children to create designs without the paper slipping. In combination with stamps & coloring, children can create an endless amount of beautiful designs.



  1. With compass and pencil, construct concentric circles on 12" (30.5 cm) square tag board. Make sure there is irregular distances between them. Some very close together, some farther apart. Make anywhere from of 12 to 18 concentric circles. Make these VERY LIGHT as they will really serve as guidelines only for parts of the upcoming design.

  2. Place the center of a protractor over the center dot of your circles. Mark off every 45 degrees with a little dot. Use a see through perpendicular ruler to LIGHTLY draw lines dividing the circle into 8 equal triangles by drawing through the protractor lines and the center dot of the circle.

  3. Now the fun begins. The basic premise is that whatever you do on one side of the circle, you must balance the same thing on the opposite side to create your radial balance. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT ALL NEW LINES THAT YOU ADD TO DEVELOP  YOUR DESIGNS MUST BEGIN AND END AT THE INTERSECTION OF A PROTRACTOR LINE AND A COMPASS LINE INTERSECTION. For example, if you wanted to create a long and rather thin pointed shape, you would begin on one of the intersections of a compass line and a protractor line that is close to the center of the circle.  You could connect to another intersection of a compass line and protractor line that is closer to the outer edges of the circle, and then return to a different compass/protractor intersection that is again, nearer to the center.  Then you would balance that on the opposite side before you forgot how you did it!  The same would hold for compass arcs. If you want to create a series of arcs in your design, place the center of the compass on an intersection and place your pencil in the compass on whatever compass/protractor intersection you wish, depending on how large you want your arc to be, then swing your compass to make your arc.  It's nice to drop back a bit and make parallel arcs in your design so that they might later be filled in as thicker, more dominant lines for variety of line width in your final design. (or they could be filled in with checkers or pattern, stripes, etc.) Parallel lines are a big part of developing the designs.   Realize that every time you add a new part to your design, you have crossed over several or many of your original compass lines as you traverse your new line from the inner area of the circle to the outer edges, or vice versa. What that means is that each time you draw a new addition to your design, you have created many new intersections over the original compass lines.  These new intersections then become additional possibilities for beginning and ending future additions to your design. Remember the rule that all new additions MUST begin and end on the intersection of one of your compass lines and a line that passes through it.  The more you draw, the more intersections you create, the more possibilities there are for developing your design further.

  4. Keep developing your design by repeating whatever you draw on one side of the circles to the other side soon after you develop all new parts of your design and watch your design grow in complexity.

  5. After you have developed your design with your balanced points, arcs, and parallel lines, you are ready to start adding pattern and filling in with pen. Add your patterns in such a way as to keep various line densities balanced in your total design  In other words, if you fill in one part of your design with delicate pattern, the next part of your design that touches it should be filled in with something darker or a more tightly packed pattern. Develop areas of contrast.

  6. Another good part of your design to develop are some of the original compass circles that are closely parallel to each other. Parts of these parallel circles might be filled in with step patterns, checkerboards, etc. to look as though they weave in and out of your points and arcs that you developed in your design.

  7. When you are totally finished inking, erase your pencil lines.

Note: One thing to consider is that kids are going to make "mistakes" in their balance. This is fixed by just duplicating the "mistake" on the opposite side of the circle to make it all look like part of the pattern of the whole design.

These are addictive. Linda has students who finish them quickly and do several. One girl gave her mom 4 framed ones for Christmas. They look like snowflakes sometimes.


  1. Did students show an appreciation and understanding of use of mandalas in different cultures? Were they able to compare and contrast different approaches and methods?

  2. Did students show skills in using protractor, compass and ruler to create their own mandala design?

  3. Did students show symmetrical and/or radial balance in the creation of their mandala - Did they show contrast (different values), pattern and repetition?

  4. Did students exhibit skill and craftsmanship in inking their design?



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