Mandala Making: Traditional vs. Digital

Sep 28, 2021 at 07:00 am by Barbara Din

Mandala Making: Traditional vs. Digital

I’ve written some articles about mandalas. Ways to create them, apps for Android, apps for desktop. But I realize I haven’t said anything about mandalas created in traditional art. Mostly, I guess, because most of you are digital artists. So, this time, I don’t leave digital mandalas out, but instead I’ll talk about both and the pros and cons I see in each way of creating them.


In terms of results, the advantages of digital are undeniable. The precious undo being the first one, of course. Then there’s the epic fact you only need to make marks once, and the magic of software will turn that into as many slices as you want. All the same. No measuring needed. No “oh, this scallop if bigger/shorter than the other”, etc. If you’re looking for speed and tidiness, there’s no competing with digital tools. Even better, nowadays most painting apps have some form of symmetry feature available. Even Photoshop, Sketchbook, Krita, and so on. Even Flame Painter! (Watch the video below).


On the other hand, you lack the repetitiveness that most swear gets them into the Flow. You don’t need to repeat strokes and marks to get there, but most of mandala makers love this particular characteristic. Yes, you can turn off symmetry and make a mandala the hard way in digital too, so don’t mind me. Personally, I like mandalas but I don’t enjoy making the same pattern many times, so if you’re like me, you will take advantage of that symmetry feature!


Oh, but the traditional way has its magic, too. A completely different kind, though. Instead of results, you focus on the feeling of the tools of your choice against the surface of the paper. The precision you need to make all slices the same, and the choices you make when some line gets out of control, how you fix it and now you have to repeat that fix on every slice in order to make it look on purpose. Yes, it might sound scary and not so enjoyable, but believe me when I tell you there’s something very satisfying when you find yourself in this predicament and solve it. It’s also a great exercise that will make you better when making art other than mandalas. Have a look at this video that will teach you how to make a mandala using just for graphic elements.

The cons are pretty obvious. The risk of ruining it, not by making a longer line, but by spilling ink, smearing it or something of the sort. There is no undo here. So you have to get creative, or throw the piece away and start over.

So, what’s your choice? Have you tried both? If not, give them a try and find your own pros and cons for each method. And try and enjoy every step of the way!

Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina.

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