Easy Steps to Paint Rocks: Beginner’s Guide

Bunch of colorful hand painted decorative stones

Rock painting is a creative way to express your artistic side. Painting on canvas can feel a little overwhelming sometimes, as you usually work on a larger surface. But, painting on rocks can be a great alternative if you want to work on different designs on a smaller surface. 

Painting rocks is not complicated. If you know the proper way to do it, it may even become your favorite hobby. Beautifully painted rocks can make excellent gifts, or you can place them throughout your town to create a more positive atmosphere. 

Many artists often hide their painted pebbles in public places. They do it for fun. However, parks or private properties are some of the few places where you shouldn’t hide rocks. So, before pulling this stunt, you should have a thorough understanding of the issue. Now, let us know the essential steps to become successful in rock painting. 

Collecting Rocks to Paint

Before you start rock painting, make sure you have a constant supply of rocks, so that you don’t run out of it when you’re in your creative mode. There’s nothing worse than suddenly running out of materials when you’re “in the zone” and can’t finish your project properly. If you are an artist who wants to collect rocks by yourself, make sure you are following the local regulations. 

Grabbing a few rocks might not matter, right there and then, but once you start painting you will need more and more materials. So, be sure to choose an area that has an abundance of rocks. If you don’t want to collect your materials, there are a few other options, like buying or making them yourself.

Buying Rocks to Paint

If you want to buy rocks, you have two options. You can buy them from landscaping supply shops, craft stores or order them online. 

Purchasing from Local Shops

Find landscaping supply shops or craft stores in your local area. You will probably find it more affordable if you buy them in bulk. There will be a variety of rocks to select from. 

Some may have different sizes and colors. Don’t be afraid to rummage through the pile to find the one you’re looking for. It can be a fun way to start your new hobby. The prices vary, depending on the supplier and the local demand.

Ordering Online

If you don’t feel like going shopping in a physical store, or you do not have any local supplier,  you can always buy your materials online. If you order online you might find better materials, of higher quality, than the ones available in the local shops. You can find some fancy stones too if you spend some time browsing online shops. 

Making Rocks to Paint

Yes, it’s possible to make your rocks. But, it’s a bit time-consuming, and maybe not something you would like to start with, as a beginner. It might be, or not be, your thing. You will need to learn the proper way of doing it, before attempting to make your own rocks. There are lots of people who love to make their own rocks, as a part of their creative hobby. So, it’s up to you to choose the option that suits you better.

Tools for Rock Painting

Before starting with this hobby, you will need other supplies, such as paint, brushes, sealant, markers and pens.


The best paint to use on rocks is acrylic paint. It makes your art look vibrant and colorful. There are many brands to choose from, so you should try out some different ones, and go with the brand that you feel suits your work best. 


The brush sizes make a big difference when it comes to rock painting. Keep the brush size as small as possible to be able to work on the details properly.

Markers and Pens

If you don’t want to paint using brushes, you can use pens and markers instead. You can use paint markers, as well as ordinary ones, to paint on the rocks. Markers are the best option for creating a black outline around your finished designs. You will find them in different sizes. Pick according to your work style.

Preparing the Rocks to Paint

Before you start working on your rocks, you’ll need to prepare them for painting. First, you need to clean them.

The most effective way is by using a vegetable brush under warm, running water as if you’re washing potatoes.  Dry them using a towel. Set them aside to dry thoroughly. How long it takes for them to dry varies, based on the thickness and size of your rocks. Make sure they are completely dry, before you start painting, to get the best result.

Painting Ideas

Before you start painting on your rocks, think about what you’d like to paint. You can find a lot of inspiration online. Explore Pinterest, Instagram or other popular artists’ work to get creative ideas. Research and connect with other rock painting artists to learn about their work, techniques and get inspiration. 

Inspirational quotes and words are always popular, and great to use if you want to make your art more unique. Social media is another great source to find inspiration. Look for things, and sources, that can give you more creative ideas and help you evolve into a successful artist.

Painting Rocks

When you know what you want to paint. It’s time to get started. You can choose from many painting techniques and materials, such as alcohol inks, marker pens, dotting tools, acrylic paints etc. It’s up to you if you want to paint free-hand, or by traced motives. 

After you have completed your design, I recommend that you outline it with a darker color, this will highlight and enhance the image. It’s easier to create an outline by using paint pens, instead of a brush.

Sealing the Painted Rocks

When you’re done with your masterpiece you need to make sure you seal it well so that the color lasts longer. There are different ways to seal the paint. Try out several to decide which method works best for your art. When choosing your preferred method you also need to consider if you want a matte or glossy finish. Moreover, when deciding on a sealing procedure, bear in mind whether you’ll be displaying the artwork indoors or outside. You can seal using a spray-on sealer if you are not using any self-sealing paint. If you want a glossy glass-like look, using resin will be the best choice. 

When using a spray-on sealer, make sure you are holding the can at least 8″ from your rocks. First, you should start by applying a thin mist coat to your rocks. Then build it up with more thin layers, if you want a thicker seal. Avoid using too much sealer on each layer, because that may cause the sealant to run or drip. Dry them well by laying them out in the sun, or in a warm and dry space, to get a better result. 

Finding space for your art

Your art will probably add up quickly. When that happens, you will need to find a place, or another purpose, for them. Placing your painted rocks around the town can be a fun way to spread happiness and joy, and will function as a random act of kindness. But, placing painted rocks in hospitals, inside office buildings or similar locations is usually not allowed, so make sure you get permission if you would like to place them at such locations. 

You can find local groups through social media to share your work, or you can donate them to charity. They can also be a beautiful gift to give. If you want to, you can also try to sell them. 

Painting Rocks to Achieve Success

Painting rocks is a fun hobby. But, if you want to achieve success through your painting, here are some basic tips on how to succeed: 

  1. Decorating becomes more difficult if you use rocks that have ridges, or a rough surface. So, when choosing your rocks, you should go for the smooth and flat ones. If they are not available in nature, purchase them from craft stores, or online. 
  2. It is very important to wash and dry the rocks properly before you start painting. If you skip this step or don’t do it properly,  dirt and sand might mess up your design. Always wash and dry the rocks thoroughly, before you start painting. 
  3. Apply a thin layer of sealing on the rock, before painting, to get the best result. It brings out the color, makes the paint stick easier and your painting look brighter. Or, you can use a primer and a base layer of white paint, to make the finished result look more vibrant.
  4. When you are painting your design in several layers, make sure you let the paint dry between layers. You can use multi-surface or outdoor paint, to make them withstand the elements of nature better. 
  5. When painting small details or dots, use a stylus or a small and pointy brush.
  6. Always use sharpies and paint pens that are oil-based. Dry the paint fully, before using one.
  7. To protect the painted rocks, coat them well. Seal your paint to help it last longer.
  8. If your painting somehow gets messed up, wash or wipe it off while the paint is still wet. You can use a soaked paper towel to easily remove the wet paint.

Final Thoughts

Painting rocks is a great way to express your creativity. You will love it! You can use them to create vibrant pops of color in your garden. You can also use them as decorations for different occasions and holidays, or use them as seasonal ornaments. It is a fun way to get a break from screens, work, stress and technology. Follow the steps in this article to get better results. Practice makes the master, and you will learn to paint gorgeous pieces of art in no time.

Best of luck!