Tips and Tools for Drawing on Rocks

The pictures of my rock doodles are some of my most popular pictures on my Instagram page. The first question I get asked is where do I find such smooth rocks? I’m lucky enough to live near a beach filled with them, but if you’re having trouble finding your own, I suggest visiting your local garden center and seeing if they sell river rocks. Once you have your rocks, it’s time to get supplies. Below is a list of my favorites. (This post contains affiliate links)

For clean, white designs, my favorite pen to use is this uni-ball signo gel pen.

For bright, detailed designs, I love the Moonlight Series gelly roll pens by Sakura America. Be sure the gelly roll pens you purchase are the bold point. The tip is actually quite small. I’ve tried the fine point tips and the ink doesn’t flow as well.
For a smooth, paint-like effect, I use extra-fine point posca paint pens. These pens also work great on wood and other surfaces.


For younger children, I really like these neon liquid chalk pens by OOLY. You can also use them on glass, chalkboards and other surfaces. The chunky tip makes drawing designs and letters easy for kids.

Sealing Your Rocks

When it comes to sealing your finished doodle rocks, my favorite sealant is this matte clear finish. I always use matte because I like to maintain the natural stone appearance as much as I can. When I use acrylic paint I typically seal with mod podge, but when I use the pens listed in this guide I always seal with a spray so that the designs don’t get smeared (I’ve learned from personal experience).

Remember, there’s no wrong way to doodle on rocks. If you’re unsure of what you want to do for your design, sketch it out on paper first. But really, the best way to create fun, unique designs is to just start drawing.

If you get a chance, head over to my Instagram page or Facebook page and let me know what you think about the guide. Next in the works is a guide for painting on rocks. I’ll announce it on my Instagram page when it’s finished.

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30 thoughts on “Tips and Tools for Drawing on Rocks”

    1. So glad you like them! As long as you make sure to seal them they should be okay to display outside! Definitely use a spray sealant.

  1. Sweet! Thank you so much for your suggestions. I am fortunate to live near a beach as well, and I have some smooth rocks laying around. I’ve seen the pictures of painted rocks and always wondered how it was done. Now I know, thanks to you and the links you provided 🙂

    1. Yay!! So glad you found some inspiration. I’m working on more rock posts with tips on painting as well as using other art materials on them so stay tuned :).

  2. Love this! I love doing things like this! I want to follow you on the rest of your information on painting rocks!!!

    1. Not when I’m just doodling on them. I only prime them if I’m using an art supply that won’t show up on the rock by itself.

  3. This is great info and I love seeing the pics of the actual pens you use. Thank you. I’ve recently become aware of people who paint rocks and ‘hide’ them in parks etc for children to find – my granddaughters found 2! They were so excited I’d like to paint rocks with them and then go and hide them.
    Check out the fb group ‘Whangarei Rocks’ for our local group here in New Zealand.
    I’m wondering if the paint on sealant/varnish I got will smudge the paint! Is this why you use a spray on one? I also think I’ll try sealing with PVA glue which I think is like mod podge.
    Do you wash the rocks and prep the surface by painting it white first to make brighter colours?
    I love the white designs on the natural rocks ❤

    1. My son loves painting rocks and hiding them too for people to find! I use the spray sealant when using the supplies mentioned in the post because I’ve found other sealants like mod podge smear the markers. If you are just using acrylic paint, mod podge will work and not smear the paint. Also I just rinse the sand off the rocks before I draw on them. But sometimes I don’t wash them and the colors are still great!

  4. Our 2-5 grade kids will make these for vacation bible school. We can give them as I’m thinking of you gifts to seniors. What a fun, new idea idea. Thanks!!!

  5. Hi, I am a 68 yr old stone paint fanatic. I love it so much because of the million different things you can paint on them, and for every age group. My grand kids have started already as well and are only 8,9,10 yr olds.
    I use a gloss clear finish with UV filter so the colours won’t fade so quickly.
    Especially for outdoor use, like in between the succulents and other garden plants. I have learned that you have to be absolutely sure the paint is dry before using a varnish. I’m not so impressies with ModPodge as it smears too much. For langer areas I use acrylic paint and use Posca pens for the details. It’s cheaper that way as your pens last longer.

    1. Such great tips! I do a lot of painting with acrylic as well. Love that you have passed on your stone painting love to your grandkids. They are sure lucky to have such a crafty grandma.

  6. I just moved to ms. From fl. Where i lived there was only limestone. Now i find all these rocks on the roads , everywhere. I am not artistic and have never rrally thought about painting rocks, but now i really want ti, and i want to be able to use the rocks natural appearance somewhat.i just really dont no where to start. I need a starters step by please explain guide to get started.i have bought some cheap markers to see if i have the patience. Really want to do this..priming the rock is where i am now..thanks, pam

    1. Hi Pam! It’s hard to find the right pens for rocks. If you get the markers I used in the post I think you’ll find the process super easy. All you have to do is start drawing. No priming required. The inks are bright enough that you don’t need to prime the rocks first! I’m in the process of creating a few more blog posts all about creating on rocks so keep checking back or follow along on Instagram!

  7. I have wanted to paint on rocks for years. (I am now 80) I just didn’t know where to start (what paints, etc) RA has caused me to slow down on painting crafts but I just love it too much to quit. Thanks so much for all your information. I have painted on wood and made dozens of wooden crafts to sell at our Church Bazaars in the last 20 years, but do want to try “rocks”.
    I hope I can find the rocks as where I live in NC there aren’t any of the right kind.
    Thanks again! Kay

    1. If you have trouble finding rocks, check out your local garden center! They usually have river rock that you could use, just don’t get the glossy kind. Happy crafting!

  8. This is amazing! I run a recovery home and wanted to do a cool garden project with the girls about recovery! What a great liw cost project. Cant wait to get startef

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