How To Paint Rocks

Rock painting is a fast growing hobby that is fun, easy and lets you explore your creativity.  With rock painting, you are creating small works of art that can be put on display or even sold on sites like Etsy.  They also make great hand created gifts that the recipient will really appreciate.  You can paint just about anything on rocks,  including positive messages (such as “Joy”), animals, seashores, houses, abstract designs and anything else that you can imagine.  It’s also a fun family activity that kids will enjoy.  The supplies you need don’t cost a lot and are easy to get online or at a crafts store.  Here’s everything you need to know to get started.






The best rocks to use are flat on both sides and smooth, although you can work with rocks that are flat on only one side.  White rocks are the easiest to work with, but you can use other colored rocks, such as grey or beige.  The lighter the color, the more your colors will pop.  If you have a rock that is too dark, you can paint it white.  Where can you find rocks?  Rocks can be found in your yard or at the beach. For rocks found outside, I recommend soaking them in white vinegar to remove any dirt and bacteria.  You can also purchase rocks specifically made for painting. When starting out, you might want to buy rock painting kits that include all the supplies you need to get started.  As for the size of the rock, it’s really up to you.  I like to work with small rocks, but you can paint on rocks of any size.


I’ve used both acrylic paint and paint pens.  Acrylic paint is easy to work with and easy to clean up, although it can stain your clothes or furniture.  It is also quick drying and you don’t need a lot of paint to work with.  Make sure to get a full range of colors.  You can buy sets with small amounts in a variety of colors.   If you use paints you’ll need paint brushes and a paint pallette to work with.  Get a set of inexpensive brushes with a variety of sizes.

Another option is paint pens, which combine the look of paint with the ease of working with a pen.  Paint pens are good for the fine detail work, but you’ll want to use large pens or paint for the larger blocks of color.

You can also use fine markers or even watercolor paint (which is more challenging).


After you’ve painted your rocks, you’ll need to seal them with a clear coat of some sort to prevent fading and wear.  If your rocks will remain indoors, you can use clear nail polish or Mod Podge, which is glue/sealant. If your rocks will be outside, you’ll need something stronger like a spray can of clear sealant.

Protective Items

You’ll need a couple of things to protect yourself and your work area from getting stained with paint.  Make sure to wear a paint shirt, apron or smock.  Use newspaper or wax paper to cover your table while painting and drying.


  1. Prepare your rocks.

If you have rocks from nature, you’ll want to soak them in white vinegar for 1-2 hours to remove any dirt and bacteria.  Rinse them with hot water and let them dry before working with your rocks.  If your rock is too dark in color, paint it white.  This might require more than one coat to get a smooth looking finish.

  1. Decide on your design.

You can paint  “real life” items such as animals and landscapes, affirmative messages (like “Love” or “Joy”) or just cool designs.  You can buy rock painting books that give you examples and ideas or look online.  You can also purchase rock painting stencils with patterns, such as dots.  Depending on your skill level and confidence, you can just start painting.  I find it helpful to sketch my drawings with a pencil on the rock before starting.

  1. Start painting!

Get to work and have fun.  Remember, if you make a mistake, you can usually paint over it.  Make sure the bottom layer is dry before painting over, otherwise the colors will blend together.  If you’re using paint pens, paint the big blocks of color with a large pen or acrylic paint first, then use the finer pens for details.

  1. Let the rock dry. 

If you use acrylic paint or paint pens, it should take only up to 30 minutes to completely dry.

  1. Seal the rock.

Once dry, use one of the sealants mentioned in the supply list to seal your paint.  Remember to use the appropriate sealant for indoor or outdoor use.

Rock painting is an awesome hobby and easy to pick up.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes.  You don’t need to be an “artist” to paint rocks.  Whatever you design, it’s your own personal masterpiece.