Wee Mandala Tutorial

How I Create a mandala from a photograph with Photoshop Elements 11


This is a simple 4 quarters mandala; I call it Feather Mandala.

We will be working in Photoshop Elements 11. To begin pull in images that are potentials for a mandala.

Make copies of each photo so that you don’t accidentally change your original image permanently. Just a reminder, please check what kind of file you are saving. PSE wants to save anything as PSD which is their own proprietary format. However, we need to save all files as j_pegs; so please note that and choose jpg format each time you save, resave, or save as. And all will be well.

Work only with these copies, not your original photos. In fact, once you’ve saved copies, just close your originals.

Step 1: Find an image that you captured with your camera, iPhone, cellphone, iPad or tablet. It must be your own photograph or it will not have the same kind of meaning for you when you meditate on it. This picture is a pair of owl feathers that I keep in a little rock with a hole in it.

ImageStep 2: Really see (not just look at) this image. The best mandalas are composed of radiating lines. These lines will draw your eye inward and back outward. There should be a centre point also called a bindu (Sanskrit for “the point where creation begins”); it is very subtle in this particular mandala, but there is a sense of concentric circles and if you enlarge this you can see a small circle right in the centre.

Step 3:Image

Usually you will want to crop your photo to limit distractions to your mandala. In this crop I’ve used the spine of the dotted feather to pull in the eye to the centre point. This will become the top left side of the mandala. Save as a new image file. Close your original cropped image in case you change your mind or want to begin again. Close the new cropped image. When PSE asks if you want to change say no. You will still have your changes because you already saved once.

Step 5: Pull the cropped image into Photoshop Elements 11 (you “saved as” once you cropped right?)

Step 6: At the top of your screen you will have 3 options: “Quick” “Guided” and “Expert”. For this next step you must choose “Guided”.


 Once you have chosen guided, you will have a new menu bar on the right of your screen.

Touchups (click on the arrow to close this one)

Photo Effects (click on the arrow to close this one)

In Photo Play you will have a few choices.

 Choose Reflection by clicking on the word. Now you have new choices.

Click 1. Add Reflection. Pause, it takes a second or two.

You will see a faint image below your original image in reverse! Ta Da!

You want it to be as close to your original though, so now you choose 2. Eyedropper tool and choose one of the darkest areas of your image. Click!

Now choose 3. Fill background. And watch the magic. Click Done.

Step 7. “Save as” a new file for this image. I usually name it left_side.jpg It won’t stay the left side but it’s helpful for visual thinkers because that’s what it looks like now.


Step 8. Close this file, using “save as” and choosing a new name e.g. “left_side.jpg”. But don’t save the old one with a different name.

Step 9. Now open the “left_side.jpg” file.

Step 10. Rotate it to the left or right depending on where your focal point is. I like to play and try it both ways, just always remember if you do to choose save as so your original file will remain intact.

Step 11. Make a reflection of your “left_side.jpg” file. “Save as” a new file with mandalabase as part of the name. This one would be feather_mandala_base.jpg for instance.


 Step 12. Pull the mandala base file into PSE11. Switch back to Expert mode. Using your Eliptical Marque Tool scribe a circle like so…


It might take some practice, but you can always “undo” these circles until you get it the right size. Also you can move the circle once you’ve scribed it, even if it goes off the picture…

Step 13. Use the “Cut” option to cut the circle out of this image.


 Step 14. Open a new blank document.


Step 15. Choose “transparent” for the Background Contents (bottom choice box).


Step 16. “Ctrl V” to paste your cut circle into the new document.


Step 17. Save as your final name. e.g. “Feather_Mandala_Final.jpg”

Step 18. Print on high quality paper and frame! Meditate on this image frequently and bask in the glow of accomplishment.

Tomorrow I’ll share how to achieve a similar effect using only Picasa and Word. You can download Picasa (free!) from Google … here: http://picasa.google.ca/



2 thoughts on “Wee Mandala Tutorial

    • Thanks Barb. It was a huge learning curve for me. I hope people can actually follow it and create a mandala. Tomorrow is another challenge. Easier to do; than to explain, eh?

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