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How to Paint Ladybug Rocks

Mary Hysong was born and raised in Miami, Arizona. She has been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember.

Follow these super simple steps to create your own unique ladybug rocks!

Follow these super simple steps to create your own unique ladybug rocks!

A Craft for Children and Beginners Alike

Making ladybug rocks is a great project to add a little color to your garden or potted plants. They make nice gifts for just about anyone as well. You don't need much to get started, and if you're a crafty individual, you'll probably have most of the materials laying around your home.

Let's Get Our Rock Painting Supplies Together

There are only a few things that you'll need to get on your way to painting your very own ladybug rocks. See a bulleted list with detailed descriptions below.

Supplies

  • Water Jar or Brush Basin
  • Paintbrushes and Pencils
  • Paint
  • Palette
  • Rocks and Stones
  • Spray Bottle (Optional)

Water Jar or Brush Basin

You will need a brush basin. You can also use an old pint jar, just be sure not to leave your brushes standing in it all day. If you leave your brushes standing on their bristles, it will give them a permanent kink. If you are going to be painting often, you might want to pick up a brush basin that has ridges and a brush rest to efficiently clean and soak your brushes.

Paintbrushes and Pencils

You will only need two paintbrushes: a fine liner or detail brush (I use a #2 liner) and a small synthetic flat brush. I used a #10 craft brush, but you can use a smaller one, especially if your stones are really small. You should use a bigger brush for bigger rocks to finish painting faster. You will also need the eraser side of a pencil to embellish your ladybug with dots.

Paint

If your ladybugs will live indoors, any acrylic craft paint will work fine. However, if you are going to put them outside or in bright sunlight, you will want to use either Folk Art's Outdoor Paint or Deco Art's Patio Paint. Both of these brands are specially made for outdoor use. They contain UV inhibitors and sealers to minimize fading and weathering.

For painting traditional-looking ladybugs, you will only need four colors:

  • Yellow
  • Red
  • Black
  • White

Of course, you can always use orange, hot pink, magenta, or any other color that you like to create a truly unique ladybug.

Palette

You will need something to put your paint on. An old china or plastic plate will work if you wash it off when you are finished. Any bit of plastic you want to recycle from the kitchen, like the lid to the cottage cheese container, will work too. If at any point the paint dries hard, just put fresh paint on top and keep going.

Rocks and Stones

You can make your ladybugs any size you want. I usually use a variety of rock sizes. Small, oval stones are great but slightly different shapes work just fine. You can usually find small, smooth stones along the banks of a river or creek. You can also buy them at some garden and landscaping centers.

Note: Wash your rocks well and let them dry before starting the project.

Spray Bottle (Optional)

If you live where the air is very dry, a small spray bottle that will give a fine mist comes in handy during long painting sessions. Just lightly mist the paint occasionally to keep it from drying out too quickly.

All shapes and sizes will do!

All shapes and sizes will do!

DIY Ladybug Rocks in 6 Easy Steps

  1. Outline the head with a pencil.
  2. Apply the first coat: yellow.
  3. Apply the second coat: red.
  4. Add the head and wing details.
  5. Embellish the rock with black spots.
  6. Give that bug a personality.
Draw an oval on the end of the rock for your ladybug's head.

Draw an oval on the end of the rock for your ladybug's head.

1. Outline the Head With a Pencil

If you do not have a dedicated work surface, use some newspaper or a plastic tablecloth to protect your furniture. Wear old clothes, a painting smock, or an apron, so you don't get paint on your good clothes. Once dry, acrylic paint is hard to get out of most anything.

With your pencil, draw an oval at one end of your rock. Go from the bottom of the stone all the way across the top and back to the bottom on the other side. This will be your ladybug's head. On the top side of the rock, the oval should be about one-third the length of your stone.

Paint your ladybug rock yellow first to make the red coat pop.

Paint your ladybug rock yellow first to make the red coat pop.

2. Apply the First Coat: Yellow

Pour a small amount of bright yellow paint onto your plate. Using your small flat brush, coat the two-thirds of your rock that is the ladybug's body. You don't have to paint the bottom, but do make sure you paint around the sides so that no unpainted area shows when it is sitting naturally. Don't worry about getting a super even coat of yellow paint. This coat is only meant to help the red coat pop. If you don't have yellow, you can use white.

Note: This first coat of paint won't go on as smooth as the next one.

Most bottled craft acrylics will have just the right creamy consistency. You should not have to thin the paint. If you are using tube acrylics and they are very thick, you might have to thin them with a little water or acrylic painting medium.

Tips for Success

  • Don't aim for perfection: In the photo above, the ladybug on the right is upside down with its head towards the camera. As you can see, I'm not that neat about this coat of paint and I rarely paint the bottoms of my rocks.
  • The pencil line is meant as a guide: Don't stress about your pencil line; just paint right up to it or slightly over it. You can even things out when you paint the head black.
  • Take Care of Your Brushes: If you are using a water basin with a brush rest, you can just put your brush there while this coat of paint dries. If using a jar, you should wash your brush so it's not standing in the jar on its bristles for a long time. Always keep your brush in water when you are not painting. If the paint dries up in the bristles, it will ruin your brush.
  • Don't (accidentally) dilute the paint: Wipe the excess water out of the bristles when you are ready to paint again so you don't dilute the paint.
These ladybugs are each painted with a combination of different colors.

These ladybugs are each painted with a combination of different colors.

3. Apply the Second Coat: Red

How long it takes for the paint to dry depends on a lot of factors, such as how thick you painted, how much water is in the paint, the brand of paint, and how dry the air is. When the yellow paint is dry, go over the same area with your red paint. Since I paint a lot of ladybugs for sale, I do vary the colors a little. For instance, in the photo above, I used (from left to right) red, magenta, and orange with a little magenta mixed in.

Starting from the head, paint a fine line down the middle of the rock to emulate wings.

Starting from the head, paint a fine line down the middle of the rock to emulate wings.

4. Add the Head and Wing Details

When the red paint has dried, paint your ladybug's head black. This is your opportunity to refine the shape of the head. Once you have finished, it's time to paint a line down your ladybug rock's back to emulate where its wings divide.

Steps to the Perfect Pair of Wings

  1. First, dip your liner brush in water and go to the edge of your puddle of black paint.
  2. With a circular motion, start drawing some paint out of the puddle and mixing it with the water in your brush. You will probably have to go and get more water several times. You want to make a little puddle of paint that is inky or just a little thicker than water.
  3. When it seems to have the right consistency, stroke the brush through the paint and draw it out to the side while you roll the brush handle between your fingers. This helps draw the bristles down to a fine point.
I see spots! For this step, you will use an eraser or paintbrush handle dipped in paint.

I see spots! For this step, you will use an eraser or paintbrush handle dipped in paint.

5. Embellish the Rock With Black Spots

When the black paint has dried, it's time to put the spots on your ladybug's back. I usually use an odd number like 3 or 5 on each side depending on how big the stone is. To start dotting:

  1. Take a new pencil and dip the eraser straight down into the black paint and dot your dots. You will probably need to dip it again between each dot to keep them all the same size.
  2. Be sure to wash the paint off the brush handle or eraser when you are done.

Note: When making a really tiny ladybug, use the end of a small paintbrush handle to make really small spots.

Finished Ladybug Rocks

Finished Ladybug Rocks

6. Give That Bug a Personality

When the black spots are dry, dip your eraser into white paint and give your ladybug two eyes.

I use the end of a brush handle to add a small black dot to the eyes. Where you position the eyes will help give your ladybug an expression. Use your liner brush and thin out some of your white paint like you did the black and give your ladybug some more personality. I often add eyebrows, a mouth, and maybe some long eyelashes. With the batch pictured, I gave one a handlebar mustache. I try to make each one unique.

The Book That Started It All!

Thanks for reading, and I hope your finished product came out just as you envisioned. Let me know if there is another rock painting tutorial you would like!

Questions & Answers

Question: How do I paint houses, gardens, and/or landscaping on rocks?

Answer: Check your local library or Amazon for rock painting books by Lin Wellford. She gives very simple and easy to follow instructions for all of those subjects.

Did You Like This Free Tutorial?

Paula on May 03, 2020:

Thank you! I learned so much!

Julie Dugan on June 29, 2019:

I enjoyed the tutorials

Donna Green on May 14, 2019:

Liked the ideas Thank You

Arturo on April 16, 2019:

Thanks a lot for the instructions. I'm in México and l'm going to try it with my three years old grandaughter.

Rita on March 16, 2019:

Thank you for the step-by-step easy instructions. I really appreciate the recommendations on paint !

Marsha on August 21, 2018:

Thank you, this was a fun project for the grandchildren. They proudly put them in their garden at home.

CandyAPPLE on April 11, 2018:

I have been painting rocks for some time now and have even used larger triangular shaped rocks to look like a cluster of grapes. That was my first attempt and it turned out rather well. Of course, you can make anything - I have even painted one to look like a piece of bread and jam. lol

Grace on August 18, 2017:

I use a little bit of water to my tip of brush it makes the lines go smoother ive made alot of mistakes but ive made some good ones trial and error I just started painting rocks for a month and getting better I'am 60 yeaŕs old they my kids told me to find a hobby and I found one wish me luck

Mona Stewart on July 13, 2017:

This is very helpful.

Donna Blake on July 09, 2017:

Loved this, someone who helps a person. You explain it well.

Asha Shah on December 04, 2016:

Wow !!! I love it. I am going to give it a try. Wonderfully written -a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing it.

ina visagie on April 12, 2015:

Lovely

anonymous on May 04, 2013:

Thank you! Great tutorial for me and my kids. Since it started snowing (in May!) here in Alaska today I was wondering what to do with them with the kiddos inside today. This is my answer! We are going to make them for teacher appreciateion day on Tuesday for each ones teacher!! Thanks again!! :)

anonymous on November 19, 2012:

Very cool thanks

rawwwwwws lm on August 25, 2012:

Very cute lady bug rocks. Thank you so much for sharing how to paint such adorable little lady bug rocks.

Sharyn Read from ... either in the kitchen or at my laptop... on June 05, 2012:

I LOVE your puddy cat! Great tutorial, I enjoyed your lens! :)

anonymous on May 25, 2012:

Thanks for these ideas will try them very soon

anonymous on March 27, 2012:

My daughter and granddaughter love ladybugs, so I will give this a try. Many thanks!

Thrinsdream on March 12, 2012:

I LOVE THIS!!! I want a garden full of these by the end of the summer, game on! With thanks and appreciation, one happy Cathi x

michaelprosper on March 06, 2012:

Very good!

Tiggered on January 02, 2012:

Fantastic way of transforming pebbles! I live right next to a pebble beach so.... Happy New Year

Godsgraciousgift on December 27, 2011:

The ladybug rocks are cute.

darciefrench lm on December 12, 2011:

This page is the meaning of cute and original :) An idea might be to paint rocks and take pictures for your intro pics on lenses. For instance, you could make an Italian potato rock or a bowl of soup rock for your soup lens :)

GabrielaFargasch on November 28, 2011:

I want some ladybug rocks!!! I love ladybugs!! Wow!!

poutine on November 26, 2011:

Wonderful free tutorial.

poutine on November 26, 2011:

Wonderful free tutorial.

Loraine Brummer from Hartington, Nebraska on November 12, 2011:

Fun idea. Will have to try this.

hysongdesigns (author) on October 31, 2011:

@nightbear lm: Thank you so much for the blessing!

hysongdesigns (author) on October 31, 2011:

@ColorPetGifts: Thank you! Your support is appreciated!

nightbear lm on October 31, 2011:

What a great page and how fun! A great craft for adults too, not just kids. Blessed!

ColorPetGifts on October 31, 2011:

This is the most adorable craft, I will have to try it with my daughter. These ladybugs on stones are the cutest ever. Blessed :)

marsha32 on October 28, 2011:

they are so cute! We love ladybugs here. The kids would have a great time painting these.

Ruthi on October 28, 2011:

Your ladybug rocks are delightfully done! I want a whole family of them! But, I have no time for painting rocks. Great tutorial on rock painting.

hysongdesigns (author) on October 26, 2011:

@WildFacesGallery: Your blessing is much appreciated!

hysongdesigns (author) on October 26, 2011:

@Craftymarie: Thank you so much for your blessing!

Marie on October 25, 2011:

This is an excellent step by step tutorial in which you outline everything that is needed and how to paint the ladybugs. I love all the photos you've included. Would love to see you do more of this type of instructional / how to lens because you're good at it.

I have awarded you my first blessing :)

Mona from Iowa on October 21, 2011:

This is a wonderfully done tutorial. Blessed by a Fine Arts Angel.

PhotographyTK on October 20, 2011:

Very neat tutorial!