How to Paint Pebbles

Whether you’re in the classroom or staying at home, painting pebbles is a fun, engaging craft that you can do just about anywhere! First, use soap and water to clean off any dirt and grime from the rocks. Once you’ve used sandpaper to buff away any rough edges, use a pencil and some scrap paper to plan out the design for your beautiful pebble. With some paint and varnish, you can create a masterpiece on any size pebble!


[Edit]Drawing Your Design

  1. Wash and dry the pebbles to remove any dirt. Find a variety of smooth stones outside and bring them to your sink. Squeeze a pea-sized amount of dish soap onto a soaked sponge, and lightly scrub all of the pebbles. As you clean, focus on getting rid of any dirt and filth on the stones. Once you’ve washed the pebbles, lay them on a towel or other clean surface to let them dry.[1]

    • If you’re in a rush, feel free to dry off the stones individually.
    • Any kind of soap will work to clean the pebbles.
    • If you’d prefer to save time, consider buying smooth stones at a craft store.
  2. Sand down any rough pebbles with 100-, 150-, and 220-grit sandpaper. Take a piece of 100-grit sandpaper and rub over any harsh, jagged edges on the pebble. Start with a coarse sheet of sandpaper, then work your way down to 220-grit. Continue rubbing down the pebbles until the entire surface is smooth.[2]

    • It can be difficult to paint over a rough, uneven surface. Try to get the pebbles as smooth as possible to save yourself some trouble later on.
  3. Pick a design for your pebble. Think about what the pebbles will be used for after they’re painted. Are you looking to make creative labels for your garden, or fun home decorations? Depending on your intended purpose, you might want to pick a design concept that’s on the simpler side.[3]
    Paint Pebbles Step 3.jpg
    • For instance, if you’re creating labels for your garden, you might want to paint the stone a solid color, then paint a specific word over that backdrop.
    • Create fun number and letter counters by painting the surface of the rock with black paint, then labeling it in white.
    • You might paint a decorative pebble with a ladybug design, or some other natural motif.
  4. Draw out your design idea on a piece of scrap paper. Use pencil to sketch your basic concept. Don’t worry about the drawing being perfect—instead, focus on fleshing out different ideas until you have the perfect design for your pebble. [4]
    Paint Pebbles Step 4.jpg
    • Don’t feel like you have to commit to a single idea! Draw as many different designs as you want.
  5. Use pencil to sketch this design on the pebble. Trace or freely draw your chosen artwork onto the pebble. Try to keep your lines as smooth as possible, so you’ll have an easier time tracing over and filling in the design with paint. If you mess up the pencil sketch at any point, simply draw over it—the old pencil etchings won’t be visible beneath the dried paint.[5]

    • If you’re confident in your art skills, don’t worry about tracing on the design ahead of time.

[Edit]Applying the Paint

  1. Fill in the large, solid-colored portions of the design with acrylic paint. Take a thin paintbrush and dip it into a small well of acrylic paint. Use swift, smooth motions to spread the paint over the pebble’s surface. Focus on the background elements of the design first, like the backdrop color.[6]

    • If you’re working with a more complex design, paint from back to front. For instance, if you’re painting a tree in front of a sunset, make sure to fill in the colors of the sky before painting in the tree.
    • Acrylic paint is an easy and inexpensive paint to use. If you accidentally spill some paint on your clothes or carpet, you can easily blot it away with dish soap![7]
  2. Dry off the paint with a blow dryer. Plug in a hair dryer and turn it on low heat. Move the dryer back and forth over the painted surface of the stone, applying even amounts of heat to the paint. Continue moving the hair dryer over the painted pebble until the surface looks and feels dry.[8]
    Paint Pebbles Step 7.jpg
    • If you aren’t in a rush, feel free to set the pebbles aside and let them air-dry. Check on the stones once every hour or so to see if they’re dry.
  3. Use thin, tapered paint brushes to add intricate details. Take a thin, tapered brush and dip it into the acrylic paint color of your choice. With short, careful movements, outline the finer details of the design on your painted pebble. Clean off the brush in between uses whenever you dip into a new color.[9]

    • If your pebble’s artwork has multiple layers, be sure to use a blow dryer to dry off the surface.
  4. Add artistic flair to your pebbles with chalk crayons and markers. Use a chalk crayon or marker to sketch or color in other elements of your design. Check that the base layer of paint is completely dry before you use any chalk markers or crayons.[10]

    • Chalk markers and crayons are great ways to add lighter, pastel tones to your painted pebble. As the name suggests, they also look like chalk when applied to a surface.
  5. Outline sections of dried paint with a thin black pen. Add extra detail to your painted pebble by highlighting important parts of the design. If you’d like to give your painted pebble a crisp, professional look, try outlining important elements of your art in pen. Make sure that all layers of paint are dry before you add any line work to the design.[11]

    • These pens are especially useful for complex art designs.
    • For example, if you’re painting a heart onto your pebble, you might want to outline the heart in pen.

[Edit]Sealing the Finished Art

  1. Dip a clean paintbrush into some clear glue or varnish. Take a thin brush and coat it completely with clear varnish, sealant, or PVA glue. Choose a clear product to use for the sealing process, so your beautiful pebble artwork will be protected! [12]

    • You can find clear sealants and glue at any hardware or home improvement store.
  2. Apply a thin layer of varnish over the dried pebble. Brush on the clear product in smooth, even strokes. Focus on covering the entire painted surface of the pebble. Don’t worry about painting the back surface of the stone—you only need to protect the painted areas.[13]

    • One layer of varnish or sealant should do the trick. If you’d like your painted pebble to be extra protected, consider applying a second coat.
  3. Use a spray sealant if you’d prefer more coverage. Save yourself some preparation time by spraying the sealant onto your painted pebble. Look for products at your local hardware or home improvement store that come in a spray canister. You can make your clear top coat look a lot smoother and more even with this kind of product.[14]

    • Whenever you use spray-on paint products, be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.
  4. Wait for the sealant layer to dry completely. Leave your painted, sealed pebbles on a flat, open surface. Let the stones dry for several hours, checking on them periodically to see if the pebbles’ surface looks dry. If the varnish feels dry after you lightly tap it, then the pebbles are ready to be displayed![15]
    Paint Pebbles Step 14.jpg

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

  • Pebbles
  • Scrap paper
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Blow dryer (optional)
  • Chalk crayons (optional)
  • Chalk markers (optional)
  • Thin black pen
  • Clear glue or sealant
  • Spray sealant (optional)