5 Little Monsters: Rock Painting

Rock Painting

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It is time for another Summer Camp Craft Saturday! This is the second of 9 weeks of summer camp crafts, and we are painting rocks.

Last week, for week 1, we made friendship bracelets because I felt like that is one of the most common crafts to have made at summer camps, and I feel like painted rocks are right up there. I mean, who hasn't painted a rock at some point. 

In fact, I kind of felt weird writing this post and making the video because it is just painting rocks, not really something that needs a long drawn out tutorial. I went back and forth on how exactly I wanted to do it, whether I should make a specific design and show how to recreate it, or just a more general rock painting tips and tricks type tutorial. In the end I decided to go the more general tips and tricks and route. 

One of my favorite things about rock painting is the fact that it is fun for all ages, from adults, to teens, to little kids, it is fun to see what everyone comes up with. This is one of those projects that as soon as I started it I had lots of little helpers joining in. Everyone wanted a turn to paint a rock or two. 

How to Make Painted Rocks

You will need:

  • rocks
  • acrylic paint, paint pens, or markers
  • paintbrushes if using paints



Let's start with the rocks.

When looking for rocks to paint you want smooth rocks, I like to use rocks that are on the smaller side, probably about 2"-4" maybe up to about 6", but that is really personal preference. 

You can obviously find rocks outside to paint. I have an area on the side of my house where the ground is really rocky and we can usually find a few good rocks there, but a lot of them are pretty rough and broken so we have to pick through them to find the best ones. 

If you don't have somewhere to pick up rocks outside there are a couple other options. First purchase some landscaping rocks. You can get these from landscaping or home improvement stores. I picked up a bag from Lowes for pretty cheap that had a lot of rocks. 

Another option is Amazon or other online retailers. On Amazon you can find rocks specifically sold for painting, they are smooth and round and flat, perfect for painting. But you will be paying for that. This is definitely the most expensive route to go when getting rocks to paint. When I bought some this way they were probably 2-3 times the cost of the rocks I got at Lowes for a lot less rocks. It just comes down to convenience or cost and which is more important to you. 


Again, there are a few different options for paints that you can use when painting rocks and they each have some pros and cons. The ones I like to use are:

Acrylic Craft Paints

These are one of my favorite options for a couple of reasons. There is a huge variety of colors. They are pretty inexpensive. And chances are if you are a crafter you probably have a box full that you have collected for different projects. If that is the case and you find rocks in your backyard than painted rocks can be a completely free project. Paints can also be blended in ways that the other options on my list can't, you can blend colors to give you an ombre or gradient effect, you can do shading , or you can do paint pouring, as a couple of examples. 

The downside of paints is that they can be a little bit messy, especially if you are painting with kids. You will need paintbrushes, palettes, and water in addition to the paints. 

Paint Pens

Another good option is using paint pens. Paint pens are great because they can give you really good coverage with less mess and more control than paints and a paintbrush. I think paint pens are a really great option with kids because they are so much less messy. You don't have gloppy paint and dirty paintbrushes everywhere. It is all kind of just built into the pen. 

The biggest downside to paint pens in my opinion is that they are definitely pricier than paints, they don't last as long, and you probably won't have as many color options. I have a box that I got on sale a long time ago on Amazon that was a 24 pack, but most of the packs I saw had a lot fewer pens and were more expensive. Also after a couple of times of using them some of the colors are already running out. Bottles of paint seem to last quite a bit longer. 


Another option instead of using paint is to use Sharpie markers to draw designs on the rocks. This is similar to the paint pens as far as the less messy and more control part, however this is definitely my least favorite option. You don't get the same coverage that you get with the paint or paint pens. It is more transparent, you can see the rock through the color. I just feel like it doesn't look quite as good, but it is definitely doable.

But, I do think there is a place for Sharpies in rock painting. My favorite way to use them is to combine them with paint. You can use them to write on the rock after you have painted it. Metallic Sharpies work really great for adding a little shiny element to your rock. 


A few different techniques you can try when painting your rocks are:

Just painting the design you want and leave the rest of the rock plain. For example, if you want to paint a heart, you just paint the heart and the area around the heart is just plain rock.

Doing a base coat over the whole rock. For this option you would paint the entire rock one color and then paint the design on top in another color. 

And last you can paint a shape on the top of your rock as sort of a canvas to paint your design. Paint an oval or other shape in your background color, similar to the base coat method but instead of paint the whole rock it is just a section. Then paint the design on top of that shape. 

Add details with other paint colors, or combine paints and sharpies to make fun designs. 

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