I like to “prime” my rocks before I start painting them. I find that the colors are brighter and more consistent when you apply a base coat first. I use Sharpie water based pens for intricate areas, and they are available in all sizes. I use the extra fine, fine and medium tips the most.
For larger areas I prime my rocks with a white gesso acrylic. Make sure to paint on smoothly and evenly, let the paint completely dry before starting to paint the rock with colored paints. This makes such a difference to the finished design as it makes the colors really “pop”.
I have made the mistake of buying bags of river rocks from Lowe’s/Home depot in the past. The down side to doing that is the bags are full of odd shapes and sizes and very few of the ideal flat smooth rocks that are perfect for rock painting. I have HUNDREDS of rocks leftover that I cannot use because they are not smooth enough. Now that I have found BasaltCanvas I get the right size and shape every time! There are variations of course, but these rocks are by far the best available.
- 8m – larger flat tip, good for covering larger areas.
- 5m – “bullet” shaped tip, also good for covering slightly larger areas.
- 3m – narrower tip, good for reaching smaller spaces
- 1m – extra fine tip, essential for outlining and narrow areas.
These pens can only be purchased on Amazon, as most art supply stores do not carry them. I recommend purchasing the 1m and 3m sets initially and maybe a couple of extra black and white pens Individually. Some sellers on amazon bundle their pen sets, and you can often get a better deal if you buy more. They are quite expensive, but they last a long time and are definitely worth the investment, especially if you plan on really taking up rock painting as a hobby!
Some people like to use the process of “decoupage” on their rocks, which means you can layer torn pieces of paper/napkins onto the rock and seal with Mod Podge. It’s rather like the process of papier-mache. You can also use mod podge to glue on stickers or vinyl shapes as they stick very firmly and it dries clear and hard. Mod Podge is NOT water proof so you absolutely need to seal your rock in addition to this process.
Spray the rock with a clear acrylic coating to preserve your artwork, I have found Rust-oleum to work very well as it doesn’t chip and is very hard wearing once completely dry. Make sure your artwork is completely dry before using a sealer, and use in a well ventilated area preferably outside.
Important- make sure to cover the surface before you start spraying! Follow the directions on the sealer can! Hold the can about a foot away from the rock, and spray one thin layer, then after it dries you can add a second thin layer. If you stand too close or put on a thick layer, your paint may run or the sealer might drip. Take your time during this process. It’s very tempting to spray too much or too quickly in between coats, your patience at this stage will definitely serve you well!