Drawing on hands using henna (aka mehendi) is no easy feat, even for artists who can handle a pencil or paintbrush pretty well. Henna cones have a different shape that's round at the top and tapers down to a single point at the bottom, so it requires for the artist to somehow press the back of the cone to push henna down to the lower part of the cone while also moving the tip point precisely enough that it makes the shape you want.
This sounds easy in theory, but in practice it can be a bit difficult. As a hopeful henna artist, I've scoped out the internet for the easiest mehendi designs for beginners like me to master and lay the foundation for more complex, beautiful designs down the line. Each design comes with a mehendi 101 tip, so check them out below!
1. Utensils Hack
This hack is used most often with henna stencils which come as stickers you can place anywhere then just fill the henna on top of it. Peel the sticker off carefully after the design has dried a little bit, and you instantly have a gorgeous design!
However, if you're practicing to be able to create these designs free-hand on your own, avoid stencils and instead, turn towards everyday kitchen utensils to help you learn how to create basic shapes and outlines with your henna. For example, in the video below, a flat, slotted spoon may be used to help create dotted outlines for a simple flower design while the edges of a fork can aid in creating interesting lined shapes and even the curvature of flowers and leaves.
While you shouldn't become dependent on the utensils, it helps to have them as a guide when starting out, especially since you can't create a light sketch first like with a pencil.
2. Geometric Shapes
You may not find geometric shapes to be flattering at first, especially if you have childhood memories of parents just drawing some lines or random shapes on your hand for Eid, but if layered, simple shapes like squares, triangles and even lines can look edgy and chic in mehendi. They key is to alternate the textured appearance of a stack of shapes and lines.
In the image below, the lines on the fingers are varied in weight (how heavy they appear) by alternating thick straight lines with zig zag thin lines and using dots and rounded curves to soften the overall look and section in between segments. This look appears classy if done with a light hand and focus on symmetry, which is an important skill for every henna artist to develop early on.
3. Flowers Galore
If you've seen your fair share of mehendi designs, then it goes without saying that it seems like 90 percent of henna designs are built on and center around flowers. While the flowers come in a variety of shapes and detail, the three most basic are the flowers with rounded petals and those with sharper, curved edges and finally, the square edged petals. From the basic three are born a variety of two dimensional petal designs, such as this one below.
To those who aren't familiar with this design, a paisley is essentially a curved feather shape that can then be filled in. The curvature of the shape also allows for other lines shaped as vines, leaves and flowers to extend from it naturally in a pleasing, aesthetic look. The key tip is to start from the top, and make a curled point from which the rest of the paisley's body extends, as shown in the video below.
5. Dotted Lines
These lines are a level up from the generic straight line you should be able to master early on. They are classy, timeless and a key detail to pick up on that will save you from a brain freeze when faced with random empty space found in between designs.
While this appears to be an advanced skill, it's just one that's mastered with time and sharpens your instinct of when to put which design (for layering purposes), how to make the overall design appear symmetrical and how to make even the simplest techniques look complex and gorgeous. This lattice design is also called the lace look or criss cross lines. In between where the lines intersect, you can place dots or small flowers.
Note: the video below has music in it.
7. Accent Marks
Though this isn't the official name for these designs, I call them accent marks because of the little oomph and swish they add to the overall design and help to fill up empty space. Accent marks can be anything small, from the classic three stacked dots at the end of a major design to mini lines in a star burst shape to take up space on the tips of fingers. Small leaves can also fall into this category. The image below uses a leaf design that appears Grecian and is often the perfect medium-sized accent mark to place around band designs or near flowers.
If you put all these designs together, with time and practice, you can create a design like in the cover photo of this article and eventually move onto more complex, unique designs you come up with along the way!