How to do Tanjore Painting



Tanjore Painting is a very ancient type of painting. I would suggest you to learn this art through a proper teacher. But still for those who are interested in doing Tanjore painting the following steps you can follow. Not necessary the out come should be exactly the same that’s the reason i am suggesting you to find a local tutor but for those who aren’t able to find a local tutor and still have an yearning to learn this ancient craft can try following the method I have given. It takes lot of effort and time to learn this art but its worth all the effort and time.

What are the materials required?

Plywood above 6 mm thickness.
White cotton cloth
Chalk power.
Flat Brush (above 3″ width).
Sand Paper (emery sheet).
Arabic Gum.
Coloured Jaipur Stones.
Gold foil
Poster Colors.
Rounded Brushes (000, 0, 2, 4, 6,8)
Black Pen.
Multi colours transparent ink.
Cutter, Ruler, Yellow carbon paper, pencil.
Reference art to trace

What next ?

The process is divided into:

How to prepare Canvas ?
Next you have to trace the design
Sculptural Stage
Decorating Stage
Improvise Stage
Finally painting

How to prepare Canvas?

Step 1: Take a clean cotton cloth.(Cloth size should be wider than the plywood at least 1 inch in all the sides. If your plywood size is 14 x 18 inches
then your cloth should be wider than 16 x 20 inches)

Step 2: Take the Plywood and soften the edges with sand paper.

Step 3: Now let us prepare the first paste for pasting the cloth on the Plywood. Ratio – Water:Fevicol – 4:1

Step 4: Filter the paste by coffee filter & Immerse cotton cloth in it for few minutes.

Step 5: Now Lift wet cotton cloth from the first paste, rinse the cloth gently. Hold it for a while so that extra paste to get drained.

Step 6: Now spread, wet cloth on top of the plywood and wipe the cloth gently from centre to edge horizontally & fold extra cloth to the other side.

Step 7: Pull the folded extra cloth for wrinkle free surface in the front side and paste backside cloth strongly with fevicol only.Keep the wet canvas to dry on the newspaper for couple of hours.

Step 8: Lets prepare the second paste for layering the canvas for this Make a paste of ratio Chalk powder: Water: Fevicol – 2: 1: 1

Step 9: Take a clean wide flat brush (preferred size is 2-3 inch brush) Apply the second paste on the canvas horizontally and leave it for 10-15 minutes to dry. Then go for applying vertically. Repeat the same until completion of the layering paste. Leave it to dry in shade for one day.

Step 10: Now take a piece of emery paper, and fold that as a longer stripe. Gently rub the canvas circularly. This is done for smooth even surface.Clean it with a dry flat brush.

Now the canvas is ready for Tanjore painting. If you want a glassy look you can add some portion of Arabic gum with the layering gum (step 3) itself.

Next step Tracing of design

Step 1: First Choose a design

Step 2: Now trace the design using yellow carbon paper on the canvas. Do not trace the image in detail. For example while tracing the ornaments just trace the outlines only. Not in details of the shapes. The trace is for only the judgment of the area of the decorative areas and shapes of the figure. Care should be taken at this stage to provide a margin recess on all the four sides of the board to accommodate the frame, once the painting is completed

Sculptural Stage

Step 1: By using round/flat brush, apply a smooth layer of embossing gum in the decorative areas. The ratio of embossing layer is

Ratio – Arabic Gum: Chalk powder : fevicol – 1:2:1.
Once this is done leave the Canvas with Emboss effort to get for more than a day.

Step 2: If you want more embossment for certain area repeat the above process.

Step 3: Now mark the correct places using a pencil/pen to paste the stones & pearls.

After the exact confirmation of the location for Stones & pearls, Mix Few dropsof fecivol with some water. Stick the stones starting with bigger stones first.

Leave it to get fix for a day.

Decorating Stage

Step 1: To get a smooth effect on the glittering area of the tanjore art. You need to apply one more layer of embossing gum over the stones/pearls.

Step 2: Wait for one hour. Now pick a bowl of water & cotton. Dip a piece of cotton in the water, and squeeze it to remove extra water.

Step 3: Now with the wet cotton, gently rub circular manner on the embossed area.

Step 4: Keep in mind that you need to maintain the neatness on the painting area too.

Improvise Stage of the Tanjore Art

Step 1: Mark the design with the help of Ball-point pen over embossed area.

Step 2:
In a cone fill a mixture which contains Arabic Gum : Chalk powder : fevicol in ratio of – 2:2:1/2

Step 3: Carefully do cone work in filling area (like side corner / pillar) with good traditional design. Also give boundaries to the stones and pearls with the help of the cone. And let it dry.

Step 4: Now cut a gold foil sheet from the Gold foil booklet. Place the gold foil sheet over the design and mark an edge impression with your thumb for approximate shape.

Step 5: Cut the require shape of gold foil by leaving 3 to 4 mm extra on all the sizes of the require shape.

Step 6: Apply glue (fevicol with water mixture) to the back side of the gold foil & place over design area.

Step 7: Remove gold foil pasted over stones in tanjavur painting. For this Groove the shape with Safety-pin gently. Just apply wet brush in the centre of stone.
Use safety-pin to remove the soften wet gold foil. You can use johnson buds instead of brush. Shape of the stone can be adjust using safety-pin itself

The final stage of Painting:

Now paint the figures and background carefully with poster colours . The painting is normally done using white colour for the key figure and slightly shading it with blue or the normal body colour. The depiction is normally static and the painting does not reflect any action or movement. The usage of the background colours is mostly striking – it is a dark hue of red, blue or green. The paintings are characterized by pillars and curtains in the side, and some smaller compartmentalization at the bottom or top to accommodate small figures.


  1. thank you. its very interesting and the ratio given is also a very useful tip to the beginners like me though i have learnt this art twice from the teachers.

  2. oooohhhh… Amazing…Thanks a ton for sharing it so wonderfully.. I will try out & let you know how it comes out…This was the only painting I havent yet tried because whenever I used to to look at the painting I felt this is not my cup of tea…Now I guess I will have to start it

  3. Thanks for the detailed instructions. What otherwise seems very complicated has been made simple by you. I don’t know if I will do the entire painting, but the board preparation seems very useful for other wall hangings too. Any idea of its uses for other then Tanjore paintings? Also what is Arabic gum? Thanks and all the best.

    • hi, niru. check the craft videos section you can see how to do Tanjore painting videos. Cone is used in places where you want embossed effect. Once that done you past gold foil on the places. Flat brush = its flat so you use for large surface. Round is for border and thin outlines.

  4. Hi
    You are totally inspiring. I have started one just because of you. My embossing get cracked though. Any suggestions?.



  5. Hi
    Your work is superbly neat and beautiful. Could you tell me where to get Jaipur glass stones in Jaipur?
    Manju Khetawat

  6. This Tanjor paintings attracted me………and i am also planning to start……….this type of painting i havn’t tried before….i will have try……and i will let you know what’s the output.

  7. Hai,
    Your teaching is legible and clear cut.I m very thankful to u.The picture of the painting is beautiful especially the eyes of krishna is very lively and lovely.

  8. hi

    The tanjore painting is very beautiful.keep up the good work madhavi.
    then can u please tell me a good framing shop in bangalore.
    i have one near my home but he does not have much variety and also I feel that he is very expensive.I want a framing shop for framing tanjore paintings mainly.
    It would be great if u can help

    • Hi Gayatri, where do u stay in bangalore? There are lot of shops in Thipsandra. They do very neat work, just you need to bargain and if you become a regular visitor he gives a discount. Also there is a shop in Marthahalli, Patrick, my friend gives all her work for framing there, even he is good.

  9. thanks madhavi

    I live in ramamurthy nagar.but shops in thippasandra is ok for me.if u could mention the name of few good framing shops in thippasandra or indra nagar .I can go directly and enquire.

    • I dont exactly remember the names….one was Balaji.. give me a day or two i should be goin, will check and give u the address.

  10. Hi Madhavi,
    First time here and you have a great blog. I will be a regular visitor for sure as I am very interested in arts and crafts and learning Tanjore painting is my dream….

  11. Hi Madhavi,

    That’s a beautiful blog!
    I love tanjore painting and have started one. Can anyone help – where I can learn tanjore painting in Ramamurthy Nagar – B’lore.


  12. Hi All,

    Can any body tell me where to find the materials in Bangalore. Are they available in Thipsandara especially the gold foil. Also is there a replacement available for gold foil may be synthetic gold foil or smething just for beginers, if so, where can i get the same?

  13. Step 1: To get a smooth effect on the glittering area of the tanjore art. You need to apply one more layer of embossing gum over the stones/pearls.

    I am not able to understand this step under the decorating stage of tanjore art.

    kindly please help!

  14. hey having one problem… i have one problem i cnt make proper micture for filling the ornaments… cn u help??? plz… get bk asap…

  15. hai madhavi
    very beautiful works
    i have been a regular visitor to the site and enjoy my self knowing about different arts and crafts
    very interesting
    thank you

  16. can any body help me in giving address where I can get the calender/post card size photos of tanjore paintings in bangalore

  17. Hi madhavi
    The tanjore painting looks awesome !So how did u do the tree and the color effect in the painting,what foil have you used for the tree ,please let me know! Its too good and I can see how neat the painting has come .
    Its a masterpiece for sure :)
    so please do upload the tracing design ,it will be great !
    Mahima Karthik

  18. Hi Madhavi,

    Can anyone tell me where I can buy gold foil in Indira Nagar / Thipsandara in b’lore or around that area… Urgent pls.


  19. Madhavi,
    The talented girl!
    Your tanjore art is great. I get cracks when i do the emboss work, like dhoti /saree . any suggestions reg. thickness of paste … how much water ?

  20. I was interested in getting a Tanjore painting made of Vishwaroopa.
    It is quite intricate.
    I have a >jpeg image of the same and i can send it to you if i can have your email id
    Any idea who can do it for me in Bangalore preferably Jayanagar area


  21. Hello madhavi.Your paintings…very exelent.Its a god gift for U.Thanks for sharing with one&all.It was a big dream for me to paint the tanjore painting,since long ago.But now-after reading Ur very brief explanation i think my dream is going to fulfill now.thank Uvery much.

  22. Hi Madhivi, I say very very good your Tanjoure paintings and metherds , your expleneation is very useful . Thanks. C.Anandan, Good Shepherd International School ,Ootacamund, India.

  23. hi i have not understood this step ,could u explain me what is coffee filter? Step 4: Filter the paste by coffee filter & Immerse cotton cloth in it for few minutes.

  24. Hi,
    Very neat and nice work keep it up !!!
    I am looking for ashtalaxmi design/tracing (either seperate or clubbed together in 1 frame)
    I request u to email me if u have one else if u know from where i can get the designs please let me know ASAP.
    Thank u.

  25. Hi Madhavi,

    Can you please upload a video on how to paint a figure in tangore painting. Because thats the very critical part for me where i cant able to choose colours. I dont know how to mix colours too. It would be ver helpful if u share ur video.


  26. It’s really very good description by you, thanks a lot. One thing I hAve to ask about God’s dresses, how to colour them with transperent ink , what is it. Is it do after gold foiling. For greenish golden look.pls tell me.

  27. Hi madhavi
    Nice work..
    Can you explain hw to use the photo colors
    Even if I apply photo Color it’s not staying.. is der any trick to do dat? Please help


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