I draw all of my mandalas by hand, but before diving in with ink I start by drawing a light pencil sketch. That way I can make sure the mantra fits in the center of the mandala and that the design comes together in an appealing way.
I draw the mandalas at the size at which they are on the greeting card, so the mandala is not drawn large and shrunk down to fit. When you see small orbs they were drawn at that size.
I do not ever trace my patterns. They are all drawn by hand, mistakes and all. In fact, I contemplated creating the designs in Illustrator and making them "perfect" but I ultimately decided that the mandalas represent us - perfectly imperfect.
Once I'm ready to print a design I scan my design into Photoshop to ensure there is good contrast. I'll adjust the contrast if necessary and then import it to Illustrator. In Illustrator my drawing becomes a clean black and white vector. I also add some subtle color and gradients. Once that is complete I save the image at 300 dpi and send it off to the printer to be professionally printed.
The early stages of my "Worthy" design