DIY painted rock dogs are a simple fun craft on their own, but also super cute way to make your own homemade dog tic tac toe set. When I was painting my nesting Matryoshka dog dolls, it made me think about how much fun I could have crafting if I lived closer to my nieces, nephews, and friends’ young children. And so the idea for these tic tac toe rocks was born. Instead of being used for hide and seek rocks (which might not be suitable due to COVID or your local park/council rules), these little pups can be played with at home or with friends. Pawfect!
Tic Tac Toe Themes and Teams
My set combines Dalmatians (of course) with a team of golden brown dogs, but you could create a similar set using any breed or colour combination you like as long as the teams are clearly different for play. A dog-themed tic tac toe set could also be created using a set of dogs with a set of bones, paws, or other design. Or perhaps a team of competitive cats. Your imagination is the limit. Remember that you’ll need ten pieces (five on each team) for a nine space tic tac toe game, which maxes out at five and four, depending on who place first.
Making DIY Painted Rock Dogs
Supplies and Materials
To make a similar set of DIY painted dog rocks (or other tic tac toe rock design), you will need
- Small flat-ish smooth rocks
- Pencil (optional) for outlining your designs, not used here
- Markers (optional) for fine details, not used here
Preparing the Dog Rocks:
My rocks came from the purchased landscaping rocks is our home garden. They’re not quite as smooth or as perfect as a beach rock, but they’re readily available and do the trick nicely. Make sure that they’re clean and dry before you start your project.
- Set up a work area in a suitable location and protect your work surfaces.
- Paint the base fur colour(s). I used white and a golden brown for my dogs. Apply recoats per your chosen paint product until you have the desired level of coverage.
Designing Your Dogs:
This is where you get to have a little creative fun. They can be as fancy or as simple as you like, depending on your painting talents, time, and patience. Not sure where to start? Take a look at carton dogs in your favourite breed(s) for inspiration. These flatter and less-detailed style of drawings can help with ideas on how lines, outlines, and colours can be used to create your dog designs. Painting has never been a strength for me (shakey hands and a lack of patience) but it’s still fun! A it can be rather relaxing, too. I used simple features on my dog rocks, with a combination of semi-smiling closed mouths and happy tongues. For added interest and colour, I also used a mix of collars, bow ties, bows, and the tops of bandanas.
Painting Your Dog Designs:
- Optional: If you’re not comfortable with free-painting the faces and features, you can use a pencil to outline your basic design elements.
- Use the shape of your rocks to help you choose the placement and shape/sizes of features.
- Working incrementally with drying time in between coats and colour changes, add your design elements. Because we’re layering, I started with the main facial features as shown in the collage above. Then I added the starting elements for big embellishments, like eyes, ears, and spots. Then I slowly added the finer details and accents.
- When ready, topcoat with a compatible sealer or varnish (optional). My dogs are not coated.
- Allow the paint (and topcoat if used) to dry and harden thoroughly before playing or storage.
I used shading in only a few places on my dogs. Most of the painting is as unblended colour, although the inclusion of a few metallic paints really helps to add interest and dimension. It’s hard to see in the photos, but my golden puppers have a light wash of shimmery gold on their ears for added dimension as well. I have to confess that as much as I’m partial to Dalmatians, I really love the cute golden dog rocks. The faces pop in such a different way to the on-white and high black/white contrast of the Dalmatians.
Tic Tac Toe Boards
If you’d like to DIY a complete game set, you can make a painted tic tac tie board that can be used indoors and/or outdoors. As a simple stand in (and a very easy-to-store option) strips of ribbon can be used to make the board as shown in some of the photos above. They cab ne stored in a container or drawstring bag with your painted pieces for quick and easy use. Or you can just go old school with some temporary lines drawn in the dirt or a board drawn with sidewalk chalk.
Playing Dog Rock Tic Tac Toe
The ever obliging Humphrey played me in a few games (haha!) for photos and treats, but of course these rocks aren’t meant for people and not pups. Take care with small children or curious canines. We wouldn’t want anyone trying to eat their toys – whether people or pups.
The two teams of painted dog rocks work the same way as conventional pieces or drawn letters for tic tac toe (aka naughts and crosses, Xs and Os). There are a finite number of possible play scenarios for tic tac toe, so it’s best played when it’s just for fun and/or with young players. Although if you’re really hard core on winning, you can play using those solved game strategies and moves, just like checkers or Chess on a mini scale. And how fun would a full painted set of those games might be in dog form? Hmmm… Maybe someday!
A Pawnote on Other Uses of Painted Rocks
Our DIY painted dog rocks were made for home play, but if you’re looking at this DIY as painting inspiration for making hide-and-seek rocks or kindness rocks, a few extra pawnotes apply. Remember to check the rules of your local park or council first. As much fun as hunting for painted rocks can be, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. Many parks and natural spaces actively discourage leaving any traces behind and that includes painted rock, stacked cairn, or other interference. They also discourage taking any treasures with you, and that includes rocks for painting. In other places, placing or looking for painted rocks might not be respectful for the spirit of the site or other visitors, including memorials, cemeteries, monuments, and other sensitive locations. Consider the whole cycle of the rocks in the community, and consider using non-toxic / non-plastic paint products for extra environmental care. Woofs and have fun!