Curved paths and vertex painting

I’m trying to create a convincing zen garden pattern in my scene, and I’m trying to figure out how to achieve the “ripples” around rocks and such. I’m sure vertex painting is the way to go, but in terms of drawing curved sections of it I’m clueless. Anybody else know how I might go about this?

(Zen garden pattern example)

doing it through vertex painting could very well be more trouble than it’s worth. have you considered using decals for this? they could just be attached to a rock blueprint so you can place them together with the rocks.