Abstract In this paper, a novel micro-dent array fabrication technique called net mask laser shock processing (NMLSP) was proposed. Micro-dent arrays were successfully fabricated on the surface of ANSI 304 stainless steel. The research goals of this paper are to find out the influence of processing parameters on the surface topography, microhardness and residual stress distribution of treated samples. A new method was proposed to measure the microhardness of unregularly curved surface. This method can be adapted to measure any type of surface with high precision. Results showed that the surface topography and the microhardness-distribution were different from previous studies. These were because the interference of neighboring surface shock waves. Compressive residual stress was found on the curved surface although the treated region was masked. However, it did not be saturated as regular laser shock processing (LSP) treatment after five NMLSP impacts.