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How to Draw a Zendoodle

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A zendoodle illustration

A zendoodle illustration

What Is a Zendoodle, Exactly?

A zendoodle is a form of Zentangle-inspired art, or ZIA. It uses elements of, but is not restricted to, the structure of Zentangle. It is very much like the doodles you make when on the phone, or when you were in school doodling in the margins of your composition book. Zendoodles can be black and white (pen and ink), or they can be colored. They can be created on paper or on any other medium, such as walls, shoes, wood, or even quilts.

Zendoodles are as simple or complicated as you want them to be. Many people who start off with Zentangle soon want to expand their skills and so create their own unique style based on the method of filling spaces with tangles (the patterns used in Zentangle).


How to Draw a Zendoodle

If you haven't drawn any Zentangles before, it's a good idea to start by learning the basic structure with a step-by-step Zendoodle, Zentangle How-to guide.

In essence, you create a simple outline in pencil—it can be a few intersecting wavy lines, straight lines criss-crossing randomly, or a more structured geometrical outline. Begin filling in the negative spaces between the lines with tangle patterns using a fine-liner pen. Erase the pencil lines.

Once you have drawn a few Zentangles, start changing things up a little. Maybe you could:

  • Draw a free-form string on a plain sketchbook page.
  • Draw an object, like a face or hands, divide it up and tangle it.
  • Create a 'zendala'—a hybrid zendoodle/mandala. Use a template to draw a circle or download and print a mandala outline from the internet. Fill with tangles.
  • Color in a Zentangle.
  • Make zendoodle borders in your journal or scrapbook.
  • Photocopy zendoodle creations to use again and again as collage pieces.

Click on each photo below to see how to draw a Zentangle.

Where to Get Ideas for Zendoodle Patterns

  • The internet
  • Nature
  • Architecture
  • Fabrics
  • Around the house

You can also find Tangle Patterns for Zentangle and ZIA here on FeltMagnet.

Play with your zendoodles in a photo editing program.

Play with your zendoodles in a photo editing program.

Shading Zendoodles

Like Zentangles, zendoodles drawn on paper look even better with some shading. It's easy to shade tangles: decide which direction the light is coming from and lightly shade the opposite side of your tangles. You can create form and shape by shading— make parts of the drawing pop while other parts recede and become mysterious. Check out this Zentangle shading tutorial.


Coloring Zendoodles

Zendoodles look fabulous with color. You can use watercolor paints, acrylic paint, watercolor pencils, colored pencils, crayon or markers (I recommend Tombow Dual Tip Brush Markers).

You could also try drawing the actual tangles using colored fine-liner pens, such as the Sakura Pigma Microns.

Try turning your zendoodle into a negative image, or use a white pen on black paper.

Try turning your zendoodle into a negative image, or use a white pen on black paper.

More Ideas for Zendoodle

  • Zendoodle a pair of sneakers. T-shirt, a coffee mug. Your bathroom toilet seat. You will need the appropriate pen for the surface you intend to work on.
  • Zendoodle a whole wall. Or just part of a wall—a dado rail height border, or a sweeping pattern up the stairway. Use big markers or you'll be still trying to finish it in two year's time!
  • Plant pots or glass pitchers.
  • Greetings cards and gift tags. Use the recipient's initial.
  • Revamp an Ikea coffee table (search for Ikea hacks).
  • Zendoodle a photo frame.
  • Use a sewing machine to make a zendoodle embroidery.
  • How about painting a silk scarf with tangles?
  • Make a tangle reference grid. Divide a sheet of paper into 1" squares and fill with repetitive patterns. Try to invent new ones.
  • Zendoodle bookmarks as inexpensive gifts. You can do them during the ad breaks when watching TV.

The Zentangle® art form and method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Learn more at

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Bev G

They look complicated - but they're not really!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on December 29, 2015:

Thanks for stopping by, Keino, and for sharing your experience with Zentangle.

Keino Chichester from Brooklyn, NY on December 29, 2015:

A few years ago I got hooked on these types of drawings. I am really good at drawing portraits and landscapes, anything where I have a subject to look at. Although the quality were impressive, I never thought I could make an impressive piece straight from my "mind's eye" until I discovered this style. These kind of drawings really allowed me to dig deep and pull out "good content" if you would, without using a "template". You can really go for hours with this style. Thanks for the share, i'm not contemplating a large piece!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on April 07, 2013:

Thank you, Mark. I love your happy stick people too!

Mark Ewbie from UK on April 07, 2013:

I rarely visit other people's hubs but boy have I been missing out! I love it. The color is great - the repetitive, but not boring, patterning is great, and I love the hands and the "Ragged Edge" addition to the artwork. In short. I love it.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on November 14, 2012:

So glad that you have such happy (and creative) memories of your mother. Happy doodling!

Thecompendium from Somewhere in the USA on November 13, 2012:

I love all things art. I am constantly inspired by the things around me and the emotions they create. With that being said I remember my mother practicing this art form when I was little. I find myself day dreaming about her unique sqiggles while I draw my own pieces. My mother has since passed away so asking her how she did this has passed too. Thank you for these hubs because you have now watered the seeds of her inspiration. I haven't had such a strong desire to doodle in a long time.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on November 04, 2012:

Look at as many as you can and just keep trying. My first one was horrible but they gradually improved.

Janice Pridgen from Bellingham WA on November 04, 2012:

your designs are quite beautiful. I've been trying zentangle every once in a while but haven't quite got the hang of it. any tips?

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 20, 2012:

Keep some paper and a pen near your computer, Natashalh, so when it's doing the pesky restart after updating, you can tangle the minutes away :D Thank you!

Natasha from Hawaii on October 20, 2012:

Your zendoodles are so beautiful! I really want to try this art form, I just haven't found the time yet.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 20, 2012:

Thanks Meg. They are plain black on white in real life - they have appeared on another article, which is why I thought to change the image a bit.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on October 20, 2012:

Those hands are just beautiful!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 19, 2012:

@jellygator - oddly, it didn't strike me as 3 until I turned it round. I think I drew it originally as one turn to the left - an 'M'. It's been published on other pages so I thought I'd revamp it with the blue background. Thank you. x

@tlmcgaa70 - no really, I am not a very good artist. I just like playing with art stuff. If I can do this, so can anyone. Hope you enjoy your doodling!

tlmcgaa70 from south dakota, usa on October 19, 2012:

my fav are the last 2. you are an awesome artist. i never got into doodling, but this inspires me to give it a shot. thank you for the wonderful and informative hub. voted up and more and shared.

jellygator from USA on October 19, 2012:

I love that first image. It reminds me of seashells. Another one reminds me of the number 3, which from reading your explanation is probably exactly what it started out as, but it looks cool as heck now.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 19, 2012:

Gosh, you are fast JB! Thank you and keep doodling! xxx

Judi Brown from UK on October 19, 2012:

Fab, as always. Since I've started reading your hubs I have developed a doodling habit - my work notebook has rather nicely decorated borders and dividers nowadays. Looking forward to trying out some new designs after reading this one. Christmas list is growing as I add supplies.