How to Create a Zentangle or Zendoodle
Creating a Zentangle or Zendoodle Step-by-Step
An Active Meditation
Zentangles or Zendoodles — the terms are pretty much interchangeable — are abstract drawings created with pen and ink. These drawings are created from sections of patterns, often called 'tangles,' which are, in turn, built with small repetitive strokes. The wonderful thing about a Zentangle is that anyone can do it. You don't have to be an artist; all you need is to be able to hold a pen. If you can write your name, then you can create intricate-looking drawings like these.
Be careful, though. Doodling in this way is addictive!
You will find that, as you draw, your mind gently drifts off; it is a most relaxing and pleasant way to while away half an hour.
Note: I am not a Certified Zentangle Teacher and my method is somewhat different from that taught by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts on their courses. For more information, go to Zentangle.com.
Create a Structure for Your Zendoodle
Begin Your Zentangle Adventure Here:
This Zendoodle was drawn on a small piece of smooth watercolor paper - about 3.5" square. It's best to begin with small designs as then you won't become too overwhelmed.
Most drawings of this kind require some structure or framework. All you really need is a 'string' or random line within a defined border. In this example, I have used a wavy grid of double lines as my structure. I have used a very heavy pencil line in order for it to show up on the scan. You should use an HB or B pencil and draw your lines lightly.
Add Tangles to the Grid
Start Your Tangles
Now you can take your pens and start adding patterns. Fill in the negative spaces and also your grid lines. You can find more patterns on this article: How to Find Tangle Patterns for Zentangle & ZIA.
Take your time, put on some music or an audio book or radio play. While I drew this one, I was listening to "Under Milk Wood" by Dylan Thomas and read by Richard Burton. I was immersed in village life at Llareggub as I doodled.
Don't worry if you go over a line or make a mistake. There are no mistakes, only 'happy accidents'.
Continue to Fill in the Tangle Patterns
Are You Relaxed?
I can tell that you think you should stop. There are chores which need to be done but you just can't, can you? There is something very addictive about doodling with intent.
Of course, you can always put it to one side and come back to it later. Or, as the materials you need are so portable, just put everything into your purse and take it with you. Zendoodles are wonderful for passing the time while you are waiting for your kids.
Finding Zendoodle Patterns Everywhere
Still looking for inspiration? You can look on Flickr for some beautiful examples or you can simply look around the room you are sitting in. Once you start, you'll see tangles everywhere. I spotted a great one on TV while watching an interview. I had to make my hubby pause it so I could quickly copy down the pattern of the wallpaper behind the interviewee!
I have a few favorites which seem to appear over and over in my 'Zens'. I promise myself that I won't keep using them but they just want to insinuate themselves in as usual.
Zendoodle - Almost Finished
Finishing the Filling
This doodle is almost done. I have added a few 'thorns' and twirly ends. You go ahead and be as imaginative as you like. Make sure that any solid blocks are completely colored in properly with no white missed bits.
You are either loving it or wondering why you wasted your time at this point. I had mixed feelings about my first Zentangle. I'd rushed it rather but could see the potential in the art form. I often combine these kinds of drawings with my art journaling, using them as borders or to customize collage pieces.
Erase the Pencil Guidelines
Erase and Turn
Once you are happy with your Zentangle, use your eraser to gently rub away the guidelines. Suddenly your drawing pops. The white space where the pencil was acts as a contrast to your tangles.
You may spot gaps that you want to add more tangle to so go ahead.
Now, turn your drawing around and see how different it looks from another angle. Which way up should yours be?
Shade Your Zentangle
Shading Adds Subtle Nuance to Zentangles
You can leave your drawing as it is or you can add some delicate shading. Decide which direction the light is coming from in your drawing and add shading to the 'underside' of your grids and tangles. I like to use a torchon, a special wand made of paper, to smudge my pencil shading - it's okay to use a finger-tip.
I find that shading can alter the character of a drawing and it's a good idea to prop it up where you can see it because, often, you'll begin to see other shapes and places to add or remove shadow to get the effect you want.
That's it. Your Zendoodle is done.
I bet you can't wait to start the next one, and I know what you'll be dreaming about tonight.
Questions & Answers
© 2010 Bev G