How to Shade Zentangles and Zendoodles
Zendoodle Zentangle Shading
Zentangles, or zendoodles, as they are sometimes called, are delicious little pieces of art created with nothing more than paper, pencil, and a fineliner pen. It's quite easy to learn how to create a zendoodle, but one thing I had difficulty with when I first started was adding shadows and shading to my drawings. If you have the same problem, then follow along with this short tutorial.
Draw Your Zendoodle
This is how my drawing started. As you can see, anyone can do this; you don't have to have any special skill. If you are looking for a step-by-step tutorial, this page might help: Zendoodle, Zentangle: How To.
Here is the zendoodle without any shading added. It's okay but the elements are not cohesive, they just look like pretty patterns. Adding shadows will anchor the image, bring the individual tangles (patterns) together and make parts of the drawing pop.
Where Is the Light?
First I had to decide from which direction the light is falling. Almost every drawing or painting has an imaginary light source. If there is light, then there must be shadow, yes? I generally see my drawings with a light source coming from the top left or right, depending on the way I prefer the drawing to be. Note: turn your zendoodle until you find it's 'right way up' - every Zentangle has one, and it might not be the way you started out with.
In this one, the light is coming from the top left side of the drawing. Therefore the shadows will be formed on the lower right side of each element or 'tangle'. I also want to add shade where the drawing is to look 'deeper'. This will provide a pleasing three dimensional look.
I recommend you use an HB or B grade pencil for shading. Anything softer will be too black and heavy, and harder graphite will not blend nicely.
Get Into the Shadow
With your pencil held at about a 45 degree angle or perhaps a little less, begin to shade the edges and sides of the tangles that are farthest from the light. Keep it as even as you can. You can see immediately, that the scaly-looking tangle here begins to take on a roundness.
Take a paper stump or tortillion and gently smudge the shading, bringing it out and away from the tangle to form a shadow. This is my favorite part.
Adding shading and shadows to your work makes parts of the drawing recede into the background and causes other parts to stand out, like these pebble-like tangles.
I have added shading to the underside of the rows of 'beads' too. If you add shadow beneath them they would look as they are resting on a flat surface. I have chosen not to do that here.
Continue working over the drawing, adding little bits of shadow where you think necessary. You can see I have shaded the 'leaves' by simply using the 'dirty' tortillion rather than the pencil.
Add Lift by Erasing
This part is optional and should be used sparingly. When you have finished the drawing, take a clean eraser and use one edge to carefully lift a little shadow from the edge of the tangle. This has the effect of making the tangle seem to float by bringing a little reflected light underneath. You can use this technique in any drawing or painting. It's very useful when drawing things like branches.
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Bev G