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Zentangles and Zendoodles: What Are They?

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Drawing, doodling, painting, art journaling, sewing and crochet are just some of my favorite things to do.


Learn to Make Deliberate Doodles

People have been doodling for years... well, at least since the invention of the telephone! Haven't you sometimes been quite surprised at seeing the results of your mindless marks? Zentangles aren't really doodling in that way, but they are created similarly: building up a design by completing small sections at a time. These small sections, or blocks of pattern, are called 'tangles'.

The term 'Zentangle' was coined by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts when Maria, a calligraphic artist, found that she was creating designs while her mind entered a meditative state. They designed a small library of 'tangles' and set about transforming her dream into a business.

Several years later, the Zentangle has caught the imagination of the artistic (and not-so-artistic) community. The idea has spread like a virus, and now you will find examples of these fascinating doodle drawings all over the web.

like these...

Materials for Zentangles

The great thing about Zentangles is that you can carry everything you need in your purse, making this art form extremely portable. It is lovely to while away a few minutes while you are waiting for the kids or a doctor's appointment. You won't mind being kept waiting any more!

So the materials required for your Zendoodles are:

  • A small sketchpad or supply of smooth watercolor paper
  • HB pencil
  • Eraser
  • Fine liner pens - I recommend Sakura Pigma Micron in a variety of sizes from 01 - 08.

And that's it. Did I mention that this is a very cheap hobby?

Alternatively, you can purchase a neat Zentangle Apprentice 18 Pc Set, which includes examples of tangles, pens, pencils, eraser, and 10 die-cut watercolor squares. After you have used up all the squares, which you will do very quickly, I recommend you either buy a replacement pack—Strathmore do a really good tan-toned one, which makes your drawings look quite special—or you can even use plain coasters.

like this one

Quick Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Grab a 'tile' or mark out a 3.5 inch square.
  2. Draw an organic curving line. Add more as necessary, creating spaces and pockets.
  3. Begin to tangle a repeating pattern in one of the spaces.
  4. Move to another space and use a different pattern until the drawing is how you like it.
  5. When it's complete, erase the pencil lines and add some shading.

See the image below for a really simplistic and easy example. Sorry it's not very beautiful—I completed it in just a few minutes—but it does give an idea how to start.


Benefits of Zendoodling

There are many reasons to try the process of creating Zentangles. They are so relaxing—just put on some gentle music or perhaps an absorbing radio interview and simply let your hand doodle away. Your very first one may not be so good, but I wager that your second one will thrill you! You can create them as small or as large as you want. They have been seen decorating all kinds of objects from shoes to walls.

When you are stressed, tired or bored, let your mind roam free while you engage in the relaxing art of Zendoodle.

Note: All images on this page were created by the author. Please don't republish them without permission.

© 2010 Bev G


Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 25, 2019:

It is a lovely method of 'getting lost' in the moment. Hope you enjoy it, Mataya.

Mataya from Oregon on August 24, 2019:

For years I have been looking for a meditation technique. I have multiple parts so I sometimes have conversations going in my head. LOL I know crazy! This technique will help center me so I can go with the flow and yet not get lost.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on November 02, 2012:

You are, Marcy. It gives your right brain something to do, while your left brain is being all analytical! Actually, it may be the other way round :)

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on November 02, 2012:

Now I know what to call those doodley lines that I fill every blank space with while I'm in long meetings! I'm actually meditating, right?

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on September 02, 2012:

It's true - anyone can Zentangle. Easy peasy! Thanks for stopping by Joy x

Joy56 on September 02, 2012:

lovely, this is so much easier to do that it looks ....... making us all artists.....

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on April 18, 2012:

Thanks,GoodLady. Nice to meet you too - I'm sure we will be bumping into one another :-)

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on April 18, 2012:

So beautiful. I could really get into those.

Thanks so much.

Look forward to knowing more about you and your Hubs. By the way I'm from North Wales!

All the best with the A P on Hub Pages. See you around!

Voting up.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on April 30, 2011:

Thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed them.

nisa-kl on April 30, 2011:

wow! these are so beautiful! I already do zentangles but I have just picked up a whole bunch of ideas. These are really pretty and I bet you are very proud of them!

PS: I love the more intricate one but the simple ones are FABULOUS!

lovaza on February 03, 2011:

I never heard of zendoodling, it sounds like a fun way to draw and pass the time. I do ballpoint pen drawings of real life subjects, and your article may give me another alternative to create something enjoyable and interesting (:

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 27, 2010:

I like them too - I can get lost in one for days! :-)

Prosperity66 on August 26, 2010:

Those simple designs are beautiful but my favourite is that more advanced one!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 24, 2010:

Tis a gentle sort of fun, WordCustard!

WordCustard from Scotland on August 24, 2010:

I'd like to try zendoodling -- sure looks like a lot of fun!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on July 28, 2010:

Hi Simey! Anyone can do it... great fun for kids and grown-ups!

Simon from NJ, USA on July 28, 2010:

This is pretty cool! Off to your next page to see how to do it - my doodles are pretty bad LOL!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on July 14, 2010:

Thank you! You can start off in a stressed state but by the time you finish one - ooh about 15-30 minutes - you'll be zoned out. :-)

Paula Atwell from Cleveland, OH on July 14, 2010:

Very cool. Didn't know about these until I read this hub. Not sure if I am up to making them, because I am not often in a zen state, usually if I am I am asleep!