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Release your inner zen with Zentangle Art for beginners

By Chameleon Art Products
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Getting tired of always trying the same techniques and want to try something new? Zentangle art could well be the answer. It’s easy to pick up and doesn’t require much equipment to start up and try it for yourself. If you fancy giving it a go, this blog will shed light on exactly what it is and some tips on Zentangle for beginners.

We’ll cover:

  • What is Zentangle art?
  • How to draw Zentangle for beginners.
  • Create your own tangle (or what to use instead)


What is Zentangle art?

As a whole, Zentangle is easy to learn, relaxing and a fun way to create beautiful images with unique patterns. It’s that simple.

The patterns created are called “tangles” and are combinations of dots, lines, simple curves and orbs. These straightforward shapes are the “elemental strokes” in Zentangle art. They are made on little white tiles that can then be put together and assembled into one big Zentangle masterpiece mosaic.

Screenshot 2018-08-09 at 10.29.03

This form of art is non-representational and unplanned so you can focus on each stroke and not worry what the end result is going to be.

Just go with the flow.

When creating Zentangle art, you shouldn’t draw straight lines with your marker and keeping the page still and at the same angle. Instead, create your Zentangle by rotating your tile as you tangle. You don’t need to know what a tangle is going to look like to draw it and the result will be a delightful surprise. Very free spirited, right?

Cool fact: Zentangle art has been found to have a positive effect on creativity, self-image, focus and problem solving. The general areas that it’s thought to be beneficial for are:

  • Phobias
  • Addictions
  • Pain management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Workplace burnout 


How to draw Zentangle for beginners

Before you actually start the drawing and creating your own Zentangle tangle, there are various things we advise you to take note of to get you into the right mindset and fully understand the magical art you’re about to create. Follow these four steps and you should be all set to release your inner zen.

Meet the basics of Zentangle art

Your work should be an abstract, patterned drawing created to the tenets of the Zentangle method. It should always be black ink on white paper. Colored tangles do exist, but color doesn’t conform to the traditional Zentangle theology. The tiles you use are also small so that they’re portable. This means you can create at any given moment that the mood strikes.


Remember how it differs from other art

As opposed to other forms of art, anybody can pick up a marker and start creating incredible tangles. Zentangle art also differs from other forms of art as it’s a form of artistic meditation. And contrary to popular belief, the act of creating is just as important as the final piece. It should be unplanned, deliberate yet unexpected, celebratory and timeless. 

https://zentangle.com/ linked from chameleon art products

A great website for learning more about Zentangles can be found right here. Image credit.

Know the difference between Zentangle and doodling

Tangles made from basic shapes, lines and dots? Well that’s just doodling, right? Wrong. People often doodle when they’re in the middle of doing something else and their minds are wandering - like on a long phone call or during a boring meeting.

In contrast, Zentangle art requires a relaxed focus and needs undivided attention to be fully effective and as unique as possible.


Who were the founding artists?

Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas are the founders of this magical artform. The two came together in 2003 when Rick met Maria in Massachusetts. Maria described what she felt when drawing these patterns. Selflessness, timelessness and effortlessness were all mentioned, which Rick quickly concluded was similarly to meditation.

From there on, the artform has snowballed into millions of practices around the globe. Click here to read the full story on the pairing.


Now, create your own tangle

Now you’ve learned all about the soothing art form, you’re now ready to start creating your own pieces of beautiful art. Take a look at how Beckah Krahula created a ZIA (Zentangle inspired art) below. She used one of our Detail Pens with a slightly thicker tip, the 6mm, to draw her tangles. 

Want to draw a funky Zentangle like Beckah? Just follow these six easy steps:

Start with the right supplies

The Zentangle method needs fine printmaking paper to use as a foundation for your tangles. It should be plain white, unlined and cut into 3.5 inches squared piece. Handmade or textured paper is fine, but it shouldn’t have patterns on. Colored paper can also be used, but it wouldn’t be considered as true Zentangle.


Draw a border

Use a pencil to draw a light square border around the edges of your paper. Your patterns will be drawn inside the perimeters of the border. Don’t use a ruler. Hand wavering is fine as the border will then be unique to your tangle. Don’t press down too hard either - your border should be invisible once your masterpiece is created.

Screenshot 2018-08-09 at 09.02.12

Before Beckah started her tangles, she drew a heart shape in pencil to serve as a border.

Draw a “string”

A string is a curved line or squiggle that lends structure to your design. The pattern you create will emerge according to the contours of your string. This should again be lightly sketched and simple that elegantly divides your border into different sections. There’s no right or wrong way to draw your string - whatever way you desire is perfectly fine.


Start your tangle

A Zentangle may have just one tangle, or a combination of different tangles. Use your pen to begin drawing whatever pattern comes to you. Again, there’s no right or wrong move inside of your tangle, it’s all yours.

Screenshot 2018-08-09 at 09.04.09Beckah drew her tangles freehand as she's had a lot of practice, but you can plan your designs in pencil and outline them in pen after if you're less experienced.

Pencil shading can be added to tangles to create more depth and visual impact. However, the pattern is made in pen. There’s no going back, so make sure you’re fully focused and build your tangle stroke by stroke.

This probably won’t come as much of a shock to you, but the better quality pen you have, the better quality Zentangle you’re going to create. Chameleon Pens are perfect for creating intricate, defined patterns and would add a completely different dimension to your Zentangle to maximize those truly unique results. 


Interested in reading more on what features the best pens for Zentangle Art need to have? Find out more here.

Keep going until you’re finished

You’ll know in yourself when it’s the right time to put the pen down, so be sure to persist and see your tangle right through to the finished product. This artform is something really special and a finished tangle should be celebrated and acknowledged. Keep it in a safe place, or why not even frame it and hang it somewhere? Be proud.

Screenshot 2018-08-09 at 09.06.09

Beckah's awesome finished Zentangle.

Advance your skill set with Chameleon Pens

Don’t just stop at Zentangles. When it comes to coloring, you can always improve or widen your scope. So, why not download our free all in one pen technique guide? Whether it’s learning something new or improving your color blending and shading techniques, it’s all in there to help you color like no other. 

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