How to Draw Zentangles: A Beginner’s Guide

The secret of how to draw Zentangles is that there is no secret! Meditative Zentangle art is accessible to anyone who wants to give it a try, and the community is excited to welcome you aboard. Here’s your beginner’s guide to drawing tangles and Zentangle-inspired art.

Zentangle Project Pack Booklet

Use the Zentangle Method

Zentangle was established in 2004 by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. It is as much about the method or process as it is about the meditative patterns. Although Zen is right there in the name, making a Zentangle drawing is not about Buddhism, or any religion. It’s about creating “beautiful art with gratitude and appreciation.”

In fact, the creation of any tangle art begins and ends with appreciation. For details, see the 8 steps of the Zentangle Method.

Try Easy Zentangle Patterns

Zentangle is an easy-to-learn, relaxing way to draw patterns, often called tangles. According to HQ, tangles can be drawn with dots, lines, C-curves, S-curves and orbs—the “Elemental Strokes” that make up all Zentangle art.

The patterns are enhanced with simple graphite shading and the graphite is blended with a tortillon or paper stump. The finished result is a three-dimensional illusion that appears more complicated to draw than it actually is.

Below are four Zentangle original patterns. See if you can find the Elemental Strokes that make up each one, and then try your hand at some easy patterns for beginners.

Know Common Zentangle Terms

There are some terms you hear a lot among tanglers that you might not know. To Zentangle, it’s helpful to understand these definitions.

Aura: Concentric or parallel lines or outlines around an existing shape. (See Crescent Moon above.)

Orb: Circles, basically. In Zentangle these shapes are frequently called orbs so that no one feels like perfect circles are the goal. We just mean round shapes—the wonky ones are still perfect.

Shading: Adding dimension to a tangle. It need not be associated with a light source like in other art forms. Shading is just the darker part of a Zentangle usually created with graphite.

String: The initial pencil line drawn to divide a Zentangle into sections.

Tile: The paper the Zentangle is drawn on. Official tiles range in size from small (Bijou) to large (Opus) and come in different shapes and colors.

Practice One Zentangle a Day

My Zentangle Zendala Art from Day 33

Before I became a CZT myself, I learned more than 50 tangles using Beckah Krahula’s book, One Zentangle a Day. I was so excited to learn how to draw Zentangles that I recorded my progress on my YouTube channel. I highly recommend Beckah’s book for anyone who thrives at self-paced learning.

Keeping a daily practice is great for reducing stress and practicing self-care. As a brain tumor survivor, I recommend Zentangle to cancer patients and others who are dealing with the stress of chronic illness.

One Zentangle a Day Full Playlist

Get the Right Supplies

You can Zentangle with whatever you have right now. But the most commonly used supplies—tiles, Micron pens, tortillons, and pencils—are available in starter kits on websites like Blick.com and Amazon.

You can also get a variety of supplies directly from Zentangle.com and find specialty papers and project- or class-specific items through individual CZTs. Project Packs sold by Zentangle include colorful and novel supplies and instructions and tips are taught on the official YouTube channel.

Zentangle on white and black tiles.

Find a Teacher

CZT stands for Certified Zentangle Teacher. CZTs complete training that includes instruction from Rick, Maria and the rest of the Zentangle crew at HQ. The best way to learn how to Zentangle is to learn from a CZT.

Take a Zentangle Class

You’ll find there are a number of classes being taught online that teach you how to draw Zentangles—from free tutorials on YouTube and Instagram to paid courses taught live on Zoom and on-demand through online learning sites like Skillshare. You can also search for a CZT in your area if you’re looking for in-person classes.

divine dove Zentangle with colored pencil on kraft notebook paper
Divine Dove taught by Romi Marks on YouTube

Explore Additional Resources

In addition to books like One Zentangle a Day, you might find these resources helpful:

Eager to learn more? Watch pattern tutorials on my YouTube channel:

9 Easy Zentangle Patterns for Beginners

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