The Zentangle Method

For me, a CZT, Zentangling is about freedom and empowerment. That means when you learn the Zentangle method, you take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.

Including rulers and erasers! If they make you happy, use ’em.

Zentangle Pattern Mooka on Phi Tile

While all 8 steps of the Zentangle method—as originally conceived by Zentangle HQ—may not be for everyone, anyone can use them to learn how to Zentangle. 

Does one of these steps bore you? Skip it! Do you have trouble remembering the Zentangle steps in order? No one cares!

Relax, have fun, and enjoy creating, however the process looks for you.

The Zentangle Method in 8 Steps

Zentangle Pattern Alcatraz

Step 1: Find Gratitude and Appreciation

Take a couple deep breaths, feel gratitude, and appreciate your access to art supplies and the opportunity you have to create something unique.

Step 2: Place Corner Dots

The Zentangle Method for beginners starts with putting four dots on your tile or paper lightly with pencil.

Step 3: Draw a Border

Connect those four dots. It doesn’t matter if your lines are perfectly straight or a little wobbly. The point is you have a border now, not an intimidating blank tile.

Step 4: Make a String

Inside the border, separate the space into sections with a faint “string” pencil line. Draw methodically or freely. Make a grid or a letter or an abstract collection of squiggles. Tangle inside the lines or break the border. There are no Zentangle police.

Step 5: Draw Zentangle Patterns 

In ink (typically Micron Pigma pens, but use whatever you have around), draw whatever Zentangle patterns you like. Use the string and border as guides. Or totally ignore them. I am not your mother.

Step 6: Shade with Graphite

Add dimension to your tile by shading some areas. Think of the shade as part of the pattern, if it helps. Don’t get bogged down with thoughts of light sources.  Use a tortillion to smudge and add a gradient to your shading.

Step 7: Sign Your Work

Put your Bob Ross on that tile. Own it! On the back of official Zentangle tiles, there are lines to write more details—the date, how you’re feeling, what inspired you, the patterns you used.

Step 8: Appreciate Your Piece

Hold your tangle at arm’s length, as being too close makes it more likely you’ll hone in on what you perceive as imperfections. Ask yourself if you want stop or add more. Be proud of your creation.

Further exploration:

9 Easy Zentangle Patterns video series

Shop Zentangle Essentials

Zentangle Beyond the Basics Supplies

Tangled Talk

Another CZT’s perspective

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