Introduction: How to Make a Zentangle

Zentangles are a well known form of art that looks complicated but is surprisingly easy to do! Today I will show you how to make one. So get out your supplies and creative hat and let's get ready to make a zentangle! Also make sure to hit that follow button for more creative instructables!


Pens and blank paper


Color pens (optional)

Optimistic attitude

Time, lots of time

Step 1: Get Those Supplies Baby

First and foremost you will need the materials in order to create a zentangle. Luckily we don't need a lot and you probably already have them around your house.

Black pen (any brand will do I used a normal Bic pen for mine)

Blank paper (I used a page out of my sketchbook, but any blank paper will do)

Pencil (any kind will do)

Colored pens (optional if you like to have color in your art, I do not so I only used a black pen)

Piece of scrap paper (I didn't use one but this is to rest your hand on so you don't smudge the ink)

Remember: Artists are only limited by their ideas, not the materials they have, don't worry about getting fancy pens and paper because you think that's the only way your zentangle will look good. To prove this I used the least quality supplies I could find.

Step 2: Map, Map, Map That Design

Just like Dora the Explorer we need a map for our design. Take some time to write out any ideas you might have for the zentangle, I wrote down things I like to help me see where I wanted to go with this zentangle and decided on a flower shape. Another thing I found helpful was to name random shapes such as bubbles, triangles, hexagons, lines, square... This helped me decide whether I wanted my flower to have more of a pointy line look or a flowy circle look. Make sure to use a pencil for this part so if need be the design can be changed easily.

Step 3: In This House We Start in the Middle

Now that you have your map ready it's time to bust out the black pen (or colored) and start inking up the page from the center of the design. Trace the basic design you came up with in the last step and use various pressure to create thicker and thinner lines. Now that we are using an actual permanent pen it can be intimidating to make it as perfect as you can but the more pressure you put on yourself the shakier the lines will come out, just be sure to have confidence in yourself and the lines will flow perfectly. As you can see I used darker thicker lines in the outside of my flower and thinner lines in the middle. Make sure to take your time, zentangle are a race of stamina not speed.

Step 4: Desicions, Desicions

Now that we have the outline it's time to figure out what to do with all the white space we have left. Taking another piece of blank paper, or the corner of your paper, sketch out some ideas for repeating patterns you want in the shape you've drawn.

Step 5: Outline Please

Now before we can use any of the patterns we drew up we need to make these lines interesting! To do that we're gonna make them thick and bold but were not gonna do that to all of them because then it gets boring. Here you can see that I outlined where I'm gonna make the lines thicker to color in. When it comes to zentangles planning is everything, it's the only way to get the result that you want.

Step 6: You Should Already Know How to Color by Now

Now it's time to color in those lines but be careful to go slow and if you are using a sketchbook remember to color lightly because the ink may seep through the page and ruin the next pages in your book.

Step 7: Start Adding Them Patterns

After all the boring line work is done it's time to finally get to the good part and add those patterns we drew up! Or in my case more boring lines. Remember to start small and from the center, don't forget to adjust your paper if you need to and keep that piece of scrap paper handy because now it the time to use it. Now that we are applying more ink to the page it will take longer for it to dry, and the fastest way to ruin a zentangle is to smudge it horribly.

Step 8: Take a Breather

Zentangles aren't meant to be made quickly, if you need the ink to dry or your hand is starting to cramp up take a break. I usually take anywhere from a whole day to three days to finish one of these bad boys, concentrating on making an intricate piece of art like this makes my eyes hurt after a while, and because of a bad experience a few years ago where I made a zentangle into two full size paintings (I used actual paint and the thinnest paintbrush I could find), my hand can no longer handle holding a pen for more than an hour.

Step 9: Keep on at It

Once you've had enough of loafing around, its time to get back to work and add more of the patterns. As you can see I kept it simple and made sure to take up as much white space as I could.

Step 10: Add the Finishing Touches

It's pretty self-explanatory but now all that's left is to finish the zentangle. The number one rule of zentangles is to fill in as much white space as possible, but make sure it's with purpose and you're not just randomly adding stuff to be done faster. With more practice soon a zentangle with be easier and faster to complete. Keep on drawing and remember to keep that creative hat on!

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