Totally Easy Zentangle

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Detail of Zentangle drawing

This Easy Zentangle project is still (after 4 years) a favorite on my blog, and I know exactly why.

Doodling is incredibly relaxing. I’m realizing that making art in a repetitive way with cool patterns is on par with all the good effects people get from coloring books, but it appeals to people who want to be a little more active in their arting.

When I first made this tangle tutorial, I didn’t realize that Zentangle™ had a lot of rules and guidelines, so I’m slowly switching to calling these projects ‘tangles’ instead.

My approach is a bit looser than Zentangle, in that there aren’t certain patterns, techniques, and certified teachers.

Pretty much anything goes here if you have a pen and paper and a willingness to invest in a little time drawing. You will be happy you did- let’s get tangling!

How to Make This Zentangle Project

Okay. Grab a black ultra fine Sharpie, a piece of white card stock, and something round i.e. a half-used roll of colored duct tape.

Trace circles all over the paper, overlapping some. I used my Sharpie for the circles, but feel free to use a pencil first and then tracing over the circle with your marker.

Draw patterns inside the resulting spaces. This tangle drawing took me a few hours to finish, so if you want to start smaller, you can either just make a few overlapping circles in the middle of the page and leave the outside of the page blank, or cut/rip your paper in half and just tangle on half of it.

Zentangle step by step images

Extra Tips

  • Don’t worry too much about your initial circles – if they aren’t perfect, they will be lost in the sea of patterns you draw.
  • You can alternate darker and lighter-looking patterns so you have an overall visual balance on the page.
  • I approached mine by filling in the patterns starting in one area and moving out, without regard to what the overall result would look like. This appeals to my artist brain, that is trained to take the finished product into consideration, carefully planning out the composition and balance of my lines and patterns.
  • You really can’t go wrong with this project- it’s going to look cool no matter how you fill the spaces. The only thing I really paid attention to was trying to alternate where I put dark and light patterns. And to a lesser extent, how I balanced the rigid and the wiggly patterns.
  • If you see a spot that looks too empty, you can go back in later and add more lines/patterns.
  • You can repeat patterns! Especially in something like this, that has so many spaces to fill, relax into just drawing the patterns. It’s easy to find patterns that are on the other side of the page that you can repeat. They will look different in different spaces, too.
  • Don’t worry if you make a mistake. I make around 3-4 mistakes with every drawing I do. No big deal- work it into your whole page somehow. Take a slow, deep breath or 5, know that you can and hopefully will be doing 30,000 more of these, and use your ‘mistake’ as a way to start a new pattern.

I like to use this sort of project as a way to relax. It’s a completely awesome way to jump off the screens for a while and become absorbed in something creative. You can make it as mindless or mindful as you want, but I like to protect my intention to relax into this and not make it a big stressful project. It’s sort of like knitting in that way; you can pick it up and put it down at will.

Where to Find Tangle Patterns

I have put together a tangle pattern cheat sheet for you as a great place to start. You can also do searches on Pinterest and Google for ‘Zentangle patterns’ or ‘doodle patterns’. If you want to get supercool about this, check out your library for books on patterns. There are some amazing books out there chock full of visual inspiration.

Tip: Keep a tangle pattern sketchbook to flip through whenever you are in the middle of a drawing and need some inspiration.

What do I do With The Finished Drawing?

  1. This might be fun to color or watercolor in – remember since this is black and white you can easily scan your finished drawing and print copies out to color.
  2. Incidentally, if you like that idea, I have a whole book of ideas for drawing your own coloring pages, and most of these work amazingly well to incorporate Zentangle into!
  3. If you are using letter-sized card stock, you can cut these in half or quarters and send them as postcards. Let’s hear it for snail mail!
  4. Laminate them and use them as placemats or coasters or just weird surfaces to color on for your kids
  5. Paint a watered-down layer of gesso over this and use it as an art journal page
  6. Cut them up and collage them (This is my go-to idea for every project on this site) 🙂
  7. Take it to a copy store and use their laser printer to make copies. You can use laser prints in print transfer projects. YUM.
  8. Use them as your paper for making Gelli plate prints.

Oh, also, I used a Sharpie marker, because I am in love with Sharpies. Many people prefer Micron pens, for this or any sort of ink drawing.

More Zentangle Resources

If you want to read more about Zentangle and immerse yourself in project ideas, hit up the official Zentangle site. I had no idea it was such a huge ‘thing’, with officially certified teachers and all that. If you click over, they also link to their videos and blog where there are a ton more ideas for Zentangle.

This book is fantastic if you find yourself wanting more:

 One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun (One A Day)

More Tangle Supplies (Including for white-on-black)

 Studio Series Artist’s Tiles: White (75 pack) Sakura Pigma 30062 Micron Blister Card Ink Pen Set, Black, Ass’t Point Sizes 6CT Set Zentangle Basics, Expanded Workbook Edition: A Creative Art Form Where All You Need is Paper, Pencil, & Pen (Design Originals) 25 Original Tangles, Beginner-Friendly Practice Exercises, & Techniques Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight Pen Set, 1 mm Bold Tip, Assorted Colors, Pack of 10 Studio Series Artist’s Tiles: Black (75 pack) Sakura 37488 Gelly Roll Classic 08 (Medium Pt.) 3PK Pen, White


My book, Draw Your Own Damn Coloring Book, offers up the same amazing relaxation benefits as Zentangle. You follow each set of easy directions to make your own (damn) coloring pages, that you can then choose to color in or tangle.

 Draw Your Own Damn Coloring Book

GUESS WHAT!? 

I have a free pdf for you to download full of Zentangle patterns. Plus…. browse the Craftwhack store for your favorite Tangle starter page. They’re rad. And here’s a cool way to do some tangling on top of watercolor.

Zentangle starter pages and zentangle patterns

Keep Exploring Zentangle:

Cool bullseye Zentangle printable and/or directions to make your own

A general overview/starter guide for Zentangle

An easy small tangle idea that kids will like, too

Related: More ways to relax through art-making

zentangle art idea

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56 Comments

  1. 04/28/2014 / 1:02 pm

    Love this circle-y thing idea. Zentangles is one of the very few art projects my 5 year old will actually do without gritting his teeth and making my life miserable so I’ll have to show him this.

    • 05/07/2014 / 2:04 pm

      Cool! Maybe he can make one with just a couple of circles together. Wow, I can’t imagine my almost 5 year old having the patience to do this. Maybe I’ll see what he makes of it…

  2. PragmaticMom
    04/29/2014 / 10:56 am

    I love that you break it down to show how easy it is to do, but it comes out amazingly complex and interesting!

    • 05/07/2014 / 2:03 pm

      Thanks, Mia. SO easy. In fact, most projects need to be or I get bored too easily. 🙂

  3. Idena
    04/29/2014 / 4:41 pm

    Very cool! I was just looking into this last week and was also surprised it was such a big thing. You make it look easy!

    • Idena
      05/03/2014 / 9:38 am

      I tried it…. I liked it! I want to do it again!

      • 05/07/2014 / 2:03 pm

        Show me! Show me your Zentangle! Will you post it on my Facebook? Isn’t it the best?

    • Wilson
      04/13/2018 / 12:25 pm

      It is easy!😄

  4. Ana
    05/01/2014 / 7:53 am

    Love this idea and your pattern! It would make a gorgeous textile design I might add!

    • 05/07/2014 / 2:02 pm

      How cool! I hadn’t thought of that, you creative thing, you.

      • Dorothy Atkinson
        06/14/2014 / 8:05 pm

        I think it would be a super idea to draw a quilting design. You could get as complicated as you are able to machine quilt. I think just doing a series of outlines then transfer or trace them on to tissue paper, pin to your wall hanging or small quilt then machine quilt on the tissue paper. Then gently remove tissue from quilt. That’s about as clear as mud isn’t it . When you have pinned the tissue paper with the design to the quilt, you would get an idea as to how it would look. Oh how I wish I were still able to do this, I can just picture how it could be done.

        • 06/15/2014 / 8:14 pm

          That sounds fantastic! I would LOVE to see a quilt like this- I wish I knew a quilter, I would see if I could get them to try this! Great idea.

        • kay
          01/23/2015 / 2:42 am

          I am thinking it would be fun to zentangle an embroidery pattern! I am going to try it…..it will be
          different, easy and interesting, hopefully!

          • 01/24/2015 / 8:13 am

            I am so intrigued by this idea- if you feel like it, I’d love to see a pic. You can even post it on my Facebook wall or email it. That sounds SO COOL.

  5. 05/05/2014 / 7:31 pm

    I used to be a super-doodler and think I missed my calling as a Zentangler. I just spent so much time on that patterns site that I think I fell in.

    • 05/07/2014 / 2:02 pm

      Baha! You absolutely need to break out a Sharpie and some paper and have at it. You’ll come cursing back to me that you’ve lost your entire day, but you’ll be all totally blissed out.

  6. Georgi
    05/06/2014 / 7:59 pm

    Great Post. You really get Zentangle, Jeanette. Love to you from a CZT–one of those Certified Zentangle Teachers.

    • 05/07/2014 / 2:01 pm

      Hey Georgi! So glad to have you here. I can’t believe I had never tried it before- it’s just wonderful.

  7. Patty Whitaker
    08/06/2014 / 12:41 pm

    I saw this on Pinterest and had to click over. I am doing something just like this in my “Wreck This Journal” by Keri Smith! My circles are much smaller though as I traced a pill bottle to fill the page in the book. This is awesome!!

    • 08/14/2014 / 11:55 am

      Oh, cool! I bet it looks great with smaller circles- I love how you can sort of just go with whatever you have lying around.

  8. Leslie Haynes
    08/13/2014 / 8:26 pm

    This is such a great Idea. I have been intimidated by the zengle patterns I see on Pintrest. I feel like this
    Is a good way to get started. Thank you very much.

    • 08/14/2014 / 11:56 am

      This is definitely a great way to get started! You look at some of those finished tangles and you wonder how in the world they did it. This is so,so easy. I hope you give it whirl!

  9. Joyce
    08/25/2014 / 2:12 am

    I’ve been drawing since pretty much 18 months old, my mother would tell me; she was an artist, and Dad was creative in the kitchen, so my sibs and I grew up with creativity all around us 24/7. Started tangling 2 1/2 years ago, and what a great way to handle stress (my job in our hospital’s ICU is VERY intense!!).

    Never thought to draw circles and then Z-tangle them, but think I’ll do that soon. I’m working on a drawing right now that is comprised of storybook houses done entirely in Zentangle patterns–it’s going to come out so cute! Even the garden in front is going to be tangled 🙂

    I like the idea of tangling within circles–and am thinking that a combination of sizes would be quite awesome. Yep, have to do that.

    • 08/28/2014 / 6:43 pm

      I’m so glad you like the idea! What a great idea to use it as a stress-reliever for an intense job. I think I might send my sister some pre-made circle papers so she can sit around filling them in; she works as a therapist in a behavioral health hospital.

  10. Melissa w. Cahn
    09/28/2014 / 6:21 pm

    Love your Zentangle post. I have done pattern hunts with my students and they love finding “new” patterns in their environment. Sharpies are a great start but the microns take it to a whole new tiny level of detail.

    • 09/30/2014 / 2:20 pm

      Yeah, the Microns are pretty wonderful. Have you tried Copic markers? I keep hearing wonderful things about those. It’s a great idea to do pattern hunts out in the world; I notice that after I tangle for a while I start to notice patterns EVERYWHERE.

  11. Pam Bonifacio
    09/29/2014 / 7:50 am

    You make it look like so much fun and so easy, can’t wait to first try it on my own and then think about ordering the necessary supplies, etc. Thanks for all the good info.

    • 09/30/2014 / 2:18 pm

      Hi Pam, the great thing is that it really is fun and easy. Have fun with it- there’s no end to the patterns you can try out as well (I just posted a pdf to download with pattern ideas if you want to check it out.)

  12. Sue S
    09/29/2014 / 9:57 am

    I just starter Zentangle a week ago and absolutely love it! I was searching Google for info and came across your site, it’s THE BEST!!! Thank you so much for the great info on how to get started with this wonderful craft!

    • 09/30/2014 / 2:17 pm

      Oh, I’m so excited you love it! I mean, it’s hard to NOT love Zentangle. Check out the Zentangle pattern ideas I just posted today… it’s so fun coming up with new patterns, too.

  13. doug safford
    09/30/2014 / 5:41 am

    can’t wait to tryout the design with my folk art students

    • 09/30/2014 / 2:16 pm

      Ooh- folk art classes! That sounds fun; I hope they love doing this.

  14. Ellen
    12/26/2014 / 2:38 pm

    Okay, I’ve spent the entire afternoon at a receptionist temp job today exploring your Zentangles and other projects, and I was so smitten I went out at lunch and got myself a little Strathmore drawing pad and colored pencils so I could do a Zentangle or drawing a day. You go, girl. I love your blog. You have neat ideas for those of us who are creative but not necessarily artistic.

    • 12/27/2014 / 3:06 pm

      WHAT!? You are so awesome! I’m beyond excited that you bought a sketchbook at lunch; how cool is that sudden urge to do something creative, huh?

  15. Ellen
    12/27/2014 / 4:57 pm

    I knew a therapist who used to draw a mandala in lieu of morning meditation. I like that idea since I’m too fidgety to sit still and focus on my breathing. I plan to work on a Tangle instead.

    • 12/28/2014 / 9:25 am

      Yes! I think tangling is so meditative and that’s why it’s so wildly popular. I find meditation far too stressful because I’m all fidgety, too- I think the repetitive drawing helps lull your brain into the same state as meditation.

  16. 01/22/2015 / 7:34 am

    HI
    Just found you by googling perspective drawing for kids, then I found this page – oohh we are going to have so much fun with this this afternoon.
    Really enjoyed your ‘about’ page, the bit about swearing cracked me up, made me think of a book I recently read where the authors dad kept calling everyone FOOKWITS and LOONIES!
    Kindest regards from the french alps

    • 01/24/2015 / 8:18 am

      Hi Emma! Thanks so much! And I’m glad I was findable through Google- bloggers always love to hear that. Did you do some tangling? Did you love it??? And thanks so much for the new names to call everyone. 🙂

  17. 01/29/2015 / 10:52 pm

    Hi, I just wanted to say that I found this post inspiring. I’m thinking about the zentangle a day idea. (As if I needed another once a day thing!) Now I’ve been binging on Pinterest zentangle boards. And, I thought you would be happy to know that I found you on the first page of Google, searching ‘zentangle.’ And you were the only site I clicked. Nice job on the title — it was what made me click. Have a nice day!

    • 01/31/2015 / 7:45 am

      Hi, Allison! That is good news on the Google front- I’m loving how many people are finding this post, and then actually taking up tangling! The idea of a tangle a day is so appealing to me since it combines making art with a sort of meditating, the perfect combination. Let me know if you do this- I’d love to see some of your tangles.

  18. megan
    03/03/2015 / 3:55 pm

    Hi!

    I just discovered Zentangles today and thought this was such a fantastic post! Would I be able to print these examples and patterns out to show a group of students so that they can learn how to make their own Zentangles?
    Thanks for your post!

  19. 03/12/2015 / 9:26 pm

    Oh my goodness!!! I love drawing and creating all sorts of things and let me just say that I can not wait to try this for myself. This looks amazing. I have to admit that I’m a little intimidated but the way you broke it down helped me feel like it was doable. Can’t wait! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  20. 04/16/2015 / 8:50 am

    This is awesome! Never heard about this Zentangle thing but now I’m ready to dive into it. As a compulsive doodler, I think this is a wonderful project idea! 🙂

  21. Lee Darter
    05/02/2015 / 5:08 am

    I am a Certified Zentangle Teacher…. Or CZT … And you are right…. Zentangle is awesome! But use a Micron 01- it just adds to the awesomeness !

    • 05/02/2015 / 7:31 am

      Oh, I do love Microns. It’s strange, I always reach for the Sharpies when I tangle. I think I may have to go nab one and fall in love with them again. 🙂

      • yctk
        09/16/2015 / 2:23 pm

        you suck. no life.

  22. 09/27/2015 / 8:50 am

    It’s beautiful, I love tangling into circles.

  23. 12/12/2015 / 4:18 am

    Zentangle® is a real precious method, but if you post about it, please make sure you present the real principles. A Zentangle® string is NEVER EVER done with a pen, strings are not meant to be seen in the end, do them with a pencil and do them intuitively by hand, THAT is the real Zentangle® experience. Hanny, CZT 14

    • 12/16/2015 / 10:27 am

      Hi Hanny! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment- I think it’s easy to get confused at first about Zentangle vs. regular doodling. I had no idea when I first made this post that Zentangle was *quite* so complex- there’s a lot more to it than everyday doodling, and it’s fascinating. My version is definitely more “doodling patterns”, so thanks for chiming in.

  24. Brenda Shaver
    12/12/2015 / 6:37 am

    Glad to read about your tangling experience! Just wanted to mention that there is so much more that you will learn from a Certified Zentangle Teacher than you could ever learn from books, the Internet or from blogs, about the Zentangle Method. Basically you have described bits and pieces of Zentangle but are confusing doodling and tangling.
    The Method of Zentangle is extremely important to so many people who are doing it for therapy. It is so much more than just drawing patterns.

    • 12/16/2015 / 10:24 am

      Thanks for your comment, Brenda! You’re right- I got caught up in the doodling part of it and haven’t delved fully into Zentangle. I’ve realized that as I’ve been going along with this, and while I still think doodling can be pretty therapeutic, I’m realizing there is so much more to Zentangle than what I’m laying out there.

  25. Sandy
    04/08/2017 / 7:44 pm

    It’s been a while since the last comment was left here, but in case anyone comes by I just wanted to say that I was fooling around with Zentangle one day and got the idea to try it as a white on black design so I cut some black card stock and used a white gelly roll pen…it looked really neat! Had to try it just for fun.

  26. Sharon Dodge
    05/13/2018 / 9:56 pm

    I have been using entangle on art days at a local elementary school and the young kids are fascinated with it. Everytime I go to Israel I take new zentangle books or drawings with me for the kids of family and friends. It calms the kids and when they get roudy I pull out the entangle and they are mesmerized with it til time to go home or bed. I love it and I am 82.

    • 05/14/2018 / 12:03 pm

      This is so good to hear! I love hearing when kids enjoy it, because I know a ton of adults love it, but I think it can really be great for kids to try, too. 🙂

  27. Deborah Davis
    10/29/2018 / 3:40 pm

    A friend introduced me to Zentangle. It seem like something that will help me to relax and enjoy. I will be starting my first one in hours or days.
    Thank you for the web sites (all of the ones on this subject). The interviews of Zentangle producers has been eye opening and drew me in. I am a sewer and have thought that this might be a source for embroidery patterns I can make myself.

    Debi

    • 11/02/2018 / 5:40 pm

      I’m so glad you found this and felt inspired to start with Zentangle! You know what’s interesting? You aren’t the first person who has mentioned to me that they wanted to translate some of these patterns to fabric- I just love when art mediums inspire experimentation.

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