I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember yet it was only about three years ago that I stumbled across zentangles. I was instantly hooked on this new technique of tangling patterns and using black and white. It’s appeal for me is the precision of the drawing technique coupled with the freedom of those abstract patterns and never quite knowing how it will all turn out.

I admire greatly but am not so keen on the true zentangles though which are small square tiles done with repeated patterns which do not represent anything and can be viewed from any angle.

The Zentangle® art form and method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas and is copyrighted. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc.

I personally prefer zentangle-inspired artworks which allow me to embrace the patterns but adapt the tangles to representational motifs such as animals, flowers, hills, trees etc. Let me walk you through my very first zentangle-inspired drawing and show you how it evolved from an experimental piece to a finished artwork I am very proud of. Everyone can do this!


Materials Requiredzentangles for beginners

  • Paper – thicker is best to withstand the pens
  • micron pens or fine tipped water resistant, pigment pens. [you can use sharpies but I have read that the ink will fade to brown over time]
  • pencils 2B, 4B and 6B
  • eraser
  • paper blender or torillion
  • white pigment ink pen



Step 1

I was not sure how or where to start on the blank sheet of white paper so I looked around in my studio and found some wooden craft shapes of birds. I placed them at the top, just off centre and simply traced round the wooden shapes. A start! Then I did the same thing with wooden flower shapes I had. Easy so far.

zentangles for beginners

Stencils and Kaiser craft wooden shapes I had lying around the studio

zentangles for beginners

It was beginning to look like a landscape so I started to draw simple hill shapes in the middle ground behind the birds and flowers. I then let my imagination take over and after looking at some zentangle patterns, I chose some I liked before drawing in cloud spiral outlines and organic tree shapes.

zentangles for beginners

The drawing still looked bare so I then added curly vines [from my imagination] wrapping around the trees and  meandering aimlessly through the bottom of the landscape – a bit like tree roots. I filled in more gaps by drawing simple leaf shapes and more spirals [my favourite linear pattern]. I then drew a snail and a lady beetle and the initial outline draft was complete.

Step 2

zentangles for beginners

Patterns, patterns, patterns! I added a lot of really simple patterns such as lines, circles, dots with checker board hills.

TIP: Use a white pigment pen to add patterns on top of black areas or to fix up any mistakes you make.

zentangles for beginners

I then looked at examples of zentangle patterns on the internet and Zentangle Patterns on Pinterest for ideas. I chose  patterns I liked for the clouds and forest floor, basically just adding different patterns in the empty spaces.  Most of the patterns in my illustration are organic as it is a nature scene. A good website to visit for pattern ideas is Tangle Patterns.

TIP: in the detail above of the spiral clouds, I used shading to create the illusion of depth. This is really easy to do. Simply draw in a dark edge using a 2B or 4B pencil and blend out using a paper stump or tortillion.

zentangles for beginners

TIP: It’s important to have an even balance of black and white in a zentangle drawing.


 The finished drawing

I decided to add some wording in the white space to complete the drawing.

zentangle for beginners

I am thrilled with how this turned out and I sell prints and products using this illustration in my Oz Wildlife Studio Etsy store

zentangle-inspired products

Have you seen my “Tangle Me- Aussie Animals” printable E-Book?

This is a 45 page activity book for everyone and my best selling product ever. So proud:)  Click the picture for more info.

zentangle how to

I hope this post will inspire you to create some zentangles or zentangle-inspired artworks. Happy tangling!


  1. I love the idea of tracing around the shapes first. And, the white pen to cover any mistakes… brilliant!

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