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Updated on April 7, 2013

What is a Zendoodle, Exactly?

A zendoodle is a form of Zentangle®- Inspired-Art, or ZIA. It uses elements of, but is not restricted to the structure of Zentangle. It is very much like the doodles you make when on the phone, or when you were in school in the margins of your composition book. Zendoodles can be black and white (pen & ink), or they can be colored. They can be created on paper or on any other medium, such as walls, shoes, wood, or even quilted.

Zendoodles are simple or as complicated as you want them to be. Many people who start off with Zentangle soon want to expand their skills and so create their own unique style based on the method of filling spaces with tangles (the patterns used in Zentangle).

© This page was created by TheRaggedEdge. All rights reserved.


How to Draw a Zendoodle

If you haven't drawn any Zentangles before, it's a good idea to start by learning the basic structure – there is a step-by-step guide here: Zendoodle, Zentangle How-to.

In essence, you create a simple outline in pencil – it can be a few intersecting wavy lines, straight lines criss-crossing randomly or a more structured geometrical outline. Begin filling in the negative spaces between the lines with tangle patterns using a fine-liner pen. Erase the pencil lines.

Once you have drawn a few Zentangles, start changing things up a little. Maybe you could:

  • Draw a free-form string on a plain sketchbook page.
  • Draw an object, like a face or hands, divide it up and tangle it.
  • Create a 'zendala' – a hybrid zendoodle/mandala. Use a template to draw a circle or download and print a mandala outline from the internet. Fill with tangles.
  • Color in a Zentangle.
  • Make zendoodle borders in your journal or scrapbook.
  • Photocopy zendoodle creations to use again and again as collage pieces.

Click on each photo below to see how to draw a Zentangle.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tile outlined and four dots added.Zentangle string.Filling in with tangles (repetitive patterns).Tangles completed.String and guidelines erased.Shaded and complete.
Tile outlined and four dots added.
Tile outlined and four dots added. | Source
Zentangle string.
Zentangle string.
Filling in with tangles (repetitive patterns).
Filling in with tangles (repetitive patterns).
Tangles completed.
Tangles completed.
String and guidelines erased.
String and guidelines erased.
Shaded and complete.
Shaded and complete.

Where to get Ideas for Zendoodle Patterns

  • The internet.
  • Nature
  • Architecture
  • Fabrics
  • Around the house

How to Find Tangle Patterns for Zentangle and ZIA

Play with your zendoodles in a photo editing program.
Play with your zendoodles in a photo editing program. | Source

Shading Zendoodles

Like Zentangles, zendoodles drawn on paper look even better with some shading. It's easy to shade tangles – decide which direction the light is coming from and lightly shade the opposite side of your tangles. You can create form and shape by shading – make parts of the drawing pop while other parts recede and become mysterious. Check out this Zentangle Shading tutorial.


Coloring Zendoodles

Zendoodles look fabulous with color. You can use watercolor paints, acrylic paint, watercolor pencils, colored pencils, crayon or markers (I recommend Tombow Dual Tip Brush Markers).

You could also try drawing the actual tangles using colored fine-liner pens, such as the Sakura Pigma Microns.

Try turning your zendoodle into a negative image - or use a white pen on black paper.
Try turning your zendoodle into a negative image - or use a white pen on black paper. | Source

More Ideas for Zendoodle

  • Zendoodle a pair of sneakers. T-shirt, a coffee mug. Your bathroom toilet seat. You will need the appropriate pen for the surface you intend to work on.
  • Zendoodle a whole wall. Or just part of a wall – a dado rail height border, or a sweeping pattern up the stairway. Use big markers or you'll be still trying to finish it in two year's time!
  • Plant pots or glass pitchers.
  • Greetings cards and gift tags. Use the recipient's initial.
  • Revamp an Ikea coffee table (search for Ikea hacks).
  • Zendoodle a photo frame.
  • Use a sewing machine to make a zendoodle embroidery.
  • How about painting a silk scarf with tangles?
  • Make a tangle reference grid. Divide a sheet of paper into 1" squares and fill with repetitive patterns. Try to invent new ones.
  • Zendoodle bookmarks as inexpensive gifts. You can do them during the ad breaks when watching TV.


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

They look complicated - but they're not really!

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    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 2 years ago from Wales

      Thanks for stopping by, Keino, and for sharing your experience with Zentangle.

    • Keino C profile image

      Keino Chichester 2 years ago from Brooklyn, NY

      A few years ago I got hooked on these types of drawings. I am really good at drawing portraits and landscapes, anything where I have a subject to look at. Although the quality were impressive, I never thought I could make an impressive piece straight from my "mind's eye" until I discovered this style. These kind of drawings really allowed me to dig deep and pull out "good content" if you would, without using a "template". You can really go for hours with this style. Thanks for the share, i'm not contemplating a large piece!

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      Thank you, Mark. I love your happy stick people too!

    • Mark Ewbie profile image

      Mark Ewbie 4 years ago from Euroland

      I rarely visit other people's hubs but boy have I been missing out! I love it. The color is great - the repetitive, but not boring, patterning is great, and I love the hands and the "Ragged Edge" addition to the artwork. In short. I love it.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      So glad that you have such happy (and creative) memories of your mother. Happy doodling!

    • Thecompendium profile image

      Thecompendium 5 years ago from Somewhere in the USA

      I love all things art. I am constantly inspired by the things around me and the emotions they create. With that being said I remember my mother practicing this art form when I was little. I find myself day dreaming about her unique sqiggles while I draw my own pieces. My mother has since passed away so asking her how she did this has passed too. Thank you for these hubs because you have now watered the seeds of her inspiration. I haven't had such a strong desire to doodle in a long time.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Look at as many as you can and just keep trying. My first one was horrible but they gradually improved.

    • jpridgen profile image

      Janice Pridgen 5 years ago from Bellingham WA

      your designs are quite beautiful. I've been trying zentangle every once in a while but haven't quite got the hang of it. any tips?

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Keep some paper and a pen near your computer, Natashalh, so when it's doing the pesky restart after updating, you can tangle the minutes away :D Thank you!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Your zendoodles are so beautiful! I really want to try this art form, I just haven't found the time yet.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Thanks Meg. They are plain black on white in real life - they have appeared on another article, which is why I thought to change the image a bit.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Those hands are just beautiful!

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      @jellygator - oddly, it didn't strike me as 3 until I turned it round. I think I drew it originally as one turn to the left - an 'M'. It's been published on other pages so I thought I'd revamp it with the blue background. Thank you. x

      @tlmcgaa70 - no really, I am not a very good artist. I just like playing with art stuff. If I can do this, so can anyone. Hope you enjoy your doodling!

    • tlmcgaa70 profile image

      tlmcgaa70 5 years ago from south dakota, usa

      my fav are the last 2. you are an awesome artist. i never got into doodling, but this inspires me to give it a shot. thank you for the wonderful and informative hub. voted up and more and shared.

    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 5 years ago from USA

      I love that first image. It reminds me of seashells. Another one reminds me of the number 3, which from reading your explanation is probably exactly what it started out as, but it looks cool as heck now.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Gosh, you are fast JB! Thank you and keep doodling! xxx

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

      Fab, as always. Since I've started reading your hubs I have developed a doodling habit - my work notebook has rather nicely decorated borders and dividers nowadays. Looking forward to trying out some new designs after reading this one. Christmas list is growing as I add supplies.