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Zentangle Shading

Updated on July 14, 2013

Enhance Zentangles, Zendoodles and Zendalas with Shading

The one thing that elevates a pretty Zendoodle drawing into a stunning one is the application of a little shading. Shadow adds dimensionality and also anchors the tangles, making them seem almost solid.

If you are unsure about how to add shade to Zentangles this page will show you how easy it is.

PS The terms 'Zentangle', Zendoodle and Zendala are used interchangeably. However, 'Zentangle' is a registered trademark and really applies to pieces created using the Zentangle method.

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

Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.

Image credit: TheRaggedEdge

Start from the Beginning

Zentangle Workshop

Unshaded zendoodle

Unshaded zendoodle
Unshaded zendoodle
Zendoodle unshaded
Zendoodle unshaded

Zentangle before shading

So here is my drawing, finished but with no shading. I quite like it but it looks bare and there seems to be something lacking. Adding just a small amount of shadow will improve it dramatically.

Often people get a little hung-up about shading but there is nothing too difficult about it. I hope this little tutorial will help.

I recommend you use an HB or B grade pencil. If you use anything heavier it will overwhelm the delicacy of your Zentangle.

Determine the direction of light

Determine the direction of light
Determine the direction of light
Zendoodle light source
Zendoodle light source

Where is the light source?

The main thing to remember when adding shade to any drawing or painting, that there must be a source of light. In a landscape the light source will be the sun. In a still-life, the light source will come from a window or artificial light.

Decide from which direction the light is coming in your Zendoodle. It's your choice entirely because there is no obvious direction as in a landscape. I usually have mine coming from the top left or top right of the drawing.

Add shading to the 'undersides'

Add shading to the 'undersides'
Add shading to the 'undersides'
Detail of Zentangle Shadow
Detail of Zentangle Shadow

Add shadows to the Zentangle

In this close-up you can see that I have decided that the light is coming from the top left, therefore my shading is going to placed on the bottom right of the tangle element. The 'cherries' have their shading around their bottoms and the leafy tangle is sort of angled so the shade will be on the underside of the topmost portion. Does that make sense?

The shading is not done precisely and even looks a little ragged. That will be resolved in the next step.

Sakura 11-Piece Zentangle Set

New from Sakura and Zentangle, the perfect starter kit. Contains all you need to enjoy this relaxing art form.

Sakura 50011 11-Piece Zentangle Clamshell Pencil Set
Sakura 50011 11-Piece Zentangle Clamshell Pencil Set

Product Description: Zentangle set includes a pencil and pens plus zentangle tiles upon which you can create fun and relaxing art. There are five pens with four tips sizes (0.25-mm, 0.35-mm, 0.45-mm, 0.5-mm) and the micro pigment ink is waterproof, fade proof, and acid free. The pencil is pre-sharpened and the drawing tiles measure 3-1/2-inch square. This package contains five pens, one pencil, and five zentangle tiles.

 

Zentangle books

There are more and more Zentangle inspired books around. See what you can find.

Zentangle Books in the UK

Made in the Shade: - a Zentangle workbook

Made in the Shade: a Zentangle Workbook
Made in the Shade: a Zentangle Workbook

A whole book dedicated to the art of shading Zentangle. Will definitely help those who are less than confident about shading.

 

Soften the shading

Soften the shading
Soften the shading
Zentangle Shading 4
Zentangle Shading 4

The fun part

Use your finger, a tightly rolled up piece of watercolor paper or a tortillion (paper stump) to soften the shading. I love this part as you can intensify shadow or lighten it. You can also use the 'dirty' end of the tortillion to add very light shadow in places.

Tip: By leaving a gap between the object and the shadow, you can make the object appear to float. I will add another image later on which demonstrates what I mean more clearly.

Zentangle/Zendoodle before shading

Zentangle Before Shading
Zentangle Before Shading

Zendoodle/Zentangle after shading

Shaded Zentangle
Shaded Zentangle

Floating shadow

Floating shadow
Floating shadow
Floating Tangle Zentangle
Floating Tangle Zentangle

Making zendoodle tangles float

If you look very carefully at the Zendoodle above and right, you can see that there is 'light' under the black and white 'snake'. It is simply a line of unshaded drawing. It makes certain elements like this appear to float. You can use this technique in any drawing or painting.

Doodle inspiration

Turn your doodles into art.

Show us your shady side... - by leaving a comment

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    • myraggededge profile image
      Author

      myraggededge 3 years ago

      @chriszen: Hi chriszen, you might try relaxing your wrist and hand slightly or not pressing too hard when you make the line. Alternatively draw the line faster. Mine were a bit wavy in the beginning too :-)

    • profile image

      chriszen 3 years ago

      great tutorial instructions I'll be back. Has anyone experienced unsteady lines in the beginning that I hope clears up with practice?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: i love it <3

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you so much! A helpful and inspiring little tutorial.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      Beautifully explained. Thanks. This looks like so much fun!

    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 4 years ago

      Fascinating how much a little shading makes that tangle pop ;o)

    • Di Annesley profile image

      Di Annesley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Now this is really helpful, I must get started

    • SmBizGuru LM profile image

      SmBizGuru LM 5 years ago

      I am a total zentangle addict now thanks to you.

    • judithmurphy profile image

      judithmurphy 6 years ago

      Just discovered zentangle recently - can't wait to get started. Thanks for the interesting lenses on this subject

    • BetsiGoutal1 profile image

      BetsiGoutal1 6 years ago

      Brilliant! Thanks so much for this page, shading is one of my biggest struggles with zentangles. This puts in terms that are very easy to understand.

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 6 years ago

      Once again, it's an excellent page related to Zentangle art and you definitely become the master zentangler out there! I couldn't imagine to be able to produce such a piece of artwork but would really like to have one like this hanged on the wall!

      How to shade Zentangle drawing is well explained and very clear! I just need to buy a right hand (I'm two lefthanded, you know) so that one day, I can make my first drawing!

      High marks for this page, Bev!

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