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Zentangle® are mindful, abstract, free-flowing, organic patterns drawn with lines within a square. The Zentangle method, invented by Rick and Maria Thomas, is intentional yet free flowing and meditative. Give this structured doodling a try!


• thin, black flair pen

• 3-1/2”x3-1/2” paper tile (typically smooth art paper but can be scrap paper)

• graphite pencil 

• blending stump (optional)


  1. Create a 3-1/2"x3-1/2" square tile. If you like, it can be a square drawn on a sheet of paper.

  2.  With a pencil, draw a light dot in each tile corner.

  3. Connect the dots with four lines to form a frame.

  4.  With a pencil, draw a “string” to divide the tile into sections. It can be a zigzag, loop, “X” or a swirl: any shape that divides the frame. 

  5. With your black pen, draw patterns within the sections defined by the “string.” Let your lines be expressive.
    To make it easier to draw, totate the tile around.

  6. Color in the shapes you’ve created. Consider how the white and black areas interact and define another.

  7. Using the side of your pencil, gently shade in areas to give the artwork a sense of depth. For instance, shade along one edge of a section or within the center of a circular form.

  8. Watch the video above for variations to this approach.

Creating a zentangle is intended to be a relaxing process so don't stress about a "right" or "wrong" way. Express yourself! Explore the 20 simple tangles with fun names like cresent moon, msst, xircus, floo, chartz, printemps, and keeko!  


The Zentangle method was inspired by botanical illustrations. Once you zentangle, you’ll become more aware of the natural and manmade patterns around you. 

Now that you've been introduced to zentangle, learn directly from its creators at

Introduce kids to zentangle

Maria and Rick recreate the original legend of zentangle

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