Saturday, October 15, 2011

Zentangle fixer-uppers

Of course, there is no right and wrong way to draw a Zentangle. One of my favorite parts of drawing tangles is how mistakes can be turned into beauty. It's a great metaphor for life, I think: if you know the right techniques, even ugly ink blots can be turned into some nice Bronx Cheer :) So here are some of my favorite techniques for fixing up various Zentangle problems.

I. Lines that meet - take the time to draw slowly, one stroke at a time. You're not in a hurry! If the strokes don't match up anyway, two of my favorite ways to camouflage are using "camo-dots" or by starting with thicker lines:

II. Fully colored spaces - if you like including black space in your tangles, then take the time to color it in fully (honestly, this is my Zentangle pet peeve!). Having a good pen with a lot of ink is important. Usually I outline a space with a normal pen and then color it in with a thicker one:

III. Paper and pen choice - this is as simple as using high- (or, at least, decent-) quality materials, and taking the time to test out pen to paper before you begin drawing your Zentangle. Of course, occasionally a bleedy pen or one that is about to run out of ink is just the one you need for a certain effect!

IV. Scale - related to pen choice is scale. On a large piece, by all means use the thickest Sharpie you can find. But if you're working on a small piece, try a finer pen. I once received a Zentangle ATC similar to the one I've done below. It took me all of 5 minutes to complete, and 3 of those minutes were searching for the pen. In my humble opinion, this is not a quality Zentangle, and I would barely consider it an ATC:

V. Smudges - usually if I smudge or smear a Zentangle, I just set it aside and start a new one. I have an envelope full of scraps that are great for other projects. But sometimes, you can't just start new. For example, I was recently in a round-robin Zentangle project where I started a tangle and sent it on to four other people, who added to it. Somewhere along the line it aquired several big finger-print sized smudges of... wine? coffee? blood? I don't know, and maybe I'd rather not know. Anyway, it ruined a lovely Zentangle and it was very disappointing. So here's a couple of my favorite ways of hiding smudges of any color:

Use some Bronx Cheer or Squidoo:

Using this little guy. I don't know if this an actual Zentangle pattern or something I made up - if it has a real name, please let me know in the comments:

Here's my round-robin Zentangle with one of the smudges:

One idea is to recreate the single piece of tangle within that string that is smudged:

And then glue it on (it's not actually glued in this picture, which is why there is a shadow):

Or, create a more visible patch for the smudge using a different shape or color. In the end, this is what I decided to do about this tangle. Since there are several smudges that need to be covered, I'm going to go them all in blue circles, and it will have a neat bubbly effect:


  1. Thanks for the tips, I'll try a zentangle and keep them in mind if I make a mistake. :)

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  2. HI! I absolutely love swapping and am having a seriously awesome time! I love making ATC's and have been doing several of those type swaps. But these swaps your into are quite neat! I love your doodles! Hopefully we can swap sometime!
    MrSchiEvous ~ Elysia @
    via swap bot (Check Out my Blog #6 swap)
    P.S. Feel free to stop in and look around my blog, maybe you’d like to do a personal trade sometime