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It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw, creating zentangles is a relaxing zen-like activity that’s bound to lower blood pressure and get your creative juices flowing. With the aid of your iOS or Android device and an app called Doodle Patterns ($2.99), you can learn how to draw them and find inspiration for your own zentangles.

In the book Zentangle for Beginners, Tatyana Williams explains that “Zentangles are black and white miniature art pieces. They are abstract, unplanned, and are beautifully created through repeated structured patterns playing harmoniously together.” The artistic and meditative method of zentangles was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, and it’s traditionally done using a black pen and paper.

Before writing this article I started a playlist of jazz music and spent an hour creating my first zentangles using the free pen and brush app, Adobe Ideas 3 Free Doodling Apps For The iPad 3 Free Doodling Apps For The iPad Read More and sketchnoting app Penultimate for the iPad Learn How To Sketchnote With The Penultimate App For The iPad Learn How To Sketchnote With The Penultimate App For The iPad I recently wrote an article about sketchnoting, an approach to notetaking using both words and drawings. Though many of the examples of sketchnotes you see online are produced by skilled designers and artists, it's important... Read More . These apps work great on the regular size iPad Air, IPad Air Vs IPad Mini - Which Should You Buy? IPad Air Vs IPad Mini - Which Should You Buy? If you want to buy an iPad, you have a tough decision ahead of you. Apple's new iPads are very similar, but they're still noticeably different in many ways. Read More  and I used a Proof stylus pen (the only one I had available) but we have covered several other options Stylus Showdown: Back To School Review and Giveaway Stylus Showdown: Back To School Review and Giveaway It's Back-To-School month, and all through the month you've had chances to win great back-to-school items such as the ASUS VivoBook X202E touchscreen laptop, the Timbuk2 Power Q laptop backpack and a custom-made budget gaming... Read More  you may find useful.

Doodle Patterns

Since Doodle Patterns is a universal iOS app, I opened it on my iPhone and used it as a guide to create my first zentangles on the iPad. Doodle Patterns includes 100 tangle patterns (plus additional packets for in-app purchase) with step-by-step instructions for drawing them.

Zentangle tutorial

You can filter the in-app content to find the types of patterns you want to start learning. I found the grid-based patterns the easiest to do, because my drawing skills are third grade level at best.

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Doodle filter

On the iPad version of Doodle, the library of patterns are presented in landscape mode, which makes it easy to tap on a preview of individual patterns and browse them.

Zentangle 1

You can view more zentangles on the companion Doodle Patterns website, which also features very detailed patterns by other artists and doodlers, as well as sample tutorials by the co-creator of Doodle Patterns, Katherine Newman.

Flore katherine newman 1024x750

Drawing On iPad Apps

Because I’m a huge paperless user The Beginner's Guide To Going Paperless With A Mac, iPad and iPhone The Beginner's Guide To Going Paperless With A Mac, iPad and iPhone I don't have the stats to prove it, but I think the money I save by going paperless practically pays for my Apple devices. Read More , I’m happy to have the iPad for drawings, which allows me to make unlimited mistakes without wasting paper and ink. I mostly use the iPad version of Adobe Ideas 3 Free Doodling Apps For The iPad 3 Free Doodling Apps For The iPad Read More for zentangles because it includes a layers feature which is useful for creating grid-based patters. Android users might want to try something like SketchBook Mobile Express (free) or Infinite Design ($2.99, lite version) or skip this and commit their doodles straight to paper.

IMG 1338 2

I searched and downloaded a couple of grid and square templates to use a bottom layer for my zentangle pieces. Most of the patterns in Doodle Patterns are created in a square frame, so after tracing a frame to give it a more artistic pen look, I also saved it for re-use.

Adobe Ideas

I found the pencil tool, at about 6.5 “ink” size, worked best for most drawings. The app also includes undo and erase buttons, which I definitely used a lot. There’s also a nifty fill feature that allows you to press and hold in the middle of a closed shape, which will cause the area to be filled with ink.

Zentangle 2

After going through several Doodle tutorials, I realized that it’s better to relax and let your drawings fit your own style and skills rather than trying to approximate the drawing patterns in the tutorials.

One of the advantages of Penultimate is that it allows for selecting and duplicating drawings. But I didn’t use this feature a lot, for drawing zentangles is not about precise duplicated patterns. It’s more about relaxing and letting your creativity flow.

Penultimate

Hooked on Doodles

After drawing about two dozen zentangles, I’m already hooked and eager to create more. I will eventually start drawing on paper, but in the meantime the iPad and the Doodle Patterns app make the activity easier and enjoyable.

Let us know what you think of zentangle art. If you have posted samples of your own work, feel free to share links to them in the comment section below.

Download: Doodle Patterns for iOS ($2.99) / Android ($2.99)

  1. Kavya Pamulapati
    November 7, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    whats the first pattern called?

  2. Anonymous
    May 8, 2015 at 8:19 am

    i love zentangles. im doing them in art and thanks to this website im gonna get a good grade. :)

    • Bakari Chavanu
      May 12, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      Awesome. That's great. Glad you find the site useful.

  3. Jo T-C
    June 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    I've never been successful at drawing Zentangles on my iPad either, I generally find I crave for finer pens but after your post I will give it another go, thank you for your advice.
    Katherine has written another great tangling app (Doodling Together), it lets you join in projects with other doodlers, it's great fun to see a collaborative piece of art emerge. I have become very addicted to it. I'm still a Zentangle beginner, but here's a post about my initial forays. http://reddotsnapper.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/untangling-tangling.html

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 15, 2014 at 3:52 am

      Jo T-C, I agree, though I draw on the iPad, I can already tell that a fine pen will enable to get more more detail and more control than a stylus pen. So maybe eventually I'll give pen and paper a try. And thanks for letting us know about Doodling Together. I'll check it out.

  4. Katherine Newman
    June 10, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Thanks for this lovely article about my app! :o) I've never tried to actually draw on my iPad! :o) I hope you continue to enjoy the doodling :o)

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 10, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Katherine, thanks for your feedback. I've drawn about 30 Zentangles already on the iPad. I do realize that it pen and paper is better for the art form, but the digital drawings allows me to make as many "mistakes" as I like. Your app provides so many great ideas for getting started. I hope you keep in touch with me about your future developments.

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