How to Draw: Zentangles

How to Draw: Zentangles : In Simple Steps

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Learn to draw zentangle-inspired designs with this step-by-step book by well-known doodler Ann Marie Irvine, owner of From owls and hummingbirds to fish and seashells, and with a mixture of simple and more complex designs beautifully laid out in easy-to-follow stages. Both beginners and more experienced artists will find they have all they need to start them on their zentangle journey.

Numerous examples of Ann's drawings can be seen on her website, which she set up in 2007, and her work is available to buy from her Facebook page ( and from Etsy (
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Product details

  • Paperback | 32 pages
  • 216 x 292 x 4mm | 180g
  • Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 140 Illustrations, color
  • 1782214321
  • 9781782214328
  • 42,104

Review quote

In recent years there has been a rise in interest in intricate artworks and books about how to create them: Celtic pattern and design, intricate and in particular large body tattoos, circular Eastern inspired Mandalas and very recently the fashion for pre-drawn and often highly detailed adult colouring books. I have become increasingly aware too of the art of the Zentangle, where artists merge what appear to be simple repeating doodles with pre planned patterns creating increasingly complex designs. When I first saw these Zentangles I was fascinated but I struggled to see the artist's starting point and so I was delighted to be offered a review copy of this book.

The front cover of Irvine's book, with its attractive shell design clearly showcases its contents. Most art instruction books are filled with words so I was immediately surprised at how few this book has, in fact just one side of information at the very beginning. This introduces the artist, noting this is her second book in this series. It briefly explains the term Zentangle, noting in particular the official size, square shape and use of black on white with no colour. Brief information is given on the type of pens Irvine favours but, by implication special materials are not required, at least for the beginner. She started with the pen her father kept in his pocket.

The remainder of the book has nineteen varied designs: owls, hummingbirds, shells, butterflies, fish, starfish, flowers, leaves and attractive repeat patterns. These clearly show how Irvine develops her intricate patterns. Initially this layout simplicity felt rather disappointing, but I soon realised this was as close as she could get to the way an art tutor works in demonstrating technique to a student. The first picture on each page is a simple outline or a few starting lines. This is then repeated six times (or ten for the more complicated works) showing the build up of the designs as they progress step by step into a finished work. In each case Irvine has added coloured pencil work to the final design, an attractive extra but, as she says on the introductory page, not usual in Zentangle designs which are normally left black and white.

This slim volume is definitely a starter book. Her examples can be copied, never a bad idea for a learner, but the methods could certainly become a creative starting point inspiring the reader to draw their own Zentangles. It has certainly helped me to more clearly see that elusive starting point so I can begin on some of my own * Shirley Anstey * Official Zentangles are 31/2" square abstract drawings in black and white, consisting of shapes filled with patterns. In this book the author has taken the basic idea and produced eighteen drawings complete with final colored variations. All are step by step projects and vary in complexity, from six stages to ten and filling one or two pages. As with all the titles in this series the drawings start simply, with each stage adding a bit more although as they are all drawn in black pen the new lines are added in the same color. This is not a problem as it is easy to see what has been added, and the final colored image shows how it can easily be transformed. No words are required apart from the single page introduction which explains what a Zentangle is and has a suggestion for what pens to use. At the back is a gallery of all the projects colored in so you can select one and turn to the correct page. Some of the drawings are abstract patterns but all have been inspired by nature and subjects include plenty of the author's trademark sealife (shells, fish, and a starfish), birds, flowers and leaves. This type of art can look intricate and complex if you do not know how to construct it but the steps soon take the mystery out of it and get you eager to have a go on your own. This is a fun primer that requires little in the way of outlay for materials and certainly had me grabbing a pen and paper. * *
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About Ann Marie Irvine

Ann Marie Irvine has spent all her life refining her whimsical drawing techniques, and as a child could lose herself for hours drawing in quiet spots. Today, Ann makes her living from her drawn, magical world.

After receiving her BA in Graphic Design from Duncan of Jordanstone College, Ann worked in design studios and print workshops applying her `doodling' style to as many of her briefs as she could. Now, from her own studio in Fife, Scotland she sells her work both locally and across the world online via her website ( and her Etsy shop ( Her work has been exhibited in the National Gallery and in Edinburgh Open Exhibitions, and she is a member of local art clubs.
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