My tangle patterns:Contour, Spot, Beedit, Pikrust, and Fatkro-Learn to shade zens

 had a ‘Du-u-h!’ moment the other day.

There are frequent questions about shading in various zentangle/zendoodle forums, and many people ask me specifically about the shading that I do, using pen.  I’ve thought long about writing up instructions, but it didn’t seem right for zens.  I never think about my shading.  I’ve done it for so long, and it’s great fun, because you can go all Escher and baffle brains.  But, if you don’t know anything about shading, going in, then it’s a complex subject.
How can you zen while worrying about light direction, the 7 types of line, distance…well, it hit me.

These are zens, right?  You learn them by doing.  Molly Hollibaugh’s Strircles started me in the right direction.  I created two tangles, Contour and Spot, that incorporate very basic shading.  They can be done standalone in a space or incorporated into other tangles.

Put simply, Contour is a series of slightly slanted lines, roughly even in length and spacing, that follow the shape of another line.  It’s easier to see than to explain, so I’ve contoured some lines.

 Note how you can vary the look: by only contouring one side instead of all around; by drawing Contour through a line instead of along it; by contouring inside a line instead of outside.

Here is an example of the official tangle Keeko that has been contoured.

Warning:  Do NOT get hung up on making Contour lines exactly even.  Close enough counts in Horseshoes, Hand grenades, and Contour.

Spot is actually a highlight rather than shading. It is a light spot surrounded by a graduation of darker tones. You lay down solid black/color on all sides, and gradually get lighter by feathering the black/color.  You can use Contour to feather, or a smudged pencil such as you commonly use with zens.

You can vary the look by the amount of light versus the amount of darker tones. If you are using color or working on a colored background, a white gel pen used at the lightest point really makes Spot stand out.

 Here’s a dull gleam.

Here’s a bright shine.

Here’s a spot-light.

Here’s an example of both Contour and Spot, using the official tangle, Striping.

I used Contour for shading but you could also use a pencil to shade instead of drawing the lines.

Now, here’s a couple of other new tangles that incorporate Contour and/or Spot.

…and, just because the Pikrust spots reminded me of a fat bird, here is…

Whew!  Is that enough?

Let me know if you are interested in anything more like this, and I’ll listen to my brain to see what it comes up with.

Published by Life Imitates Doodles Art, Reviews & Tutorials

Artist Ambassador for Zebra Pens. I'm a self-taught artist who dances about with all sorts of artistic mediums. My main loves are Watercolor, Zentangle and Ballpoint pen. The subjects of my work are many and varied and change at whim. I'm a little bit crazy, but doesn't that come with being an artist? At my Life Imitates Doodles Blog, I post a list of resource links for Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways two times a week. I also write reviews, hold giveaways and share my art work.

9 thoughts on “My tangle patterns:Contour, Spot, Beedit, Pikrust, and Fatkro-Learn to shade zens

  1. I really like what you have done here and agree that you shouldn't be thinking so much about shading when you are doing Zentangles as that is the beauty of Zentangling… not HAVING to think about lighting, etc. But what you have said makes total sense… and I definitely would love to see more tutorials on this subject.. I know Maria uses the pencil to shade and Suzanne O'Neill's books tell you where to shade, like underneath images or around the edges.. but I never understood exactly what that does… until I saw the depth.. the 3D effect is awesome. And I love your tangles. 🙂 Thanks for posting this…

  2. Oh, and I like this part the best:

    “Warning: Do NOT get hung up on making Contour lines exactly even. Close enough counts in Horseshoes, Hand grenades, and Contour.”

    LOL 🙂

  3. Thank you, Rose. I kept this pretty basic. I'm just hoping it isn't too simple for those with know-how, while confusing those without!

  4. Wow, this was so well written and helpful. You could not have made it easier to understand. I hope you continue with this for those of us who are deeply interested. Thank you.

  5. Thanks again Sandra ! I do love the way you handled this subject and as I told you… my UNARTIST friend (Her title for herself) got it ! I think that says a lot. Love,love, and love the new tangles. Why is it everywhere I go the printer is out though ? LOL ! Rosie

  6. Thanks for explaining this. I'm a real beginner at zentangling, but I could understand it after reading it a second time (English is my second language, I'm Dutch). I already tried it out and it realy works!

  7. Thank you Annet. Please let me know if you post your work anywhere. I'd love to see what you do, and to blog it here so others can see as well!

  8. I love to tangle, but I have very little experience shading, so this breakdown is incredibly helpful. I know with a tangle we have the freedom to have inconsistent light sources for different areas in a tangle, but the basic essentials of shading are still pretty new to me, and this really helps. Thank you!

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