Zentangle Supplies – Essentials for Doodling

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Which Zentangle Supplies Work for You?

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Everyone has their own preference for Zentangle supplies. Some recommendations come directly from manufacturers, such as the Sakura Company. They’re the ones who trademarked the term Zentangle! So who should you believe? Do you take the recommendation of an international business that’s trying to sell their products? Or the recommendation of a random YouTuber who you’ve never met before?

Neither. Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Try different supplies, and figure out what works best for YOU. That being said, here are the supplies that I personally prefer, and a little info about why I prefer them.

How to Choose the Right Tools

The most important Zentangle supplies are pens. While any old pen will do, even a Bic ball-point, most artists prefer pens with better flow to their ink. We typically use a style of pens called Fine Liners. When choosing a pen, look for one with archival, waterproof ink. Also, try to find pens that dry quickly, so they don’t smudge while you’re drawing.

Next, you need to choose a paper that works well with your pens. Most drawing papers have a rough tooth, or texture, which can rapidly damage your fine pen tips. Instead, you want to look for a Bristol or card stock with an ultra-smooth (or plate) finish. To avoid ink bleeding through your paper, look for a heavy weight paper or something labeled as “marker paper,” which usually has a coating on one side to keep ink in.

Finally, although Zentangling is a mostly ink-based drawing style, choosing the right pencil is also important. Consider how much shading you will be adding to your doodles, and let that be your guide in choosing pencils. If you’re only using the pencil for drawing the border and strings, then any number 2 pencil will do. However, if you do a lot of shading, you might want a good set of drawing pencils to help you get a variety of different values.

My Personal Choice for Zentangle Supplies

Sakura Pigma Micron Pens are hard to complain about. The Pigma ink is archival quality, which means it will last forever. It's waterproof, which means you can use watercolors, markers, or other mediums on top of your inking. This means they're versatile for mixed-media projects and crafts - not just for doodling! Their ink flows smoothly, and dries very quickly to make a smudge-free experience. They come in many different colors, and the variety of nibs provide ample variation in line weights when drawing. Prismacolor and Copic fine liners are other alternatives that also have archival inks. In my experience, though, the Prismacolor pens don't lay down the ink quite as smoothly, and they are easier to smudge. The Copic multiliners don't have that problem, but they are typically more expensive. And so, my personal choice for fine liner pens are the Sakura Pigma Micron Pens.
Because I often color with Copic Sketch markers, my personal preference for paper is the X-Press It Blending Card. I typically cut it down to whatever size I need. But when I'm working on larger mandalas, I use Strathmore 500 Bristol (plate surface). I won't lie - both of these papers are expensive. But they both accept a variety of inks very well, and they're both archival quality. A cheaper alternative would be to buy Hammermill Card Stock, which is just as smooth a surface, but isn't archival quality. If you aren't fond of cutting your paper down to size, you can also buy pre-cut Zentangle tiles in bulk.
A multi-pencil set such as the Faber Castell 9000 series works wonders to get a variety of values with your shading. These are my favorite drawing pencils because their high-quality leads are consistent, and the wood is easy to sharpen. When drawing on smooth paper, you'll want soft leads (in the 2B to 8B range). However, if you're not doing any shading in your Zentangles, a regular #2 pencil will work just fine for drawing borders and strings.

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