Category Archives: Tips

Shading in Zentangle II

Dear Tanglers,

last week we discussed the fact that the direction of the lightsource doesn’t matter in Zentangle – even though some patterns seem to be “impossible” when you look at them closely.

“But doesn’t that look wrong?”, you might have asked yourself.

To answer this question I would like to show you two pictures. Below, you see the pattern Crescent Moon – one of Zentangle’s classic beginner patterns. I’ve shaded this pattern in two different ways – one “correctly” and one Zentangle style. Can you tell the difference?



Well? If you’ve had experience with realistic drawing, you might have spottet the difference. But how long did it take you? And if you hadn’t known that one of them was “wrong”, would you have noticed at all?

What am I trying to say?

Let me first give you the solution:  The top picture shows the “realistic” lighting. The light source would be on the bottom right. But it’s not always easy to shade this way – and I’m not sure if I did everything right.

For the bottom picture I chose to ignore “wrong” and “right” and just shaded all the tunnels on the right side. If you think about it, this lighting is impossible, because there seems to be a different light source for each side of the pattern. The amazing thing is, though: The effect is the same!

So this means that it’s really not so important whether the shading is done “correctly” or not. In either case it looks stunningly three-dimensional. And isn’t that what we’re after?

Have plenty of fun shading and see you next week for the Pattern Mixer!



Shading in Zentangle

Dear Tanglers,

maybe you’ve heard about the fact that in Zentangle, the direction of lighting doesn’t matter. This makes shading just so much easier!
But is this right? And why, you may ask yourself, is it suddenly not important any more? Aren’t the pictures “wrong” then?

Yeah. Maybe they are. Or rather: they’re impossible. But then again, when we do Zentangle, are we trying to create photorealistic images?
No, we aren’t. Zentangle is Zentangle, not realistic art. The process is more important than the outcome. It’s supposed to be meditative and relaxing. But can it be that when I’m constantly thinking about the direction of the light source?

The answer is, of course, that it can’t. And that is why in Zentangle we just shade – without thinking about right or wrong. And that means shading can be different in each pattern. Even if you do use a specific light source, it can be different for each tangle in your tile. Like in this example, one of my first ever Zentangle tiles:

Zentangle Kachel von Anya Lothrop, CZT

In the pattern running through the center (Trimonds), the light is coming from the top right. Hurry’s lightsource (bottom left) is sort of leftish toppish. And for Tipple (bottom right), the light comes straight from above the tile.
You don’t notice any of this at first – and even after you do, it doesn’t matter. Because each pattern stands for itself.

So how about if the direction of light were to change within one pattern?
I’ll be answering that question next weekend. So stay tuned! 😉

See you then!