Zen Doodling (aka zentangles) is a style of doodling/drawing that allows someone to create intricate designs by completing small areas of patterns. The process is incredibly simple and produces amazing results. Doodling in general is a great way to relax, get your mind off of work, school or stressful situations and play around in a creative manner.

Remember there is no wrong or right way to doodle and the point of zen doodling is to let your imagination work while letting your mind wander. So banish your erasers, pick up a pen and start doodling.

Supplies Needed:

  • Paper
    • I use sticky notes a lot of the time, since they are small and only take 5-10 minutes to complete. However, any paper works. There are people who use this technique on art paper and frame their designs and there are people like me (librarian Anne) who often will take junk mail envelopes and doodle on them.
  • Pen
    • A regular ink pen is the best medium, although fine line markers and ultra fine sharpies also work great
  • Optional- Colored pencils, markers, paint.
    • If you want to add color to your doodle


Zen Doodle Start

Step One- Start by taking the piece of paper you want to doodle on and outlining the border of your zen doodle. It’s often recommended that you start with a square, although I’ve often done a variety of shapes


Step Two- Block out areas inside of your border. Just use simple lines, either curved or straight, in whatever way looks pleasing to you. Remember this doesn’t have to be detailed and there is no right or wrong way to do this.

Zen Doodle Step Three details

Step Three- This is when it starts to get fun. Now is the time to start filling in the sections you created with repetitive patterns. Good starting patterns include basic strokes; including stripes, dots, circles, triangles, solid fill and cross hatching. Don’t spend too much time planning each section, just focus on filling them in as you go.

Zen Tangle Final

Step Four- Continue with step three until you are happy with your doodle. Decide you are finished and enjoy your masterpiece.



  • Don’t think to hard about your patterns. The point of a zen doodle is to give your mind a break and just go with what feels right.
  • Remember that there is no way to fail at this. If you make a mistake let it turn into a new pattern. If you don’t like the finished result, enjoy the fact that your brain is relaxed and you had some time without concentrating on work.
  • If you are doing this with children, it may be best to verbally walk them through the process. My art teacher in grade school would walk us through this. She’d start with step one and then have us “draw three squiggly lines within your box, next draw two straight lines in the opposite direction. Fill in one section with multiple circles.” Afterward our entire class would compare our drawings and see just how much variation could come from a simple exercise. Personally I think this was her way of teaching us basic art skills and getting her class to calm down for fifteen minutes.