What is Zentangle?
Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher

The Zentangle® art form and method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas and is copyrighted. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.


All contents of this website are Copyright © 2010 - 2016 Linda Farmer, TanglePatterns.com, and artists where named, and protected by United States and international copyright laws.
Copying content in any form other than for your own personal offline reference, is EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.


Use this Random Tangle Selector with your TanglePatterns.com TANGLE GUIDE, 2016 Edition to help you select tangles. See Page 6 of the Guide for instructions. You can also use this to select random Strings.


Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository


abbeyg abigaill adamr adeleb agnetal ailingh aliceh allynj alyssa ameliel amyb angies angiev angiew anitaaw anitarl annah annekevd annem annets annettec annetteg annettepl anng anniet antoninek antoninem arjadlh barbaraf beatew beths betseyy betsyw bevr bijou billiel bjt bradh bunnyw carenm caris carladp carlaj caroleo carolion carolync cathyc cathyc2 cathys celian challenge chantalf cherylc cherylc2 cheryllh cherylr cherylw chrisg chrissief christ christinav christiner cindyp cindys clairec clairew conniet connyh cookies copyright cynthiag danaet daniell dannio davedl davidh davidr davorp deannesm debbiep debe debrac deniellen deniser denniey dianas dianas2 dianavk dianek dianel dianet diannek didierg donaldw donnab donnah edenh edg elenah emilyc emmyc erino estherp faithc fibonacci gaels genevievec georgik gravatar guide hannekes hannyw heidic heidisuew helenb helenw henrikeb hollym hope hsinyah idil jacquelienb jacquelinej janar janed janeileenm janem janemac janices jans jeannez jellav jemm jenniferc jenniferh jennyl jjl joand jodif jonathanb jonif josem joyceb joycee judyb judym judym2 judyv juliar juliee julieth karing karis karls karryh katea katem kathyb kathyr katieb katiec katya kelleyk kellyb kimc kimw kristyt ksenijav kymb laraw laurah laural lauras laurels laurier lenau lesleysg lesliec liannew lilap lilym linc lindad lindaf lindar lindau lisac lisah lisas liviac lorettaw lorib lorih lorim lorit lu-mariel lyndelc lynnh lynnm magdaw margaretb margaretm mariam mariekevn marietl marizaanvb maryannsd maryem maryk marym marys maureens meihuat melissah micheleb michellel mikeeh milde_w milestones mimil minah mollyh nancyd nancyd2 nancyn nancyp nathaliem normab nzjo ogee grid pampw patriciac pattig pattym pegf pegis randiwp random refresher reneek rhiannonm richarda ritan ronnies roseb rosemaryt rosieh ruthh sadellew samanthat sandras sandyb sandyh sarab sayantikar sharonc sharonr shastag shauna shawnam shawnh shellyb shoshi simoneb stephaniek stephanies store suec suej sueo suez susang susanh susanp susans susiea suzannef suzannem suzannew taliel tangle guide teresac terrib terrig theresag thomasg tinah tips tonih triciaf trishw tutorial verag vickib vickim vikkih virginial wayneh yamitf yuruc zendala zone zentangle zentangle hula zoeb


Guest Contributor: Sandra Strait on Semi-Transparency

More skills for your drawing repertoire! Guest Contributor Sandra Strait goes above and beyond with this highly detailed drawing techniques tutorial on how to make an object appear semi-transparent. She illustrates two versions, one using color and one in black and white.


Sandra Strait

Guest Contributor, Sandra Strait

Afraid to use color in your Zentangle-inspired art? I often see comments to that effect. Well, this is one example where color is easier. When implying semi-transparency, contrast is key, and color can help.

That said, it’s fun to know how to do semi-transparency without color, as well, so I’m showing it both ways.

I normally use pen for this, but I wanted a simpler method, and since many of you use those little golf pencils, I’m going to show you how to use them (but any soft lead pencil will do) for bubbles.

You will also need an eraser. I know. No mistakes in Zentangle®. In this case, you will be drawing with the eraser. None of those pink erasers or pencil tips, though.

I’m showing you the technique in both color and B&W, and doing it side by side so you can see that the method is pretty much the same.

I’ve chosen a bubble with a Knightsbridge background for my tutorial. Knightsbridge is a powerful tangle, but so easy to do, and hey! Bubbles are always fun! To keep things easy, I’m advising where to put the highlights, but you are free to put them wherever you like.

The Tools

  1. Black Ink pen – I used a .01 micron. You might also want a thicker nib pen for filling in the Knightsbridge squares.
  2. Soft lead pencil. One of those golf pencils works fine.
  3. White pen or ink. I used a Sharpie Poster-Paint Marker. Gelly Rolls are good. Elmer’s White Acrylic would be good. Use whatever will dry opaque.
  4. Paper stump (tortillon) or something to smooth your pencil shading. A finger will do as a last resort, lol!
  5. Eraser. I used a kneadable eraser. A gum or soft plastic eraser will do. NO pencil tips.


  • A sheet of scrap paper to place under your hand to prevent smudges. Pencil is messy.
  • Pink, Blue, Yellow — if you are going to use color. I used Letraset ProMarkers, but pens, color pencils, sharpies—you choose the media. Pastel colors will be the easiest to work with.

Step 1: Draw the Bubble

Draw a circle. Don’t stress about the shape. The best bubbles are those big wobbly things, right? Don’t worry if your lines don’t meet. I’ll tell you how to fix that later.


Step 2: Start the Shading

A bubble is darkest in the center, so we start there. Leave a white ring around the bubble.

Use blue to color a solid circle in the center.
Using the side of the pencil lead, shade a light circle in the center. It doesn’t have to be solid. Put the scrap paper under your hand so you don’t mix the lead with the oils in your hand, or track it across the page.


Step 3: Add the Highlights

We’ll be working around the highlights, so let’s add them now. Notice that this is very similar to what we did when drawing a translucent object.

Use the white pen/ink to draw a roughly bean-shaped highlight in upper right. Draw a bean-shape about twice the size in lower left of the bubble.
Erase a roughly bean-shaped highlight in upper right. Erase a bean-shape about twice the size in lower left of the bubble.


Step 4: Darken the Center

We continue to add shape. The outside of your color or pencil shading should follow the outline of the bubble. Work around the highlights so they stand out.

Color Add yellow on the left – think of a side view of the man in the moon. Add pink to upper side of the bubble. It should be about 2/3 the size of the yellow (don’t worry about exact size). Add more blue in the center, overlapping slightly with the yellow & pink. Add blue to a few places to break up the white ring. B&W Smooth the pencil shading with your paper stump (or whatever you are using).  Think of a distorted H or I-beam. Smooth out as much of the pencil lines as you can, but it’s okay to leave some. Still using the stump, extend the shading so it touches the bubble outline in a few places, to break up the white ring.


Step 5: Add the Background

Add the Knightsbridge tangle in the background. Bring the lines right up to the bubble outline, but don’t go inside.


Step 6: Add the Inside Grid

There are a few tricks to emphasize the bubble’s shape. What you don’t do is as important as what you do do (hmmmm. That doesn’t sound right does it?)

Here are the don’ts.

  • Don’t let the lines of the inside grid meet the outline of the bubble.
  • Don’t draw through the highlights.
  • Don’t align the lines inside the bubble with lines outside the bubble.

The Do’s

  • Do curve the lines slightly, because the bubble is round.
  • Do have fun. Close is good enough!


Step 7: Fill in the Inside Grid

Here’s where you see that color is easier. Use your pencil and shade each square. Keep most of the white ring around the circle.


Step 8: Erase and/or Re-pencil

You may need to play around a bit, but don’t get stuck. Stay as light as the bubble, lest you burst it!

Color With a light circular motion, use the eraser on the squares to lighten and buff. B&W With a light circular motion, use the eraser on the squares to lighten and buff the squares. If needed, erase the highlights further for contrast, or you may want to darken the shading around the highlights. Use your pen to darken the grid lines if needed.


Step 9: Finishing touches

A bubble’s outline is seldom solid, so put a touch of white ink along the outline. Do this on a white square so the line disappears. I know sometimes gel pens get muddy, but that’s okay. Even if you just lighten it, it helps.

If the lines of your circle didn’t meet when you drew it, use the white pen to obscure that. It if really didn’t meet, then shade with pencil and smooth it.

The last step is to shade around the bottom and left side of the circle to help ‘lift’ from the background.

Drawing something semi-transparent is pretty complicated for tangling. But it’s fun, and tends to impress the heck out of people. It gets easier with practice, so if you want a show stopper in your repertoire, semi-transparency is a good one.


Bubbles in the Knitting Basket by Sandra Strait


Zentangle Inspired Art: Bubbles in the Knitting Basket, by Sandra Strait. Copyright the artist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Used with permission. Click image for enlarged view.

* * *

Thanks so much for the incredible amount of work you put into teaching us this great technique, Sandra!

If you find TanglePatterns a source of inspiration and helpful resources, please consider supporting the site’s sustainability by visiting the SUPPORT TANGLEPATTERNS page on the top menu for details. Your encouragement is GREATLY appreciated!

Related Links:

  • Check out the other Guest Contributor tutorials on TanglePatterns by visiting the TUTORIALS link in the pink alphabetic listing at the top of any page

TanglePatterns.com TANGLE GUIDE, 2016 Edition

TanglePatterns.com TANGL GUIDE, 2016 Edition The current Edition of my TANGLE GUIDE. This instant-download digital eBook contains all the tangles on the site from May 2010 through December 31, 2015. It's a must-have tool for using the site.
Visit the BOOK REVIEWS page for more details on its features and view a sample page.
Visit the STORE > E-BOOKS page for more information and support TanglePatterns.com by getting your copy now!
If you're new to Zentangle® and tangling, my TanglePatterns.com BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO ZENTANGLE is just what you need to get started. Also available en Français and en Español.
Zentangle Primer Volume 1 Remember you can get your official Zentangle supplies here too, including the fabulous new Zentangle PRIMER Vol 1. It's your CZT-in-a-book by the founders of Zentangle®! Visit the STORE tab on the top menu bar or click on the image. For more about the content and to read the rave reviews, visit the BOOK REVIEWS tab.
"Absolutely the best Zentangle Book yet! As an accomplished artist I used to think I did not need instruction on this art form. How wrong I was! My tangling improved by leaps and bounds after reading this book. If you think you have Zentangle down then you need this book more than ever!" ~ Kris H


You might also like:

14 comments to Guest Contributor: Sandra Strait on Semi-Transparency

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.
You can also subscribe without commenting.