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Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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Adding color to your Zentangle art

In this video CZT® Marie Browning, author of Time To Tangle with Colors, demonstrates her direct and indirect techniques for adding color to Zentangle® art using Tombow Dual Brush Markers.



Time To Tangle with Colors contains valuable lessons on working with color whether you are a novice or an experienced artist. See my complete review of Marie’s book here.

Tip for organizing your pens, pencils, and markers

If you’re beginning to get a sizeable collection of pens, pencils and markers, have a look at this great storage/organizing idea CZT® Mary Elizabeth Martin came up with for hers, here. (Now I have a serious case of pen envy.)

When I first learned that Sakura recommends storing the Micron pens flat rather than upright as you would in a pencil holder, I came up with a similar concept for my modest collection. I dug out an old square Pier 1 diffuser holder that’s just the right pen depth and laid it on its side so the open end faces outwards on my desk. It’s very handy because the Micron pen sizes and colors on the caps are clearly visible making it easy to grab exactly the one I need. As my collection grows, I can stack more boxes in either direction.

Linda's diffuser holder converted to Tangle Pattern pen holder

The diffuser holder as it is intended is on the left, and in the center is the one I converted to my pen holder. The point is that any square container will do if you lay it on its side and it's not too deep.

I’m curious, how do you store your pens and markers?

18 comments to Adding color to your Zentangle art

  • Joan

    Linda: Would you please take a photo of your pen storage box? I haven’t a clue what a Pier One diffuser is. What was the intended use for the diffuser?

    I know that Pier One is an import store, but the people living outside the USA might not be familiar with it.

    I’m new to Zentangles, took my first class last week with a CZT. I was hooked from the first “string.”


    • Linda Farmer

      Hi Joan, I should have thought of taking a photo in the first place. Oy. Thanks for the nudge. I’ll add one tomorrow (gotta run tonight), so come on back then.

      As a former part-time Pier 1 Associate, I’m delighted to share about diffusers. Diffusers are scented oil into which you place bamboo sticks that absorb the oil and scent the air – diffusing it into the room. My (current) favorite scents are Patchouli, and Citrus Cilantro. Here’s a link for inquiring minds. You get the effect of burning a scented candle, without burning candles. The diffuser holder box I’m referring to is a decorative container you put the bottle of oil into to “enhance” its appearance and protect your furniture from the oil. The container I’m using is a discontinued model – sorry folks. But do try their diffusers if you live near a P1 – they last months and months and months and beat the heck out of those things you plug into the wall and waste energy.

      BTW – several Internet Explorer users were kind enough to report they were having problems with the site, and I’m tickled to report that I THINK I have the issue sorted. Please let me know by email (linda [at] if you have problems at any time. For some reason, Firefox seems to be bullet-proof and I don’t always catch the IE issues, though I’m getting better at checking. Thanks!

  • Excellent video – now I need to go buy some of those markers myself!!!

  • andrea

    thx Marie, for sharing your color tips on the Tombow markers…seems the BIG Professional art store near me (Pearl Paint) doesn’t carry them so i will have to order a set online…any suggestions as to where and what color set? i like the pinks, purples, turquoise, greens etc (i like the colors you demonstrated)…seems to come in various color sets of 6 and 10 markers … great video 🙂

  • Sharon Moncrief

    I would like to know if you have any pens that are permanent ink as I have been doing lots of zentangle on shirts and bags and I need permanent ink. I love the soft colors. Any advice?

  • suzanne

    Do you use any special paper when using colors?

  • Thanks for that video! I can’t wait to try the technique. As to storage, I always carry a zippered large cosmetic bag with a couple of pens and pads. But I also LOVE my Prism Artbox with six compartments for my other pens, markers and pencils. It always stays closed (yet easy to open) and is perfectly clear, so everything is easy to see. I toss it in my tote with my zippered bag and “inspirational” books or magazines and never worry about it coming open or getting damaged, and everything stays in place. I got mine at JoAnn’s for about $5, and I think I’ll have to get another one soon! Here is a link to see what it looks like:
    Scroll down to the second item from the bottom of the page. Thanks again!!

  • KindleLover

    I, too, Zentangle on fabric. I found a really inexpensive permanent fine-point black fabric marker at I love using this on fabric because there is only minimal bleed, but just enough to hint at shading which adds just the right dimension. I got mine for under $2 each.

  • TWil

    just wondering, am new to ZT and am already a bit of a purist – isnt adding color changing ZT from its intended purpose of not having to worry about which colors to choose? just a thought. personally, i love working w/color myself

  • Lesley Orr

    Hi Linda I love colour.I am relatively new to Zentangles I have recycled some of my watercolour paintings into Zentangle squares and zentangled them. Two for the price of one. I lookforward to seeing more and more and more.Lesley from Western Australia.

  • Marie Browning

    No special paper is needed when adding color, however the Zentangle tiles are PERFECT! The Tombow markers blend beautifully on them. If you want a larger square, good quality watercolor paper, hot press works great.
    My favorite 10 pack of Tombow Dual Brush Pens are Retro (full of the bright colors), Grunge (muted colors) and Jewel (deep colors). If you purchase a 6 pack, make sure you pick up a colorless blender pen from open stock.
    It’s okay to add color – even Maria and Rick add colors to their Zentangles – you can start with just adding one color if you do not want to make any choices!
    For permanent colored pens I recommend Sakura pens. They are harder to blend, but can be used on material. The book “Time to Tangle with colors” shows examples using these pens.


    Came upon Zentangle about 6 months ago and pretty much learning via this site. I am also learning to spend more time reading and using the site properly. When I got the book “Time to tangle with colors” and knew I needed the Tombow Pens. I received the entire set as a gift…Major present for me…One important thing I have learned is to read and pay attention to what others are using to tangle. What products most are having luck with and what is not working for them and why. No one is promoting a product for there own gain and the information can be so valuable when picking and choosing for yourself. I know I have some items I have purchased that were not what I thought they would be so money not well spent. Tombow and the video on this site TERRIFIc

  • EA Seeley

    Have you seen the tiles that some CZTs have watercolored? Any idea what they might be using to create those?

  • Cristy

    Hi Marie, Im experiencing some black ink transfer when I colour with my tombow dual brushes over an illustration made with Microns, why could this be happening? could it be the paper Im using.

    I see in your video no black ink leak happens.

    I appreciate any tips you have on this subject.
    Thanks 🙂

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      Hi Cristy, I agree with your guess. I think your paper is the issue, it’s not allowing the Micron ink to dry completely. This is a good reminder that it’s always wise to test mediums together before an actual project so you can see how paper and inks etc. are all going to interact together.

  • Sandra Riggins

    Very helpful!!!

  • Linda Farmer, CZT

    A reminder – don’t miss Marie’s extensive follow-up tutorial on TanglePatterns, “Adding glorious color to your ZIA projects“. You’ll find it on the TUTORIALS tab on the pink alphabetic tangle menu bar.

  • Martha Lentz

    Hi Marie… really appreciate your video. Does the blending technique with the Tombow clear blender also work with Copics? I’ve never applied my Copics to plastic and I’m wondering if they will puddle and remain fluid like the Tombows? Thanks!

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