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Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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A tutorial on expanding your range of options with the Sakura Micron 01 Pen

Sakura Micron 01 PenToday we’re going to take a look at tangling with the Micron pen because there are Zentangle® newbies who’ve joined us and the rest of us could probably use a good brush-up too.

First we’ll take a quick look at the instrument itself, and then we’ll look at the art of being deliberate and controlling your pen to expand the range of options that you might not realize are available to you in using this tool.

As you may know, the Sakura Micron 01 is the pen of choice for Zentangle. Maria writes, “Rick and I spent countless hours trying out different pens on all types of wonderful papers … We unanimously agreed on the Sakura® Pigma® Micron 01 pen and Fabriano’s Tiepolo paper. We love the subtle things you can do with this combination of pen and paper.”

A Sakura Micron 01 pen on a Zentangle tile

A Sakura Micron 01 pen on a Zentangle® tile

As we learned here from a Sakura rep, the Micron was “originally designed for fine-line technical and art drawing but their use has spread to other applications … The Micron nibs are essentially ‘micro size plastic tubes’ which allow our pigment ink formula to easily flow from the barrel to the paper.” Here’s a closeup view of the pen nib — and the luscious texture of a Zentangle tile.

Tip of a Sakura Micron 01 PenTip of a Sakura Micron 01 Pen

Tip of a Sakura Micron 01 Pen and a closeup view of the luscious texture of a Zentangle tile.

Microns are designed to be used at a 90degree angle, like technical pens. The smaller point sizes (005 and 01) use very delicate nibs to create the extra fine line, so they need to be used with a very light touch, no more than the weight of the pen itself.

Microns require very little pressure to provide a flow of ink. If you experience a bent nib, switching to a thicker nib size, and/or using lighter hand pressure when writing, should resolve the issue.”

A “Tiny Tutorial” by Maria Thomas

Now let’s shift to Zentangle co-founder Maria Thomas and a “Tiny Tutorial” she wrote some time ago. In Maria’s tutorial, she talks about being deliberate and controlling our pen. She suggests an exercise for you to try where you experiment with different pen pressures and the different types of lines you can get.

If you aren’t really sure about what “being deliberate” might mean, try counting the seconds you take as you draw each stroke.

For instance in my exercises shown below, I found that by counting “1 mississippi, 2 mississippi, 3 mississippi… etc.”, I got the best results for me taking about 5 seconds to draw each line or orb. I also draw my “vertical lines” horizontally, so I turned my tile for those strokes. You can see that by the time I’d “practiced” the diminishing lines a few times, the last group (on the right) shows much better control than my first set. I’ll be interested to hear what you learn for yourself from this exercise.

Linda's exercise tile

In another exercise in the tutorial, Maria demonstrates using Purk that you can use the different pressures you’ve already experimented with, together with being deliberate to get a much more interesting result “creating perspective, contrast, depth and interest.”

And now Maria’s TT, “it is all about being — DELIBERATE — which we talk about often in Zentangle … when you concentrate of every stroke of your pen, not worrying about what your tile will look like, and not hurrying through a tile because you have something else on your mind, you can focus on the different types of lines your pen can make.”

Here’s the link to Maria’s tutorial. I predict a few “Ah-ha!” moments. Enjoy!

(And please come back and let me know in the comments what you learn from doing your exercises.)

Related Links

  1. Looking for tangles by Artist or Type? For details visit the ABOUT > HOW TO FIND TANGLES BY ARTIST OR TYPE page on the top menu bar of any page on the site.
  2. What is a Zentangle? — if you are new to the Zentangle Method, start here for the fundamentals.
  3. Zentangle terminology — a glossary of terms used in this art form.
  4. How to use the site — an excellent free video tutorial showing how to use the site as well as pointing out lots of useful features you might have missed.
  5. Linda's List of Zentangle-Original Patterns — here is the complete list of original tangles (aka "official tangles") created and introduced by founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, including those not published online. If you are new to the Zentangle Method I highly recommend learning a few of the published Zentangle classics first.
  6. "A Zentangle has no up or down and is not a picture of something, so you have no worries about whether you can draw a hand, or a duck. You always succeed in creating a Zentangle." Thus patterns that are drawings of a recognizable naturalistic or actual object, figure, or scene, are not tangles. A pattern is not always a tangle — here's what makes a tangle. TIP: tangles never start with pencil planning.
  7. How to submit your pattern deconstruction to TanglePatterns
  8. For lots of great FREE tutorials on TanglePatterns, click on the TUTORIALS link in the pink alphabetic menu bar below the tangle images at the top of any page.
  9. Strings! Have we got STRINGS! Click on the STRINGS link in the pink alphabetic menu bar below the tangle images at the top of any page for 250 different (free) Zentangle-starters. More than enough for any lifetime!
  10. Never miss a tangle! FREE eMAIL NEWSLETTER - visit the SUBSCRIBE page on the top menu bar of any page on the site and sign up to get notices delivered free to your inbox.


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21 comments to A tutorial on expanding your range of options with the Sakura Micron 01 Pen

  • Susan G. Nutting, CZT

    thank you! I was tangling this morning with an 01, 03 and 005 so this came at a wonderful time! I will have to go back and look at my work with this post in mind, and keep it in mind going forward.

  • Linda,
    Thanks so much for all that you do! Many blessings! xo

  • Del Marie Riley

    I’m new to tangling and waiting on my new pen set to arrive. Thank you for posting this tutorial on the pens. I look forward to using them. I’m excited to see where my pen takes me.

  • Peggie Schurch

    Linda, Thanks for reviving this topic, I too, like the 01 and 03 and good quality paper to work on. I have found, however, that I tend to do the strokes Calligraphywise and Copperplate/pointed pen scripts use the light and heavy pressure so that is no problem, but I haven’t applied that technique much when working on my tangles, so will revise that next time. Now,what else should we be brushing up on. Thanks again for all reminders. Peggie Australia

  • It is always nice to have a refresher course to remind us of things we already know but often forget about.

  • Judy H

    I am glad to see this posted, and intend to spend more time really, really going over it … I *know* I’m holding my pen too tight, and using too much pressure — it is a bad habit for me, because I am sometimes disappointed in my “loss of control” over then pen. And, I know, that as much as I enjoy the tangling, there would be more relaxation and fun in it for me if I could just lighten up on my hold on the pens and the pressure I’m using.

    I’m far from perfect, but I hope I’m a work in progress.

    Thanks again!

    Judy H.

  • Nana

    So happy you posted this info. I totally missed this information when learning to tangle – and have felt the need for more control.

    Linda – so appreciate all you do providing this blog.

  • Kristin M

    Thanks for posting this info.. I have used pigma pens for years on fabric because they did not bleed, but never knew much about them. I need to learn to use a lighter hand! I have been following Zentangle for over a year, but that tute was before my time.

  • Kahna Emery

    I love seeing the Sakura pen up close. And I love the tutorial-Thank you!

  • Thank you ever so much for the tip on the 90 degree angle. I was never educated on this.

  • Sylvia

    Just thinking: if you have to keep checking the size of your pen nibs, try a bit of colored nail polish on the pen to easily distinguish one size from another. Find which one you want at a glance!

  • Pamela

    Thanks for this tutorial. I’m new to Zentangle and need all the help and encouragementI can get. Blessings to you!

  • Nina

    so I just ran across this link in looking for a pattern. Thank you. I honestly probably press harder when I can’t get something to look the way I want and that seems to cause the opposite of what I want. my actual writing is harder than average, I bet, so it will be good for me to focus on being lighter with my drawing. thank you again. so interesting to focus differently.

  • Just what I needed. A gentle reminder to slow down and be more deliberate. I am glad I came across this. The practice reminds me of our handwriting lessons in the”old days”.

    Thanks heaps.

  • Suzanne

    This is such a great help and I’m just finding it now! Who know there is so much you can do with the Micron pen, Maria’s exercises are perfect practice too. Thanks again, Linda, for all the helpful content you share on this wonderful site. xx

  • Doreen McComb

    Thanks Linda:
    This review tutorial is well worth checking out. One of my problems is slowing down and not focusing. Great practice

  • I love the reminder to SLOW DOWN. It puts my mind in the right place and makes me relax. It’s sometimes hard to remember that. Thank you!

  • linda Stephens

    Thank you so very much for this informative lesson! I’m relatively new to your site, but love looking at the wonderful tangles, the talented tile designs, and the captivating info given for backgrounds for new tangles. I too, am often in too much of a hurry, with a list of things that I “should” be doing… I reward myself after a full day, by spending time learning from your wonderful site. Thanks again!!!

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      Thanks so much Linda, I appreciate very much your compliments and especially on the “captivating info” on the tangle backgrounds – it’s the part I find the most fun about writing my posts 🙂 There’s a lot of great resources on the site and this post is one of them, delighted you found it. And welcome to the wonderful world of Zentangle®! Delighted to have you aboard.

  • Norma

    Thank you for the link to Maria’s Tiny Tutorial. In just a few minutes I learned a lot about pen pressure and slowing down.

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