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Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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Ways to use the Zentangle® Markus Operandus to create unique Zentangle Strings

Zentangle Project Pack 09Bonus content! An extra weekend treat  …

The Zentangle Markus Operandus tool (which I’ve abbreviated to MO for my personal keyboard-saving convenience) debuted as part of the Zentangle Project Pack 09.

Yesterday I published my summary of the entire Zentangle Project Pack 09 – Spring has Sprung video series, be sure to check it out. However …

You don’t even need to have the Zentangle Project Pack #09 to make use of the free downloadable Markus Operandus tool created by Maria Thomas. This visually lovely FREE tool enables you to easily create new strings for your Zentangle practice. And all you have to do is download it, print it out and watch the video.

The MO is such a great tool to have that this tutorial on how to use it deserves its own place on the site. In the video below Rick and Maria demonstrate how to use the MO to create a variety of unique and easy strings.

This is the complete video for you to watch and after the video is my step-by-step summary of the contents which makes it easy for you to find any part of it you may wish to refer to again.

Ways to use the Zentangle Markus Operandus to create unique Zentangle Strings

In this final day video of Project Pack 09 (12:19) – Rick and Maria explore a special tool created by Maria, the Markus Operandus and the endless ways you can use it to create new strings for your Zendalas and other Zentangle tiles.

Step 1: At 0:41 – Maria explains the layout of the Markus Operandus (MO) tool (free download link here).

Step 2: At 1:41 – She displays one of the string patterns it’s possible to create using the tool and with each tile throughout the video she shows how she created the string.


Step 3: At 2:40 – A second idea with an 8-pointed star string.

Step 4: At 3:26 – She notes that instead of tracing the tiles on top of the MO, “if it’s easier for you you can mark the little divots and then take it away and then work from there“.

Step 5: At 3:35 – A 3-pointed flower string.

Step 6: At 4:21 – “A cool trapezoid, two rectangles.” Rick saw 2 rectangles, and Maria saw 2 kite shapes.

Step 7: At 5:08 – A string using all 12 marks on the MO.

Step 8: At 5:50 – Another string using all 12 marks, “the little diamond shapes will give you 12“. This example creates 3 overlapping squares. The points are connected by hand, there are no rulers in Zentangle, we are only using the tools that we have.

Step 9: At 6:35 – A string of “moon shapes“.

Step 10: At 6:58 – “An unanticipated string.” created by doing the previous “moon shapes” opposite directions (using opposite poles).

Step 11: At 7:20 – A string that plays with opposite arcs.

Step 12: At 7:43 – Rick takes over to demonstrate how he used the MO tool with other Zentangle tiles. His first tile used opposing arcs and then he positioned a Bijou tile in the center and traced it.

Step 13: At 8:26 – “That led to, what if we did it with a different shape“. This string uses a 3-pointed Flower with a 3Z tile traced in the background behind the flower.

Step 14: At 8:50 – “Now I’m on a roll … what could we do just with the tiles themselves?

Step 15: At 8:58 – Rick shows how he used a regular square tile to trace a string on a 3Z tile.

Step 16: At 9:30 – The reverse of the above, Rick uses used a 3Z tile to trace a string on a regular square tile.

Step 17: At 10:05 – He used a Zendala tile to trace a string on a regular square tile.

Step 18: At 10:22 – He used a Zendala tile to trace a string on a 3Z and ponders what it would look like if several of these were done in the same way and arranged together in a mosaic.

Step 19: At 10:43 – He used the MO to mark a Zendala tile and then a Bijou tile to “connect the dots” to create another string. “I used a Bijou because it has a slightly rounder corner than the square tile.

Step 20: At 11:14 – He marked another Zendala tile with 6 points using the MO, and used alternating Bijou and 3Z tiles to create a “Star Trekky looking thing“.

Step 21: At 11:40 – “This is just a fun idea of all the things you can do with this lovely tool.


Zentangle Project Pack Summaries on TanglePatterns

For your convenience here are the links to all of my Zentangle Project Pack summaries:
  1. November 2017: Introducing Sakura’s White Gelly Roll Pens
  2. December 2017: The Twelve Days of Zentangle, 2017 Edition - A Stroll Down Memory Lane
  3. June 2018: A Zentangle Ensemble
  4. December 2018: The Twelve Days of Zentangle, 2018 Edition – Making a Zentangle Spinner
  5. April 2019: Zentangle Cartouches
  6. August 2019: No Mistakes
  7. December 2019: The Twelve Days of Zentangle, 2019 Edition – Light and Shade
  8. March 2020: Dancing in the Moonlight
  9. April 2020: Spring has Sprung
  10. July 2020: The Legend of Zentangle
  11. September 2020: Fee-PHI-Fo-Fun!
  12. December 2020: The Twelve Days of Zentangle, 2020 Edition - Zentangle Renaissance
  13. April 2021: Layers and Transitions
  14. May 2021: Accessing the Artist Within
  15. September 2021: Alphaborders, Letter Forms, Alphabets and the Birth of Zentangle
  16. December 2021: The Twelve Days of Zentangle, 2021 Edition - Keeping Score
  17. March 2022: The Kaleidoscope of Our Lives
  18. August 2022: Introducing Zentangle's new Translucen-Z Tiles
  19. December 2022: The Twelve Days of Zentangle, 2022 Edition - Zentomology
  20. March 17, 2023: Blossoming Tangles
  21. August 4, 2023: Organic Tangles: Tangles of a Botanical Nature
  22. December 2023: The Twelve Days of Zentangle, 2023 Edition - Exploring the Spiral
  23. March 15, 2024: The Birth of the Zentangle Method
  24. August 2024: TBA
  25.  December 2024: The Twelve Days of Zentangle, 2024 Edition


These are the links to my Zentangle Apprentice Project Pack summaries:
  1. January - February 2021: The Basics of the Zentangle Method
NOTE: You can always find the Project Pack Summaries by clicking on PROJECT PACKS on the pink alphabetic tangle menu bar. OR by looking in the left sidebar under TANGLES BY TYPE for the tag projectpack. OR on the ZENTANGLE PROJECT PACKS page on the ZENTANGLES tab on the top menu bar of any page on the site.

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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If you're new to Zentangle® and tangling, my BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO ZENTANGLE is just what you need to get started. Also available en Français and en Español.

Zentangle Primer Volume 1 This is the only Zentangle book you'll ever need: the fabulous 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.
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10 comments to Ways to use the Zentangle® Markus Operandus to create unique Zentangle Strings

  • Rosemary Turpin

    Rick, Maria and Linda,
    Thank you SO much for sharing your wonderful Markus Operandi – I love everything about it including the name! I HAVE a compass, but this is easier to use than the compass (I can never get all my corners to meet properly with the compass!) It is going to be so much fun to play around with your suggestions and maybe find a few patterns of my own!
    I put my Markus Operandi into a plastic page protector with a piece of cardboard behind it so that it won`t get wrinkled or marked up or spilled upon – hope some people can use this idea!

  • Ginger White

    Linda, I love how you support Rick and Maria, and help us all to be proactive in advancing our tangling practices! MO will be a staple in my supplies. I printed out the original size, plus one to work with homemade 6″ tiles! Rosemary’s idea to sleeve in plastic is so smart.

  • Deborah Davis

    I love it. Think I will have to order the Project Pack. What kind of brain comes up with somethng like this? Thank you

  • LLS

    Thank you so much for sharing this again. I had seen it before but forgot all about it. I agree with Rosemary, it is easier than using a compass. I really appreciate her suggestion to put it in a page protector. I put it on one side, and the Marcus Operandus II (for Phi tiles) on the back side. Now they are together and protected. I really appreciate all the work you do to keep us up to date! THANK YOU AGAIN!

  • Linda Dochter, CZT

    LLS – Thanks for passing along the suggestion about the page protector. Excellent idea.

  • Barbara Pederson

    when I print the Markus Operandus out on 8.5 x 11 paper it comes out too big. The Zendala tile covers the inside circle but not the outside circle as shown in the video about giving instructions how to print this out so it is in the right proportions. Do I print it out at 75% or 85%?
    I am using a PC with Windows 10 Thanks

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      Hi Barbara, A Zendala tile is less than 5 inches in diameter and the template prints out easily on regular letter size paper without any special instructions. I suggest you check your printer dialogue box and make sure you have the Page Scaling section set to “none”. That should work 🙂

  • Debbie McPherson

    Maria, I love the Markus Operandus! I’m kind of into optical illusions, and you can have soooo much fun doing them with this tool.

    thanks for sharing

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