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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 to date:

  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

NOTE: You can always find the Project Pack Summaries by looking under ZENTANGLES on the top menu bar for the Zentangle Project Packs page. OR by looking in the left sidebar under TANGLES BY TYPE for the tag projectpack.

Related Links


Enhance your Zentangle experience while supporting TanglePatterns: TANGLE GUIDE, 2020 Edition TANGLE GUIDE, 2020 Edition

The 9th Edition of my TANGLE GUIDE. This instant-download 79-page (54 MB) interactive digital eBook contains all the tangles on the site from May 2010 through December 31, 2019. Containing almost 1,400 tangles, it's a must-have tool for using the site. Visit the STORE > E-BOOKS page and support by getting your copy now!

"Linda, Thank you! I was relying on too few and getting stuck after 3 years of daily working with Zentangle. This has inspired me to ‘begin again’ with renewed excitement." ~ Barbara R.

See the BOOK REVIEWS page for more details on its features and view a sample page. Note: this is a digital product you download when you place your order, nothing will be physically mailed to you.
GIFT ORDERS FOR ANOTHER PERSON: To give the TANGLE GUIDE as a gift, visit this page to place your gift order.
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 1This 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.
NEW! Now available in KINDLE format for $9.99.
"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

The Official Zentangle KitAnother great jump-starter for new tanglers is the original Official Zentangle Kit. The Kit includes all the supplies you'll need to get started properly: Sakura Micron Pens, Zentangle Tiles, pencil, sharpener, tortillion, a booklet and an instructional DVD by co-founder Maria Thomas. Click on the image for more information about the Kit and its contents.


3 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

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