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What is Zentangle?
Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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Pens and More

The pages under this heading are a roundup of great pens and related tools to use for your Zentangles and Zentangle-inspired art. Some are still under construction, and all will be updated constantly as new tools are added.

There are so many tools out there in artist supply stores and online that I have no doubt there are many wonderful pens, inks, etc. I’ve missed.

Please share your finds in the comments on this page, or email me [linda AT tanglepatterns DOT com] and I’ll add them to the pages for all to benefit.

The same goes for any tips you’d like to share.


32 comments to Pens and More

  • I’ve seen many tangle pics where a white pen or pencil has been used to accent on top of the black ink. It covers the black ink quite well. What do you use? I’ve tried a couple of “chalk pencils” but am not thrilled with the results.

    • Linda Farmer

      Good question, Cindi, thanks. I’m sure lots of Zentangle Zealots will be interested too so I added a page in the TIPS & TOOLS section for “White Ink”. I think the ink is your best bet for coverage and accents. I haven’t personally seen or used white pens or markers, but maybe others can add their experience to our knowledge base on that page.

  • Chris Clark

    I have really been enjoying this website and learning to tangle. I never thought I could draw, but this has really helped me to learn how. I love this new tips and tools section. One thing I have just discovered are the Pentel Slicci Gel Pens. They come in colors that have an extra fine tip which I have not tried, but their metallics have a 0.8mm tip, which I love, and I do have those. They are very nice! And I always think a little bit of glitz on anything adds some pzazz!

    Thanks for all your time and efforts with this wonderful site!

  • Susan Sauls

    I found a pen on E-Bay that I’ve enjoyed, in addition to the Sakura Micron and Zig Millenium pens. It is the Uni Pin Fine Line, and is made by the Mitsubishi Pencil Co., Ltd. It comes in the same sizes as the Micron, but the point has a little different feel when I’m using it.

    I like the Prismacolor Premiere Fine Line Markers, too; I get them in a set at Hobby Lobby with a coupon!

    Love this site!

  • Cindy Mathewson

    To color in large areas on my tangles I love using the Sakura Black Brush Pen. It is so smooth and the black is so black. It really makes my tangles pop.

  • Carrie

    i am wanting to get some feedback on markers, i know adding color is not part of a true zentangle, but i have been asked to do some work with color, and i am having problems choosing a good marker, if i need to spend the money on a good set, i want to make the right choice.

    my options right now are the tombows dual brush markers, and the blick studio markers found here:

    can anyone give me some feedback on these or other markers they reccomend?

  • Susan

    I don’t know the size of your work, but the Blick Studio Markers have a chisel tip and a “fine” tip that I think would be too large for delicate areas. The fine point of the Tombow brush marker might be small enough; again, it depends on the size of your work. Sakura Microns also come in an eight-color assortment (05) and a six-color assortment (005 and 01). I also like Prismacolor Premiere Illustration Markers, which come in sets of black pens and color sets (05 and 005 for the color sets). Most of my colored markers are Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens (brush), and they come in forty-eight colors (available in open stock in case you don’t need all the colors in a set), but I also like the Staedler Triplus Fineline Pens, which come in 10 or 20 color assortments. All of these are available from Dick Blick…can you tell I have a pen addiction!?!?

  • Carrie

    thank you so much for the reccomendations Susan, can you tell me if the blick studio markers are blendable like the tombows?

  • Carrie

    also do you have problems with bleeding, or feathering witht he faber castell pitt artist pens?

  • Susan

    I have not had a bleeding or feathering problem. I usually work on watercolor paper (mostly cold press, but occasionally hot press). There is a colorless blender to go with the Dick Blick markers, and I think you can blend the FC brush pens with water until dry. Do a search on YouTube for the markers/pens in which you’re interested. Manufacturers have presentations, as well as “regular” users.

  • Michelle

    I am wondering about what pen you would use on material. I have ordered a calico apron and want something that will wash and wear.

    Also what pen would you use on a canvas? The Sakura have like a felt tip to them and the canvas is rough so destroys it in about 5 seconds.

    Thanks for your help


    • Linda Farmer

      Hi Michelle, have a look at this page – Fabric Pens. I’m not sure about working on canvas, I know it is very harsh on pen nibs. I’m hoping someone else can answer that question while I do a little investigating myself.

    • milla

      sharpie fine point pen and markers seem to handle a canvas well from my experience uni pin but only 0.5 up wouldn’t think 0.1 can uni pin is a harder nib only problem i found with the uni pin is ink runs out quick hope this helps

  • Laurie

    Can you recommend a black fine tip paint marker brand and where to purchase it. One that will work on glossy porcelain dish ware. Even one that will withstand dishwashing, oven and microwave use.

    Thank you.

  • I’m no expert but have been trying to find a good pen for glossy surfaces. The problem is finding one that is permanent. Most can be removed with alcohol and alcohol based cleaners. If you can avoid that then Sakura’s Microperm and Identi-pens are an option. They write on the surface and dry quickly. Don’t know about dishwashing, oven or microwave use. I doubt that they are food safe.

    Another option is the Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Paint Markers. Dick Blick carries them.

    They are spring-loaded so you have to pump the tip to get the paint flowing and the tip is not all that fine. Finished items need to be baked in the oven to set the paint. The article on Blick states that the company says they are dishwasher safe but recommend that they not be used for surfaces that come in contact with food. I understand Pebeo makes a paint you apply with a brush but I’m guessing the food restriction still applies.

  • HI Linda

    For those interested in pens for glass or ceramic tiles, I have used Pebeo products in the past with great success. They have Porcelaine 150 and Vitrea 160. The coffee cup I did a few months ago is at the dome studio, I will ‘check it out’ dishwasher wise :>

    If the work is allowed to sit, the paint will cure in several days. If the item is needed sooner, the piece can be heat-cured in a regular oven — read the instructions on the pens or the bottles. It comes in great colors, too!

    One student had success with Folk Art Enamels. It will cure in 21 days, or can be heated to cure.

    Regardless of the product you choose… DO follow the prep instructions. Success of the project depends on the glass before you work.

    Best wishes!

  • Ann

    Just found out about zentangle two days ago and I am instantly hooked. I was worried it was just for kids as I am almost 30 years old, but have found out that is not the case. This website is amazing!!! Thank you so much.

  • Judy

    Hi, Patsy.
    I’ve used Pebeo products (not really for tangling, just painting).

    I have found that the porcelaine lasted quite a while after repeated runs in the dish washer, but began to chip off after about 2 years or so.
    Recommend hand washing for anything using those.

    The Vitrea paints work extremely well on decorative stuff. Made Christmas ornaments and suncatchers.
    If you’re going to use it on dishware items, you should probably hand wash those too.

  • Judy

    Hey, all. There’s a good site for product reviews and organizing. It has some good stuff about white pens, marker comparisons, all kinds of info.
    Happened onto it while looking for reviews on white ink.

  • Judy

    Any recommendations for fabric pens? I think we need to.. ahem.. address this question.

  • Juliet

    I know everyone has there favourite pen and I have tried quite a few but being keen on ‘making’ things decided to make my own pen. I have made quill pens in the past with goose feathers (not so easy to get) but have started experimenting with bamboo pens. You really need green, growing bamboo to make them (I have some in my garden) and a sharp craft pen and a razor blade (to make the slit in the nib). I have made several different width nibs (calligraphy style) including very fine tips for drawing. I have only worked with Chinese ink so far, but have found them really good to work with – and they hold a surprising amount of ink once you have got them properly loaded. Cutting the nib isn’t difficult and there are loads of sites that have instructions and I found some of my calligraphy books also had good illustrations. If you can get some live bamboo of a pen diameter it is certainly worth a go for this and calligraphy.

  • Juliet


    The simple answer is yes. Because bamboo is strong and flexible, you can cut it to an incredible point. It takes a very sharp knife and the confidence to thin the bamboo sufficiently, but you can get an amazingly fine line. I will send some pictures so you can judge for yourself.

  • Patricia Ann Walker

    I would love to learn how to do that. Do you know of a good video or tutorial that teaches it ?

  • Juliet


    Here is one link – uses green bamboo – Uses dry bamboo and a chisel to cut it

    I have also seen videos on TouTube – just search for ‘making a bamboo pen’ – often linked to Arabic Calligraphy e.g. (uses dry bamboo).

    I find living bamboo much easier to shape but it does seem, from looking around, that many are using shop bought, dry bamboo. Most of the demos cut a broad calligraphy nib, but once you know the basics, you can make the nib as narrow as you like including a fine point. Many calligraphy books also have instructions on making reed pens as well as quills.

    Good luck with making your pens. I find it incredibly satisfying working with something I have made myself.

  • Kate

    any idea where to get the Sketch Plan pens that come with the Tangle Art kit from Quarry – or another graphic fine tip pen – waterproof with a rounded edge rather than a square tip?

  • Juliet Herring

    I’ve just started experimenting with pre-stretched, primed canvases. Working on a textured surface is interesting, and working at a larger scale presents other challenges.

    One aspect is filling in areas of black and rather than buying thicker brush pens I used drawing ink with a brush, which worked well. I then decided that an even better idea was to use a brush with a built in water reservoir and fill that with ink. To fill the reservoir I used a straw rather than dipping the barrel into the ink pot, dipping the straw in then closing off the end to trap the ink – I didn’t have a pipette available.

    These water fill brushes come in a couple of sizes and mean you don’t have to have an open pot of ink around. A great alternative to buying expensive brush pens. The brushes are about the same price as a good quality brush pen but you can keep refilling them. So far it hasn’t leaked although I do try to keep it upright in a pot when not in use and haven’t put it in my pencil roll.

    One other problem with these primed canvases is that the ink takes longer to dry and seems to be more prone to smudging, so covering dry areas with a cloth or piece of kitchen paper means you can rest your hand without risking disaster.

  • Rita Miller

    Hi Linda! I know you have some info on here about Rick taking apart a Micron to reload it with ink, but I’m curious…. Is there any way to replace the nib? I’ve just started reloading some with ink and it seems to work well, but my issue is that I’m too bloody heavy handed with my pens…egad. Anything you can share would be greatly appreciated!

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      HI Rita, I don’t know of a way to replace the nibs. For those who tend to be heavy handed my recommendation would be to use the Micron PN pens (you’ll find them here), they have strong Plastic Nibs that stand up to heavier pressure. The nibs are a touch wider (0.45mm) than the Micron 01 (0.25mm) but they’re much more durable. I would say they’re a bit more user-friendly then the Micron 01 which is meant to be used with a light touch and in an upright position. Sakura says about the PNs: “The polyacetal nib structure allows for smooth ink-flow whether writing fast or slow, for right or left handed users, and for writing at an angle.” The ink is the same in both, so there’s no sacrifice there.
      Hope that helps! 🙂

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