Thursday, August 1, 2013


When I teach zentangle classes, I always encourage my students to shade their tiles.  I also let them know that shading does take practice and the more you do the more confident you get.  It makes such a difference to the finished tile and adds so much contrast and interest.  I remember Maria Thomas telling us in  CZT class that some tangles will literally jump of the page with just a little shading, and that is so true!  The one thing I see beginner's doing (and I was guilty of this too) is not putting enough graphite on the tile.  In other words, when you look at the tile, you can barely see that it is shaded at all.  It's good to start out lightly, but when you like the look, try adding more graphite for a darker shaded area and see what a difference it makes.  The one think you want to be careful of is covering your whole tile in gray, because you still want to have the contrast between the light and darker areas.  One other way to tell if shading makes a difference in your work is to take a picture of your tile or ZIA prior to shading and then one after and you should see a noticeable difference.  I am not an expert in shading, but I think I am improving all the time with practice.  Here is a 5x7 ZIA before and after shading pictures.  Notice how much more dimension the shaded piece has.

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In my classes I also recommend the book Made in the Shade, by  CZT, Cris Letourneau.  This is a great workbook that is full of wonderful information on everything to do with shading zentangles.  Cris covers in depth, getting to know your tools, shading simple shapes, shading tangles, shading ZIA, and shares some new tangle patterns.  The workbook is set up for you to practice what you learn every step of the way with examples to fill in right in the book.  At the end there are a lot of samples for you to practice shading from a lot of CZT's and artists.  So if you want to get more in depth practice with shading check out Cris Letourneau's book at this link to her blog.
As Rick & Maria from Zentangle Inc. say, "Not everything in life is black and white, but all shades in between". 
(Note:  If you made it to the bottom of this post and know how to show pictures side by side in Blogger, let me know.  They are side by side when I am writing my post, but not when it is published????  Thanks) 


  1. Pretty! And I agree - the shading makes it 3D.

  2. Great idea to do the before and after copies to see the difference. I am loving 'Nzepple with a totally black background. Looks stunning!

  3. I love your tangles! I opened both images in new tabs so I could examine them closely, I love the shading, it does add so much to the image... I just received that book Made in the Shade, it is well worth getting, I have learned so much from it!

    The reason your images aren't side by side is they are just a hair too large for the space while sitting side by side... you can shrink it, you can edit the post, click on the image and choose a smaller size to view, your viewers can still click on the images to see them full size... or you can edit the image itself and make it just a little smaller, then re-upload them to your post.

  4. I just saw this. Thanks for the recommendation, Sue. I'm glad you and your students find the book helpful.