The basic tools for Zentangle. are, a pen, a pencil, a square paper tile, and a tortillion (a paper stump). You can get by with a school number 2 pencil. You can draw in any notebook you have available and you can shade with your fingers. But, you cannot skip on the type of pen you use. You need a good quality pen. Your pen needs to be able to produce a smooth line and you need to be able to draw your lines without indenting the paper. If your pen leaves an indentation on your paper. It can interfere with your shading process and leave a narrow valley that is difficult to shade. I have experimented with many, many pens and in my opinion there are 3 pens that are best for drawing Zentangle Art. I keep a good supply of all three for different reasons. In this article I will share my three choices and the reasons behind my decisions.
Sakura’s Pigma Micron
The Sakura Pigma Micron is the ultimate best pen for creating Zentangle Art. It marks super smooth. The Archival quality Pigma ink is waterproof, chemical proof and fade resistant, making this an exemplary pen for creating Zentangle Art. They come in lots of colors and nine different sized tips. They are a real joy to draw with.
However, the Micron Pens are hard to find. Not every store carries them and the stores that do, carry them in limited quantities. The stores that carry the Micron Pens often stock the multi packs but not the single pens. I use the finer tipped pens more the the broad tipped pens and so I end up with pens I do not use very often.
Micron Pen tips are delicate and are easily damaged. The pen will not write if the tip is damaged. I have to buy extra pens in the sizes that I like to draw with. Amazon or Zentangle.com are my two main sources for purchasing my pens. I like to buy them in bulk which leads to my next complaint.
Micron Pens dry out easily. They need to be stored vertically. They need to be stored in a dark cool place.Even when I store them properly my pens often dry out before I get a chance to use them. Then I still run out of my favorite pens. Pens that dry out before I have a chance to use them is a waste of money.
The Sukara Apprentice Pen
The Sukara Apprentice Pen is a bic pen with the same wonderful archival quality pigma ink that the micron pens have. It is a pen that is wonderful for children or people who tend to press hard when they draw. As far as I know the Apprentice Pen comes in only one tip size. — the most common tip size — .05. and only in black. It dries out faster the an ordinary bic pen. It also needs to be stored vertically. I like to keep this pen in my travel kit as it travels better then the micron does.
I used Sharpie Ultra-Fine pens to draw Zentangle Art even before I knew about the Zentangle Method. They are found in most every store that sells pens. Sharpies are permanent pens but are not light fast. Therefore anything that is created with a sharpie will have to be protected from the sun. and will still fade with time. Sharpies come in a limited sized tips. they tend to last longer than the Sakura pens. I keep them on hand as just in case pens and use them when I do not have a Sakura pen available. They bleed through the paper.. If I am using a light weight paper I need to protect my surface underneath. If I am drawing in a journal I always place a thin paper between my drawing and the still unused pages of the journal.
Whatever pen you choose, it is important to use the best . Part of the Zentangle experience is appreciation. That includes the material and tools you use. It’s the small things that combine to make the big thing. So strive to use the best materials and tools you can. Take a breath, feel how the pen glides across the paper. Watch the ink kiss the paper. Enjoy the process.