My Favorite tangling, Coloring and Shading Supplies
In this page I will add some of my favorite inking, shading and coloring supplies, to make it easier for those who ask. These are my own recommendations and I use these same tools and supplies. Keep in mind that the links contained here have affiliate links, that is, when you click through my links to Amazon and get these products, I get a small referral commission -- AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU. You must click through my links, otherwise I won't get the commission: I really appreciate it, it's just a way to support the work I am doing!
Inking and Fineliner Pens
Inking pens and fineliners are used to create the line art of a piece. These are my favorite ones:
This is the inking pen most commonly used by tangler, and somewhat endorsed by Zentangle, Inc. The ink is very high quality, archival grade, and the price of the pens is very reasonable.
The only thing that bothers me is the numbering convention. Their 01 pen is NOT 0.1mm, but yet 0.25mm. I don't know why they did it like that.
Get this pack here.
The Copic fineliners are some of my favorite inking pens: they are made with the very superior pigment ink from Copic, and the pen is heavy and substantial, feels really well balanced. They are a bit on the expensive side, so if you want to get only one to try it out, then get the 0.1mm.
The good thing about this pen is that you can get a replacement cartridge when the ink runs out:
Keep in mind that although these are wonderfully substantial pens and feel great to draw with, it is a high tech piece of equipment: if you tend to be heavy handed, you can flatten the nibs (like I have done countless times). The good thing is that you can replace them!
Also keep in mind that this particular pen might get clogged if you draw over colored pencil.
If you really want a thinner 0.1mm (true size) pen but are hesitant in spending on the Copics, then go with the Staedtler Liner. One of my favorite pens, the ink is beautiful, and the tip is very reliable, doesn't clog easily over other medium as the copics. Keep in mind that at this size, all pens have a tendency to clog a tiny bit when drawn over other media!
This pen is for the ultimate light hand artist: a mere 0.03mm, it produces the thinnest and most delicate lines. I like this pen because the barrel is only slightly thicker than other disposable pens, making it more comfortable to use. Get it here
I love these fineliners because they are TRULY 0.05mm -- super fine -- and come in a variety of colors. Good for really tiny detailed work.
These are my newfound love: the gray pigment is not as strong as the black ink and allows for very subtle shading and softer lines than the black. This are only available in disposable pens, but in a good range of thin nib widths. Get it here
This pen is a thin 0.1mm and the color of graphite pencil. This makes it especially interesting when combined with black inking pen -- you can use it to create faded backgrounds or to complement pencil shading -- with the advantage that it will not be erased. I find it particularly interesting to use to create line-work before using other water media such as distress inks and watercolors. Get it here.
An important comment about fineliners
Watch carefully for the TRUE NIB SIZE. Some pens are named 005, but their nibs are NOT 0.05MM. THAT IS PARTICULARLY TRUE WITH SAKURA PENS. Although Sakura are marked as 005, 01, 02, 03, etc, these numbers DO NOT correspond to the actual width of the pen nib. You can see that the 005 Sakura Pen is actually a 0.20mm, much thicker than the 0.1mm I enjoy so much. I find that a bit confusing. Still, they are very good quality and the ink will color over MOST other media, which makes it a favorite amongst artists including me:
Distress Inks react with water and with other inks in ways that produce beautiful mottled backgrounds. My favorite brand is Tim Holtz's Ranger.
This is my all time favorite type of distress ink, it comes in a spray ink bottle, and you can also remove the top to dip directly into the bottle with a brush. Forms beautiful patterns, especially if you mix drip water, or work over wet paper. Get it here
These are fantastic water-soluble markers that not only can be blended with a simple paintbrush with a little water, they also form the gorgeous blooms with salt or water sprinkles. The have two different tips, a brush and a fine point. Get it here
Pencils come in a variety of hardness and blackness graphites. For super smooth shading, I recommend starting with 2H, then going to H, passing through F or HB for slightly darker areas and finalizing with 2B. I only use 6B for very large or dark areas, very selectively.
Most pencils are totally fine, and I've tried a number of brands, but this is by far my favorite. Not only the graphite is smoother, the wooden casing is very nice and never breaks when sharpened. This is rather hard to find, so if you can't find this exact set, get a set that has 2H, H, F, HB and 2B. Get it here
To make that graphite pencil smooth, I like to use a blending stump, which is a hard roll of paper in the shape of a pencil. This is not the same as a tortillion, which is a hollow roll of paper.
I've tried many different brands of colored pencils and I've come to the conclusion that colored pencils are a matter of personal preference. Some are more buttery and some are harder, it depends on you.
These are my all time favorite colored pencils, they are made of wax pigment and are soft and SUPER BUTTERY. The results are luxurious colorful!
I have the largest set of 150 colors, but you may not want to invest so much on pencils that soon. I recommend getting at least 72 colors. Get it here.
Polychromos colored pencils are OIL BASED, not wax like the prismacolors. Because of that, the lead is not as buttery as the prismacolors, but it lays a much more vibrant layer of color, and at times, the delicacy of this pencil can be welcome. The wooden casing is of superior quality and sharpens to a super fine point. Get it here
If you get anything other than the super large set, don't forget to get a Colorless Blender Pencil, to create smooth transitions between colors:
(Oh, if you would like more information on how to use the colorless blender with your colored pencils, get my Vibrant Color Shading ebook here).
Caran D'ache Neocolor II watercolor crayons
These are the most fantastic crayons even: not only are they smooth and waxy to work dry, they also are WATER soluble and blend into wonderfully vibrant colors. You can apply them directly over paper and then blend with a wet paintbrush, or scribble on a piece of palette paper to use as watercolor paint. The only drawback: don't draw too much with black inking pen over them, since the particles might clog the pen. You can get them here through Amazon.
Acrylic Markers - Red
Red acrylic markers are a fun supply to work over gold, as described in my ebook Tangling with Gold. Both brands I recommend are excellent, very vibrant and opaque red:
Montana Acrylic Marker
Molotow Acrylic Marker
Colored Pencil Sharpeners
I LOVE Prismacolor Premium colored pencils, they are soft and buttery. The only problem is that the wax lead sometimes can be prone to breaking, and I destroyed many valuable pencils while attempting to get a super sharp point.
Until… I found out that colored pencils require special sharpeners. These are the ones that I tested myself and they are all good:
Click on the image to directly to the Amazon.com page:
Faber-Castell Trio Sharpener
This one is Faber-Castell, but works just the same with all colored pencils I've tried. I like it because it also comes with a regular pencil sharpener, so it saves me space in my portable drawing kit:
Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener
This one is made by Prismacolor and works really well with their own pencils. The advantage of it is that it has two settings, you can choose the length of the pencil tip, short or long.
This sharpener is excellent, produces very high quality points. It has 5 different settings for point sizes -- a bit of an exaggeration in my opinion, but the sharpness of the blade is really good.
Paper & Artist Paper Tiles
The paper takes a bit of a beating when shading heavily, so I always recommend a heavy card stock paper. My favorite is BRISTOL SMOOTH (or its nearest cousin Bristol Vellum), which has the smoothest surface for black and white shading. I would not recommend this one for coloring, though, it's too smooth. This particular pad measures 11x14inches, so you can easily cut twelve 3.5inch tiles from each page with minimal waste. Get it here
If you are not the cutting type, then you can get these Artist Tiles by Strathmore in Bristol Vellum. Not quite as smooth as the Bristol Smooth, but still excellent quality, and better for colored pencils since they have more tooth. Keep in mind that these are NOT in the original Zentangle® 3.5inch square sizes: they are slightly larger, measuring 4x4 inches. Get it here.
This super tiny sketch book is the exact size of a Zentangle® tile, measuring only 3.5x3.5 inches. Ideal to carry in a purse for those moments of inspiration. What I like about it is that the paper is not too flimsy, it's 90lb. cardstock. Not as thick as a regular tile, but still pretty good for tests.
These are an inexpensive option the original Zentangle® tiles. The tiles measure 3.5x3.5 inches, and instead of rounded corners have a chamfer. The quality of the paper is OK, it's very white and smooth. I find these a bit too smooth for my taste, and a bit too white, I miss the handmade off-white color and texture of the official Zentangle tiles. If you enjoy smooth shading with graphite, then these are a totally fine option.
Zentangle original artist tiles
If you want to get the original Zentangle® tiles, then you can find them at Zentangle.com.
A bit of a taboo in the traditional Zentangle world (there are no mistakes!), I like to use a precision eraser after shading to bring back some of the highlights. My favorite one is the refillable one by Tombow:
Tombow Mono Zero Precision eraser 2.3mm
Gray Markers for Shading
Copic Markers (refillable)
My all time favorite brand is Copic: there is just something about the ink quality which makes it flow over the paper. Warning, these are not cheap markers, but the quality is infinitely superior to anything else I have tried. If you get them, then you CAN AND SHOULD also get the refills, which eventually offsets the cost of the markers. Here is a small set that comes with a multiliner too.
If you would rather get them individually, then get the Neutral Grays: N0, N2 and N4 to begin with.
White Pens for Highlighting
White pens have a number of useful purposes: you can "erase" (cover up) any mistakes you made with ink or markers or you can help to fade away excessive shading. My favorite use for white gel and paint pens is creating vibrant highlights over shaded or colored work.
I'm in love with this pen -- it produces very opaque results over most medium and is easy to use. Although the packaging claims to be "extra fine tip", this is not a delicate thin pen, it's very broad even for a marker. However, with care I've been able to create super tiny dots (not lines) with it, and am quite happy. The white is ULTRA white and that is enough for me.
The best use for this pen is to create very opaque and white highlights over colored pencil Gems. Make sure you get the WATER based one -- I tested the oil based cousin and it did not perform anywhere nearly as well.
This is a very thick paint marker -- 1mm -- and the only reason why I include it in my short list is because it's made of acrylic paint, and as such is VERY opaque and will paint white over almost anything, including those pesky purple and red colored pencils which tend to seep into other whites.
To view a comparison chart between pens, visit this post!
Organize and sort
This gorgeous little album is made of two parts: the Becky Higgins 4x4 inches album, and the 2x2 inches plastic pockets. It's the cutest thing! Make sure to get a lot of pages, since each page only fits 8 bijou tiles (4 in front, 4 in the back).
This is an alternative to the bijou punch (which has been discontinued). This punch creates these cute scalloped squares, which measure a little less than 2" on the sides (2.5 inches diagonally.
The squares a little smaller than the bijous as you can see in the picture, but they fit in the coin collector sleeves!
Get the punch here.
I use these 8x8 faux-leather albums by Becky Higgins to store my FINISHED TILES. These can hold four 4-inch tiles, and I like these better than the Zentangle specific albums because I sometimes use 4x4 tiles I cut out of paper myself instead of just the official 3.5 inch tiles.
These Becky Higgins plastic pages have 4 sleeves which fit 4x4 inch tiles. I like to use these for my finished tiles better than using Zentangle specific, since they fit both 3.5 and 4 inch tiles. I don't like the inserts, but I couldn't find the pages without them, so I just remove them.
These coin collector plastic pages fit 2x2 inch bijou tiles PERFECTLY. And the pages fit regular Letter size 3-ring binders, so you don't have to get the fancy album. There are other brands out there, but this one is made of very good transparent plastic and I have bought them twice already.
This 2x2 punch from beckyhiggins.com is ideal to save some money and create small samples, thumbnails of tangles. They fit perfectly into 2x2 coin collector pages. I recommend using bristol paper or card stock.
UNFORTUNATELY THIS ITEM IS DISCONTINUED!!!!
If you can find it at Michaels, you're in luck. Let me know if you can find a similar 2x2 inch punch. Keep in mind that most punches are measured in DIAGONAL, which is not the right size.
The wonderful and helpful Jenny Perruzzi from Acadia Laser Creations created this set of stencils for my Step-out recipe cards. They will fit on 6x4 cards, with three different layouts for you to choose.
Other Tools & Supplies
My vision has deteriorated over the years due to harsh chemo and also aging. Glasses and head magnifiers weren't doing the trick! I finally found something I like, it's a magnifier glass that also has a lamp. I'm super pleased with it. Get it here.
Sometimes you need to seal the work first in order to continue adding more. For example, sometimes colored pencils can bleed the color onto Gems when adding the white highlights. Another example is when you've used so much colored pencil on the paper that it has lost its "tooth" (grain).
If you need to continue working on the piece, use a "workable fixative", that is, a spray that creates more tooth and allows you to continue working. This is different than a "Final fixative", which is used to seal off the work when it's done.
This is my favorite brand, it works beautifully and does not yellow (as far as I can tell). Get it here.
This is a fixative when you want to stop your coloring or shading from fading or brushing off. It can also help if you feel that the paper has lost its tooth. Get it here.
Learn Zentangle and Art: