My Favorite tangling, Coloring and Shading Supplies

Eni Oken's favorite inking and shading supplies •
Eni Oken's favorite inking 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:

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

Distress Inks react with water and with other inks in ways that produce beautiful mottled backgrounds. My favorite brand is Tim Holtz's Ranger. 

Graphite Pencils

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. 

Blending Stumps

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.

Colored Pencils

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.

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:

Learn to create great color shading with Eni Oken •
Learn to create great color shading with Eni Oken •

(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).

Watercolor media

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 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:

Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •
Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •

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.

Stad T'Gaal Pencil Sharpener - Orange

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.

Click here to get it on

Paper & Artist Paper Tiles

Zentangle original artist tiles

If you want to get the original Zentangle® tiles, then you can find them at


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

Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •
Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •

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.

Sharpie White Paint Extra Fine Point - water based

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.

Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •
Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •

Click here to get it on

Uniball Signo Broad White gel pen

If you are using white gel pen directly over tan, gray or black paper, then I recommend this pen instead. It has very good smooth coverage directly over paper. It does not perform as well over colored pencil as the Sharpie though.

Learn how to create Gems with Eni Oken
Learn how to create Gems with Eni Oken

Click here to get it at

Uniball Signo Angelic White gel pen

This is the thinnest white gen pen I have found yet. It's not the best one I've tried, but since it has a thin tip, you can use it for thin delicate lines.

Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •
Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •

Click here to get it on

Gelly Roll White Gel pen

This is one of the first brands of white gel pen I tried and I still like it -- the ink is pretty opaque. The point is not exactly the thinnest one, but it has worked well for me over time.

Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •
Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •
Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •
Learn how to create great shading with Eni Oken's ebooks •

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.

Click here to get it at Amazon

To view a comparison chart between pens, visit this post!

Organize and sort

Other Tools & Supplies


Learn Zentangle and Art: