Hope this helps you with the ‘plain’ and the ‘quirky’ tangling terminology!
As the world of Zentangle covers the globe, in addition to the English version, you soon will be able to check out the translations by other CZTs working collaboratively with me, in Dutch by Maria Vennekens, in French by Celine Micout and hopefully to follow soon in Spanish and Japanese.
If you are keen to do some translating into your native language – please do get in touch.
Notice a term missing from the glossary? Send it through to me using the form at the bottom. 🙂
Anything is possible … one stroke at a time!® – This is a core Zentangle principle. Concentrate on making a simple line in the here and now. Don’t worry about the final picture.
Apprentice – Tiles which are larger and made of smoother paper; pens which have a plastic nib so cope with more pressure than a micron pen with a felt nib. Some tangles can also be considered apprentice tangles, and suitable for teaching younger children.
ATC – Artist Trading Card – a business card sized tile which artists draw an original piece of artwork on, and then trade with another artist. A lovely way to honour both your own work and that of another. Not just a Zentangle thing, is used by artists all over the world in different mediums.
Aura – A line or series of lines drawn round a tangle’s shape or element. Drawn closely around the initial tangle/shape, like a ripple in a pond.
Beginner Tangles – Recommended tangles for those just starting out with Zentangle. These tangles teach fundamentals and techniques to build on for learning other tangles.
Biggify – Taking a tangle you know and drawing it on a bigger scale. Sometimes you might use this as a string for smaller tangles within.
Bijou – Imaginary high-travelled snail from Paris, who inspired the name for the smallest square tiles.
Bijouism – Bijou’s prompt words and phrases about the Zentangle method, that you should remember when tangling (and in life in general).
Blossoming – Tangles which have central core and build out – some other types of tangles can be drawn in this manner e.g. flux.
Border – First four lines on the tile to join up your corner dots.
Border tangles – Tangles that can be drawn along a string line, to create a frame or border.
Botanical Tangles – a specific type of Organic Tangle which are drawn in a style of bloom, foliage, growing wild or plant like way. These are new species, often growing tangles together. They don’t look like an existing plant.
Cartouche – An ornate frame around a design, using Zentangle tangles in different ways to frame and adorn a beautiful object, photograph, design, letter or memorabilia object or charm.
Coffee Tangling– Sometimes known as Map Tangling or Wine Tangling or Spill Tangling. A Technique to create a coloured background with another medium (coffee, wine, beetroot juice) or artistic medium – (watercolour, inks, Lindy’s Magicals). Use a medium to add colour to some parts of the tile, then tangle on the coloured areas. This has been a technique switched from a mainstream art technique and given a tangling twist. Like many ideas came from more than one person trying it out so can be attributed to Sharon Payne CZT, Sharon McKenney CZT and Marion Tsai CZT.
Coffering – A tangle enhancer where you create an inner aura within a space of a tangle and then connect the corners of the aura to the tangle within. This detail mimics that of a coffered ceiling.
Corner dots – First marks on the tile to build your Zentangle. (You can choose not to start with corner dots, but they make for an easy start into the tile.)
Contrast – Sharp difference between two adjacent tangles. e.g. grid beside organic
Crazy tangles – These were first discovered by taking a basic regular grid and swapping it out for one that is inconsistent and uneven. This is now the name given to tangleations of a tangle to produce a less structured derivative of the original tangle.
CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher, a person certified by Rick and Maria (or others authorised) to teach Zentangle.
CZTAE – CZT Artifex Eruditio, an online conference for CZT. Artifex means artisan, expert and specialist, and Eruditio alludes to knowledge and learning. Following four principles, Co-learning, Empowering, Networking and Giving back. Organised by 7F5R (Seven Forest Five Rivers) for the CZT community, you can learn from other CZTs around the world, who show lessons with a year’s access.
Deconstruct – Reduce the tangle pattern to its elemental strokes so it can be recreated by repeating those strokes one at a time in a simple structured sequence.
Dewdrop – An enhancement technique for advanced tanglers, a circle drawn on the tile, section tangled, and inside the circle the tangle is enlarged/distorted, then highlighted, shaded and outlined.
Dingbatz – A Zentangle within a frame, named after a typography term ‘dingbat’. Drawn small with a frame in a stand-alone ornament style.
Dingsplatz – The string is created by a looped line to resemble a splat of paint, you tangle inside and outside of that string, often using coffering, auras and perfs.
Drama – An area of solid black. Can also apply to tangles that enjoy the dark side and have a LOT of black!
Drama Background – Some patterns can look ‘anchored’ with a black background, i.e. fill in the spaces behind elements of a tangle with black ink e.g. between the Poke root elements.
Drawing behind – The act of lifting your pen when you meet an existing element, imagining where the line would appear the other side of what you encountered, and draw again your line after it emerges on the other side. May also apply to edge of one section/tangle hiding behind the one next to it.
Elegance of Limits – Having defined boundaries of a border or string to inspire a level of creativity that would not exist without these limits.
Elemental strokes – The five basic strokes that combine in specific sequences to form tangles. Called because like atoms, they combine in specific ways to form the molecules of tangles. They are dots, straight lines, simple curved lines, reverse curves and orbs. iCSO
Erasing – Just as life has no eraser, there is no eraser in the Zentangle method. Even what you believe to be a mistake, can often lead to new insights and opportunities. So be creative with your wayward lines, rather than try to ‘erase’ them.
Fascinator – A tangle that sits above all of your other tangles. usually drawn first, so other tangles have the look of being drawn (and shaded) behind it. Attributed to Debbie New CZT when drawing Whatz-its
Flow – A state of focus in which a person is completely absorbed in their tangling.
Fragment – Drawn tangle element for a reticula, used by rotation, reflection, and/or alternating. Can be a square, circle, triangle, seed or organic shape (the Pangea tangle).
Gelly-roll Ink Pen – Easy flowing coloured ink pens. White for drawing on black tiles, or other colours to create colour within your artwork. In the Sakura range, they come in Moonlight, Metallic, Stardust, Glaze, Shadow/Luxue, and can also come in different line widths.
Gemstone – sometimes called a Zengem, a popular addition to turn an orb or other shape into a reflective coloured gemstone within art work, can look very effective within black and white tangles.
Geometric Tangles – A tangle that contains geometric shapes: square, triangle, rectangle, circle, octagon etc
Ghost tangling – (also known as pencil tangling) tangles drawn in pencil rather than pen, can be a reflection or as part of a composition.
Gradation – A gradual blending of value from dark to light, used in pencil shading.
Graffizen – A style technique to add a ‘drip’ to a tangle named by Mélanie Marty- a ‘street art’ feature that could be considered a mistake but becomes a deliberate stroke, first seen from two individuals, Svenja Crucible CZT and Mélanie Marty CZT.
Gratitude – It is always worth taking a moment to transition from the hustle and bustle of life. Breathe. Relax. Appreciate the time you have and materials you are using (not just in Zentangle😊).
Grid tangles – Tangles formed starting with a grid structure, and following that with other strokes to complete the tangle.
High Focus Tangles – Tangles that have multiple steps and more difficult line connections, that take focus and attention. Often they require more time to learn and execute, and are not recommended for beginners. However once you have mastered them they are extremely satisfying.
Holey – A fun technique that creates the illusion of a hole that goes through a component of the tangle, and you can see what lies beneath (another tangle perhaps)
Houdini – a technique used when working on black tiles with a white pen. You go back in with a black pen to make some of the white pen appear to disappear magically.
Hybrid Tangles or more commonly known as Tango Tangles – A type of tangleation created when you combine elements from two tangles into one tangle. Combining these is done with intent – not morphing one into another.
iCSO – the four letters of the alphabet that cover the elemental strokes of Zentangle tangles – a dot, a line, a curved line, a double curve and an orb – if you can draw these strokes you can draw any tangle.
Illumitangles™ – Illuminated letters with tangles. Trademarked term owned by Angie Vangalis CZT
Inspiration – Collective noun for a group of tangles!
Interstices – The small spaces between or within tangles.
Icosahedron – Twenty sided dice used with a legend as a random number generator to help you choose which tangle to draw next.
Legend – A card the same size as an original square tile with 20 numbered tangles usually drawn. Roll your icosahedron and then draw the tangle that corresponds with the number on the legend. Create your own legends. Helps you try new tangles and stops the ‘choosing dilemma’.
Map Tangling – Sometimes known as Coffee Tangling or Wine Tangling or Spill Tangling. A Technique to create a coloured background with another medium (coffee, wine, beetroot juice) or artistic medium – (watercolour, inks, Lindy’s Magicals). Use a medium to add colour to some parts of the tile, then tangle on the coloured areas. This has been a technique switched from a mainstream art technique and given a tangling twist. Like many ideas came from more than one person trying it out so can be attributed to Sharon Payne CZT, Sharon McKenney CZT and Marion Tsai CZT.
Maze Tangles – Tangles that expand to any section/shape e.g. Ibex, Nekton, Hollibaugh.
Meta–pattern – An image that results from drawing one or more tangles touching or near touching, that their combination reveals a new shape or pattern. e.g. Paradox. Can also be produced by a mosaic of tiles in an ensemble
Metamorphosis also known as morphing or transitions. – One tangle gently changes into another one – Start with one tangle, and through a series of steps morph it into another tangle. Three ways are creating this move ‘bridging’ using elements from both tangles to move from one to another, or by ‘extension’ using an elemental line to use in the tangle next door, e.g. extend a Hollibaugh line. Some tangles which look very similar can have a ‘natural’ transition.
Micro Tangling – Using the same 6 elements in a different way in a selection of mini squares or shapes on a single tile. Concept created by Sonia Gangoli CZT
Micron Pen – Traditionally used for Zentangle. A fine felt nib pen, usually black, and various nibs sizes available from Sakura brand from 005-12 nib widths, and also a brush style or with a more robust plastic nib (labelled PN or fine). Windsor and Newton, Staedtler and Derwent also make fine art pens.
Mindfulness (in a Zentangle context) – Finding a moment of calm, to use the soothing nature of concentrated focus with simple, repetitive strokes to slow down and be creative.
Mirror To draw a stroke or fragment next to another stroke or fragment that reflects the previously drawn stroke or fragment, as if you had put a mirror up beside it and it shows its reflection in the mirror.
Missed Takes – also known as No Mistakes, a mantra used in Zentangle that allows us to see every line as an opportunity and embrace every mark that is ours as artists. Whether intentional or not, with this perspective, one can learn to see the beauty and potential in whatever mark we make and whatever path our artistic journey takes.
Monotangle – A tile which only has one tangle on it, but can be enhanced or embellished as you please.
Morphing also known as a transition or metamorphosis – Start with one tangle, and through a series of steps morph it into another tangle. Three ways are creating this move ‘bridging’ using elements from both tangles to move from one to another, or by ‘extension’ using an elemental line to use in the tangle next door, e.g. extend a Hollibaugh line. Some tangles which look very similar can have a ‘natural’ transition.
Mosaic App – Free app for a smartphone which lets you see other’s artwork for inspiration and reference information from Zentangle HQ.
Nature tangles – Tangles that look organic of foliage -like, inspired by nature.
No Mistakes – also known as Missed Takes, a mantra used in Zentangle that allows us to see every line as an opportunity and embrace every mark that is ours as artists. Whether intentional or not, with this perspective, one can learn to see the beauty and potential in whatever mark we make and whatever path our artistic journey takes.
No regrets – Even if a tile does not turn out as you expect, there is always another tile, another day, another opportunity and another stroke. Accept it as it is today, you may come back to it another day with a fresh and less judgemental perspective.
Non-representational – Zentangle has no up or down it can be rotated, viewed, drawn and displayed on any orientation.
Opus tile – Large square tile for producing a bigger piece (equal to 9 original tiles)
Orb – often in Zentangle we talk about drawing ‘orbs’ not ‘circles’ as it is hard to draw a perfect circle freehand, so drawing an orb allows for uneven and expected shapes as your pen draws this Elemental stroke.
Pattern – Tangles are derived from patterns observed both from nature and the physical world created by humans. A pattern is not a tangle until it has been deconstructed.
Pearl – Shading a circle so that it appears 3-D, just like a beautiful pearl.
Pen – A permanent marker to draw a tangle. Can be any brand or size, I always say use your favourite, or what best suits the materials you are working on. A stick on the beach is the best pen with that medium!
Pencil – A guiding marker used to draw dots, border and strings, & to add shading.
Phi – In a Zentangle context – a rectangular shaped tile which the dimensions of are based on the Fibonacci sequence, and the golden ratio.
Pre-strung tiles – Come with pencil-like strings pre-printed on them. They are useful when you don’t want to think about what string to draw.
Project Pack – Various project kit sets from Zentangle.com which have been put together to follow a particular project series via their YouTube videos.
RAZ – Random Acts of Zentangle. Inspired by the Random Acts of Kindness, leave a completed tile for someone else to find – left anonymously.
Redefine the line – To trace over an existing line, to give it more definition – as seen in Nzeppel.
Renaissance – Colour of tan tile, based on the renaissance art look, where sketches were often done on cheaper (non white paper). Here you can darken with a graphite pencil and highlight with white charcoal.
Reflect – Used interchangeably with ‘mirror’.
Relaxed Focus The phase when you have settled into tangling and focus with each stroke of your pen.
Rotate – To turn your tile under your drawing hand so you draw similar strokes in a similar relaxed manner. To turn a fragment within your reticula.
Romanancy– An exploration of wrapping tangles, border-like, over uneven surfaces, e.g. columns
Seed Tangles – tangles that begin with anchor points that are composed of dots, orbs, basic shapes or dashes in an arranged layout. Additional strokes are added which make the initial marks disappear as the tangle is created. Also one of the fragment shapes.
Shade – With a pencil to add graphite to create an illusion of depth and dimension, add emphasis or interpretation, by change in contrast, gradation or value.
Sparkle – Interrupted lines when drawing the tangle which create a shiny reflective area to a tangle’s elements.
Spill out – Technique of drawing a small area of a tangle sometimes drawn early on the tile away from a bigger section of the same tangle, so it looks like they ‘spilled out’ over another tangle away from the section with the tangle in it. There are lots of different ways to add this to a tile.
Spill Tangling – Sometimes known as Coffee Tangling or Wine Tangling or Map Tangling. A Technique to create a coloured background with another medium (coffee, wine, beetroot juice) or artistic medium – (watercolour, inks, Lindy’s Magicals). Use a medium to add colour to some parts of the tile, then tangle on the coloured areas. This has been a technique switched from a mainstream art technique and given a tangling twist. Like many ideas came from more than one person trying it out so can be attributed to Sharon Payne CZT, Sharon McKenney CZT and Marion Tsai CZT.
Steampunked – Giving a tangle an enhancement technique with inspiration from the the steam-powered Victorian England era. e.g. wheels, gears, sprockets, clock parts old machinery. It started off as a literary genre (a sub-genre of science fiction) which combines Victorian England with steam-powered machinery in an alternative history setting.
Step-out – Instructions of the tangle broken down into its various steps to be able to replicate the tangle again.
String – Random line or lines drawn in pencil that divide the tile/ surface into sections to be filled with tangles; it gives you a supportive matrix to work with.
Swap Exchange – Forum for an exchange of tangled (or half-tangled) tiles, can be a local or worldwide group.
Take off and land – Technique to smooth the transitions between elemental strokes within a tangle, by retracing the adjoining elemental stroke as you start a line before heading off somewhere else with your pen.
Tangle – As a noun, tangle is the word for a Zentangle pattern that has been deconstructed so that it can be drawn with a particular sequence of elemental strokes.
As a verb, tangle means to draw a tangle. You tangle a tangle as you colour a colour or dance a dance.
Tangle Genuses – a way of categorizing tangles according to their characteristics. Some tangles might fit into more than one. e.g. drama, grid, organic, etc.
Tangleation – A variation of a tangle, adding an element to produce more than the deconstructed steps. Basic tangles are like primary colours, tangleations are the result of altering a tangle or mixing one or more basic tangles together, just as you would mix two colours to make a new one.
Tango – A type of tangleation created when you combine elements from two tangles into one tangle. Combining these is done with intent as if the tangles are dancing together like a couple – not morphing one into another.
Tessellation – A pattern created by repeating identical shapes that cover the surface without gaps – Cadent or Paradox.
Texture tangles – Tangles that give an overall effect of texture e.g. Tipple, Nekton, Keeko.
Tile – Small piece of paper for drawing on. Called ‘tiles’ because you can assemble them into a ‘mosaic’. White, tan, grey or black, and in various square sizes, circle, rectangle or triangle shapes.
Tortillon– A tightly rolled paper tube with a tapered end for blending/smudging pencil lines on your shading. If the point blunts, gently push some wire (straightened paper clip) down it’s middle to push the point back out. (Also see paper stump)
Transition or metamorphosis or morphing – Start with one tangle, and through a series of steps morph it into another tangle. Three ways are creating this move ‘bridging’ using elements from both tangles to move from one to another, or by ‘extension’ using an elemental line to use in the tangle next door, e.g. extend a Hollibaugh line. Some tangles which look very similar can have a ‘natural’ transition.
TranslucenZ – a semi transparent tile for tangling on both sides, works well with microns, glaze gelly rolls especially, pastel pencils and normal coloured pencils, warps when gets wet!
Tranzending – A technique for adding layers of tangles where you draw another tangle on top of a previously drawn tangled composition. Done with pen and white charcoal.
Tucker – A tangling technique that creates the illusion of the tangle piercing through a slice of paper, named by Gloria Jo Flynn from CZT37.
Value – In shading – the lightness or darkness of a colour/graphite.
Wall tangling – Drawing big scale on the wall! First done by Beate Winkler as a solo event in a building. Later Beate, Anne Toth and Ildica Boyd got together and drew over Anne’s lounge wall one weekend in Auckland. You can also organise your own community wall tangling with a wall or a large piece of paper and lots of people/friends together! You can read more about this escapade in this Zentangle.com blog post.
Weighting – Increasing or decreasing pen pressure to increase or decrease the line width, or adding an extra stroke to thicken the line in parts.
Whatz-Its – a technique to create visual layers or sub layers with your Zentangle work. Created by Debbie New CZT and inspired by the work of Maria Thomas within The Book Of Zentangle, scrapbooking ideas, and the concept of a Post-it note.
White Charcoal – Used for shading or highlighting on a black, grey or renaissance tile.
Wine Tangling – Sometimes known as Coffee Tangling or Map Tangling or Spill Tangling. A Technique to create a coloured background with another medium (coffee, wine, beetroot juice) or artistic medium – (watercolour, inks, Lindy’s Magicals). Use a medium to add colour to some parts of the tile, then tangle on the coloured areas. This has been a technique switched from a mainstream art technique and given a tangling twist. Like many ideas came from more than one person trying it out so can be attributed to Sharon Payne CZT, Sharon McKenney CZT and Marion Tsai CZT.
ZenAgain – conference for CZTs, run by Zentangle.com
Zenbossing – (1) A way of shading and highlighting to make it look like you have embossed on the tile – usually done on grey tiles. Created by Anica Gabrovec CZT. (2) Also the name of a technique by Maria Tovar CZT, where instead of a pen use an embossing stylus into the tile, then use graphite gently rubbed on to the tile to only attach to the area of the tiles without the embossed lines (which remain white).
Zendala – A circle tile, can be used to draw in a symmetrical style like a “mandala”, or not, your choice.
Zendoodle – A two dimensional drawing, with a hint of meditation. It may give the same outcome as a tangle, but usually via a different process.)
ZenKin® – Whimsical characters drawn with the Zentangle Method. Created by Katrina Thiebaut CZT
Zentangle® – Mainly used as an adjective. The drawing of structured patterns to create a non-representative art work with spatial depth. Zentangle art is something you create according to the Zentangle teaching method. Created by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts.
Zentanglish – playful term for quirky language and words connected to Zentangle, term given by Linda Farmer CZT
Zentomology – The study of tangles. Is to patterns as entomology is to insects.
ZIA – Zentangle Inspired Art. Any artwork drawn by the Zentangle method, but may be more representative of something else. E.g. a shape, animal silhouette; also using a drawing surface which is not a tile.
3Z – Triangular shaped tile.
Sources: Zentangle Primer, Zentangle Zentomology, Zentangle.com and all the Zentangle and CZT community who help identify and label repetitive ways, techniques & processes of the Zentangle Method to help others.