Doodling’s a beautiful thing. Whether you’re thoroughly engaged in it, or absentmindedly filling the corner of a paper, it’s a wonderful activity to get lost in. As I filled my divided page with patterns, I started thinking about a particular style of doodling referred to as Zentangle®. Examples are everywhere. Thousands of images are on Pinterest alone. And while they can be quite beautiful, I was curious as to why they were considered distinct from other doodles, to the extent of having their own trademarked name, and a pending patent application. I started nosing around and discovered it’s definitely a controversial issue. 

Zentangles are a wonderful way of encouraging doodling and all its benefits. But is it reasonable to try and patent the “technique” which involves a combination of pre-existing ideas like deliberate drawing, and dividing a surface into distinct sections to be filled with repetitive patterns? That’s exactly what this project is about, yet it’s doodling, pure and simple. There’s nothing new about dividing a page into sections and filling it with patterns. There’s nothing new about restricting yourself to a black marker on white paper. And there’s nothing new about doodling in a deliberate manner versus scribbling aimlessly. Have a look at Helen South’s excellent article  Doodles and Zentangles. Then have a look at Zentangle’s patent application, and see what you think.

While this doodle has definitely been inspired by the many fabulous Zentangle-like doodles out there, its also been inspired by traditional patterns, textile designs, and whatever happened to roll off the tip of my black marker. And that’s exactly what I would like to encourage here. Happy doodling.


  • paper or sketchbook
  • fine tipped black markers
  • pencil and eraser



1. Using a pencil, divide a paper into sections of varying sizes, by making pairs of lines in all directions. Go over the lines with black marker. You’ll need fine tipped markers to create detailed work, and there are plenty to choose from.  I’d suggest going to an art supply store and trying out different sizes and brands, to see what you prefer. I found 0.1mm, 0.2mm, and 0.5mm great to work with.


3. Fill in all the sections with a variety of repetitive patterns. Keep a scrap piece of paper handy to experiment with different patterns, and if you need a little inspiration, the internet’s a great resource. Try looking at textile patterns, black and white doodling, Zentangles, and of course just plain old doodling.




Filed under doodling

9 responses to “Doodling

  1. Somehow, the goofy word “doodle” doesn’t seem to fit your beautiful work! There’s so much movement, contrast and texture on that page! I’m confused about the copyright issue too. I was at a bookstore today and there are “doodle books” with black and white patterns for children to color. Randomly filling a page with “squiggles” is just such a basic human instinct!

  2. Loving your graphic doodling! Didn’t know about the Zentangles thing, sorta makes me crazy that someone patented doodling…really?

  3. Jann Olson

    Amazing doodling! I’ve been a doodler as long as I can remember. Not as fabulous as you. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  4. sarinal

    I keep wanting to doodle (don’t you just love saying it??) but somehow I never seem to remember! I’m familiar with the kind of doodling you did above but had no idea somehow’s trying to get it patented! Not sure if they’ll be successful, it seems too simple to do for everyone else and too impulsive, if that makes sense.
    I may just have to doodle (heh) later, thanks 🙂

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