Zentangle has just launched a new supply – translucent tiles! They are a part of the new Project Pack and they’re really fun to use. Zentangle calls them Translucen-Z tiles. I am still very much exploring them but I already have some tips that I’m happy to share with you.
I know that most of the Zentangle enthusiasts are also big supplies lovers. There are so many and yet there are never enough. Whenever Zentangle announces some new supplies, I can’t wait to start exploring them. I couldn’t wait for the new Project Pack series to launch, so that I can finally start playing with the Project Pack kit.
The new translucent tiles are a made of a kind of a very thick tracing paper. They are off-white and semi-transparent, which allows us to play with drawing on both sides and achieving special effects. I would absolutely recommend everyone to watch Zentangle’s Project Pack videos, starting with the Introduction, to learn more about these tiles. So far, they are not available on Zentangle’s website for individual purchase, but they should be on sale in September. At the moment, you can only buy them as a part of the Project Pack 18 kit.
From what I understood from Zentangle’s Q&A session on Instagram, they will not disclose the exact source of material for these tiles. I totally understand their decision because a lot of research went into the preparation of new supplies. And while they are really supportive about us using any different materials, I get why they want to keep some information for themselves.
You know that in Europe we have limited sources of art supplies and Croatia is even worse that the bigger countries / economies. I know that it’s not easy for those of you in the US, because some European-produced materials are not easily available there, either. So each of us might have different sources and information. And with the crazy shipping and import costs, it’s no wonder that many of us are interested in finding some good local sources of supplies.
So far I have only tried one alternative – a thick tracing paper that I ordered online. It’s from a brand called Kids Create and it weights 200 gsm (grams per square meter). I am not really happy with it. It’s thinner than the Zentangle tiles, so Translucen-Z must weight more.
In 2018, as I was preparing to embark on my CZT journey (I became a CZT in October 2018) there was a CZT meeting in Cork, where Lynn Mead and Pilar Pulido featured a lesson that used a combo of Phi tiles and translucent tiles. That was way before those tiles were launched by Zentangle – Pilar and Lynn were real innovators! Lynn wrote a great blog post that features valuable information about the paper sources so I’d advise you all to check it. I wish that I’ve been there. 🙂
Now, let’s focus on some of the most important supplies used with Translucen-Z tiles. Below you can watch a video where I feature how I use some of the supplies that I mention in this post.
If you follow Zentangle’s Project Pack 18 videos, you know that the white Gelly Roll, a standard part of the basic Zentangle kit, has some real issues with drawing on Translucen-Z tiles. It’s successful at dotting, but not at linework. Well, I am happy to report that I have a perfect substitute for it! It’s the white Posca PC-1M paint marker, 0.7mm, with a bullet nib. It works like a charm, it’s opaque and dries quickly. In fact, this was the question that I got asked the most after posting my drawings on Translucen-Z tiles, as everyone was complaining about the Gelly Roll issues. I’ve actually used this Posca pen a lot in my Zentangle art, even before these new tiles were launched. You can check the video to see it in action.
While I have a recommendation for the white one, I’ve also learned about a no-no in the black pen department. One of my favorite tangling supplies is a black Uni-Ball Eye pen (I mostly use micro and ultra micro sizes). It’s a pen with a metal ball nib, which is very good for the heavy-handed tanglers. It has liquid ink, which makes it just a little bit slower to dry on regular paper. However, on this paper, which has a surface that is less porous, almost like plastic, it stays on top and smudges easily, especially when you color, shade or highlight on top of lines (which is always, right?). So, just stick to your favorite Microns or whatever fine liner you prefer using,
Regular graphite pencils do a decent job on this surface. However, if you follow me, you might know that those are not my first pick (check this blog post to read more about my shading favorites). My beloved shading pencils also work really well. However, when I saw how great the pastel pencils are for coloring, I tried the black charcoal pencil for shading and it was so smooth and easy that it’s become my favorite. You need just a small quantity and it leaves a nice, dramatic trace, without any shine (unlike the graphite pencils). I am using Koh-I-Noor black charcoal pencils but I’m sure that any would work, or a black pastel pencil.
Here I just have to agree with Zentangle’s choice of supplies – pastel pencils are awesome on translucent tiles. I have different brands and they all work well (you can also read my blog post about pastel pencils if you’d like to learn more). The white Faber-Castell’s Pitt pastel pencil is amazing for highlighting, but so is the General’s charcoal white. You can also easily use any color pencils for coloring. They are especially good if you’re looking for more vibrant results. Pastel pencils leave a softer trace but with a very smooth coverage. The only supplies that do not really work on Translucen-Z tiles are the watercolor pencils, because this canvas is just not made for the use with water. However, water-based markers can be used to get some saturated colors – I just wouldn’t blend them with water.
New art supplies are so much fun but it does take time to explore their compatibility with whatever supplies we normally use in our creative process. That especially applies to Translucen-Z tiles, as they are so much different from paper tiles. It’s important to approach this journey with an inquisitive mind, ready to play, explore and make happy accidents, which is really what Zentangle is about. Happy explorations, dear friends!!!
Written by Anica Gabrovec CZT
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