One of my favorite topics related to the Zentangle method is the use of different Zentangle techniques. Whether it’s an original technique developed by Zentangle Inc. or by different artists that use the method, I’m always interested in diving deep. Let me introduce you to one of my favorite Zentangle inspired techniques – Zenbossing. 

The usual tangle process is best described though the eight steps of the Zentangle method, described in one of my blog posts. The drawing part is done with a dark pen, followed by using a graphite pencil for shades. If you work on a toned paper, you might use the white pencil to add highlights. 

As I was creating, I was wondering: what if I turned the process upside down? And that’s how the Zenbossing technique was born.

Zentangle Inspired Technique Zenbossing

You can see some of my “zenbossed” creations in the photo above. If you take a closer look, you will be able to discover the common denominator to all the creations.

The Secret to the Zenbossing Technique

The basic idea of this technique is simple. Firstly, use a white pen (or another light colored pen) for the linework over toned background. Secondly, with your regular supplies used for shading and highlighting, add dark shades and light highlights. The secret to this technique lies in the proper positioning of shades and highlights.

In basic Zentangle method we don’t use any specific rules for shading. We observe the tangles and the way that they (or parts of them) are positioned above or below the others and add shades to enhance the composition. The idea is to add the illusion of depth, the third dimension to the drawing. 

In this Zentangle inspired technique – Zenbossing, we use the principle of imagined source of light. That is a concept that I teach in many Zentangle inspired classes and it’s one of the basic shading principles.

Zentangle Inspired Technique Zenbossing

Faux Embossing / Debossing

To understand the effect that I want to achieve when I use the Zenbossing technique, think of embossing and debossing. Observe the above drawing and notice:

  • Embossing – creating increased relief effect (look at my E letter for referral)
  • Debossing – creating depressed relief effect (look at my D letter for referral)

Both are mostly used to describe the effect of impressing / depressing an image into paper.

By using the Zenbossing technique, with the regular tangling supplies we achieve the embossed effect, rather than the usual 3D effect where round objects are shaded and highlighted with intention to make them appear to have a spherical structure. Consequently, the object drawn with the white pen seems to be elevated from the whole composition. You can easily see that in the drawing below,

Zentangle Inspired Technique Zenbossing

Learn the Zentangle Inspired Technique – Zenbossing

After I came up with this technique and gave it a name (combo of “embossing” and the prefix “Z” for Zentangle), I first published a short video on my Instagram channel. In the video I showed the basic technique.

Since there was a lot of interest in taking a deeper dive into the process, I taught the live online lessons. For those of you who might have missed it, there are two ways to learn the Zenbossing technique:

If you like to learn through video lessons but prefer to have a eBook for future reference and instructions to create new projects, you can purchase the Zenbossing bundle with a discount. 

No matter if you decide to learn the technique by yourself or take classes, do not forget to enjoy the process and have fun with it!

July, 2021

Written by Anica Gabrovec CZT

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