How to draw the Zentangle pattern or tangle called NoNom

Jan 13, 2023 | English, Practice, Tangles

Learn how you can draw this new Zentangle® tangle or pattern called NoNom with easy-to-follow instructions. You won’t need a lot of material to draw this tangle: all you just need a pen and pencil and some paper.

You may be new to Zentangle or don’t know what it is.

What is Zentangle ?

“The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. We call these patterns, tangles. You create tangles with combinations of dots, lines, simple curves, S-curves and orbs. These simple shapes are the “Elemental Strokes” in all Zentangle art. These patterns are drawn on small pieces of paper called “tiles.” We call them tiles because you can assemble them into mosaics.” 

– Zentangle, Inc

If you want to learn more about the Zentangle Method visit the Zentangle website You can also read this article called What is Zentangle.

When you start practicing with the Zentangle Method you learn new tangles, and often you may try to find more and more to learn, to jumpstart your creativity. Eventually, you will have your favorite tangles and balance drawing with them and learning new tangles from time to time.

In the Zentangle Method there are 8 steps to guide you and spark your creativity. These steps are a guideline, a path you follow along as you draw. You are free to follow along or meander on the way or even ignore some of them.

What I like the most about practicing the Zentangle Method, is its simplicity. Each step is clear and, at the same time, allows your creative inspiration to come forth. It reveals the artist in you.

You can read more about the 8 steps in this article 8 Steps that add to your creative practice.

Image Plant that looks like Tangle NoNom

Tangle is the Zentangle Method’s 5th step.

Tangles are pattern that you draw to fill your drawing. There is never one right way to draw a tangle. It is so fun to experiment and play with tangles. They add interest to your artwork and are a way to express your creativity.

Tangles are patterns deconstructed into steps that are using elemental strokes such as a dot, a curve or a straight-ish line. You draw them by following the step-by-step instructions or Step Outs.

Patterns abound around us, and you will see them more and more as you practice with the Zentangle Method.

You may even want to create your own Step Outs on how to draw a tangle based on a pattern you found. [Insert block to direct people to my step-by-step instructions download]

In this article, I present you NoNom, a tangle I deconstructed from a plant I saw in my neighborhood.

ArtsAmuse monotangle NoNom

The Tangle NoNom’s story:

I was walking one day near my house. I needed a bit of fresh air and the weather for once was lovely. During the rainy season in Seattle, you quickly learn to step outside when it is sunny!

As I was walking looking around, I saw amidst a bunch of plants this very strange-to-me plant. I was drawn to it because 1) I had never seen its like and 2) it looked very structured to me (I am not even sure that’s the word that would describe it).

Anyway, the more I was looking at the plant, the more I was thinking to myself “this would be a really cool and fun tangle to play with”.

Image Plant Queen Ann Lace

Now, there is one thing that happens sometimes in the Zentangle® world. And that is that people, in different parts of the world, come up with similar tangles. It happens all the time!

What is fascinating about it, is that usually the Step Outs are not, quite exactly, the same. Or the way it is drawn will look slightly different. That is usually why we also give names to tangles. So that we know which one we are talking about when we talk with someone else about it.

Another thing I enjoy about drawing tangles, is that they are usually not representational.

The Tangle NoNom started from a plant but when you draw it, it can be anything you want it to be!

The story behind the name of the tangle.

I was teaching this tangle and my students asked me its name. I had absolutely no idea what to name it! So, I told them, it did not have a name yet, but we could call it NoName.

And then, I thought that since I am a bicultural French American, I wanted the two languages in the name and decided to use the French word for name and it became NoNom.

Isn’t that a fun name?

Now let’s learn how to draw the tangle NoNom.

ArtsAmuse Artwork with Tangle NoNom  on Grey Tile

How to draw the tangle NoNom:

Step 1: Draw a line

The first step to draw this tangle NoNom starts with a slightly curved upward line.

Step 2: Add a orb

At the end of the line, you add a roundish shape or an orb.

You can always experiment with each step.

For example, one variation for that first step is to start with two slightly curved upward lines and then close them with an orb.

Or you can ask also yourself some simple questions as you go such as:

  • How long do you want to draw that first line?
  • Do you prefer to draw two instead of one right now?
  • Will you draw that first line more, or less, curved?
  • Or maybe you will draw it more like an “S” shape?
  • What size do you want to draw that first orb?

It is fun to play with the steps and see if some variation comes up to mind as you are drawing them.

Some new variations of tangles were born that way – in the Zentangle lingo we call these “tangleations”.

So never hesitate to try to change some parameters to the tangles steps and see what happens.

Step 3: Add more lines

After you finish that first line and that orb, you will now draw a series of lines all starting from that orb and pointing outwards – kind of like sunrays.

Now you can decide the length of these lines, how many you want, etc.

One thing to keep in mind though: we will add something in between these lines. This will be our next step.

Step 4: Add more orbs

Now, close to the center orb but not touching it, you will draw orbs in between the outwards lines. You can draw one or two orbs between each of the lines. They do not touch each other or the lines or the center orb.

This creates grouped orbs in the center of the tangle.

These are based on the seeds of the plant. But you might not know it if you were just looking at the tangle.

Step 5: Add orbs at the end of the lines

The next step will be to add more orbs at the end of the outwards lines.

These could be the start of more NoNoms.

Step 6: Shade

Finally, the last step is to add some shadow to the drawing. This adds a bit dimensionality to the drawing.

This tangle is lightly shaded around the center part.

You are more than welcome to play with the shading or adding rounding or line weight to some of the lines of the tangle.

I am really curious to see what you will make of it.

Instructions to draw the Tangle NoNom

Should you draw the tangle NoNom?

You should know that each of us being different, we are drawn to different tangles.

One thing I recommend though, is to always try if you see a tangle that catches your eyes you when you see it. You will never know for sure until you try it, if you enjoy drawing it.

I found out over time that our taste change and tangles we used to enjoy, become stale and others become interesting when we really did not like them at first.

For example, there are times when we are drawn to organic tangles and others when we prefer geometric ones.

Explore what feels right to you.

Let this flow naturally and explore what feels right in the moment: it is usually more enjoyable and rewarding that way. I suggest you see tangles as a fun way to play with pen and paper and not as a mean by itself.

Even though we create pieces of art when we draw with the Zentangle Method. The final result is not the goal itself but the cherry on the cake.

It is like a map for a new journey. You never know exactly where you are going to end up, but the journey (hopefully) was enjoyable.

There is never a right or wrong way to draw a tangle. Maybe, as you see the steps, you may think it might be easier to draw them in a different order or a slightly different way.

Listen to this feeling.

ArtsAmuse Artwork with Tangle NoNom 2

This feeling you get as you draw, this intuition that you’ll learn to listen to. This is a valuable skill to practice. This will reveal the artist in you!

I wish you to find your way of playing with this tangle pattern called NoNom.

Have a fun and enjoyable journey with your pen and paper as you learn to draw the tangle NoNom!

And you are most welcome to share below in the comments the results of your journey and what you like (or dislike) about the tangle NoNom.

Close up image of the Tangle NoNom

PS: This tangle was published in the Step Out of the Month by ConZentric, you can read more here: NoNom in Step Out of the Month. You can also subscribe to the Step Out of the Month here : Subscribre to the Step Out of the Month

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