How To Make A Zentangle Adult Coloring Book (Part 1)

How To Make A Zentangle Adult Coloring Book (Part 1)

This past year I had a lot of fun turning my photos into the Color Me Redlands coloring book. I’m super-pleased with how it turned out. But learning how to the create the coloring pages was a 12-month journey. I hope to save you the learning curve, and show you step-by-step how to make your own. Some background first:

To start, I tried over a dozen iPhone Apps, computer programs, services, and read several blog articles that would show how to turn a photograph into a coloring page. I even hired several artists from to create my coloring pages. While there are many talented artists, I wasn’t able to get the quality, consistency or the “look” that I was after. Plus, at $25-$30 an illustration, with the 25 images I wanted to include, it was going to cost a lot of money to have this project outsourced.

I then tried creating my own iPad App and Illustrator workflow. I was happy with it, but after getting some feedback from a friend and actually trying to color the images, I found that most of the ends did not “close”, which is a MUST for a coloring book. I found myself going back to the drawing board.

In researching the adult coloring pages, I was trying to describe the “look” that I liked and came to discover it was called Zentangle. * Zentangle is a specific method of pattern drawing that has been adopted to describe a certain type of “Zen” coloring book design. I’m not an illustrator and I can’t draw…but I knew I could purchase the images on Shutterstock or Adobe Stock.

Months had gone by with no progress and I was getting frustrated. Thinking I would never figure out how to turn my photos into a coloring page I happened to be visit to my parents, thumbing through my mother’s Food Network Magazine when I had a “lightbulb” moment.

All I needed to do was create the outline of a picture (silhouette shapes work best), then insert the zentagle image behind it.

squashOnce I had the concept, I was off to the races. I’m going to demonstrate this technique twice…once using a simple shape to show you the concept, and again with the exact method and tools I used to turn a photograph into a Zentangle adult coloring book.

Example 1 – A Simple Shape Coloring Page.

Needed: Adobe Illustrator, background image. (Click Here to download sample Adobe Stock #130780658)

    1. Draw A Star
      star gif.gif
    2. Draw a Rectangle covering the entire page.
    3. Make sure the rectangle is filled white, then send it to the back, behind the star.
      send to back.png
    4. You want the page to be a mask and the star to be “see-through” with the Zentagle image showing through the star. (ie. subtract the star shape from the larger rectangle.) “Select All” to make sure you have both shapes selected, then use the Pathfinder option in Adobe Illustrator and select “minus front.”
    5. Give the selected image a stroke of 5 pts. If you move the newly created shape, you will see that you now have a rectangle with a star shape missing in the middle.
      Screen Shot 2017-01-02 at 6.29.17 PM.png
    6. Place the Zentangle image into your Illustrator file and send it to the back.
    7. You can now move and/or resize the background image until you are happy with how it looks.

That’s it! You now have a coloring page of a simple image. This technique also works great with text that has been converted to outlines.


Click Here to read my next blog post where I’ll show how to turn a photograph into a coloring page.

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