Creating a Tangle Pattern Step-out: Lesson 1

PLEASE – do NOT pin or share the page. In order to succeed people need to be part of the Facebook group that will support the Lessons! 


These lessons will be VERY detailed! I like to enable people to create really nice step-outs for their patterns. We might even go as far as covering how to deconstruct a pattern! But first things first. What aspects are important to create a good step-out?

  • The instructions must be very clear and easy to understand.
  • The step-out must be visually appealing.
  • Because we talking drawing by hand, step-outs need to be hand drawn!
  • Avoid text – people from all over the world should be able to understand each step.
  • A good sample of the completed pattern should be included. Not everyone that is tangling is really an artist! That’s the whole point of tangling – enabling non-artists to create beautiful pictures 🙂
  • EACH step must be explained individually. You cannot combine multiple steps in one instruction block.

So, what exactly is a step? Opinions probably vary … I am always trying to enhance the zen effect. Repetition! We want people to get into zen mode and this is accomplished by emphasising that each step should be drawn on the entire layout before moving on to the next step.

One step

Do you want people to draw ONE line in each block? Or rather draw both lines before moving on to the next block?

Sometimes it is easier to draw 2 lines per block before moving on to the next step, sometimes it is not! There is only one way to find out: Try it yourself! How do YOU draw the pattern?

In the example above I personally find it more confusing to draw both lines in one step. It does look easy if you look at a single block, but once you see 4 blocks in a row you notice that the short line in the top row extends to the long line in the block below. Do you want the person to draw just one long line there? What if the pattern is drawn on a warped grid? Will it still be so easy? All these things need to be considered when creating a good step-out!

The next question pops up: What if I think people should draw 2 shapes, even if they are different from each other, in one step?

Sample 2

Well, you try yourself! Can you get into zen mode if you change from drawing a straight line to drawing a spiral, back to drawing a straight line?

Just look at the spirals in the first example. They are not even! Even the direction of the spiral changed. That is confusing!

Look at the second example. Each shape was drawn as a separate step. It allows the drawer to get into zen mode: Repetition of the same shape = ZEN

There is a difference in ‘allowed shapes’ between the method used on pattern-collections and the method described by the trademarked tangling.

The ® method (ask me in a private message if you don’t understand what I mean!) allows only orbs, lines, S-shapes and C-shapes. On pattern-collections more shapes are recognised!

Shapes used in Tangle Patterns

Spirals for example are extensively used in our patterns – the same as hearts, drops and rice corn shapes. Yes, a drop is made up of a lazy S-shape combined with a C-shape. But that is way too difficult to grasp for a new tangler! That’s why I increased the number of shapes to what I believe are ‘basic shapes’.

With these shapes you can draw ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Should a pattern require anything that cannot be explained by using these shapes, then it’s not a tangle pattern. As simple as that! 🙂

Well, for simplicity I should have added a square and a triangle. Oh well ….

Okay, back to drawing 🙂

BEFORE you draw a step-out of the pattern, draw the pattern at least 3-5 times. It will allow you to warm up to the shapes used in the pattern and you might even notice different ways to draw the pattern. Count the steps!

If your pattern has 4 steps – let’s say as part of a grid, draw 5 grids on a plain, white piece of paper.

Step 1

See, this is just ordinary white paper – A4 size

Step 2

Add Step 1 in red – then repeat this step with black marker in all the other frames. Made a mistake? Draw an extra grid and cross out the one with the mistake.

Step 3

Do the same with Step 2 – first in red, then repeat the step in all other blocks.

Step 4

Repeat the same with Step 3 and 4. In the last block, mark the shading in green.

Step 5

This shows what I do with your step-outs. I will remove unwanted parts, make the green greener, the black blacker.

Step 6

You should provide artwork to show the pattern in an unmodified way. If you want to, you can also include additional artwork featuring a variation.

Let’s talk about variations.

To better understand patterns and variations you should have completed Lesson 1-3 of the Grid Journey!

Step 7

These 2 drawings above are NOT variations!!! Why not? Because the person looking at the step-out will not easily figure out that each block is rotated. Some people may understand, but some do not. As a good pattern designer we have to assume that the person looking at the step-out does NOT understand!

Each one of those blocks require their OWN step-out and examples!

And that brings us to the naming of patterns. If you create all 3 step-outs for this pattern, then please keep the names similar. I always try to ensure that in a listing, these 3 patterns are listed right after each other. Let’s call this pattern Tom. I would name the first one Tomi, the second one maybe Tomi-Flip and the third Tomi-up-and-down – it’s late … I can’t think of a better example ..haha.. But you get the idea and that is the important part.

So, this is Lesson 1 – happy reading!


PLEASE – do NOT pin or share the page. In order to succeed people need to be part of the Facebook group that will support the Lessons! 


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