REVIEW: Eni Oken’s Tangled Scrollwork Video Lesson

For several years now, I’ve marveled at the work Eni Oken has posted online.  She is a Certified Zentangle® Teacher, but her work embodies all elements of fine art – fantastic composition, beautiful dimension, and fabulous textures.

She offers both PDF lessons and video lessons that range from beginning to advanced levels.  Zentangle methods are used, but so are Celtic, Arabesque, Pre-columbian and other ancient traditional art techniques.  The beauty of her lessons?  They allow the student to learn the basics of line work, shading, and other tricks of the trade, which can then be applied to realistic work later.  When Eni offered me the chance to review one of her video tutorials, I immediately agreed!

Eni allowed me to choose the lesson. As soon as I saw the Tangled Scrollwork example, I knew it was the one.  It’s an advanced lesson and I probably should have chosen a simpler one. But the gorgeous swirls and dense line work are things dear to my heart!

Tangled Scrollwork is a 1:09 hour-long video that incorporates both Zentangle and millennia-old scrollwork (aka filigree and flourishes) techniques.

  • Do you need to know Zentangle?
    • No. It would help, though.  Some Zentangle terms are used.  They are explained or easy enough to understand, but might slow you down while you think about it.
  • It is a ‘super-advanced’ lesson.  Is it too hard for beginners?
    • This depends on you. The scrollwork does take some practice and a beginner would need more.  That said – it’s good basic practice that would help you with any art you create later.  If you get these techniques down, you’ve got a head start on drawing anything.  But you may want to start with something easier.

In the course of the lesson, Eni talks about the Golden Ratio, line weight, shading, hatching, reflected light, blending, and three-dimensional depth. She takes you from simple C and S shapes to advanced spiral construction.  She gives you exercises to practice with and ends up walking you through a complete drawing with shading and color.  She also gives you techniques to help when your swirls aren’t quite as perfect as you would like.

So what have I learned from this lesson?

I learned it’s hard to stop once you get started! This kind of line work is right up my alley!  I also learned something about the traditions of scrollwork, how to use shapes and what I need to do to make my scrollwork beautiful.

What have I drawn using the techniques?

I used Zebra Zensations Technical Pens for the majority of my line work in all four of these examples.  My first example was done in a Hahnemühle Nostalgie sketchbook with Zensations Brush Pens for the bold outline and an .01 pen for fine detail and hatching.  I went wild with scrolls and patterns.  I made pretty much every mistake you can make, but used Eni’s techniques to work them right in, and even I don’t notice them now.

A practice watercolor wash, that I’d done on Hahnemühle Harmony Hot Pressed watercolor paper, was turned into lovely art, with an .04 nib pen to outline and shade, and a Uniball Signo white gel pen for the hatching.

You can use the scrollwork techniques for more than non-objective* work.  I used them to add whimsy to this strange octopus creature, done in a Hahnemühle Report and Art book, drawn with .04 pen and Zensations mechanical colored pencils.

*Non-objective: Geometric or stylistic work, like pattern, that are not meant to represent anything real.

Staying with the Report and Art book, I used a .04 pen and Tombow Dual Brush Pen markers, to create both the theme and framework for this lovely lady.  I’m not sure if she’s plotting dire things or just having a bad hair day.

You can find Tangled Scrollwork at Eni’s website along with a wide range of other PDF and video lessons   Eni posts new lessons every 12-14 days.  She also has an art club that allows you to get each new lesson as it comes out for a monthly fee.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Eni’s video and I know I’ll use these techniques often.

You can learn more about Eni Oken and her work in her featured artist post here at Doodlewash.


Eni Oken gave me the video lesson, Tangled Scrollwork for purposes of this review. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recommended3 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews
  1. Terri Young 4 years ago

    Great review, Sandra.I have been thinking about purchasing this lesson since it was offered before I joined the ArtClub. Lovely work shown above! Just another great inspiration for me!

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 4 years ago

      Thank you, Terri! The lesson was a great inspiration for me!

  2. Bruce Osborne 4 years ago

    Looks very interesting.

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 4 years ago

      Thank you, Bruce. I do love the way the lesson embraces both a modern and a traditional art form.

  3. Alice Hendon 4 years ago

    great review, sandra! I’ve loved Eni’s work for quite awhile now. thanks for sharing your art

  4. Eni Oken 4 years ago

    Sandra, what a wonderful review, thank you — and I’m floored with the art you created with it. So fantastic!!!

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 4 years ago

      Thank you, Eni! Your video lesson made it so easy!

  5. Sharon Nolfi 4 years ago

    Thanks for introducing me to this artist, Sandra!

  6. Mary Roff 4 years ago

    Thanks for the review,Sandra. Your linework is amazing!! Beautiful!

  7. June Hadaway 4 years ago

    So intricate. Interesting.

  8. LoriCtoo 4 years ago

    Beautiful! I have often looked at Zentangle as a mind boggling art to do for me. Seeing how you toned it down, left empty space to breathe, I can now see that this would be useful for me. There are those days when I just don’t have the desire to sketch a certain form, but still need to sketch. This would be a perfect outlet. Thank you for the great review.

    • Eni Oken 4 years ago

      Lori, Zentangle is really a very forgiving type of artform, which can be practiced by beginner and advanced artists alike. It’s perfect for those times when you don’t want to create figurative or representative work. Just draw 🙂

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 4 years ago

      Thank you, Lori! I agree with Eni – Zentangle is forgiving. You can choose to follow the traditional rules and format, or branch out into Zentangle-inspired work, take what you need from the method and do what works for you at the moment.

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