Friday, September 16, 2011

Easy Peasy Journal Tutorial - Part two: decorating pages

Welcome to the second part of the easy peasy art journaling tutorial. I almost feel it's like art journaling for dummies (not that any of you are dummies of course, I would never say that, ever) ;-)  Like last time: if you have any questions, please put them in the comment section, so others can learn from them too. Tips for improvement or other comments are welcome too of course.


This second part of our three part tutorial is all about decorating your pages. You may also call this the fun and playful part, but then again, the other parts are fun and playful too. We will be adding images and decorative details to our journal spreads to make them look all pretty and colorful. Let's go!

These are the magazines I used for the images in my easy peasy journal.

What you (may) need

I don't put any brand names in here on purpose. People get so picky thinking there's only one way and one material or one brand that's right. They are wrong! Use what you have, please!
  • images (from magazines, flyers, cards, your own photographs, anything that you like)
  • glue (I use a glue stick for this journal, but again, we're not being picky here)
  • stamps
  • rub ons
  • stickers
  • decorative (washi) tape
  • pens and markers
  • anything else that you think will fit nicely on your pages (the sky's the limit)

As you can see I put the word 'may' above the list. This is because I don't want you to feel you need all these things to make a journal work. In the process of my pages you will see a lot of different 'stuff' coming by. This is the result of many years of accumulating art supplies and little decorative elements. I didn't buy all this stuff at once.

For instance I don't want you to run off to the store and look like crazy for something like washi tape, thinking otherwise your journal will be a complete waste of time. I just started using washi tape about half a year ago and I like it a lot, but before that I journaled for over ten years without it just fine. Be creative. Use what you have.

In the end all you really need is some imagery and something to put it down with and write with. The rest is optional. I will try to give alternatives along the way for what I'm doing. Keep in mind that this is my easy peasy journal and I go for the quick fix the whole time. That doesn't mean there is not an alternative to what I do.
And these are the images and texts I cut from just three magazines. Lots!

Show and tell

Here's how I thought we would go about this part of the tutorial: I am just going to show you how I did every spread in this small journal and how I decorated the covers (so that's why this is a very very lenghthy post!) and while I show you I will tell you some things about all the different elements. So it's really a show and tell!

My Easy Peasy Journal is only thin with 16 pages, so there's 7 spreads and a front and back cover. I will show you how I decorated all of them. This is not a strict set of directions. Just pick from it what you like or what inspires an idea. You will see however that there's a certain type of approach I use in this journal, that comes down to this:
  1. Pick a couple of main images and attach them to the page.
  2. Integrate the images by creating a border or shadows around it.
  3. Add text by either stamping or pasting in words from magazines.
  4. Add borders around the page, by using tape, stamps or markers
  5. Add little elements to spice things up like stickers, little stamps, marks with a pen etc.
  6. And of course in my case: leave lots of space for writing
That's all there is to this easy peasy approach.  And you thought it would be hard! Ha! ;-)

Spread one

This one started out looking like this:

I added two images from a magazine with a glue stick. I tried to 'spread' them across the page. For succesful journal pages you need a bit of a feel for layout and composition. This is not really something you can learn (although there's all sorts of theories in books), it's something that grows with time. But dividing your images across the spread is a good place to start.

Now we have to make sure that the images are sort of incorporated into the background, so they don't just ly on top of it. One way of doing this is by shading. Here's how the image looks before this is done up close. (As you can see I am not a very precize cutter of images, really, who has the time?)

Now take something that you can smudge with your fingers and line along the edge of the image. I used an aquamarker, because it comes in many colors and you can rewet it when it dries so you can still smudge it. I've seen people use anything from crayons to charcoal or just soft pencils. Use what you like best, experiment!

Now you get to make your fingers dirty by smudging the lines outwards, away from the picture. This leaves a kind of messy border around the image that gives a shady look and makes the image a part of the background while still standing out.

Here's how that looks when both images are done that way. It's nice to adapt the color to the background and you get a different effect from using similar colors or using contrasting colors. Again: experiment!

I always have an incredible need to put borders around my pages. For this I often use decorative tape, because it's quick and easy and available in so many different colors and styles. You may not have decorative tape. No problem! You could also use strips of colorful paper or stamps or make marks with a pen. I just happen to be tape addict girl right now.

As an avid writer I of course am not happy unless a page has at least some lettering or text on it. So besides images I also always cut out texts from magazines that speak to me. Here I added two to the mix.

My need for bordering off the page was not yet satisfied so I got out a black marker and added dashed lines on the sides and edges. I also put a black outline around the texts.

Now it's time to put little elements in to make the page a little more playful. I added some stickers and small stamps. I love childrens stickers. A wonderful source for stickers (and art supplies) are toy stores or discount stores. For Dutch readers, go to the Action!
I also added some extra pen work by putting a line around the stickers with a black marker and by putting dashed lines along the tape and outlining the letters of the text on the bottom left.

Now the page is all ready for journaling on!
See how easy that was?  Wanna do another one? Alrighty then!

Spread two

The second spread started out looking like this:

I added two images again. As you can see there's no rhyme or reason to my choosing of images. I mean really: what does this illustrated cat have to do with an old picture frame with an old portrait in it? Don't think too much, just put on the page what you like. The journaling police will not come and arrest you for mismatching!

I added some shading around the edges. This time I used a contrasting color, green. Why? I don't know!

Another way to add text is by stamping words. I have collected some very nice alphabets over time so I can do this. But you could also think about drawing your own letters or using a template. Or how about cutting out seperate letters from a magazine and adding those? I added stamps here, two words, "journal" and "love", like that was any surprise ;-) After stamping I colored in the letters with the same green marker I used for the shading.

Of course now borders were in order for the border obsessed, so I added some striped washi tape. Ooh, don't get me started about washi tape! Look it up on the internet and be amazed at what's available. It's so pretty pretty and makes for such easy decorating. I love it!
I also added some dashed line in the corners toe complete the borders.

To finish the spread up I added some scrapbooking stickers. This is another tip for you art journaling freaks out there: don't rule out the scrapbook section of the art supply store! There is so much fantastic stuff out there that you can take out of it's scrapbooking context and use in your journal.

The little stickers may be a little hard to see in the image, but they are there! And with that I considered this spread finished and ready to write on.

Spread three

The third spread started out looking like this:

Until now we have added some non straight images, that were cut along the lines of the subject. Now we will add some straight rectanglish images to see how to deal with them. And for kicks we'll add three instead of two. Experiment with lay out by moving your main images around before glueing them down.

A way to incorporate these kinds of images to a page can also be shading, but how about making a cute little border around them with a marker? Works every time!

Now we add some words from magazines. I outlined the cut outs with a maker, so the white background stands out better.

What do we do now? Well, we need some borders of course! Duh! I put washi tape on the top and bottom of the spread and a dashed line on both sides. I know, I am obsessed with dashed lines. I use them everywhere in my journal and in my art. I don't know why. You can use other marks if you want, not everybody is dash crazy. Think dots, squares, circles, slashes, swirls, triangles, etc. etc.
I also found it necessary to add some color to the letters with a marker. Don't second guess yourself in things like this, just go with it. There doesn't have to be a reason for everything you do in your journal. It's play!

To give some more spice to the pages I added rub ons all over them. These are really cheap ones from a discount store. It's a risk to buy these things at discounts, but these worked out fine. The quality in rub ons is very diverse. Some you couldn't rub off with a sledge hammer and others you hardly touch or they already come off. There's no other way to find out, but to try.  Another little tip you might like for this is the use of temporary tattoos! Yes, really, I have tried them on paper and with a little practice they work like a charm!

Somehow this still wasn't enough, so I went through my sticker stash and brought out some stickers to finish the pages. You can't really see it, but these are very glitzy stickers. There's nothing wrong with a little glitz every now and then!

Even with all these extra's there's still plenty of space to write on. Yay! Now, onto the next spread, we're on a roll here!

Spread four

Spread four of my Easy Peasy Journal started out like this. I love these colors by the way.

I added two images to the spread. Looking at them I think they have something in common after all: feathers! Isn't it odd how the mind works? As for magazines to take pictures from I love Vogue for it's fashion photography. For Dutch readers Flow and Happinez can be good sources for imagery. Flow is very retro for instance. Another great (international) source is National Geographic. What you also may consider are foreign magazines. The female on the right comes from an italian Vogue for instance. Keep your eyes open. You can use just about anything as collage fodder but do keep in mind that the paper quality can vary a lot. Glossy magazines are often more sturdy.
After pasting in the images I added some shading with a pink marker. Don't use alcohol markers for this, they cannot be rubbed out with a wet finger and will leave a crisp line. But hey, maybe you are not like me and like your lines crisp. ;-)

Now I added some text to the page. I outlined the backgournd and I colored in the letters.

Thank God it's border time again. I added pieces of washi tape and a border stamp. Cheap stamps are all around too. Again, check discount stores and toy stores. But as you can see, this border stamp is very simple, just some dots in a line. You could easily draw it with a marker or pen. Have I already told you how lazy I am?

The image on this page is quite outrageous, so I didn't feel it needed mucht else. I just added some flower stamps and colored them in with matching marker colors.

That's all. See how quickly a page can be done? I swear, a three year old could do this stuff! Time for spread number five. Hey we're already half way through!

Spread five

The fifth spread started out looking like this. Ooh, turquoise, I love thee!

I added some fashion pictures from the Italian Vogue. They had an article of girls with hats, what can I say? I also added shading to these images, you can't really see it very well in the picture, because I chose a matching color blue for it, but it's there in real life, really it is.

I added text from a magazine and some borders of tape. I could feel a very colorful  spread coming on.

I then took out a gel pen to prove that yes, I can make other borders than dashed lines. So I drew some swirls. Because they didn't photograph very well on the big picture, I took a little close up to prove it. The sides that have no tape on them have these little swirls on them. Again you have to take my word for it.

I added more lines with gel pen, like dots along the tape and dashed lines around the images. I also colored the word 'lanterfanten' with yellow marker. 'Lanterfanten' is about the dutch equivalent of 'dolce far niente'.
To finish up the spread I added some cute little bear stickers with yellow backgrounds. Pink, yellow and blue all in one spread, oh my!

After all this modern fashion it's time for a little flash back in time. We'll do that on the next spread.

Spread six

Spread number six already and it looked like this:

These two images show you what I mean when I say that Flow Magazine is retro. They did an article straight from an old beauty magazine! I love these two images. I also shaded them. I used a contrasting color.

I kept this one very simple. I just added some tape and did some borders with a marker, that unfortunately you cannot really see on the photograph. Sigh. You can see I am not a professional tutorial maker! Otherwise I would have taken another close up. Oh well..
The point of this spread is  that sometimes less is more. Really it is.

All good and well, all these images from magazines you may think, but I have not one single magazine in the house (how can that be?). Well, time to go through your photographs and use those. I did! Just look at the next spread.

Spread seven

Bold colors started out this spread:

I actually had some pictures printed out ready to go into the altered atlas, but I thought it would be a good idea to show them in this journal, just to give you an idea for using your own images too. So I pasted two photographs into the corners leaving some room around the edges. I took a border stamp and stamped around them. Even the most ordinary photograph will look interesting with a pretty border around it.

I then added lettering with stamps and colored them in with a marker. I like the effect of colored in letters, it somehow matches them to the pages better. And of course I added some tape. This is packing tape with a decorative decor on it. I like washi tape better, because it's paper instead of plastic and you can tear it with your hands, but we work with what we have, right? And it is pretty! (Yes, I'm all about pretty in my easy peasy journal)

To finish up the pages I added some small stickers. Again these are kiddy stickers. These come from a sticker book that I bought at a department store. If you don't have any stickers you could just cut out small images from a magazine or use little elements from decorative paper. Be creative, people!

I added some dashed lines along the tape and around the stickers. Because again you can not see it in the big picture and because this time I was alert enough to notice that, I took a little close up for you to see what I did. See?

And that concludes the last spread in the easy peasy journal. But wait, there's more! There's still a cover to do!

Back cover

Oops, I have no before picture of this one, but it's pretty  much the same as the back cover, which I'll show you later on.

For the easy peasy journal, as you may remember, we used a simple local newspaper, so the paper of the covers is the same as the insides. In a regular journal this will not always be the case. For many covers though a layer of gesso will make the process about the same. If you take your journal everywhere you may choose to seal your cover with varnish or cover it with a sticky back plastic or something. I leave that up to you. What I do with these thin journals is usually make a matching envelope for them to store them in.

Now on to the cover itself. I did the back cover first, and thought it would be nice to add a self portrait. This is one I took during a walk and I kept my eyes closed while I took it, 'cause I really hate to get my picture taken. ;-) I just pasted it in the middle. Then I added some tape and some stamp lettering. You cannot see it here, but the self portrait shows just how many freckles always pop up on my face when I'm taking a walk in the sun. Hence the words...

For a little more contrast of the text I decided to color them in with a marker. I also put washi tape around the borders of the photograph and with that you have yet another way to blend your image into the background.

Still not enough bordering done of course, so I added some more tape to the sides. I also took my marker for some more...dashed lines! I'm sick, I know. ;-)

I had just bought these very cute collage sheets with dozens of butterflies on them and I thought I would add some to the page, cause they're ...well... pretty. There's another source for images: collage sheets. They are sold all over the place and come in all sorts. But you can get them for free too: just go to flickr and search for collage sheets. There's plenty of people making them and putting them up for everybody to use. There's also groups dedicated to copyright free ephemera and old pictures. Do a little web surfing for copyright free imagery and you might be surprised what you can find without ever having to leave your house.

After all that I considered the back cover finished. There's not so much room for writing here, but that's okay. It's the cover after all. On to the last part of the journal!

Front cover

If you're still with me after all the above you are a brave soul indeed. I know it's a lot, but I really wanted to show you everything I did. Every spread has some different details to it that I want to share and I didn't want to show you how to do a spread, I want to show you how to do a journal! Let's finish this baby up!

The front cover started out looking like this:

I figured the first thing my little journal needed was an appropriate title. Guess what I called it? Yup!

I stamped the letters and colored them in with a red marker. Then I went looking for a fitting image. I mean fitting litterally on the page, but I guess this one fits in every way. I mean, don't these two kitties look easy peasy to you? I added some shading with the same red marker.

Well, apparently no page is complete without at least some dashed lines so I added those like a good little journaler and put them on the top and bottom of the page and around the image of the cats.
After that I was still so enthralled with my butterfly sheets that I added some of those as well. I think it makes for such an idyllic picture that I almost want to be one of those cats!

After that I added a few small heart stickers and a name label that is actually intended for students to put on their books and notebooks. There's another source for journal fodder: check the school supplies and your office supplies. Labels and tags are a great addition to a page.

I outlined the stickers and label and that was that. An entire journal all done with decorations. I think the cover is my favorite part of the whole thing!

And that concludes this second part of our tutorial. I hope you found some useful ideas and I hope you don't feel like you have to copy what I do to the letter. Just take all this as my way of showing you what I do and then make it your own. I would love to see what you come up with, so if this tutorial inspires you in any way, please leave a link to your work so I (and everybody else) can check it out. Next week we will tackle writing!

For now I wish all of you a very artsy weekend. I will now have to do hand exercises for hours to recover from all this blogging! Phew! ;-)