Today we are going to check out 5 simple techniques for decorating notebook covers. So why do you need special techniques for notebook covers? Well most of us are actually using the notebook, so the cover needs to be sturdy, and easy to slip into a bag or a bookshelf with other items. If you have 3d flowers or embellishments that protrude too far these can become ripped off, snagged, damaged or at worst damage other items! So it’s best to keep working notebook covers as flat as possible!
Ah, so many choices when looking at how to add colour to a journal or notebook cover – the options are mind boggling! But no matter what you decide to use, priming your cover with a nice even coat of gesso is a must – white gesso if you are planning to use pastels or want bright colours or black gesso if you are going to be a little more adventurous!
My favourite and most trusted options when working over gesso are acrylic paints, sprays, and inks as each work beautifully for adding colour – though they do have slightly different properties and looks.
- Acrylics enable you to control the opacity (how see through something is) by using as it or diluted with water. Acrylic paint can be painted direct from the tube for maximum opacity, but it can also be spritzed with water to encourage the colour to spread. It may spread a little or a lot depending on the thickness of the paint and the brand eg: Fluid acrylics spread easily when sprayed with water and Jane Davenport Acrylics require a little more encouragement.
- Inks by definition are thinner, usually more transparent and can be added straight from the bottle and will spread and drip easily, or add water for a more watercolour like look.
- Sprays – well we all know these spread, run, drip and blend – spritz away – many are transparent (though check first as there are a few opaque sprays on the market) and often they don’t even need to be spritzed with water to spread and wick out!
ADDING DESIGN ELEMENTS
Flat design elements are a must on working notebook or journal covers! Some of the amazing ways I have found to add flat design elements are to use punchinella, stencils and masks, writing with paint (either with paint pens or paint in a fine tipped bottle), stamping, foil and embossing powder. All of these things can add interest to your flat design without adding bulk or creating issues later. So let’s get to those 5 Fabulous Techniques for Decorating Notebook covers…..
1. Paint and Spritz
Ultra fun and ultra messy, this technique is addictive, unpredictable, colourful and perfect for backgrounds! The only trick is not to cover your whole background – leave a little white space (I struggle with this as I want to add more and more pretty colours!). Basically, add little dots of paint and spritz with water. Just do one colour at a time to keep it crisp and clean or add multiple colours for colour blending. Let the color spread, drip and run until you are happy with how it looks.
This really had to be here, whether you are adding delicate designs of creating bold marks there will be a perfect stencil out there for you! Some of my favourite stencils are from Donna Downey, The Artist Cellar, The Crafter’s Workshop and Stencil Girl. But there are also so many other amazing brands and companies out there! To keep this specific cover looking bright and clean I used a different paint colour for each different stencil design.
3. Stamping with Paint
This is fun and works really well on canvas notebook covers! Make sure you are using a stamp with nice thick, bold lines or designs as anything too fine or detailed will end up looking like a blob. Text, geometric shapes, leaves etc all work really well when stamping with paint.
4. Adding Free Form Painty Handwriting
This adds a touch of imperfection and a little unpredictability to your cover. It can also be incredibly scary and go wrong really fast, so make sure you have practised on a piece of scrap paper first before you begin working on your actual cover. Using either paint pens or thinned down paint in a fine tip applicator bottle, be brave and add doodles, patterns, designs or even handwriting.
5. Bling it Up
This last step may just be the most important! This finishing touch can make all the difference to the overall look and ‘togetherness’ of your cover, it really is amazing how important this last step can be. In this case, it adds a little shimmer and shine to the cover and the shimmer of the metallic helps to enhance the other colours on the journal cover.
and how does the finished cover look????
Like a rainbow at my fingertips!
I’ve also filmed the whole process so you can play along and create your own version!
- Jane Davenport: Butterfly Effect Canvas Notebook Cover, Mixed Media Paint Over Pens and Mixed Media Acrylic Paint Kit (including the stencil and brush)
- Lindy’s Starburst Sprays: Sassy Sapphire and Time Travel Teal
- Golden Fluid Acrylic: Hansa Yellow Medium, Teal, Iridescent Bright Gold and Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold
- Dina Wakley Media: White Gesso, Fine Tip Applicator, Text Stamp (Scribbled Text Elements) and Heavy Body Acrylic Paint – Black
- Liquitex Acrylic Ink: Transparent Raw Umber
- Fineline Applicator (or Dina Wakley Fine Tip Applicator)
- Pentel: Fine Tip Waterbrush
- Fine Paint Brush
- The Crafters Workshop Stencil: Mini Stars Background
I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas, and have fun decorating some of your notebooks.