Decorating Canvas Notebooks

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!

ADDING COLOR

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

2. Stenciling

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!

 

SUPPLIES

I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas,  and have fun decorating some of your notebooks.

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3 Ways to Decorate your Traveler’s Journal Inserts

Hi Lulu Art creatives, Kate with you today and I’m so happy because I managed to get my grubby little hands (literally – I’ve always got paint or ink somewhere) on some of the fabulous new Prima Traveler’s Journals in the Lulu Art store – my current favourite is the Nomads set!  Each set comes with some plain notebooks tucked inside and well you know me, I couldn’t just leave the inserts undecorated!  So, I thought I’d show you 3 different ways to decorate your Traveler’s Journal inserts to create 3 completely different looks.

I’ve grabbed 3 journal inserts to play with, a Prima Weekly Journal Insert (Black Cover), a Prima Journal Insert – Scribble Lines Floral (Blank Pages) and a plain Kraft cover blank insert.

You can see how each cover was created in the video clip below, I hope you find a style that suits you.

Black Journal Insert | Bold and Bright

I thought I’d keep this journal reasonably simple and of course, flat so I can fit as much into my Traveler’s Notebook as possible.  This black journal from Prima has some really pretty foiled lettering which I’d like to match using Art Alchemy paints from Finnabair.  So grab a stencil, some metallic paints and let’s make this cover sparkle and shine!

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The first look we are going to create is BRIGHT and BOLD using molding paste and paints.

The plain black journal insert is getting a rather colourful upgrade!  I’ve used Light Molding paste and a stencil, combined with some amazing art alchemy Metallique paints to really change the vibe of the journal cover.  Finish with a touch of gold wax and some splashes of Lindy’s sprays and your journal cover will shine.  I’ve shown you exactly how to do this for yourself in the video clip.  Now, this is a multi step process, so you may need to have a few coffee breaks while decorating your cover like this.

 

Believe me adding the gold wax paste as the final step completely transforms the look and brings it to life, just use a light touch and don’t add too much!

Floral Journal Insert | Girly Collage

For the floral journal, it’s already super pretty it just needs to be personalized a little, this is a great opportunity to play with ‘pretty’ things and create a collage on the front that works in with the journal cover.  For this cover, I’m going to play with some collage papers and washi embellishments from Jane Davenport!

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I couldn’t help myself – I’ve been itching to use some of my Jane Davenport collage papers and thought that this was the perfect way to start – doesn’t it make the Prima journal insert look cool and fun!  All it took was a little washi tape, a little cutting and a swish or two with a few paint pens and there you have it, custom cover!   Don’t worry I’ve explained everything in the video step-by-step.

If you are new to art or journals you might like to leave your cover right here.

BUT, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous and would like to customise your cover further try adding a soft halo of Light Patina Metallique paint and some drops of Liquitex ink, there are so many options when decorating your own covers!  In person the shimmer on the metallique paint is stunning!

Kraft Journal Insert | Vintage

This is screaming vintage theme, so let’s go with that!   There are so many fabulous vintage ephemera pieces available in the Lulu art shop that I’m kind of spoiled for choice but I’ve managed to narrow it down to some stamps, vintage papers and a whole lot of Tim Holtz!

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Oh, this was fun – though a little more challenging than my usual collages as I was trying to keep everything very flat.  All you really need to create this is some vintage papers, vintage ephemera, and a little distress ink.  This cover is all about Tim – Tim Holtz products that is – and what a great way to finish my trio of decorated travelers notebook inserts!  The kraft coloured notebooks are perfect for vintage or travel themed layouts or styles

Up close you can see there is a hint of glitter.

 

Go grab your favourite supplies from Kylie over at Lulu Art and get decorating!