Bible Journaling for Beginners: Techniques

Hello, folks! Welcome to my second post on Bible journaling. To catch the first, where I talk about the materials you might want to grab, click here.

Today I want to talk about actual techniques to make your pages look really good. Some of these, I’ve tried. Some, I’m waiting to find the right verse to give it a proper go. But they all should be fairly easy to achieve.

should you gesso in your Journaling Bible? Tutorial by Amy Bruce Watercolor Tutorial | To Prep or Not to Prep - Freedom in ALL Things

Image taken from Illustrated Faith
  • Prepping with gesso (and protecting your Bible)

This isn’t something I do personally, as I’m currently working in a copy of the Psalms which is intended for journaling, and has thicker paper. But if you’re working in a Bible with thinner paper, and you want to add paint or ink, it might be worth layering the page with gesso first. You can check the links at the bottom of the page for guidance on which type of gesso to use, or I would recommend Liquitex Matte Gel Medium, which I’ve used to decorate a notebook and as a general adhesive.

However, I do protect the rest of my Psalms with plastic sheets as I work – one under the page I’m working on, and one over the opposite page. You can buy custom ones from Illuminated Faith (links at the bottom), but I’ve just ripped a plastic wallet (also known, delightfully, as a slippery fish) into two pieces and cut one in half – simple, but effective!

  • Tracing and transferring

Want to include doodles or illustrations, but not confident in your ability to draw? Fear not! Here are two really easy techniques for line drawings, perfect for beginners. If you’re looking for images you can use, I’d recommend searching for clip art – the bold and simple lines make them perfect for these techniques.

The first is tracing. If you have thinner Bible pages, or a good lamp, you can just print out a copy of the image you want, paperclip it underneath where you want it on the page, and just trace it out. Being the careful overthinker that I am, I trace in pencil and then go over in pen, just in case I make a mistake, as with the drawing of the candle above.

The other technique is using graphite paper to transfer the image. You put the graphite paper on top of the Bible page, then the image on top of that, and just draw over the lines on the image. The pressure of the pencil will transfer the graphite to the Bible page, and then you can draw over it in pen. This does give you a little less control over where exactly the image is once you’ve finished, but it’s much easier to get the detail on to your Bible page.

  • Watercolour wash

Watercolour wash is super easy and good fun to do. The trick is: moderation. If you want background colour you can easily design over, you won’t want that much paint. Activate the paint with water, and get a little bit of paint onto a wet brush. If you want more colour, you can always get more, but it’s much harder to remove colour if you realise it’s too dark. As long as you work fairly fast, and bring the brush across the page in even strokes to distribute the paint and water, you shouldn’t have many problems with soggy pages. But have a tissue handy in case you do want to mop up any extra water – you can just dab it right off the page. Leave plenty of time for it to dry so that any ink you put on top doesn’t bleed across the page.

Related image

Image taken from Rebekah R Jones
  • Watercolours and salt

If you want to make a watercolour wash more interesting, you can use salt. When you scatter salt crystals onto wet watercolour paint, it absorbs the moisture. Leave the salt on the page until it dries, and then brush it off. You should be left with a mottled or dappled effect. I haven’t tried this yet – first I need to buy salt crystals! – but I’d like to give it a try.

Image taken from Kounting Sheep
  • Acrylic paint layer

The colours in acrylic paint tend to be more vibrant than watercolour, and easier to control. You can use it in your Bible, but there’s a particular trick to getting a layer thin enough that you can still read the words. Get a plastic card – an old loyalty card would work perfectly – and scoop some paint onto it, and then drag it across the page. You should end up with a thin layer of paint on the page, and you can also play with the block-style of the technique to combine multiple colours in a patchwork style. This is another one I haven’t yet tried, as I’m a bit sceptical about how it will work… This, of course, is where the scrap paper will come into play!

  • Handlettering

I got into handlettering a bit last year, so I had a bit of a head start in this area when I wanted to use it in Bible journaling. The easiest way to get started is to print some font styles off the internet and either copy or trace them until it feels more natural. I have my brush pens for this, but because of the limited space in a Bible margin I more often use a regular felt pen to achieve a more casual effect. I get bored with doing the same fonts all the time, so I’m always looking around for more style ideas. You can also combine fonts to achieve a more dynamic effect on your Bible page, whether you’re writing out a verse or taking notes on a talk. I really love the fonts I’ve used on the page above.

  • Bold sticker lettering

If your background is busier – for example, if you’ve used the watercolour and salt technique above – you’ll want to make sure that the words on the page still stand out. A good way to do that is to get some sets of sticker letters, either in black or outlined in black, to use for the words you really want to stand out on the page. I’ve also cut some lettering out of my glitter washi tapes to achieve the same effect as you can see above – I prefer doing it that way because then I have more control over the size of the letters, though it does make it hard to do anything but block capitals!


Image taken from hellojillsky on Instagram
  • Collaging

This is another one I haven’t had a proper go at yet, but I love the way it looks in other people’s pages. The difficulty with it is that if you still want all the words on the page to be legible (which I do), then you only have a limited amount of space to work in. But I really like the idea of layering cut-out images, coloured paper and collected materials to make the page more 3D.

decorative tape, journaling bible, illustrated faith

Image taken from Rachel Teodoro
  • Washi tape borders

Putting borders around your pages will also restrict the usable space, so I often do this last to fill out a page when it feels too empty. But I really like the effect of the bold lines and patterns. I also like the idea of folding a strip of washi tape lengthways down the side of the Bible page – it acts as a decoration for two pages in one go, and you can see it when the Bible is closed, so it acts as a great way to mark the passages which are particularly meaningful to you. You can also do this along the top or bottom of the page, but it’s a little trickier to work around the binding.

  • Washi tape decoration and illustration

With patterned or illustrated washi tape, you don’t have to just use it in strips. You can also cut it into shapes and use it to decorate your page without being so much of a statement. I have tapes with arrows, hearts and crowns on, and I often cut out the image from the tape and use that, rather than a whole strip. This works especially well if your page is already quite full and you want to add illustrations – the same as if you were to use stickers. If you’re having trouble cutting out the bit you want, stick the strip of tape to a piece of paper and cut round it there. It’s basically masking tape, so it should peel off again easily. One of my favourite uses of this technique is the photo above, where I’ve cut triangles out of a paint-spatter washi tape to make bunting.

If you want to look into Bible journaling more, I can recommend Illustrated Faith for devotional kits and purpose-made Bible journaling supplies. They are US-based, so if you’re in the UK (or elsewhere) you might want to look on Etsy for UK (or elsewhere) stockists before ordering direct from them and paying the postage. You should also check out this page from Journaling the Bible, which has a ton of ideas, tips, examples and encouragement.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts on my new favourite hobby, and that you’ve learned something new. Thanks for reading, folks!

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