Bullet Journal · Drawing

How to use watercolor in a Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal, as we know, is a planning system for our daily projects, but it’s also a great tool to express our creativity.

To get our notebook much more aesthetical, we can use several tools and techniques, but the most loved and hated at the same time is the Watercolor Technique.

The effect which watercolor creates on our drawing is beautiful, and mixing more colors together, we can obtain many shades of colors with just a simple palette of 12 pieces (which I mostly use). On the other hand, some Bullet Journalists are afraid of them and ask: how will the paper react? Am I going to see my drawing in the back of my page? how should I use them? At the beginning, these questions have influenced me too, but I’m a huge fan of watercolors, so I decided to give them a try, and now I can’t imagine my Bullet Journal without a watercolor illustration!

If you love watercolors like me, and you would like to use them in your Bullet Journal, these are some advice which will help you to do your drawing without saying “Oh no!”. At the end of the post you can see a video of my Watercolor Illustration Process in my Leuchtturm1917 notebook.

(By the way, if you want to know the Leuchtturm1917 features and my experience with it, read my post >> here :D)

1. Test

Before starting your illustration, you should be sure that the paper of your notebook works for watercolor painting. So the paper mustn’t ruin with the drops of water poured on it. Usually, all kind of paper from 80g/m² are good, but the weight of the paper is not always an assurance, so it’s better if you do a paper test on a page, for example at the end of your notebook. Notebooks such as Leuchtturm1917 or Rhodia work well, and some planner like Hobonichi work as well. Obviously, any of those notebooks is supposed to be a professional watercolor paper, but the important thing is that you won’t find yourself with a hole on your paper during the illustration process! 😀

2. The right page

Expected? No, it’s not! Be sure that the page you’re going to use doesn’t have written text or drawings on the back. Sometimes we decide to reserve a particular page for our illustration and then we write on the back, but it’s not the right choice. Reserve both sides of the paper, because you don’t know how the ink you’re going to use on the back will react. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to have your drawing visible on the back, but the difference is that the ink you’re going to use on the back could bleed in close contact with water. But if you use that side of sheet after doing your illustration, the ink will be in contact with a dry paper, and that’s what we need. When my illustration was dry, I’ve used the back of my page as usual and nothing bad happened!

3. Add a paper

Although the colors won’t bleed through the page, the water will wet all the pages behind your drawing. So, I recommend to add a paper (at least 160g/m²) on the back, so that you can protect the rest of your notebook. Someone uses paper towels, but I prefer the normal paper as it gives a smooth surface on which you can use your watercolors. Furthermore, the paper towels stay wet, so your paper will stay wet too, and that’s not good for our purpose.

4. Tape

When it’s wet, every kind of not specific paper gathers (and often, even the professional paper too!) and you will have some kind of waves on your paper. Someone likes this effect, but if you want to avoid it or reduce this effect, I recommend to stick some tape along the borders or the sheet. In this way, your page will stay flat during the coloring process and after the drawing dries. Don’t use a strong glue tape, but choose paper tapes such as washi tapes or masking tapes. If you have only a strong glue tape, reduce its adhesiveness, sticking and removing it several times (better on fabric). In fact, if you use a tape with too much glue, when you’re going to remove it it will tear your page!

5. Go fast

At this point, everything is ready to start. Remember to distribute the drops of watercolor quickly. Therefore, don’t leave a drop of water too much time on the same area. You can do it with specific paper, but not with normal notebooks paper. I don’t mean you should be stressed, but it’s better to go quickly. For the same reason, try to get the right shade of color from the beginning, instead of obtain it by layering the color (e.g. what I’ve done in the video, the hair is too much layered and I was running a risk! :D)

6. Pattern

I always recommend to use pattern instead of plain color. Pattern allows us to have beautiful effects without pouring too much water on the paper. For example, in my video I’ve colored the skin and the hair of the girl with plain color, but the rest of the drawing is colored with pattern: stripes for the t-shirt, roses for the trousers and brush strokes as background. You can use several pattern effect such as dots, stars, or other geometric shapes.

Tools used in the video:

Notebook: Leuchtturm1917 A5 Medium Dotted
Liner: Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.05
Watercolor: Winsor & Newton – Cotman – Watercolor Sketcher Pocket Box
Brush: Derwent Waterbrush

Well, I hope this could be helpful, I’d like to know what you think about watercolors, your experience or if would like to use them. Leave a comment below, or contact me on instagram, facebook or email 😀

Let me know if you’re interested in a video + guide about Watercolor pencils!

Happy watercolor illustration! ♥

2 thoughts on “How to use watercolor in a Bullet Journal

Comments are closed.