I’ve mentioned in the past how I use my bullet journal as a place to work through ideas. I know I don’t like using a sketchbook as a bullet journal. But my bullet journal still comes in handy when I’m working on design projects. So today I thought I would share what I think are the best art supplies for bullet journaling.
I try to avoid having elaborate bullet journal spreads. I will mainly use art supplies if I am working on an idea. But its still enjoyable every so often to create a more decorative bullet journal spread. Basically what I’m trying to say is I use a lot of art supplies in my bullet journal. Some of them work better than others so I thought I would share my favourites.
When it comes to using art supplies in your bullet journal, paper quality is important. I’ve tested these art supplies with the notebooks I use. That being the Leuchtturm1917 and MD Paper notebook. I know these art supplies work well in those notebooks but I can’t say the same if you use a different brand of notebook.
Even then its always a good idea to test any art supplies before you use them in a bullet journal spread. Notebook companies can change the type or quality of paper used in their notebooks which can change how they handle wet media.
The Best Art Supplies For Bullet Journaling
I’ve always been quite surprised by how well the Leuchtturm notebooks stand up to watercolour. The Leuchtturm1917 notebooks have 90gsm paper. Realistically for watercolour you want to be using 300gsm paper. If you take care you can use watercolour in notebooks and it can be an effective way to create something special in your bullet journal.
You don’t even need to be particularly artistic to create something nice with watercolour. Especially when using such thin paper. It limits you on what you can create. There is no way you would be able to paint an elaborate scene in your bullet journal using watercolour. But the paints can be used to create light washes.
So long as you’re careful about the amount of water on the page you can create a nice gradient in your bullet journal. I’ve done this a lot in some of my university projects and it can be really effective if you add typography or draw on top.
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When it comes to specific brands of watercolour I use a mixture of Daler Rowney and Windsor & Newton paints. The Windsor & Newton paint sets can be quite expensive. I got a set of 18 half pans from Cass Art for £40. I think they were originally meant to be closer to £70. But these are artist quality paints so the colour won’t fade over time. You can also buy the paints individually which makes it easy to refill one specific colour or buy more colours to add to your set.
I know watercolour is very popular in the bullet journaling community. But if we’re talking about the best art supplies for bullet journaling, I have to mention gouache. In my opinion, this is even better than watercolour if you want to use wet media in your bullet journal.
Gouache is very similar to watercolour, it works almost the same as watercolour but dries into a flat colour. This makes it very popular with designers because it’s easy to create a flat wash. It’s also very easy to mix a specific colour. When I first started at college we used gouache to learn about colour theory.
Gouache is much more expensive than watercolour. A set of gouache paints will cost you anywhere from £20 to £30. If you’re buying individual tubes you can pay anywhere from £3 to £6 depending on the pigments in the paint. But this is one of the paints I use most often in my bullet journal.
Gouache needs slightly less water compared to watercolour. This means the pages of my bullet journal don’t warp so much compared to watercolour. I love using gouache when I’m drawing in my bullet journal because I can lay down a flat wash then go back over with coloured pencils to add extra details.
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I have several examples where I’ve used gouache in my bullet journal. Like I said farther up this post. I mainly use my bullet journal as a place to work through ideas and as part of that, I may decide I want to paint or sketch. It’s far easier to keep all these ideas contained in the same place rather than using a separate sketchbook.
When it comes to specific brands of gouache I use Windsor & Newton because it seems to be the only type of gouache available to buy in art shops in the UK.
The paints can be very expensive depending on the colours you buy. If you want to buy a tube or two just to try out I can highly recommend the metallic gold. This is one of the more expensive colours but the tube should last you a long time and it has a very nice metallic sheen.
I tend to not use acrylic paint in my bullet journal. Acrylic paint can be slightly sticky, even when dry. So it doesn’t work very well in a notebook. You can fix this by making sure you mix the right amount of water into the acrylic, or by adding a varnish on top. But for the most part, I avoid acrylic. Occasionally I will add small swatches if I want to save a specific colour but that’s pretty much it.
Instead of using acrylic in your bullet journal I would recommend using acrylic gouache. This is a matte, acrylic paint. It works very similar to gouache paint but the acrylic in the binding means the paint won’t reactivate if you add water. This is one downside of traditional gouache paint.
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There are several brands which make acrylic gouache but I’ve tried the Turner Acryl Gouache. This is a Japanese brand of paint. The paint works nicely in my bullet journal, it is very opaque which makes it easy to draw or paint another colour directly on top. Because you use less water with gouache the page doesn’t warp as much compared to using watercolour.
The only downside of acrylic gouache is the cost. I bought a set of 12 paints and it cost me nearly £40. However, these are artist quality paints so the colour won’t fade over time. You also can’t find acrylic gouache easily in art shops. I had to order my set online which I’m assuming was shipped from Japan. Though it is possible to order individual colours which are an advantage.
If you’re wanting to buy paints for your bullet journal I would highly recommend choosing between gouache and acrylic gouache rather than watercolour. The specific type of paint you buy depends on what you can afford and what is easily accessible. Like I said before, it’s much easier to find the Windsor & Newton gouache compared to the Turner Acryl Gouache.
I love using calligraphy ink in my bullet journal. Out of everything I’ve mentioned in this post its probably one of my favourite art supplies for bullet journaling. It’s also one of the only things I will use as decoration in my bullet journal as well as for a project.
I’m in the process of setting up a small calligraphy business so I’ve tried a lot of different calligraphy inks. Fortunately, the paper in most notebooks hold up very well to calligraphy inks. This is because it’s very similar to most fountain pen inks. The MD Paper notebook, in particular, works very well with calligraphy ink.
If you want to create a minimal layout in your bullet journal, calligraphy is one way of making something that looks nice without being over the top. This is the method I used when setting up my 2019 bullet journal. Of course, learning calligraphy is a slightly more complicated subject.
When it comes to specific inks I like the Dr PH Martin calligraphy ink. These inks cost around £6 for a bottle, though you can buy larger sets. The inks come in a range of metallic colours and are slightly thicker compared to other inks. This means the ink sits above the paper, giving it a tactile feel.
This ink is also waterproof which makes it great if I have to do something like write addresses on envelopes. I don’t need to worry about the ink bleeding.
Another type of ink I’ve used for calligraphy is the Finetec watercolour ink. These watercolour inks are highly pigmented metallic paints. They use mica to make the metallic sheen which makes them highly iridescent. The finetec paints come in pans. This means you need to wet the ink before painting or lettering with them.
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The dry pans are one downside of the finetec paints. If you want to use them to create calligraphy you need to mix the paint to the right consistency using water, when load a dip pen using a paintbrush. Depending on what you want to use the ink for it might be easier to use some other brand of ink.
However, these inks are very nice. The Finetec watercolour inks are very opaque and come in several different colours. This means you could even write on black paper using these inks. I love them but for some projects, especially larger ones, it’s easier using the Dr PH Martin inks.
I don’t even know if you would describe collaging magazines as an art supply for bullet journaling. But if you’re not artistic this can be a really good method of creating something in your bullet journal. If you can hold a pair of scissors you can create something nice by cutting images out of magazines.
I know I’ve said in previous posts that I don’t like sticking things into my bullet journal. But I thought I would mention this anyway because I still love collage. The best thing is you don’t need to go out and buy all sorts of fancy supplies. Chances are you already have some magazines lying around. All you need to do is find some nice pictures and stick them into your bullet journal.
How creative you go with your collages is really up to you. I like finding pictures to use as inspiration. I’m a graphic designer so I focus a lot on nice typography I find in magazines. But what you make depends on what you like and what magazines you have.
Those were some of my favourite art supplies for bullet journaling. I decided to not mention a few things in this post. There are some pens and markers I love using in my bullet journal. The Tombow Dual Brush Pens are super popular and I love them. I also use a few different calligraphy pens in my bullet journal.
But since I’ve already written a post about my favourite pens for bullet journaling I didn’t see the point in rewriting parts of that post for this one. The great thing about creating art in your bullet journal is that you don’t need to be artistic to make something nice. Especially when you have limitations on the amount of paint you can add to a page before it warps.
It means you can make your bullet journal as minimal or artistic as you want. I know some people love art journaling in their bullet journal. It can be a therapeutic process. I like using my bullet journal as a place to work through ideas. There are no right or wrong ways to use art supplies in your bullet journal.
But what about you. Are there any specific art supplies you use in your bullet journal? Are you a minimal planner or do you love art journaling? Let me know in the comments.