How to Make a Quick DIY Art Journal

Are you thinking about starting art journaling but still don’t know what kind of an art journal to use and where to find one?

Well, you don’t have to lose your sleep over it because you can make your own art journal and you can make it now, without any fuss or frustration.

Art Journaling 101: How to Make a Simple and Quick DIY Art Journal

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To help you get started with art journaling (I know you can’t wait), I’m sharing a simple tutorial on how to make your own art journal from scratch.


With this art book in your hands, you can get started with art journaling today.

And let me tell you a little secret. I always get more creative when I make art in my DIY art journals, rather than in the ones I purchased. It’s not just me. It’s interesting how people worry less about ruining things and just enjoy art more when they make their own art journals. It’s fearless art journaling.

Here’s how you can start. Let’s make you a lovely DIY journal you’ll enjoy.

Start art journaling with a simple DIY journal

In just a few steps, you’ll learn how to make a mini DIY book to use for art journaling. If you’ve never made a book before, don’t worry. This tutorial is so simple and quick you’ll become addicted to creating these lovely art journals.

You only need a few supplies and you’ll be holding a brand new art journal in your hands in 30 minutes or less.

I’m going to show you each step of the making process with photos, so you can follow easily.

We’ll be making an A5 size art journal with 10 pages inside.

Let’s get started.

What materials do I need for a DIY art journal?

art journaling 101 - DIY Art Journal Supplies

These are the materials and art supplies you’ll need for this tutorial.

I also added some alternatives in case you need them.

  1. One sheet of thick 12×12 scrapbook paper, for the cover. If you have a double-sided paper, that’ll be amazing. (alternative: any thicker paper you have)
  2. 5 sheets of thicker A4 paper for the inside pages (I love using watercolour paper here)
  3. 2 brads
  4. Awl (you can just use a craft knife or a pencil)
  5. Scissors (or an Exacto knife)
  6. A ruler
  7. A bone folder (or just a plain butter knife will do)

How to make the cover for your DIY art journal

art journaling 101 - DIY Art Journal folded

Step 1. Basic measuring

Put the scrapbook paper under the A4 paper sheet and measure where to cut.

art journaling 101 - DIY Art Journal Cover

The scrapbook paper is going to be the cover, so be sure to leave extra on all four sides. Later, when you put together the inside pages, they’ll become bulkier, so you need this extra cover space. This way, your inside pages won’t stick out of the journal.

Especially if your art journaling process includes glueing down a lot of things, so we need to leave some wiggle space for the pages.

In the photo below, you can see the extra paper I left around the A4 page.

art journaling 101 - DIY Art Journal Binding

Step 2. Mark where the spine will be

Measure the cover and find where the middle is. This is important because you need to make the spine in the center.

art journaling 101 - DIY Art Journal Create the Spine

To do ake this correctly, measure the width of the cover and split it in two. Mark three reference points, and then just connect them with a ruler to get a central line for the spine.

Related: How to make a DIY notebook the easiest way possible

Step 3. Make folding lines

When you’ve figured out the centerline, measure 2,5 mm from each side of the line. This will help you determine where you’ll fold the spine.

Step 4. Use a bone folder (or a butter knife)

It’s time to crease those folding lines with any of these two tools. When I didn’t have a bone folder, I used an ordinary butter knife and it worked great.

art journaling 101 - Use a bone folder

Just be careful not to overdo this step. It’s safer to repeat the process a few times with gentler moves, rather than making a hole in the paper.

Art journaling can be messy, and if you plan on using it often, you need a sturdy binding.

Step 5. Fold the spine

art journaling 101 - fold the spine

Now that you have measured where the folds will go, take a ruler to help you fold along these two lines. Check the photo below.

Here’s how the spine looks like when folded. This extra space will hold all the pages together and make it easier to put the brads for binding.

How to prepare the inside pages

Step 6. It’s time to prepare the pages. 

Take the A4 pages and fold them in half.

Then, mark the holes for the brads. You’ll do this by measuring 5 cm from the top and bottom of the central crease. This doesn’t have to be an exact science. The important thing is to have two holes with enough space between them.

art journaling folded pages

When you’ve done this, punch two holes with a hole puncher, or with the help of an Exacto knife and a pencil. Just be careful not to make the holes too big. Check your brads and make the holes that are the same size as the brad’s “legs” or smaller.

If you make the hole bigger, the brad is just going to wiggle, and the pages won’t hold together.

Step 7. Make holes on the spine

Now it’s time to do the same on the spine of your art journal.

Place one inside page on top of the cover like in the image below. Align the center of the cover with the folding line of the inside page and just mark the holes with a pencil.

Punch holes on the spine.

How to bind the art journal

You’re almost done!

art journaling use brads

Step 8. Now it’s time to bind it all with the brads and finish your art journal

First, put the brads through the spine holes so that its “legs” are on the inside of the journal.

Second, add the inside pages one by one, until you’re done.

art journaling 101 - DIY Art Journal Brads

Just be careful to secure the brad “legs” vertically, so you can open the pages easily.

And voila! Now you have an amazing DIY notebook for art journaling and you can use it to pour your heart and soul into and make wonderful art journal pages.

Related: How To Make A Notebook With Paper & Fabric

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Now that you know all the steps, how many of these DIY art journals will you make?

Art journaling is a practice that can transform how you see art in general and most importantly, how you look at your art. Creating art this way gives you the freedom to enjoy the process and improve your art skills without having to worry about the result.

So, if you want to set off on this artistic journey, try making this DIY art journal as your first step.

Also, don’t worry if your journal isn’t perfectly measured and some parts are not even or aligned. This is not that important, especially if you’re making the journal for the first time.

With time, you’ll get better at it and maybe even develop your own ways of making these cute little notebooks.

DIY Art Journal Kit

Next step: How do I start an art journal?

This is the question you might ask after finishing this handmade art journal.

The easiest way would be to gather a few art supplies like acrylic paint, washi tape, markers, magazine images, and start making artsy pages.

Travel Art Journal Kit Essentials

You can find incredible art journaling ideas and tutorials online, you can try many different art journal styles and you’ll soon find ways to develop your own.

If you need more ideas to start art journaling, you can always use prompts, and I have a whole bunch of them on my blog, and I recommend you check out this list of 30 art journal prompts for inspiration. They’re an amazing way to start art journaling, get inspiration and ideas when you don’t know where to begin.

And if you’re interested in more different kinds of DIY art journals, explore these 12 ways of making art journals.

Do you like this DIY art journal tutorial? Save it for later, pin it to your favorite Pinterest board!

art journaling 101 - DIY Art Journal Tutorial

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