15 Ways to Add Visual Texture to Art Journals

Visual Texture

Art journaling is something I stumbled upon about two years ago when searching YouTube for something completely different. That night became a vibrant blur of ink, paint and stencils and before I knew it the sun was rising. It was the next day and I knew there and then that I was hooked. My mind was spinning with ideas, visualising the contents of my drawers and cupboards and pin-pointing the media that I already had available to use. I pulled my supplies out (and a Pink Pig sketchbook that had been stashed away for years) and I began to make mess.

To this day I adore being IN my art journal. I’ve created plenty of abominations and I’ve produced the odd masterpiece as well (by “masterpiece” I mean “pages I didn’t rip out and immediately throw away”). It’s a place where I can experiment with techniques and play around with glue and glitter and paint. What more could a crafty girl ask for?! You don’t even have to be able to draw or paint. And my favourite thing about it is that making a small mistake doesn’t mean that you have to discard the whole thing…instead you can just cover it up!

If you haven’t tried art journaling yet, you really must give it a go. It is by far the most therapeutic of all the crafts I do.

In my opinion, the thing that really makes an art journal spread impressive are the textured elements of the page, so I’ve made a list of the ways you can add visual texture without adding too much bulk to your journal.

Old Book Pages

Ripping up and gluing old book pages onto one of your art journal pages as a background is a great starting point for adding texture. It is also extremely satisfying. I usually apply a thin layer of gesso over the top to push the words further into the background and to seal the paper ready for the wet media that will come to follow.

ripped book pages

Crayon rubbings

Remember in primary school when you would do an art lesson where you had to run around the school looking for textured surfaces that you could take rubbings from? And you had to lay a piece of paper over the texture and rub over the top with the side of your crayon? Yeah? Sometimes the old ones are the good ones.

Painting with old points cards

You can use an old store points card to pull paint across your page. It gives a cool effect because the paint responds to the relief of the surface you are applying it to. More paint goes into any dents and ditches and it gets scraped off any lumps and peaks.

Paint scraping


Stippling is the act of repeatedly stabbing your work with a weapon tool such as a paintbrush to create a textured effect. A few ideas for tools to use include: a dry paintbrush, a cotton bud (or Q-tip if you’re American) or a make-up sponge. This example was done with a dry paintbrush.


Painting with a dry brush

When you paint with a dry paintbrush the bristles make more of an impression in the paint, creating cool stripy texture.

Applying paint with cotton wool

I guess this sort of works in the same was as stippling, but you can also swirl, drag and blend using balls of the stuff.

Painting with a wet brush

Painting with a wet brush tends to produce more solid results so it’s great for filling larger spaces, for example, creating an all over wash for the background. The result you get depends on the kind of paint you use. Acrylic tends to be bolder and more opaque where as watercolours are translucent and allow background details to show through.


Stencils are great for adding designer textures to your work. If you aren’t very good at drawing (like me) you can also use them to add a focal point to your page. Stencils can be used with a wide variety of media, from pencils to paints to glue and glitter.


Stamps are huge in the world of crafting and there is so much variety to chose from that you can create any theme you like. Background stamps are large and repetitive and add extra detail to the surface of your page before you add your focal points. You can use picture and word stamps to create your focal point and use a variety of media to colour them. They’re great when you’re not so good at drawing!

Applying with fingers

Using your fingers to paint is a messy, fun and effective way to apply paint. It tends to create a smoother texture than painting with a brush or card does, but you have more control and can paint finer details than you would be able to when painting with cotton wool.

Removing colour with a baby wipe

When using water-soluble media in your art journal, you can remove colour using a baby wipe or a damp (not wet) cloth. This is another great use for stencils. The flower shapes you can see below are where I have removed colour with a baby wipe (Aldi Sensitive Fragrance Free if you want to know) over a stencil.

flower paint removed

Spattering paint

Flicking paint with a paintbrush creates cool spatters. If you use acrylic paint and dry the spatters with a heat gun then they retain their 3D quality. If you’re anything like me then you’ll have to resist the urge to pick them off.

Dripping ink

Dripping ink adds a sense of movement to the page. I used alcohol ink diluted with surgical spirit and mixed with Shimmerz Pigment powder.


Shading edges

Shading around the edges of your focal piece, whether it is lettering, a shape or a picture, create the illusion of standing out from the page. To do this you need to use a darker colour. You can also use white, or a very light colour to add highlights

Pencil crayons

Good ol’ “colouring in” with pencil crayons. The best thing about these is they show the texture of the paper through the lovely colours.


Once you have all of your layers built up, it’s time to scratch them off. Well not completely off…just use something sharp to scratch a design into the paint, wax crayon and ink.

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