How to make your own masks and stencils for art journaling

make your own stencils

When you’re looking on social media for art journal inspiration it can get boring pretty quickly. It seems that everyone is using the same designs and tools in the same ways. I want you guys to be able to add your own personality and flare to your art journal. A great (and fairly simple) way of doing this is to make your own stencils and masks. Don’t worry – you don’t need any drawing skills. Follow these instructions if you want to be original!

Step One – Find a picture that would make an awesome stencil.

You can either use your own photography skills or find an image online. Beware of copyright infringement! When making stencils you need to pay particular attention to the silhouette of the image. If the outline shape doesn’t look like anything then it’s not going to look like anything when you use it in your journal.

peeking dog photo

Step Two – Print out your image.

Print out the image, preferably on printer paper (it’s thicker and you can get more than one use out of it). It does’t need to be in colour and it doesn’t need to be fantastic quality, as long as you can clearly see the outline of the subject. 

Step Three – Cut out your image.

Use a craft knife or a decent pair of scissors for this. You need to try and keep the inner shape and outer shape whole, otherwise it won’t work. If you need to you can make a simple snip as an entry point to get your scissors in position on the outline, then tape the split shut afterwards. Pay attention to detailed areas as these will make your stencil look more impressive.

cut out of dog

Step Four – Have fun and Experiment!

art journal dog silhouette

Your stencil and mask are finished. Now the fun begins! There are loads of ideas on YouTube if you search “Stencils and Masks” including this great link I found.

Have you tried making your own stencils and/or masks? How did it they turn out?

How to Break Out of Your Creative Slump

break out of creative slump

Hey you! Yes you who owns a bazillion empty notebooks and has nothing to fill them with. Need some inspiration that doesn’t require much brain power? Need to have a purpose before you can put ink/paint/pencil to paper? Look no further than this lovely list I’ve made to help you break out of your creative slump!

  1. Rip up tiny pieces of junk mail and stick them down to create a word of your choice. Decorate the rest of the page to fit in with the word you chose. If you can’t even think of any words then try one of these.

    be reckless and create

  1. Cut out a magazine picture, stick it in your journal and doodle on or around the image

    giraffe rainbow art journal

  1. Find any old photograph, stick it in and draw your own version next to it

  1. Find some things that you can sprinkle. Mix them together. Glue a pattern and sprinkle the sprinkles over and shake off the excess

  2. Go outside and find some natural flat items. Use them to make a collage

  1. Take a pencil in each hand then draw and colour a beautiful mirror-image butterfly

  1. Doodle and annotate your day

    doodle journal entry
    Can we just take a moment to appreciate my outstanding drawing skills?! See – don’t let a lack of skills stop you from creating!
  1. Cover an entire page with different magazine pictures that speak to you

    magazine collage

  1. Cover an entire page with words

  1. Get your favourite book. Search for quotes and fill a page with them. Use watercolours to paint over and express the feeling that the book gives you

  1. Collect textures and stick them in

  1. Collage a picture of your home

  1. Cut two pages out of your journal, leaving a 1cm strip running parallel to the spine. Sandwich a new page of any found paper in between the strips and glue it in. Use the new page as a background for a list of things you would like to achieve in the next year

  1. Draw around your hand and fill it in with intricate doodles and glitter

    mandala hand pattern

  1. Stick an envelope in and fill it with 10 interesting facts about yourself

    I would love to know if any of you guys try any of these activities. If you do be sure to let me know in the comments!

My Current Notebooks, Journals and Scrapbooks

SODA (2)

The more I post right here on Clarty Hands, the more you’re going to see of my extensive collection of notebooks, journals and scrapbooks. For that reason I thought you guys might like to see a list of the books I actually use and to see what I use them for. So here goes…

My Business Organiser

Between Etsy, my blog and all of my social media accounts it’s pretty easy for me to get forgetful and overwhelmed with the ridiculously big to-do list that’s rattling around in my brain. This is why I need my Business Organiser. I made my own printables with OpenOffice Impress and my folder is divided into sections to set yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals.

business planner organizer

My Scrapbook

The scrapbook I use is spiral bound with white card pages and a Kraft cover. I use this book to make layouts about important things in my life such as trips away, special occasions and people I know and love. I use embellishments, journal spots and found ephemera to make my layouts exciting.

scrapbook layout

My Art Journal

My art journal is a spiral bound, A4, Pink Pig sketchbook that I use for playing with mixed media. For me art journaling is less about preserving memories and more about enjoying the process of…well…art. I hesitate to use the word because I wouldn’t call myself an artist but I guess that’s what I am if that’s what I make!

create art journal

My Bucket List

This book is the oldest on my list. I started it a few years ago by writing down everything that I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime. Every time I meet one of my goals, I tick it off the list, write down the date and then add a photo to a clean page to prove that I’ve done it. It isn’t beautiful but I think it’ll be lovely for me and the kids to look at when I’m older. I also keep adding to the list as I think of more life goals.

The following are all A5 Kraft sketchbooks that are used as inserts in my purple elephant fabric traveler’s notebook.

traveler's notebook

My Creative Journal

My creative journal is for writing about my thoughts, feelings and everyday events in a visually appealing way. I like to keep the colours as monotone as possible and decorate with washi tape, small black and white photographs, doodles and lettering.

creative journal

My Tester Book

There are some occasions when I need to try out techniques and themes (usually for blog post purposes) that don’t belong in any of my other books so I use my tester book for them instead. It’s also useful for trying out any new supplies and tools that I purchase.

blue and green collage

My Handy Notes

This is an insert in my traveller’s notebook for jotting down ideas as they come to me. I don’t try to make it look pretty or ordered in any way as I don’t want anything to get in the way of getting the idea down on paper as soon as it pops into my mind. I refer to the notes at a later date when I transfer them to my Business Organiser and begin to plan them in a more ordered way.

My Mini Adventures Travel Journal

I class “mini adventures” as day trips and events and I document them Smashbook style in one of my A5 Kraft sketchbooks. I keep it in my traveller’s notebook so it is handy to take away with me on trips and I can entertain myself by filling it in on long car and train journeys.

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.

40 One Word Prompts for Your Art Journal

Blog post 1 title graphic

When looking for art journal inspiration on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube I always marvel at the ability of others to include the written word in their pages. It is something I struggle with personally as I never have a clue what to write about. Text adds valuable visual interest to pages so I have created this list of one-word art journal page titles in the hope that each one will act as a springboard for written journaling or at least as a prompt to inspire the design of my pages. I thought you guys may find it useful too so here’s the list.

Blog post 1 - list graphic

I hope this helps. You can choose a select few or work your way though all of them but I do have one rule – you must remember to enjoy the process and not to dwell on making things perfect. Creativity isn’t about perfection, it is about expression!