Digital Art Journal: How to Make One, Tips, & Resources

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I talked about what an art journal is and why you should have one. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you lack physical supplies, or you like the idea of ctrl-z-ing imperfections, then a digital art journal might be your solution.

What program do I use to make a digital art journal?

Use whatever software you have and are comfortable with. If you have Photoshop, then great. But you can also use any of the free programs & apps the Internet has to offer you.

You can use good old MS Paint if you want. The most important thing is that you actually like using whatever program or app you chose. πŸ™‚

Digital Art Journal with PicMonkey
PicMonkey is a powerful, browser-based app for editing photos. The free version is already amazing, and the Royale upgrade unlocks a full playground of effects, stickers, and filters.

What tools do I need?

You can easily make a digital art journal with just your hands. Use your finger as a stylus on your phone, or click around with your mouse/track pad.

A stylus or stylus pen will give you finer control.

And you can download a multitude of free or paid clip art, textures, and brushes from all over the web.

Digital Art Journal Page
This spread uses stickers and backgrounds you can find in my Etsy shop. πŸ™‚

What do I do with my digital journal pages?

Other than keeping your pages in a folder for the occasional slide show, here are some ideas for how to display and enjoy your creations

  • Use them as a background on your PC, phone, tablet, etc. You can create your pages specifically to these dimensions or you can resize and crop them later.
  • Print your pages with a service like Artifact Uprising, a local print shop, or your own printer. You can make photo books, wall art, etc.

Ready for more?

Want to peek behind the scenes of Celia Agnes? Maybe you’d like some discounts for my offerings, or to be the first to know about new features and products. Members of my newsletter get those things every Sunday. I would love to see you there!

Digital Art Journal, Pinterest


What’s an Art Journal and Why Do I Need One?

So what’s an art journal, anyway? An art journal is simply a place where you can empty your brain in a visual way. It doesn’t have to look “good”. You could make a whole page of solid blue, or three pages of little triangles. It’s your brain, and your space to dump it out. There are no rules, art teachers, or critics in your art journal. Go ahead and throw stuff on the proverbial floor.

And, you’re the only person who needs to see it. Maybe show it to your cat, or fish. Or post every page on Facebook if you want. Do whatever feels right for this point in your creative life.

What's an Art Journal

Why do I need to do this?

Do you ever get up from your work and stretch? Or maybe go for a walk when you’re stressed? Art journaling isΒ  another way to stretch, exercise, and free up your brain.

Here’s some science explained by actual scientists and not me (a humble blogger):

Summary: Science seems to agree that making art is pretty good for you. You can use this as a perfectly valid reason to cloister yourself away and make stuff. Because science.

What’s the difference between an art journal and sketchbook?

This answer will be different for everyone. They may be the exact same thing for you. Or you might alternate between sketching and journaling in the same book. There are no rules. πŸ™‚

For me, an art journal is more of a brain dump. I’m not trying to practice or refine anything, and I’m not thinking ahead to a larger piece. I’m just tossing down whatever my brain wants to in that moment.

In my sketchbook, I am usually trying to hone a skill; like anatomy. Or, I’m sketching for a larger project. I might sketch the same thing over and over again. I’m focused on my technique if I’m practicing, and I’m focused on layout and shapes if it’s a thumbnail for something bigger.

Does it have to look a certain way? I’ve noticed a particular style is popular in art journals.

If you search “intuitive painting,” that style is very similar to many classic art journal pages. That makes a lot of sense, since we’re putting down whatever comes to mind – intuitively.

Maybe you don’t like the style of typical intuitive painting. Maybe you’re more of a minimalist. Or you might be somewhere in between. Those are all fine, because your art journal doesn’t have to look any certain way.

Your pages can be monotone or rainbow. You can use a single pen or 10 different products and stickers.


Art Journal Tools

What do I need to start art journaling?

If you have any means of making marks, you can art journal. It can be with scrap paper and a pen. It can be with your finger in a drawing app. You just need:

  • Your brain
  • A way to record what’s in your brain, visually.

That’s really it. But here are some of the tools I use for art journaling:

  • Art markers
    • Faber-Castell, Copic, Prismacolor
  • India ink pens
    • Sakura Micron, Faber-Castell
  • Pencils
  • Kneaded eraser
    • If you have never tried one, I highly recommend
  • Strathmore Visual Journal in 140lb Watercolor
  • Canson XL Mix Media pads
    • These say they can take watercolor but I have not found that to be so
    • Great for pencil & ink, and dryer paint like acrylic is okay too
  • Tayasui Sketches app for iPhone/Android

Do you art journal? Has it helped you make more time for art, or helped you think about something differently?

Feel free to share this with someone you think would benefit from an art journal. πŸ™‚

Ready for more?

Want to peek behind the scenes of Celia Agnes? Maybe you’d like some discounts for my offerings, or to be the first to know about new features and products. Members of my newsletter get those things every Sunday. I would love to see you there!

What's an Art Journal