Bible Journaling is a creative journey in the Word of God – and it’s a very personal one, so everyone approaches it differently! I’ve gathered a list of my favorite resources below, as well as a gallery of my pages that might help you understand how you might take on this inspiring art form as well. Some of my pages are beautiful drawings, but many are just backgrounds allowing written journaling – finding a way to simply highlight a verse God spoke to me about. You don’t need to be an amazing artist to create lovely Bible journal pages. Just be someone willing to engage God in a creative way!
This page includes a LOT of information; please read through this FAQ before emailing questions, as your question might be addressed here. You may also be interested in my Bible Journaling 101 Online Class HERE.
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Have no fear.
Please remember that Bible art journaling is about having time with God. If you’re nervous or afraid, think about this: if you’re spending time with Him, reading the Word, and creating in love – then He’ll love anything you make. There’s nothing to be afraid of! But let me quickly address a few fears I’ve heard expressed – and see if these answers help!
- I was raised not to mark in my Bible. There’s a generation raised with this – and it’s perfectly okay to do art….or not to do art. Please don’t feel like one perspective or the other is “right.” If you want to do some creative work with Scripture, just buy a journal and do your work in that. And don’t feel bad at all!
- I’m afraid to cover words or that something will bleed through so you can’t read it. I am of the perspective that wants to keep all the words readable – but once in a while, stuff happens. Sometimes you’ll test something and it seems fine, then when you apply it in a heavier coat it or over another medium, it bleeds through – and you need to just give yourself grace. If you’re creating in the only Bible you have – that’s very different. I’d recommend being very very careful. But most people do get a journal or another Bible for this – which means you can read those verses elsewhere if it got distressed in your creation process.
- I’m afraid I’ll mess up and have ugly art in my Bible. That, my friend, is just going to happen. I have several pages I slide by quickly because I’m not happy with how they worked out. But it’s okay – I learned from them! And that’s good enough for me.
- I can’t draw. You don’t have to draw! Some people do, some people don’t. You can make a background- so just let color be your “thing.” Check out some samples in the gallery below and be encouraged to keep it simple!
- I don’t want art on top of the words at all. That’s totally fine! Get one of the Bibles with margins to color in! Just because you see people doing full page backgrounds doesn’t mean you “have” to do that at all.
- I’m afraid it’s going to be very expensive. This was my big fear when I first began. I had read so much about having to buy gessos and prep my pages, and having to wait 24 hours for them to dry, and on and on….I got scared of having to get all that stuff. But I got past it and started using the supplies I already had – no gesso. And guess what? It worked without them! In Bible Journaling 101, I show you tons of mediums that you may already possess and some that are very affordable, and show you some techniques – so you can get ideas that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
That’s a pretty personal decision – first, understand that there are no Bibles I know of with anything other than regular thin Bible paper. If someone printed that, it would be a book we probably couldn’t lift! So you will have to purchase some kind of art journal if you want to use Copics or other heavy mediums. (I have a few of these in different sizes.)
There are a few I have been using that you might find interesting….see examples of my creations in all of these in the gallery.
- I’d recommend doing a search online for “Journaling Bible” or “Note Taking Bible” along with your favorite translation. Lots more are being created all the time, so even if you love a version that doesn’t come in a “journaling” style of design, wait a bit and I bet it will happen! Most have a 2″ border with lines; google and you can find them with or without the lines, and in a variety of translations.
- My recent favorite (I’m always checking out new ones) is Zondervan’s Journal The Word Bible with leather cover.
- Tyndale’s Inspire Bible, which has about 500 preprinted graphics and text you can just color in. There are several cover options, and the paper is cream colored. If you get this one, please pinky swear that you’ll actually READ the chapter next to what you’re coloring; otherwise this could easily become a coloring book and not a worship or study tool. I want you to have good time with God! 🙂
- Crossway’s Interleaved Bible has a full blank page in between every printed page. Still made on Bible paper, and a cream colored paper; it also has different covers, so scroll through their site to see what the options are. The big blank page can be intimidating for some, but it’s tantalizing for others!
- There are “Wide Margin” bibles with about a 1″ border all around and extra space at the bottom, but not the wide columns at the outside. For some folks this is the best option as they want to write notes about many of the verses; so coloring a beautiful background and writing overtop that can be lovely.
- NOTE: Some viewers have recommended a $1 Bible from the dollar store – I checked my local store and those are printed on a newsprint-like paper. You can certainly practice drawing in them, but there are no margins for drawing, and the paper will react very differently from any other Bibles.
- And finally – I’m also creating art in my regular old study Bible I’ve had for decades. I did adapt in this Bible because it has study notes at the bottom, and no wide margins; so instead I’m doing backgrounds that highlight verses, and do written journaling in the existing margins.
Supplies listed here are ones I found I could use with little or no bleed through. Please read the notes, because some only work with these types of applications listed. All wet mediums WILL WRINKLE PAPER. If that’s an issue for you, iron pages between typing paper afterward, or aim to use the dry mediums. Be sure to test, test, test on your own too!
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- Mats: There are nice plastic Bible mats you can order -or you can use your own craft sheet to slip under the page you’re working on. (The craft sheet has many uses for other crafts since it’s larger; though I’ve seen some folks cut one down to just over the size of their Bible so it’s more manageable.) I’ve also used no mat at all for dry mediums, and sometimes just a few sheets of copier paper while using wet mediums.
- Brushes, applicators: For a lot of mediums I apply them with this round tool – the foam on the end is washable with most mediums (don’t let it dry first!) so you can use it with a lot of colors. If I’m using a brush – Silver Black Velvet all the way for me; a size 4 round if you’re looking for just one brush.
- Generally helpful: Baby wipes and paper towels! You’ll want to be ready to dab off when you suddenly discover too much water is on your paper. Baby wipes can remove paints when rubbed gently, even acrylic (while paint is still wet) and oil pastels too.
- Drawing tools: Pencils, rulers, copier paper, and tracing paper are nearby all the time too. Sometimes I draw the image right on the page; other times I draw on copier or tracing paper and transfer it either by seeing through the Bible paper or by using graphite paper to transfer it.
- Stamping Inks: Light shades of pigment inks and chalk inks work best; dark colors do start to show through a little. My favorite brand right now is Avery Elle for pigment, Versamagic for chalk. Please note that new pads that are “juicy” stand a chance of going through even if they’re light colors; use them for some other projects when you get a brand new one. You can also use a WEE bit of light colors of distress ink – and I mean wee. Apply with an applicator lightly; works nicely with stencils. Dye inks seem to bleed through magnificently. lol.
- Stamps: As soon as I start a list, it’ll be outdated, but let me send you in a few directions!
- Our Daily Bread Designs – they have some long 2″ Bible verses that’ll fit in the margin, as well as LOTS of other Scripture stamps. Lovely people too.
- Neat and Tangled and HoneyBee Stamps have been coming out with some new stamps just for journaling with large words you can color in.
- Illustrated Faith – at Dayspring the collection has been growing – fab service at Dayspring by the way, they send orders out quick and also carry some journaling Bibles. They also carry the Bible mat, and pens that will write on top of acrylic paint.
- Honeybee Stamps
- Colored pencils: Prismacolor is my favorite, and you can purchase them color-by-color too. But any brand seems to work; some just have less pigmentation (they’re softer colors on Bible paper). I even tried out Crayola pencils, and they’re ok! I use THIS electric sharpener and for travel I use this one. I store pencils in cases – the small one for neutrals and large one for everything else. (Two of them accomodate the entire Prismacolor collection.) But honestly – if you have a small handful of pencils, just a mug works wonders to store them!
- Watercolor pencils: My favorite medium for Bible Journaling, hands DOWN. Any brand also seems to work to one extent or another; almost all have about the same level of pigmentation except for two. For all water mediums, use a limited amount of water, and you can iron the page after (put it between typing paper sheets) to somewhat flatten it out. It’ll likely never be completely perfect again – but ironing helps.
- Most affordable: Prima, Prismacolor watercolor pencils, Derwent watercolor pencils, ArtGrip Aquarelles, and Bruynzeel Aquarel pencils are generally student quality but work just fine.
- Intense color + variety of colors: Albrecht Durer pencils by Faber Castell are nice artist quality pencils, and are very rich, and I really like them since I have the full set and the most color options.
- Good intense color: Inktense pencils are ink (not watercolor) and fall in the middle-to-top of the above range – they are more intense in color.
- Most intense color: Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils are superb in quality, both intense color and application, though crazy-expensive. These put everything to shame on Bible paper especially! If you really want color, one of their sets would be a great birthday present. See the “Speak Lord” page in the gallery below to see just how much color they put out.
- I store pencils in cases like this one.
- Watercolors: My personal faves are Daniel Smith. But if you’re not going to get deep into painting, a set of pan watercolors might do you very well.
- The paints I recommend especially for new Bible journalists – the Koi sketchbox and the Gansai Tambi sets. The most pigmented ones, which I probably love the very best, are Dr PhMartin Hydrus – they come in sets as well as singles – you could try out one and see what you think. There’s a lot of color in them and they’ll last a long time.
- At first I assumed that all watercolors work fine on Bible paper – and discovered that it is more likely that all watercolors with a certain formulation work fine.I don’t know what that formulation is, but discovered that Crayola and Peerless have something terrible in common – they both bleed through quite badly.
- Pens: I like the Sakura Micron pens and Copic Multiliners best – I’ve just learned the color multiliners are being discontinued, so if you find some, snap them up. The Illustrated Faith pen works well over paint, too, so it’s a good one to have on hand.
- Markers: Few work well just writing or coloring directly on the paper.
- Water based markers are dodgy; directly on the paper is ok if it’s one simple layer, but scribbling color will often end up bleeding through. But if you scribble them on a palette, you can sorta watercolor with them, but most will eventually bleed through if you use much color at all.
- Any alcohol markers (Copic, Spectrum Noir, Prisma Premiere, etc) are a nonstarter on Bible paper. Using them over gessos or grounds is dangerous to the nibs, so I didn’t even test any with page prep. One exception is airbrush with Copics – that does work without bleeding through as long as coverage is light.
- Pastels and Gelatos: Gelatos by Faber Castell and Water soluble oil pastels by Prima were a lovely surprise – no bleed through and amazing color! Normally on heavy paper, you can use a lot of water or rubbing to move the coloraround; but wiping across scribbled color with a baby wipe leaves the transparent color behind. These brands MAY not work the same as other artist’s oil pastels; so be aware these are different products.
- Pan pastels: I wasn’t optimistic when I bought these, as I didn’t want to use something that required a spray to fix it. But Pan pastels worked ok once I applied them and wiped off excess. They are low-dust, not like the pastels I used in art school. Time will tell if color eventually will wear off – but so far so good. Pan pastels can also be erased to completely white paper. Cool!
- Acrylic paints: Applied in thin coats, these can add great intense color that leaves text readable. Apply with I’ve used these Pebeo paints as well as these from Ranger, and they worked great. You can apply them with an old credit card (or how about that silly fake AARP card people like me keep getting!), with a brush (though that sometimes applies it too thick), or with this round tool – I’m keeping one on hand all the time for my Bible work with a number of mediums.
- Grounds: I don’t really like using grounds or gessos. For one, they take 12-24 hours to dry or could ruin pen nibs. But for the other – they just make my pages feel weird and rough. While I bought a bunch of grounds and gessos to use, they’ll be for other projects, not my Bible. The ones I tested were the Daniel Smith, Ranger, and Golden – all worked fine to protect paper, but all felt weird on the surface. Note that anything “heavy bodied” is pretty much overkill for Bible paper.
If the above list got overwhelming (sorry!)…here’s the short list.
- Watercolor pencils: Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle are are my favorite, but if you can’t afford those – Inktense pencils are a good choice.
- Colored pencils: Any brand, but I use Prismacolor.
- Watercolor: PhMartins Hydrus. Very intense color! They’re in bottles with droppers, so they aren’t portable or would have been at the top of my list. For softer color – Daniel Smith. But for new folks only getting into Bible journaling? The Koi is awesome.
My two favorite Bibles of the five I’ve been using are Crossway’s Interleaved Bible and my Journaling Bible with the 2″ border (it’s out of print but just google for Journaling Bible + your favorite translation, and you’ll find a bunch). The full pages of the Interleaved are nice for some things, but the 2″ border often seems more do-able.
I’ve assembled an online class to share what I’ve learned! There are 10 lessons in class, covering an Introduction to Bible journaling; my process from devotions through getting an image on paper; Bleeding/Ghosting; then lessons on many mediums including Stamping/Inks, Pencils, Markers, Watercolor, Crayons/Pastels, Acrylics, and Grounds.