Friday, September 28, 2018


A warm hello to all of my fall-owers! I've been requested my loads of my friends to start filming art-based tutorials and being an introvert, filming and walking through how I design and create artwork makes me chicken out every time even though I'd love to share step by steps. So while that idea is brewing in my head, I decided to do my first walkthrough on my blog instead! If you follow me on Instagram, you'll often see me post my watercolor projects there and behind the scenes for the blog's freebie designs; so if I end up doing a video walk-through I'll post it on Instagram since it's fast and convenient to save!

Moving on, today we will be learning how to create this gorgeous October bullet journal spread (if you like artsy journals that is) or are more into art journaling. There is no pressure to have your journal be aesthetically pleasing; just go with a system that is function for YOU. That being said, if you think you have zero artistic skills, I'm here to change that with this super easy step-by-step tutorial.

For this art work we are going for a wispy, dynamic look: almost like the forest breeze is swaying through the branches and scattering leaves everywhere and the birds are chirping alongside. This gives us a lot of flexibility and freedom to not have to make things perfect but instead give the idea/illusion of a certain movement happening to evoke certain moods and feelings. You'll see soon how.

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1. A black pen/felt tip (which doesn't spread much ink around as your hand sweeps past it) and a pencil (to be used light-handed)
2.Masking tape and scissors
3. Paper clips
4. A reference image of a fall branch (if you wish) or some real rustic flowers and leaves beside you which you can constantly keep referring to
5. A plain bullet journal


1.To begin, I held down all four corners of the pages of my spread using paper clips. They make sure that your paper isn't shifting around as you're drawing or turn over on you because we are going to be drawing on a big surface and want our hands to be as steady as possible. 

2.Next, grab some masking tape and leaving some hanging over the edge of the page so it is easy to tug and peel off afterwards, you will want to cover the mid-section of your spread. I used two strips of masking tape because mine has a thin width. You can do one, two or three lines depending on how big you want your text to be in the center.

Note: Since we are going to draw over very lightly to trace with a pen later, I've turned down the exposure a bit more than normal so you can hopefully see better. I deeply apologize if some of the pictures appear grainy or the lighting seems off in some portions due to that.

3. We are going to start to pencil in the "framework" of our artwork. This means things which will occupy the biggest area on our page, which is of course the main branch of the tree. Take it from the top right of the right page and gently diagonal it to the bottom left corner of the left page. Make sure you're gentle with your strokes and are making them opaque just enough so you can trace on top with a pen easily. It doesn't have to be perfect because nature isn't. In fact, the more rickety and jagged the branch, the more autumnal it will look!

4. We are now going to add in the sub-ordinate branches and the twigs. The farther away from the main branch, the wispier the branches will get towards the end. Make sure you don't make them too closely nested because we need to draw lots of fall leaves in between! Also, if you wish to add a bird, make sure to map out a bigger expanse of space on a branch where you want it to go beforehand.

5. Now comes the times for drawing the leaves! Again we will draw the bigger leaves taking up more space first and then fill in with the smaller ones. 

Consider foreground and background elements. As a rule of the thumb:
Bigger leaves -> Foreground -> Stronger/bolder lines, colors and more detailing
Smaller leaves -> Background -> Thinner lines and faded contours with little to no detailing

By detailing I mean, drawing the inner veins of the leaf. Done? Okay.

Now I'm going to show you how you can achieve a magical wispy effect for the VERY background leaves. While drawing, skip a few lines here and there (i.e. do not make a continuous contour). This will do two things: one is that it will emphasize that the leaf is further away from the actual subject (the tree) and the other is that it gives the illusion of the wind swiftly swooping the leaf away. Try it and you'll see how fun it is to do. Make sure that these leaves have no inner details and that their stems tail behind them with a devil-may-care attitude. These are the rebellious leaves that got away fast and quick :D

6. Did you notice how in the "Tool" section above I asked to use a pen whose ink doesn't bleed much if your hand sweeps across it? That is because we are intentionally going to smudge some leaves with our fingers now to give an almost motion-blur of an effect. We don't want too much because that would just look too messy. Just enough so that we can really catch, how powerful the wind is that the leaves fly by in the blink of an eye making them a literal "blur"

7. Optional: Adding embellishments like birds and berries. I simply repeated the same technique here as I did for my branches with the bird that is, drawing the body contours and the beak first and then going back to filling in the rough feathers and drawing its feet clutching the branch at the end.

8. And we're done! Now for the fun part of peeling back the masking tape to reveal a crisp negative space in the middle! Gently and slowly peel off the tape making sure you're not unintentionally smudging anything else in the process. 

9. Go for a font that really portrays Autumn to you. It may or may not be your natural handwriting. For me, I really loved pairing some fun fonts (like the one I used to write "Hello") with a more elaborate and dynamic font like the one used for October mimicking the swaying motion of the branches. If you wish, add a calendar on the right for the month so you can look up dates at a glance.

Voila, you're finished! If you're feeling more artistic, go back in with a light wash of watercolors in some of the areas (I would recommend a monochromatic theme with rustic orange/yellow ochre to make the black and white really pop) I wanted to make this beginner friendly so I didn't include any watercolor techniques for now.

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Till next time, XO


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