Visual journaling supplies are highly personal.
When you first start journaling, we recommend starting with cheap supplies. The kind you can pick up at a drug store.
Journaling is a highly adaptive practice, and it will take awhile to figure out how you visual journal. What size journal works best in your life? Do you like markers or colored pencils?
Over time, you may want to upgrade the tools you are using. These are our favorite visual journaling supplies, starting with…
Anything can become your visual journal notebook, a three ring binder, a spiral, a blank book… But there are companies that make blank books just for the purpose of journaling. They can run from $12 to over $100 depending on the features you choose such as specialty covers, pockets, the type and weight of the paper… These are our go-to favorites.
The Leuchtturm1917 comes in a wide variety of sizes, paper types, and covers. We love the amenities such as page numbers, a preprinted index, double bookmarks, and stickers for archiving. The version with dotted pages offers guidelines without being distracting, and the notebook lies flat when open. There are multiple sizes, so as you research, be aware that A4 is about the size of US letter paper, A5 is the size of a folded sheet of notebook paper, and A6 is approximately passport size.
Leuchtturm1917 Whitelines Special Edition
Whitelines notebooks allow for to easily digitizing notes with a smartphone. The Leuchtturm1917 Whitelines Special Edition is a great way to merge the joys of analog journaling with digital backup and sharing features.
Soothi Leather Journals
If you‘re looking for an old world, romantic feel in a your journal, Soothi is the brand. Most of their journals are 5″ x 7″ and — depending on the style — will include features like embossed designs, handmade cotton paper with subtle specks of fiber, stitching, bookmark flaps, and latches.
The Traveler’s notebooks are designed to be carried with a passport or in a pocket. What we love about these is that you select a cover, and then customize the inserts that go inside. The paper is luxurious and comes in blank, grid, or lined. There are also pre-printed planner inserts and sketch paper available, along with bands or ties to hold the notebooks closed.
Lamy Safari Fountain Pen
There is something romantic about writing with a fountain pen, and this particular pen creates a good writing experience. It’s also a fantastic “starter” fountain pen for anyone who wants to learn. When ordering, pay attention to the nib size. Many beginning left-handed writers prefer a medium nib, but a fine nib creates thinner lines which performs better for those with smaller, more precise handwriting.
Pro-tip: there are some great tutorial videos on YouTube for Lamy fountain pens, which teach everything from how to change the cartridge to how to write with the pen.
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens
We are obsessed with how perfectly the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens perform in journaling. If you want to pull off brush lettering in an A5 or A6 size journal, these are fantastic. Not only that, but some drawing brush pens are too floppy (which may be great for sketching, but is a nightmare for lettering). The Tombow Fudenosuke has just the right balance of stability and flexibility. We love these markers for creating beautiful headers, quotes, subheads, callout boxes, and sketchnotes.
Bic Roller Glide Grip Pen with Black Ink
This is our favorite basic roller ball pen. It glides over the page, feels nice in your hand, and lays down a solid line of black ink. If you tend to write a lot or have a morning pages practice, this might be the best pen for you.
Markers, watercolors, and colored pencils
Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers
The Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers are simply fun to play with and our personal favorite for performance and affordability. They are blendable, create sweeping strokes, and can take normal journaling pages into works of art.
(Note: YouTube videos for ideas on how to use Tombow Dual Brush Pens are addictive. You’ve been warned.)
Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens Shades of Gray
Having a set of gray pens allows you to add dimension to your journal. The simplest of doodles given a quick gray shadow ups the game, and using gray lines for page separators, underlining, or callout boxes can really make the black ink on the page pop.
Winsor and Newton Cotman Watercolors
We are in love with the Winsor and Newton 12-Color portable watercolor palette. It is so easy to throw in your bag to carry with you and the brush holds water. You truly can take it anywhere and the quality of the paints make it super fun to use.
Prismacolor Colored Pencils
Once you’ve used them, you’ll know why they are worth the extra money. The pencils lay down a lot of color on the paper and unlike markers, won’t bleed through the page. These are artist quality and are light years ahead of the drug store version colored pencils.
Crayola Crayons in a Cigarette Case
When I first started carrying crayons in my purse, the cardboard box they came in didn’t hold up, resulting in a lot of broken crayon sadness. Then, I discovered cigarette cases. They come in a variety of styles and are the perfect size for carrying crayons, this slim design is my personal favorite and Crayola is my favorite brand.
Other accessories that make visual journaling enjoyable
A5 Monthly Calendar Stencils from Imbusybeingawesome
We are raving fans of this stencil for Bullet Journalists. There are two versions in the pack–one that will let you set up your monthly calendar across 2 pages and one that will fit the month all on one page. The boxes are big enough to be truly functional, and we love the speed it gains us in setting up our journals!
Serene River 15″ Tall Pen Pencil Marker Organizer Holder for Desk
I love this tall marker organizer holder for my desk. It’s the perfect place to park my Tombow brush pens and my watercolor pencils. Best of all, I can stand it on the corner of my desk or lay it flat depending on where I’m working.
One of the easiest ways to keep your pen with your journal is to use a pen loop. It’s an elastic loop which sticks out of the journal that adheres to the back of your journal via a tab with peel & stick adhesive.
Kokuyo NeoCritz Transformer Pencil Case
The Kokuyo NeoCritz Transformer Pencil Case works like a standard zipper pencil case, except that you can stand it on its end and fold the sides down so that it fans out all of your pencils making them easy to get to.
Magnetic Ruler by Nakabayashi
This magnetic ruler by Nakabayashi is such a great journaling accessory. It folds over a page like a bookmark and creates a large straight edge when laying out pages.
Our Favorite Books on Visual Journaling
The Simple Guide to Visual Journaling (even if you aren’t an artist) by Cathy Hutchison
This colorful book is designed to get people from zero to visual journaling quickly. This book is geared for people who aren’t artists (yet). It teaches the basics on page layouts, pictograms, ideagrams and gives instructions on how to use the techniques.
Trust Me You Can Draw by Jesse Arnold
This is by far one of our favorite books for increasing your visual vocabulary. If the person on your gift list is a compulsive doodler but thinks they “can’t draw” this book is perfect.
The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll
The Bullet Journal method is a game-changer for people living fast-paced lives who want to get organized and feel more connected to their lives. (We are big fans of this one. Even if the bullet journaler in your life has been journaling for awhile, this book has things to teach them.)
How to Draw Cute Stuff by Angela Nguyen
We are obsessed with Angela Nguyen’s book on drawing cute things. It will help your visual journaler take their doodling to the next level. Warning: everything in this book is extremely cute.
The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde
Our favorite aspect of this book is that it is written in Sketchnotes. (Also, Mike Rohde was the one who coined the term.) While the book’s targeted audience is people who scribe talks on whiteboards, it also serves as a great coach for journalers who want to use sketchnotes.
Praying in Color – Sybil MacBeth
If praying in words is difficult for you, this book teaches a technique of thinking about someone or something and simply doodling about it while focusing your attention.
These are our favorite visual journaling supplies. We would love to hear about yours. Drop us an email via the contact page.