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Review: 7 Bullet journals and how they respond to watercolor

In the world of creative expression, the bullet journal has emerged as a versatile tool that not only helps us organize our lives but also allows us to unleash our artistic potential. Whether you’re an artist or simply looking to add a touch of color to your daily routine, combining bullet journaling with watercolors can lead to stunning results. In this blog post, we’ll explore the magical synergy between bullet journaling and watercolor techniques, and how to make the most of their combination.

If you are looking for more notebook reviews, check out our Ultimate 160gsm notebook review!

The Art of Bullet Journaling

Bullet journaling, often abbreviated as BuJo, is an innovative method of journaling that combines elements of planning, tracking, and creative expression. Developed by Ryder Carroll, the bullet journal method revolves around using a simple dot grid notebook to create a personalized planner that suits your needs. The system is built around rapid logging, which involves using short sentences and bullet points to jot down tasks, events, and thoughts.

However, bullet journaling goes beyond mere practicality. It invites you to infuse your journal with your personality, turning each page into a canvas for self-expression. Customizable sections like trackers, collections, and mood boards open the door to artistic exploration. And this is where watercolors come into play.

This was a really fun experiment. Personally, I am an avid watercolourist (watercolorist for our american friends who spell colour wrong :P), anyway! Finding a journal that works well with heavy water or watercolor has been challenging! SO SO Challenging. So – I took a page of the top journals I have and thought ok – lets see how they really go!

I conducted the watercolor tests with the wettest mediums I could find, ones that would purposely bleed really badly. SO I used the following, Watercolor pencils, Ecoline liquid watercolor, Ecoline brushpens, Prima Confections Watercolor, and finally Jane Davenport Watercolor Brushpens. I checked for how they bled, how they ghosted and how they buckled the page. Also a critical item to look at was how they looked on the page.

I decided to test the Rhodia Goalbook, The Lemome, Scribbles that matter, Fabriano, Moleskine, Kikki K Grid Journal, and finally they Leuchtturm.

Watercolors: Adding Vibrancy to Your Pages

Watercolors are a popular medium for artists due to their translucent and vibrant nature. They allow you to create a wide range of effects, from delicate washes to bold splashes of color. When used in your bullet journal, watercolors can elevate your pages from functional to visually captivating.

1. Choosing the Right Supplies: Before you start, gather quality watercolor supplies. Invest in a set of watercolor paints, brushes of various sizes, and a watercolor-friendly notebook with thick, absorbent paper to prevent bleed-through.

2. Embrace Creativity: Your bullet journal is your creative playground. Incorporate watercolors in headers, dividers, and illustrations. Experiment with different brush strokes, gradients, and color combinations. Let your imagination run wild.

3. Preparing Your Pages: Since watercolors involve water, it’s essential to prepare your pages to prevent excessive warping. You can lightly coat your pages with water or use masking tape to create a border, keeping the center of the page relatively dry.

4. Techniques to Explore:

  • Wash Technique: Apply a light wash of color across the page for a soft background. Once dry, you can write or draw on top of it.
  • Layering: Layering colors adds depth and dimension to your illustrations. Start with light colors and gradually build up the intensity.
  • Blending: Use a wet brush to blend two or more colors together, creating seamless transitions.
  • Splatter Effect: Dip your brush in watercolor and tap it over the page for a playful splatter effect.

Responding to Water in Your Bullet Journal

Watercoloring in your bullet journal introduces an exciting element, but it’s important to consider how water might affect the integrity of your journal. Here are some tips to help you respond effectively to water:

1. Test Your Supplies: Before you fully commit to a new watercolor technique or brand, conduct a test on a separate piece of paper to gauge how it interacts with your journal’s paper.

2. Practice Controlled Application: Avoid using excessive water, as this can cause the paper to warp or even tear. Apply water and paint in controlled amounts to prevent paper damage.

3. Allow for Drying Time: Watercolor paint takes time to dry. Patience is key to avoid smudging or transferring wet paint to other pages.

4. Protect Pages: Consider placing a sheet of plastic or a removable plastic sleeve between pages as you work to prevent potential color transfer.

Step-by-Step Guide: Using Watercolors+ in Your Bullet Journal

Watercolors can transform your bullet journal into a captivating canvas of color and creativity. To make the most of this beautiful combination while keeping the water content in check, follow this step-by-step guide to achieve precision and vibrancy in your bullet journal pages.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies: Collect high-quality watercolor paints, brushes of various sizes (including a fine detail brush), a water container, absorbent paper towels, and your bullet journal with thick, watercolor-friendly paper.

Step 2: Test and Swatch: Before applying watercolors directly to your bullet journal, create a swatch page at the back of your journal or on a separate piece of watercolor paper. This will help you understand the behavior of your colors and how much water is needed for the desired intensity.

Step 3: Prepare Your Workspace: Set up your workspace on a flat, clean surface. Lay down a plastic sheet or placemat to protect your work area from any potential spills.

Step 4: Plan Your Design: Decide on the design or elements you want to watercolor in your bullet journal. Plan where you’ll be adding color to avoid overwhelming your pages with too much water.

Step 5: Limit Water Usage: Dip your brush in water, then dab it on a paper towel to remove excess water. This ensures you’re working with damp, not saturated, brushes. Remember, less water will help you maintain control over the watercolor and prevent paper damage.

Step 6: Start with Light Washes: Begin with light washes. Load your brush with a small amount of watercolor paint and apply it gently to the paper. The goal is to build up color gradually, allowing each layer to dry before adding more.

Step 7: Gradual Layering: For vibrant colors, layer your watercolors. Let each layer dry completely before adding the next. This technique prevents paper warping and ensures clear, defined colors.

Step 8: Blending Techniques: To blend colors seamlessly, apply one color while the previous layer is still slightly damp. The colors will naturally merge, creating smooth transitions. Practice blending on a separate piece of paper before applying it to your journal.

Step 9: Detailing with Precision: For intricate details, use a fine detail brush and paint directly onto dry areas. Use controlled brush strokes to avoid excessive water application.

Step 10: Monitor Drying Time: Be patient and allow your watercolor layers to dry thoroughly between steps. You can use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to speed up the drying process, but ensure it’s at a safe distance from your journal to avoid heat damage.

Step 11: Protect Completed Pages: Place a sheet of scrap paper or a removable plastic sleeve under your working hand to prevent color transfer to other pages. This precaution is particularly important as you reach the finishing touches.

Step 12: Seal the Colors (Optional): To prevent smudging and enhance the longevity of your watercolors, you can lightly spray a fixative or clear matte spray over your completed pages. Test the spray on a separate paper before applying it to your journal to avoid any unexpected effects.

By following these steps, you can effectively incorporate watercolors into your bullet journal while maintaining control over water usage. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and refine your technique as you become more comfortable with the process. Your bullet journal will soon become a vibrant showcase of your artistic talent and organizational skills.

If you were wanting the items I used in the test – they were available here from Amazon:

So lets get straight into it!

Bullet Journal Watercolor1. The Rhodia Goal Book

I found the paper very yellow in this, but really loved how it handled the wet ink, there was limited to no bleeding or ghosting.

CharacteristicScore out of 5 (5 being amazing)
Page colourYellow – I found it too yellow
Page weight90gsm
GhostingBarely Any
Page BuckleMinimal

Bullet Journal Watercolor2. Fabriano Note Book

I really like this, but the dots are much smaller than in spacing than the 0.5cm we are all used to. I am amazed that at 85gsm the paper did so well. Id say this was in my top 3 favorites and I really liked how the colours looked on the page too

CharacteristicScore out of 5 (5 being amazing)
Page colourWhite, with very small dots
Page weight85gsm
GhostingSome Ghosting
Page BuckleMinimal

Bullet Journal Watercolor3. Scribbles that matter

This was my first journal that I really liked, and overall it fares well but it buckles significantly under the water.

CharacteristicScore out of 5 (5 being amazing)
Page colourCream
Page weight100gsm
Page BuckleQuite a bit

Bullet Journal Watercolor4. Leuchtturm

I actually really liked how the colour looked on the pages of the Leachtturm. It holds the colour well. The paper didnt love the water colour pencils and while it didnt buckle, the paper itself pilled somewhat.

CharacteristicScore out of 5 (5 being amazing)
Page colourIvory/ Off White
Page weight80gsm
GhostingQuite a bit
Page BuckleMinimal

Bullet Journal Watercolor5. Kikki.K Grid Journal

If you had read my previous review on this, it follows though here. Don’t love it. I wish I did. But I don’t.

CharacteristicScore out of 5 (5 being amazing)
Page colourWhite which is cool
Page weight80gsm (about)
Page BuckleA bit!

Bullet Journal Watercolor6. Lemome

I got the Lemomes last week and I am in-love. Bit was actually surprised at how this faired. It is the highest quality paper in the group at 125gsm. While less yellow than the Rhodia it still faired really well.

CharacteristicScore out of 5 (5 being amazing)
Page colourYellowish
Page weight125gsm (about)
Page BuckleMinimal

Bullet Journal Watercolor7. Moleskine

oooooof. This was horrific. The bleed was insane. It just came straight through the paper. Unhelpfully so. Like a sieve. Would have to say this was my least favorite! BUT It ahs redeeming qualities (while being on the expensive side) it didnt buckle to much under the paper.

CharacteristicScore out of 5 (5 being amazing)
Page colourIvory
Page weight70gsm (about)
BleedYes – A lot
GhostingWho could tell through the bleed?
Page BuckleMinimal


Using watercolors in your bullet journal can be a rewarding and visually appealing endeavor, allowing you to blend artistic expression with organizational functionality. However, it’s important to consider the paper quality of your journal and be prepared to invest time in learning watercolor techniques. By weighing the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision about whether to incorporate watercolors into your bullet journal and how to best utilize them to enhance your creative journey.

Other than the page colour I would say its a close tie between the Rhodia Goal Book and the Lemome. I am now looking even more forward to using them!

So in order of preference our winners are:

  1. Lemome
  2. Rhodia Goal Book (it would have totally won if it wasn’t so yellow!)
  3. Fabriano
  4. Scribbles that Matter
  5. Leuchtturm
  6. Kikki K
  7. Moleskine

If you want to have a look at them to buy – you can do so here:


Pro’s and Con’s to using watercolor in your bullet journal

Using watercolors in your bullet journal can be a wonderful way to add vibrancy and artistic flair to your pages, but it also comes with its own set of advantages and challenges. Let’s explore the pros and cons of incorporating watercolors into your bullet journal:


  1. Visual Appeal: Watercolors can add a beautiful and captivating aesthetic to your bullet journal. The soft, translucent nature of watercolors creates a unique and artistic look that enhances the overall appeal of your pages.
  2. Artistic Expression: Watercolors allow you to express your creativity and artistic skills. You can experiment with various techniques, gradients, and color combinations to create personalized and visually stunning layouts.
  3. Versatility: Watercolors are versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes in your bullet journal. You can use them for headers, illustrations, backgrounds, mood trackers, and more.
  4. Customization: Incorporating watercolors adds a personal touch to your bullet journal. Each page becomes a canvas for your thoughts, ideas, and emotions, making your journal truly unique.
  5. Therapeutic Benefits: The process of painting with watercolors can be soothing and therapeutic. It offers a mindful and relaxing way to engage with your journaling practice.
  6. Enhanced Creativity: Working with watercolors encourages you to think outside the box and explore new creative avenues. You can experiment with different brush strokes, blending techniques, and styles.

The ONLY 160gsm Notebook Review you need!Cons:

  1. Paper Quality: Not all bullet journals have suitable paper for watercolors. Thin or low-quality paper may buckle, warp, or even tear when exposed to water, which can affect the overall appearance of your journal.
  2. Bleed-Through and Ghosting: Watercolors can cause bleed-through and ghosting on thinner paper, making it challenging to use both sides of the page. This limits the available space for journaling.
  3. Drying Time: Watercolors require time to dry. Rushing through the process can lead to smudging and accidental color transfer to other pages.
  4. Control and Precision: Achieving precision with watercolors can be tricky, especially if you’re new to the medium. It’s important to practice brush control and application techniques to avoid unintended results.
  5. Learning Curve: Mastering watercolor techniques takes practice. If you’re new to watercolors, there might be a learning curve as you get accustomed to the behavior of the paints and how they interact with your journal paper.
  6. Supply Investment: High-quality watercolor supplies can be expensive. Investing in good paints, brushes, and paper is essential to achieve the best results, which might not be feasible for everyone.
Bullet Journal Watercolor

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