Art journaling without the mess using cheap apps and your iPad.

In Art, Lifestyle by Lynn3 Comments

Make a journal you can be proud of that reflects who you are or who you aspire to be. Maybe it’s a memoir, perhaps a vision book or a gratitude journal. I’m going to show you how to make beautiful, colorful, inspirational diaries that can easily be saved, shared, printed, and discovered, with no mess, no expensive bullet books to buy and no fancy pens that dry out way to fast.
I love art filled journals with brightly colored flourishes, watercolor images, and beautiful handwriting that capture the beauty of everyday life.

I am a perfectionist. I have swooned over Pinterest images of amazing bullet journals with swirly lettering and colorful notations. I have ordered countless moleskin notebooks with dots and graph paper, sets of pens with different nibs and brush tips in a wide array of colors, only to find that inevitably I would make a smudgy line or misspell a word stopping me in my tracks.
Once I had made the offending error I couldn’t get past it and that was just in the setting up bit. I had barely mapped out my daily to-do pages, the calendar, and the all important index. I’m sure most people could just move on, turn the smudge into an intentional flourish, put a line through the misspelled word and continue. I, on the other hand would have to completely remove the offending page. My journals were getting thin before I could even begin to wax on about my daily life.

It all begins with an amazing little app

I’m a photographer. I love taking photos. However, I don’t actually like regular photos hanging on the wall as is. I run them through photoshop and other editors to turn them into “art” pieces which I then can display on walls, turn into cards, and even print them on canvas. Because I have this need to transform images I began to look for apps that could process my smartphone images without having to send them to my computer. I went through a lot of ho hum apps until I stumbled upon waterlogue. This app changed my life. I became giddy, sharing my new found watercolor genius on Facebook. I found that I could take pictures of the most ordinary things and turn them into little snippets of life. Even selfies became bearable because they were softened, defusing what the passage of time had done. A nice option for those of us of a certain age.

Now what

Now that I had begun to take daily snippets of life I knew that I needed a way to save them all together in a journal like form. This is where Notes plus came in. I had tried other apps but I found I was somewhat limited as to how I could display my little watercolors and captures with text. I didn’t want just a box of text to the side. I also wanted multiple images on one page and having the option of handwritten text flowing organically across the page. I wanted an art journal.

Im really happy with the result. I have made journals for every occasion. My garden, teatime, my travels, and just a daily memoir of sorts. It’s easy let me show you how.

The Waterlogue icon

The apps you will need:


Download the app onto your iPhone or iPad and get ready to have some fun. At the time that I am writing this the cost is  a mere $4.99. It’s a bargain.

When  you open the app this is the interface that you will see.

Choose whether you would like to use an existing image or, as you can see, it also gives the ability to use the camera and take a real time photo. Along the bottom you can see a number of styles you can choose from. One of my personal favorites is travelogue.  Here is an image mid-process. By the way this is mesmerizing to watch. It’s as though an artist is painting the picture right before your eyes. If you look on the bottom you can see that other options that include file size, which relates to the amount of detail you’d like to bring into your piece,  and an automatic light settings option.

There is also a border, no border option. I usually opt for the border because I think it adds an authenticity to the image. You can scroll through the different options until you find one that suits your fancy. When it’s done processing you have a share/save option. You can instantly share your work  of art on social platforms, airdrop it to you Mac if you are an Apple fan or store in your photos to add to your journal later.

Notes Plus

Now that we have images to put into our journal we head to the Notes Plus app. The price as I write this is $9.99. Still a real bargain because you won’t have to spend twenty dollars on a moleskin bullet journal or expensive non bleed through art pens that dry out and are non-erasable.

Here is the Notes Plus  icon to look for in the App Store.

When you open The app you will see all your existing notebooks listed and on the left you will see the add new notebook option.

Click on new notebook and these options appear. First name your journal. Then choose a cover. Next are the paper options. I’ve used several but I really like the yellow legal pad.

Click on the check mark and you are ready to begin.

This is a good time to experiment with your tools. I have an Apple Pencil  but you can use a regular stylus or your fingers if you choose to. One of my favorite features is that if you don’t like your handwriting you can use the built in handwriting to text feature.

The tool bar on top is pretty self explanatory. You have pen tip options, ink options, and  you can choose to use a stylus or your fingers. I personally love using the Apple Pencil. It’s a little pricey, but feels really natural. I can wax on effortlessly. One of the features I love is the ability to erase a mistake by a simple line through the misspelled word. This has been a game changer for me. You can find this handy Notes Plus guide here.

You can add images, backgrounds, little bits of this and that. If you are adobe fan you can use photoshop and illustrator to make pngs that can be used for labels and frames. You can move things around copy and paste, resize and rotate.

Another great feature for you digitally stored journals is the fact that Notes Plus allows you to record audible bits. So now you can add sound to your memories.

Even mundane moments can be seen as extraordinary 

What kinds of journals can you create? 

The sky is the limit!

  • Daily diaries
  • Gratitude journals
  • Garden journals
  • Cooking journals
  • DIY  project journals
  • Special occasion journals

So many options! Jump right in, there is something therapeutic and inspirational that happens when you see your life unfold in bright art filled pages that you and you family will cherish for years.

How to save and share your art journals

Your journal can easily be shared as a pdf which can then be passed around and printed or even turned into an e-book. See pages 42,43 here. Think of the possibilities!





  1. Oh my goodness! This is a wonderful article and tutorial! I wonder if there is a similar version for Android?

    1. Unfortunately I have yet to locate one that has all the options that notes plus has. I will keep looking. Thanks for stopping by

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