Sharing my Mermaid Inspired Art Journal Tutorial today. This is Episode 3 of Art Journal Chat over on Youtube if you want to hear about my most frustrating scam artist experience. If you came for the art, you can follow the steps below. As I’ve mentioned in my previous art journal tutorials, I tend to use whatever I have. Some of my supplies are old and have been discontinued, but I do recommend other options for recreating the layout. I also don’t hold back on supplies either. For my bullet journal, I try to keep supplies at a minimum, but art journaling is my escape and time to experiment so I use what I want to.
With that said, please know that I have been building my collection over a number of years. My go-to has been waiting for the item to go on sale and buying it then. This is how I have built my supply. So with that all said, let’s get in to it!
Art Journal Tutorial Supplies
- My Mellow Days Magnolia Mixed Media Journal in B5 size
- Tim Holtz Distress Watercolor pencils in Tumbled Glass and Faded Jeans, Abandoned Coral, and Iced Spruce
- The Pigeon Letters Studio Round Brush in Size 6
- Dylusions by Dyan Revealey Die Cut (discontinued)
- Tim Holtz Distress Ink and Distress Oxide in Abandoned Coral, Cracked Pistachio, and Faded Jeans
- Dylusions by Dyan Revealey Plenty of Fish in the Sea Stamp Set
- Tonic Studios Stamp Platform (discontinued but linked another product)
- Versafine Pigment Ink in Onyx
- Tim Holz Mini Blending Tool
- Tim Holtz Circle Stencil (discontinued)
- Visible Image Mesh-allaneous Stamp Set
- Studio Calico Acetate Heart Embellishments
- Tim Holtz Chipboard Sayings (discontinued)
- Glue tape
Art Journal Tutorial
Step 1: Building the background
This month, for my mermaid inspired art journal tutorial, I am focusing on using my Tim Holtz Distress Watercolor Pencils (you can see my review here). So I start my background off using the watercolor pencils. Drawing loose circles, mimicking bubbles with a darker edge and lighter middle, I start to add color. This step is optional but I found it added dimension to the page. I use Tumbled Glass and Faded Jeans for the pencil circles.
Taking a clean brush, and clean water, I activate the pencil and create water color blobs (essentially), just slowly activating and blending all of the pencil lead. Once I am done, I leave the page to dry.
Step 2: Start building your mermaid
For my mermaid, I am using a die cut and stamps. You can stamp a whole mermaid, draw a mermaid, or use an image from a magazine. You could use the top part of a magazine model and stamp the tail like I do. But for my mermaid, I am using a die cut from Dylusions by Dyan Revealey. The die cut set is discontinued but you can use any of the ideas mentioned above.
For my mermaid tail, I use the Plenty of Fish in the Sea set by Dylusions. I use a stamp platform but this is completely optional and I didn’t see much of a difference doing what I did.
For starters, I use Distress Ink in Abandoned Coral and add the ink to my stamp. I’m just stamping on regular cardstock. After stamping my tail, I use Distress Oxide and the blending tool to add color to the tail. For shadows, I use a Distress Watercolor pencil in the same shade and add more depth around the scales of the tail. I carefully add water to blend out the pencil – NOTE: the water will activate the stamp ink too so use very carefully. While all these steps gave my tail some dimension, I’m not sure it made a big enough difference for the amount of effort. Part of my curiosity for doing all of this was to see how the inks all interact with each other. I had better effects on the background than on the tail.
Once dry, I added black ink to my tail and stamped over top of the coral coloring. As mentioned above, it would’ve been quicker to stamp in black and add color with the Distress Oxide Ink. Now the focal piece of the mermaid inspired art journal page can be assembled.
Step 3: Combine the pieces to form the mermaid
Check to see if your upper body and tail portion of your mermaid line up. If not, make the necessary adjustments to your pieces.
Since I had already trimmed my die cut, I decided to adjust the tail. Simply lining the upper body up with the tail, I marked where I needed to trim the tail. For a more gradual, natural narrowing into the body, trim halfway down the tail. I go back in with a marker and outline the border to match the rest of the tail, making it look fairly seamless.
Step 4: Finish the background
Now that the background is dry, it’s time to start layering more color. Using the Cracked Pistachio Distress Oxide and a mini blending tool, start adding color onto the watercolor circles. Normally I like a solid background, but for this piece, I just add a little color around the page. To fill in the lighter/white spaces, I layer Faded Jeans (also Distress Oxide) over top, again, not adding a uniform background.
As mentioned in Step 2, Distress Ink and Distress Oxide react with each other for some fun effects. So grab Faded jeans in Distress Ink (or just use the Distress Oxide again, it’s definitely not necessary), and a circle stencil, and start adding color over top of the background. Since I use Distress Ink, it reacts with the Cracked Pistachio Distress Oxide for added dimension and visual interest – creating a murky ocean background. Note: my stencil was narrow so I line up the stencil as best as I can and finish adding to the background.
As a final touch, I stamp bubbles here and there throughout the background. My bubble stamp is from the same Plenty of Fish in the Ocean stamp set. You can also draw bubbles in with a marker. Then, because I have it, I use a net stamp from Visible Image called Mesh-ellaneous and stamp along the top and bottom on the page using Distress Oxide in Iced Spruce.
Step 5: Adding final touches
Once the background is completely dry, start adding the finishing touches. This means the mermaid, chipboard letters, and heart embellishments.
First, Glue down the mermaid for a better idea of where you want your embellishments to go. I glue my mermaid down the middle of the page. Along the top on the right side, I add some acetate hearts from Studio Calico. I staple them together, adding a bit of glue tape to the back where the pieces are layered so that you don’t see the glue.
For the chipboard saying, I cut the “Collect Beautiful Moments” into 3 pieces and glue them along the bottom left of the mermaid. By adding these 2 elements in this way, the piece now has balance using super simple symmetry. Our mermaid inspired art journal tutorial ends here but feel free to add more embellishments if you want.
Journal Tutorial – Final Thoughts
As I’ve mentioned in my previous art journal tutorials (“A Few Predictions” and Art Journal Cover Page), these pages are a great way to test and experiment with supplies. This piece came about because I wanted to test the Distress Water Color Pencils more and see how they interact with Distress Ink and Distress Oxide. Plus it’s a great way to just relax and experiment. I’ve mentioned before how art journaling helps my creative bullet journaling, practising the techniques in my art journal first, and then using them in my bullet journal.
If you’re able to, you can even scan the finished piece and repurpose it for a cover page, a print, or even a card for a friend. This piece could be great for a friend who is traveling or someone heading off to University/College, etc.
I hope you enjoyed today’s tutorial and feel inspired to create something of your own. If you do choose to recreate this, I’d love to see it! Please tag me over on Instagram @natashamillerletters.
Thank you for your time today!