How to Start Bible Journaling for Beginners

Many of you know (if only from the name of this blog) that I'm a big Bible nerd. One of my favorite ways to engage with the Bible is through Bible journaling – a creative process of making art in your Bible as a way to connect with scripture and with God. I've written in the past about my favorite tools and supplies for Bible journaling, and about how I use transparent sheets in my journaling Bible. You may also know about my Bible journaling site, Seasons Illustrated! But today, I'd like to share a little about how to start Bible journaling for beginners!

What Bible Journaling is All About

Alright, guys, let's get one thing clear: Bible journaling is not about making the most beautiful art. I, myself, am guilty of wanting to make something really beautiful and impressive for the sake of, well… making something really beautiful and impressive. But that's is not the right attitude – not in Bible journaling and not in life. Bible journaling isn't about the outcome, it's about the process. Focus on connecting with scripture and your belief, and the skill will come with time.

Having the Right Tools

All you need to Bible journal is, you guessed it, a Bible and a pen. If you want to expand a little bit, you can try colored pencils, watercolor pencils, paints, stickers, washi tapes, and more. But to start out, all you need is the Bible and a pen. Here are some of my recommendations.

A Bible used for Bible journaling. How to Start Bible Journaling: A Guide for Beginners

Which Journaling Bible I Use

I use the Black ESV Single Column Journaling Bible by Crossway. I like that the pages are cream-colored, with lots of margin room that comes faintly lined. Here is an example blank spread, with some “ghosting” (when pens or highlighters show through the page a little) shown on the left side.

A Bible used for Bible journaling. How to Start Bible Journaling: A Guide for Beginners
How to start Bible journaling for beginners! This is how my Bible looks when it's open to a clean, non-journaled page.

Which Pens to Use for Bible Journaling

My favorite pens to use in my Bible are the Sakura Pigma Micron 01 Ink Pen Set, and my favorite highlighters are the Zebra Eco Zebrite Double-Ended Highlighters, Fine Point. To learn more about my recommendations and why I chose them, you can check out my favorite supplies for Bible journaling here.

Pens used for Bible journaling. How to Start Bible Journaling: A Guide for Beginners
How to start Bible journaling for beginners! These are my favorite highlighters and pens for Bible journaling.

Other Artistic Supplies to Use for Bible Journaling

I also use a few other supplies when I journal. My favorite paints, by far, are these Artist's Loft Watercolors, which are perfectly pigmented and don't mess with the flow of the paper too much (especially if you prep your page beforehand using a medium like Gesso, which is a glue-like substance that protects the page from creasing). My favorite way to get a watercolor effect without using too much water is to use watercolor pencils, specifically the Derwent Inktense pencils. These have a great consistency and a really rich color payoff that looks beautiful on the page.

For really vibrant colors, I also sometimes use Faber-Castell Gelatos, which are like oil pastels that come in their own little protective tube. They're expensive, but the colors are so rich and beautiful! You can see an example of those below.

How to Find a Verse for Bible Journaling

Alright, so you have your Bible, your pen(s), and maybe some extras, like paints, stamps, or stickers. The next thing to do is find a verse.

Bible journaling can be a little scary, especially if you're not used to writing in your Bible before. For that reason, I recommend starting off with a verse that you know well and that means a lot to you. Starting with a verse that you are very familiar with helps take away some level of discomfort when it comes to journaling in your Bible for the first time, and it will help you come up with an idea faster. At the same time, if you choose your absolute favorite verse, it may be difficult to come up with a design that includes everything it means to you. For that reason, choose one you know well and like, but maybe not the verse you'd paint on your living room ceiling.

A Bible used for Bible journaling. How to Start Bible Journaling: A Guide for Beginners
How to start Bible journaling for beginners! This is a great verse to start with, because it is one that I know well and am comfortable with, but that doesn't mean the whole world to me.

How to Get Inspired for Bible Journaling

I'm a creative soul, but I'm not an artistic soul. I find it difficult to come up with entirely new designs for things, especially for Bible verses that I may not be as familiar with as my absolute favorites. For that reason, I like to find inspiration – and with the internet, that's easier to do than ever.

One of the best places to find inspiration is Pinterest. There are tons of Bible journaling boards full of inspiration. Here's mine:

Follow Sara's board Bible Journaling on Pinterest.

You can also join a Bible journaling group on Facebook. I have a group called Seasons Illustrated Bible Journaling that you are more than welcome to join. You can also do a Google search for “Bible journaling” and the verse you chose, to see designs that other people have done with that same verse! Finding inspiration in places like these is a great way to get started with Bible journaling and figure out your style and the kinds of art you'd like to try.

How to Start Bible Journaling

Alright, here comes the exciting part! Now that you have your tools and verse, and you're excited to get going, it's time to get started. Everyone has a different process for how they do this; you may want to pray first, or just begin; you may prefer to do some background research on the verse you're doing so that you can add detail (that's me – nerd alert!). In the end, what it comes down to is mustering up the courage to put pen to paper and make something that expresses how you feel. This is my process for the actual journaling process:

Reflect on the verse

Read it over a few times; maybe do a little background research. Let it sink into my bones. I think about the parts of the verse that mean something to me, and then I try to figure out how I can represent them in art.

Sketch it out with a pencil

I like to use a simple mechanical pencil to do my sketching so that I don't make any permanent mistakes!

Outline it with pen

I use my skinny Pigma Microns to do this, as they don't bleed through the paper.

Fill it in with color

Next, I use gel pens, colored pencils, and watercolor pencils to add color and dimension to my design!

A Bible used for Bible journaling. How to Start Bible Journaling: A Guide for Beginners
How to start Bible journaling for beginners! Here is some word art from Hosea, inspired by a visual made by the popular Bible study company She Reads Truth. It was one of my first doodles, but the design is totally theirs – a great example of how inspiration from others can help you get on your feet with Bible journaling!

Consider a Study

When I got started with Bible journaling, following along with a reading plan or a Bible study was one of my favorite things to do. I loved learning while doing my own art devotional practice. Now that I'm a little farther along, I put out my own Bible journaling studies. Those studies come out for my Bible journaling site, Seasons Illustrated. You can check out our studies here!

I just love Bible journaling and I'm really excited to share it with you. Please comment below letting me know about your practice!

The ultimate guide to teach you Bible journaling! Pinning to read again later!

Author: Sara Laughed

I’m Sara, a writer, recent grad, and American abroad. I graduated from college in December and promptly moved to the Netherlands, where I live with my boyfriend and our 11 plants. Follow along as I figure out my roaring twenties: I don’t quite know what I’m doing, but that’s not stopping me from writing about it!

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  • I started this earlier this year when my best friend gave me a beautiful red journaling bible. Since my 11 year old daughter has also begun with a small group of her friends.

    • Hello, i am a beginner and I’m searching for help a Bible study to follow but i see that I’ll need ebooks to download i don’t have that, I’ve started on a few pages but i want the work to seep into my heart that’s why I’m blessed to have come across journaling bc it’s so hard for me to read the Bible and understand it, so i thought I’d begin journaling

  • Thanks so much for sharing your passion (including tutorials for those of us that are a little less artsy!). Although I’m not a very visually creative person, I do find this type of journaling helpful in really allowing Scripture to sink in deep!

  • I am new at this and was wondering if you prep your page if you are using gel pens, colored pencils,and the water color pencils.

  • Thank you for sharing this post! I’m very new to bible journaling and can’t find workshops or groups in my area to learn and grow. Looking forward to more tutorials:)

  • Great post, thanks for sharing!!! I have a similar post in blog about journaling bibles. Since I’m looking for a bible, is more like a journey finding out the best bible for me. Loved your reviews!!!!

  • This really helped me a lot! I’m not really good at drawing and I’m always so afraid I’m going to mess up, especially in my bible, and I just recently got a bible for christmas, so this gave me confidence and knowledge on how to start off!

  • I did it . I did my first “Bible Journalling” on Sunday,and I made 2 important discoveries: I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, and, that when you illustrate a verse using your own talents in this way you learn to understand Gods word in a special way. Thank you Sara for showing me my special way.

  • Love your Bible verse art– if you put it on white card stock instead, you could post it around the house to help you memorize the verses.

  • I absolutely love this idea of Bible Journaling. I just recently heard of doing it. I used to only highlight in my bible since i was in High school. May I feature this on my blog, coffeeprayhustle.com?

  • Thank you for all this helpful advice!!! I am jumping on the bandwagon and I am super excited! I have recently started my own blog as well that is faith and family based. I am shy in the way that I am more comfortable sharing the gospel in my writing than my verbal words. So I decided to be a witness in the digital sense and start my blog. I think that by doing a bible journal I can deliver a clear message to my up and coming readers. So thank you for writing this blog and helping me with my future 🙂 I am subscribed so i can get all the latest news from you!!!!
    Feel free to check out my blog as well http://www.humblehoneybee.com
    It is still a work in process, but I am working on it daily!!!!

    Thank you again!

  • Thank you for sharing this! It is the first post I have read on Bible journaling. I saw a sign at my local scrapbooking store that said “Bible journaling supplies now in stock” so I had to find out what it was and now I’m in love before I’ve even started!!! I need me a journaling Bible!! <3

  • Going to take a deep breath and dive into Bible journaling this weekend. Have been thinking on it for sometime but always scared when I start (and work on) a new hobby. So afraid of failure…so STUPID to be that way. Have “met” Bethany at Southern Couture through the blogging world and following her 5 day intro to journaling. Now stumbled upon you through Pinterest.
    Thank you for the encouraging words, the examples, your list of preferred tools. Here I go!

  • I just heard about Bille journaling and I’m am so excited, I think this will be a great way to study in depth and Find the way that scripture is speaking to us helping us understand what God needs us to fill our hearts and minds with! It is always easier to remember when you write something down, I just know that journaling is going to be awesome and I can’t wait to get my first Bilbe Journal! My husband and I are missionaries and I think this would be helpful to new Christains, as well as us older ones! Thank you so very much for sharing! God Bless you!

  • Im new to the creative bible journaling. So i went to my local dollar tree and got a small lined notebook it has thicker paper than regular note books and i write in the verses i like on one page and then draw what it means to me on the opposite page. I think about the key words that of the sentence and go from there i look online for inspiration. Maybe one day i can put it in my bible but so far i just highlight the verses.

  • Thanks for a well written article for beginners. I am a scrapbooker and a fellow creative soul as you, but not very artistic. I have learned how powerful learning is when engaging the right brain (color, doodling, free association). The technique you are teaching and encouraging will cause us to hide God’s Word in our heart more readily. Thank you.

  • I am concerned about the indentation left on the backside of my coloring. Is this the “ghosting” you mentioned? I heavy handed and I have stopped until I know what to do! HELP!

    • Hi Terry. Pages of your Bible are thin and soft so you will get indentations from writing especially if you are a bit heavy handed. Try using a piece of thin cardboard like from a cereal box or a piece of heavy cardstock and put under the page you are journaling on. You won’t get the indentations so much this way. I have a feeling as you go along you will begin to write with less heavy handedness as you get used to the way it feels. Kind of a muscle memory thing. The ghosting is where you see a hint of the ink through on the other side because the pages are thin. Not necessarily bleed through. But don’t stop! Keep going!

  • What an awesome article. I have been wanting to do this for sometime now, but I’m so scared to do it. I have no problem writing in my Bible for notes or anything else. I am not good at drawing or anything. Every time I see someone’s journaling I get intimidated and I’m like I can’t do that! I will look into that Bible and your suggestions. Do you know if there is a NKJV Bible that I could use for journaling?

    I found your site through Pinterest (learning how to use that!). New to blogging!

  • While I love the look of Bible journaling, I can’t get over the fact that it makes the Word itself impossible to read. I’m assuming you don’t use your everyday Bible to decorate, but doesn’t pretty lettering and doodles detract from the message conveyed? Why not have an art journal set aside for creatively lettering or doodling Bible verses or themes?

    (Those are honest questions, I’m not being snarky, just trying to wrap my head around it.)

  • Very thoughtful and useful blog, thanks for your sharing ideas.

    Rather than confining my journaling to the actual pages of my bible, I am in the process of developing an organized, structured notebook (ordinary three ring binder style) for my personal journaling. I am going to design and create printable pages for specific journaling tasks. I have looked and looked for templates to study, but most have been disappointingly superficial or too much is crammed incongruously on to one page.

    I do not want to spend all my time drawing pretty pictures and calling it journaling. I don’t mind illustrations — I am an artist and I love the illuminated copies of the bible. However, right along side of my artistic tendencies, I am of a mind that is scholarly. Possessing that characteristic, among other things, I want to read, write, meditate, absorb, apply, and make note of answers to prayer in an orderly and productive way.

    To aid this end, I want my journal to be categorized into different areas that are easy to refer to and have distinct and different purposes that all work together to serve the same purpose: To know Christ — grow in Grace, and to serve Him — particularly in the area of prayer warfare. I also would hope, that when I die, God could use my journal to help others if He so chooses. I have heard it said, that successful people throughout history have kept journals. For example, I have been moved overwhelmingly by the Journals written by individuals who lived through American Civil War. Their writings provide profound insight to the experience of that era. I want my journal to do the same for others in the matter of one’s walk with the Lord.

    Keep up the good work, and may Christ keep you close.

    Again, thank you for sharing!
    Mary Valentine
    Eugene, Oregon