Custom Cover Sketchbooks

My love of hand-lettering continues apace – I find it incredibly therapeutic and relaxing – all you really need is paper and pencil, making it easy to pick up and put down, and very portable – ideal if you don’t have lots of art materials to hand.

This project was inspired by my son telling me that a boy in his class had got into trouble for drawing on the cover of his exercise book at school. Apparently he loves to draw, and from the work I have seen, has talent for it – I thought it was such a shame that he should be punished for doing something so creative. As far as I’m concerned, plain exercise books are begging to be customised.

Creating customised covers for sketchbooks, journals or notebooks as well as being fun, is also a wonderfully simple solution for a small but special gift, which can be created by both children or adults. The way in which you choose to decorate them is entirely up to you – for this project I used a few different techniques based around lettering or drawing, but you could instead choose to use collage or decoupage, decorate with washi-tapes or stickers, or even simple embroidery depending upon the skills you have, the materials you have to hand, and the time available. It doesn’t take much to create something special, and sometimes less really is more! Once you start thinking about it, the possibilities are endless…

The 4 projects shown below all use slightly different techniques to great effect:


Lettering Project on Creative Cover Sketchbook




I also added some ‘bling’ to this project using gold metallic pens and Transfer Foil. The latter is a new material for me (though I think it has been around for years) which I hadn’t tried using before, so I used it also for the next project….


Transfer foil on Kraft Cover Sketchbooks



These small sketchbooks are perfect for pockets and bags. Their plain, simple covers, are attractive in their own right, and don’t require much ornamentation to make them extra special. Previously I have decorated them just with pen, but this time I experimented with the new Transfer Foil. It is very simple to use – first of all you draw or write your design using a special glue pen – the glue comes out blue, but it dries clear and remains tacky. You then lay the foil over it, shiny side up, and burnish it down over the glue design – you can either use your fingers to do this or a burnishing tool of some sort. When you remove the sheet, the foil remains adhered onto the glue design. We created a set of 3 simple designs, including one drawn by my 8 year old son using the glue pen (I added the foil for him). I think the finished project looks very effective, especially when you consider how quick and easy it was to create. It would also look pretty effective on cards and tags for Christmas.


White Gel Pen on Chalkboard Cover Sketchbook



These simple plain black A5 sketchbooks are perfect for customising with a white, silver, gold or copper gel pen. Using the transfer foil on these would also be pretty effective I think, or even basic glitter glue with a very simple graphic design. I dressed the whole project up by adding a simple red ribbon around the spine…


Christmas Jumper Inspired Sketchbooks

These are really easy to create using washi-tape and a white gel pen – your drawing skills don’t have to be fantastic either!


And finally, for more ideas on creating personalised sketchbooks for gifts, check out the following earlier posts:


Arty Felt Accessories


Creating Handmade Books from Recycled Children’s Artwork


Children’s Art Jotters