Sketchbook Cover Ideas

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I realized the kids at art school were much cooler than I was when I got there with my plain black sketchbook, and theirs were all painted and drawn-on and beautifully tattered. I had a lot to learn. But, armed with supplies, I was up to the task.

I’m giving my girl a leg-up by introducing her to the concept of arting up her sketchbooks early on in life. Only then will she have the self-confidence to face the other kids at art school in 9 years. Of course, by then, all the kids will have had solo museum shows at age 17, so who am I fooling?

In any event, we still had fun with Fen’s sketchbook. We primed the cover with 2 coats of gesso first. We don’t bother to sand the gesso or try too hard to smooth it out with the brush, because we like the texture.

gesso on book


After it had dried, Fen decided she wanted to collage the cover with small pieces of rice papers. Alternatively, you can use non-bleeding tissue paper.

rice papers for sketchbook collage | Artchoo!


collaging on sketchbook | Artchoo!


collage trimming on sketchbook | Artchoo!

After the glue had dried, she brushed a layer of Mod Podge over the cover and let it dry. She had used Mod Podge in art class before, but I was a little excited, as I was a Mod Podge virgin.


rice paper collaged sketchbook project | Artchoo!

How cool! The Mod Podge gave it a beautiful finish- you can see all the little rice paper fibers.

Now you obviously need some ideas to fill your sketchbook, and I have 50 sketchbook ideas right here.

More sketch book cover ideas:

White enamel paint pen. From dotartdude


Fabric embroidered cover by Sarah Bell Smith


Stenciled cover by Dreamcicle Journeys


Stack of sketchbooks by Becca Stadtlander


ink and acrylic cover by Flora Chang




canson sketchbook

rice paper circles

rice paper circles!

mod podge



Acrylic Gesso 16 oz.


This acrylic paint marker is probably more young-kid-friendly than enamel.



butterfly stencil



  1. 07/24/2012 / 8:46 am

    I love this idea! Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. 07/24/2012 / 10:22 am

    Oh, yes, so pretty and now I’m off to do one myself!!!

  3. 07/24/2012 / 11:22 am

    These are gorgeous! great idea girl. and her book looks great.

  4. 07/24/2012 / 5:48 pm

    I’ll let my daughter know that those crazy kids at RISD have arted up sketch books! She would love to go there in 6 years too! Maybe she and Fenn will end up there together?! It’s possible!! And if so, they will both be the cool kids! 😉

  5. 07/24/2012 / 6:05 pm

    Fen’s art journal lpoks fantastic! I never arted up my art journals before either- but trying to make my own has introduced how fun doing this is. 🙂

  6. 07/24/2012 / 6:20 pm

    Question: Bought the supplies to do this today but wonder, why do I need the gesso? Can I just start by using a layer of mod podge?

  7. 07/24/2012 / 8:30 pm

    You are so welcome. I hope you make one. Or several!

  8. 07/24/2012 / 8:31 pm

    Thanks! It was one of those quick, fun projects that you get to keep using. She carries it around with her.

  9. 07/24/2012 / 8:32 pm

    Yes. I will give you RISD pointers for her as I think of them. I would LOVE for Fen to go to RISD, too.

  10. 07/24/2012 / 8:34 pm

    I must admit, I haven’t bothered to art up a sketch book since I was in art school, but I think it definitely helps set the tone for being creative in the sketch book. I wish I had taken the time to do that with more of them!

  11. 07/24/2012 / 8:36 pm

    Answer: The reason I love gesso is that it is white, so it gives you a white base to start from. The rice paper we used was slightly transparent, so it just lets the colors of the paper show a lot cleaner than if we had used Mod Podge (where the black of the book cover would have shown through.) It just depends on what you’re going for and what you’re using as your collage materials. I also like the gritty texture of gesso- it seems more absorbent than Mod Podge.

  12. 07/25/2012 / 10:58 pm

    I love Fen’s sketchbook… she is lucky to have an arty mom to show her just how the cool kids in art school roll while she is still a youngster.

  13. 11/08/2012 / 8:33 am

    Love this! We must have 30 sketch books stacked up in closets as both of my girls draw constantly. How cool to decorate them, and even be able to tell them apart! Awesome!

  14. Sheila Skillingstead
    11/08/2012 / 8:37 am

    Art is a great learning media and children are so open to it. Adults tend to either love it or say they aren’t artistic. Thanks for the post.

  15. 11/08/2012 / 8:55 am

    Her sketchbook looks awesome! What a great idea.

  16. Aspgriswold
    11/08/2012 / 9:55 am

    Happy SITS day. What a great idea!!

  17. Alley
    11/08/2012 / 10:14 am

    My girls do this on every single folder for all their classes. Their art teacher was shocked, and a bit excited about it! I love it! It’s their personality on the cover.

  18. 11/08/2012 / 10:48 am

    That would be a beautiful idea for a Christmas gift–personalized sketchbooks or journals! I’ll definitely bookmark this for holiday gifting!

    Happy SITS Day, btw!

  19. Rebecca Rider
    11/08/2012 / 11:10 am

    This is so cool!! I will have to try this awesome project – it doesn’t even look too hard!!

  20. 11/08/2012 / 11:25 am

    Great ideas! Happy SITS day 😉

  21. 11/08/2012 / 1:16 pm

    I love the idea of personalizing your own sketch book. Great idea!

  22. 11/08/2012 / 5:53 pm

    What a wonderful blog! I used to always look for things for my girls to do. My daughter is n awesome artist. Happy SITS Day.

  23. jamie
    11/08/2012 / 10:21 pm

    Thanks for the ideas 😉 by the way, Happy SITS Day!

  24. 11/09/2012 / 12:00 am

    What a great activity to do with kids! I still love doing collages with glue and paper (sometimes journals) using anything I have, including magazines! I love making magazine collage picture frames 🙂 Friends love when I give them as presents! Found you on SITS, congrats on the feature!

  25. 11/09/2012 / 10:33 am

    {Kathy} What a cute idea! My kids both have sketchbooks for school. These are great ideas to personalize them.

  26. 11/09/2012 / 4:03 pm

    Love this! I teach a girls writing circle and the first day I give each girl a journal. What a fun project to get all the creative juices flowing!

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