Whether you are using your journal for a recipe book, diary, bullet journal, or something else entirely, it's nice to know your options. I love using watercolors in my journal, but it's always a little nerve wracking. I decided to run a bullet journal watercolor test between two popular brands, the Leuchtturm1917 and the Moleskine, to see how well the pages stand up to different levels and types of watercolor. The results might surprise you!

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32 Comments

  1. HOW did you get it not to bleed?! My page looks awful on the reverse and ruined that page! I have the Leuchtturm1917 and use dual tip watercolor markers and water. I wish I could upload a photo to this comment!

    1. Hmm, that’s strange ? Are you certain they are watercolor markers (or water based ink)? Alcohol based inks bleed straight through most papers, and alcohol markers are common at stores and such. It could also be that you’re using too much water and not blotting away the excess, which could result in bleeding through. Or maybe that particular marker just doesn’t get along with that paper. It happens sometimes! ?

      I’m sorry you’re having issues with this, I hope you get it cleared up!

  2. LOVE this website. I’ve been trying to figure out what pen/ink you use when you write on top of watercolor. I’m new to this so apologies if I get this wrong, but it seems to me that if you use the TomBow, which is water soluable, the writing will bleed. Is that right? So should I use a water resistant pen/ink instead, such as the Sakura pigma or a Copic? I know you recommend the Pentel Arts Pocket Brush pen in places, and I believe that’s water resistant, but the reviews on Amazon suggest that pen is not a good one for a beginner. Thanks for any advice and for your terrific website!

    1. Thanks so much, Rebecca! If you’re writing on top of dried watercolor (and I mean TOTALLY dry), you should be able to use water-soluble pens and markers like Tombows. But if you’re writing first and applying watercolor over it second, then you need something that is not water-soluble. I have had great success with the Sakura Pigma Micron pens. Personally, I’ve never tried the Copic drawing pens, so I can’t say from experience whether they’re good for this task. I’ve also found that the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is excellent for this use, but you are right in that it might be a bit tough for a beginner since it has loose bristles instead of a felt nib. It’s only really good for lettering or drawing, not for writing anyway. If you’re just beginning, my suggestion would be to try the Sakura Micron pens — they’ve been my go-to for years!

  3. Hi

    silly question how do I log in and where do I log in to see the printables and worksheets

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      Hey Liz! You can head over to https://littlecoffeefox.com/resource-library to log in. If you’ve signed up for the mailing list you should have received an email with the password. If you did sign up but didn’t get the email feel free to shoot us a message and we will get you taken care o!f!

  4. This is an amazing comparison! I was wondering if you could share how you made your palette with the hydrus colors. I can’t seem to find any tutorials around showing how best to dry it down and such 🙂 thank you!!

    1. Thanks so much, Shay! I don’t really do much of anything, actually. I just use the palette that I have listed in the materials section and add a few drops of paint to a well. I only add as much as I think I’ll use in that session. Once it’s in the palette, I can water it down as much as I need. That’s pretty much all there is to it! The next time I want to paint, I’ll either use what’s left over in the palette or add more. I hope that helps!

  5. Very Cool! And on the ghosting side you can easily glue a printable or something on top if you don’t want to write on that page..that’s what I do often. I just ordered some of those pentel water pens last week can’t wait to try them out!

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      You can totally do that Beth! I’d love to know how you like the pens when they arrive.

  6. Thank you so much for the testing. I enjoy looking at your Instagram page, and all the work you do it’s very pretty. I started my first ever journal last month but since I’m on a budget I started with a graph composition notebook. How do you think it would hold up to watercolor…???????

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      Thank you Blanca! I think the pages of a composition book are a bit too thin to really hold up well to watercolors unfortunately. You may be able to try it and then glue a couple of the pages together so the watercolor doesn’t show through as much.

  7. This is really useful information, thank you. I’ve just started experimenting with watercolours in my journal. Do you leave a blank or non watercolour page in between each page you paint on? I imagine painting on each side of the page is too much? I hope this question makes sense!

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      Hey Gemma, I’m glad to hear this was helpful! There aren’t any pages that are skipped. You can watercolor on both sides of a page and it’s totally fine.

  8. Hi Shelby,
    This is the best test ever. I was wondering about doing some watercolor in my bujo but did not dare until now. Thanks to you, I will.
    Thank you so much.

  9. Jessica Huth says:

    This is so helpful! Thanks! I wanted to paint watercolor planets on a cover page, but I didn’t want to have it be on seperate paper glued in. I have used an iron to flaten paper before that’s been warped. I think a layer of parchment paper and and Iron would straighten the page right up instantly! I can’t wait to try it now.

  10. I love your blog!! I’m so looking forward to trying this. I had I minor in water color but haven’t picked up a brush in ages! I used a blow dryer for quich dry and starting areas close to last area. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work!

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      Thanks so much Katt! I’m excited to hear you’re ready to pick up that brush again!

  11. Useful experiment. Thanks. As a collage artist who paints my own papers I learned to use a regular clothes iron to smooth crinkly papers. It works on dry journal pages too. Use the cotton setting.

  12. Thanks for the trial =) I have a moleskine and was a little worried about triying watercolor on it xD
    Next month will be full of watercolors in my bujo ~

  13. Thank you so much for this post !
    I just acquired a Leuchtturm 1917 and I’m kinda addicted to watercolor, so, when I saw the paper, I didn’t really know what to do, as I don’t want to damage it.
    I’m way more relaxed now, so I won’t use a lot of watercolor in it but won’t hesitate to be fancy neither ! It was a really good idea to make this article, thanks again !
    (excuse my eventual mistakes I’m currently learning English, I hope it made sense ahah)

    1. Your English is fantastic, Elisa, so don’t worry about that! And I’m so glad that you feel more comfortable giving watercolors a try in your Leuchtturm. It’s super scary at first, but once you try it, you’ll be addicted 😉

  14. Christina says:

    This is great! I have my watercolor brush but have been nervous about starting. Thank you for giving me more confidence!!!

  15. I might use watercolors in an art journal but the ripple effect in my bujo is not acceptable. But I focus on productivity not decoration. If art is your thing, why not use a multimedia journal instead of one designed for writing?

    This was great information.

    1. That’s a great question, Judith! The reason I incorporate artistic elements into my bullet journal is because I wouldn’t use it otherwise. I tried using a “productivity focused” planner my whole life and I couldn’t make it into a productivity system. I used the bullet journal for two years before I started adding these artsy touches and it wasn’t making me happy back then. It was only when I started adding color, lettering, and watercolor that I began to use it every day because it was something fun and enjoyable, not a tedious task. For me, without the artistic side, there would be no productivity.

      If you don’t want the warping in your bullet journal, I totally understand that. Plenty of people would be bothered by it. But I love mine feeling broken in and seasoned.

  16. Shelby, I loved your thorough demonstration of how these journals held up to watercolors. This is just what I needed to know, thanks a bunch!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it, Patti! I had a ton of fun making this post, and I really hoped it would help answer some common questions about watercolors. Thanks so much for reading!

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