Altering Pages Tutorial

The pages of your art journal can be just as expressive as the words you write on those pages. Eric Scott and David Modler are big fans of just saying no to plain old boring journal pages. So here are a few techniques for adding doors and windows to your pages. You can even try a little singeing, too.

Here, the authors of Journal Junkies Workshop, Eric Scott and David Modler, explore techniques that make journaling more interactive, techniques that offer the viewer glimpses and peeks into other pages, and techniques that encourage the viewer to open envelopes and pockets and to reveal hidden spaces behind doors and folds.

(This tutorial was previously published in the book Journal Junkies Workshop by Eric Scott and David Modler, copyright 2010; republished here courtesy of


As you work in the journal, you are not limited to experimenting with art materials and gluing in fodder. You are free to experiment with the page itself. You can physically alter pages to produce visual effects and to bring some interactivity to your journal. Certain techniques lend themselves to making the journal more interactive by giving the viewer glimpses and peeks into other pages as well as by allowing the viewer to open envelopes and pockets, and to reveal hidden spaces behind doors and folds.


The simplest way to alter a page is to fold it. A simple fold creates instant interactivity because every reader wants to see what is behind the fold. Folds are good for hiding things, making areas of surprise and creating instant doors. Folds bring another visual level to the journal by allowing pages to interact with one another, creating visual links between them.


Select two blank pages.





Fold both pages into the center of the book. Unfold the pages and you are ready to create.




The following images show only some of the many different page interactions you can achieve with
two simple folds.







Both pages folded (above).                                                          Both pages unfolded (above).





Both folded pages to the left (above).                                The left folded page completely opened (above).






The right folded page completely opened.                 The left folded page opened in the opposite direction.


You can cut a door into a page so that it reveals something on another page. A door adds instant interactivity just like a fold because viewers will want to open it and look. You can make a door simply by folding a page or by gluing a blank card to a page. You can make a door even more quickly from a single piece of paper using a craft knife. Experiment with the different ways in your journal.


Pencil, cutting mat, craft knife


Draw a line as a guide for cutting.






Place a cutting mat under the page, and use a craft
knife to cut through. In this case, we cut both pages
to create a circle around the brain image.


When using a craft knife, you need to use a sharp blade and a lot of caution. A sharp blade cuts more easily and cleanly than a dull blade. Be extremely careful not to cut yourself or the underlying pages.

The cut area open in one direction to reveal a portion of a map.






The cut portion open in the opposite direction
to reveal labels.






The outer portion flipped in one direction to reveal the brain on the label page.






The cut portion fl ipped to reveal the map on the
label page.






The outer portion flipped the opposite direction to reveal the brain on the map page.







Windows and holes in pages give glimpses into other pages and create relationships between them. Using a craft knife and cutting mat, you can quickly cut holes and windows in pages without cutting into their neighbors.


Cutting mat, craft knife, glue (optional)


With a cutting mat underneath, use a craft knife to cut a hole into the page. In this case, we cut a hexagonal hole, following a shape already drawn on the page.





Remove the cut piece and the cutting mat to reveal the page underneath.





You can turn the page to expose the cut out section on two different pages and choose how to embellish the areas. Here we turned the page to show a blank area.




In this case, we embellished the space on the previous page and glued the cut piece elsewhere.







Burning the edges of pages or even areas within pages with a candle or lighter is another way to alter your journal. Large burnt holes and edges can give glimpses into other pages. Always be careful when using flames. You do not want to set your journal or work space on fire!




Singe the edge of a page. You may want to tilt the page if you want the flames to burn in a particular direction.






Singe a hole into a page. Hold the page up if you do not want to burn the underlying pages.






Allow the flame to burn through several pages to create pages that interact with one another.


Because the flames can quickly burn out of control, have a scrap sheet of paper nearby that you can use to snuff the flames.


From Journal Junkies Workshop by Eric Scott and David Modler, 2010; courtesy of

To learn more about or purchase Journal Junkies Workshop by Eric Scott and David Modler, click here.

For more on altering your art journal:

Writing in Your Journal

Creating Your First Journal Page



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