Hello friends! Happy Saturday! 💕
Today I am going to give you a fun tutorial on how I paint my book pages! I recently started doing this and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I was very nervous at first so I started with some older books (and a few that are beat up/are missing dust jackets and things like that) that way if I messed up or ruined it it wouldn’t crush my soul too much.
Also, keep in mind that just because this method works for me that doesn’t mean it will be the best method for you! Use this method if you want, modify it, try something different, you do you! If I inspire you to be creative and decorate your books however you see fit then I’m happy. I do also want to say that I did not come up with this method, I saw Lauren from @dontgobrekkermyheart post about her process on her Insta stories last week and decided to give it a try! She has them saved in a story highlight if you want to check it out!
Okay, on to the good stuff.
Here are the materials you may need / I used:
- Acrylic Paint – most of mine are Apple Barrel (which are about 50 cents to $1 each at any craft store or even at Walmart) but I’m sure any brand will work! I suggest MATTE because it sticks to the pages better. I tried a metallic one and yeesh it did not turn out well 😬
- Paint Brushes – there are many different types of paint brushes and I’m sure any would work just fine. I bought a pack of 10 at Walmart for like $3 that have worked perfectly. I used a medium sized one, not too small but not giant either.
- Newspaper – really just anything to cover your precious working area! Tarps, paper or plastic bags, an old towel, whatever you have! Especially if you’re like me and manage to get paint on everything (literally got it on my feet yesterday!)
- Masking / Painters Tape – I used masking but I’ve seen others use Painters tape as well.
- Thick paper (think Scrapbook paper or thicker) – this one is a personal preference and you can use it as you wish. I will explain what it’s for below!
Step 1: Prepare your work area / get cozy
Before I get into the thick of things I like to make sure I have everything I will need close by. I work on my living room floor so I have more room. I place all of the materials I will need right next to me along with my phone and a drink, maybe a snack. I like to paint for hours and tend to forget about the world so I come prepared 😉 I also use a cardboard box as my palette because why not use the resources I already have!
Step 2: Protect your book!
This step is super important! This is where you will need the thick paper and masking/painter tape. Definitely don’t skimp out on the thick paper and tape here because you want to cover as much of your book as possible (or I do at least because even with it I’ve gotten SUPER close to getting paint on the actual hardcover and that’s scary). I take the paper and place it in between the hardcover and the first page of the book, fold over so it covers the hardcover, and then tape in place. Repeat for the other side of the book. If you don’t have/don’t want to use paper then just using the tape will also work, just make sure all the edges of the hardcover are covered by the tape. I just like having the extra paper to cover the book because I tend to get messy.
Step 3: Begin painting the first layer!
Don’t be nervous! The first layer will look sparse and some spots might not be fully covered, especially if using darker colored paint. That’s okay! You’ll be doing multiple layers so they will get covered! To do this part you need to apply pressure to both sides of the book while you paint so the paint won’t drip between the pages/end papers.
There are multiple ways of doing this. The one that Lauren showed and that I have found 100% success with has been (it sounds weird! haha) to place the book between your legs/thighs, SQUEEEEZE those legs together to apply pressure to the book, and then paint the pages! The other way I’ve seen people do is to place a heavy object (such as a dumbbell) on top of the book. With the heavy weight though the entire surface will need to be weighted down or the paint will drip. Using this method it is also SUPER important to do Step 4, otherwise you end up with a book of 500 pages that are completely stuck together. I know from experience here. I have a 1k page book that is basically one giant page now because they’re all stuck together from when I tried this method and failed.
When painting the first layer, I tend to paint this rather quickly. Like, less than a minute per side because Acrylic paint dries VERY QUICKLY and you want to have time to perform Step 4 before it completely dries. I recommend painting one edge, fanning the pages several times, then painting the next edge, fanning several times, and so on. I usually do the top edge, then the middle, then the other end.
Step 4: Fan Fan Fan those pages!
To me this is the MOST IMPORTANT step! If you do not do this step you will end up with a book completely stuck together because the paint dries as one giant glob. Again, I know this from experience guys. Fan those pages. I usually grab the edge that hasn’t been painted yet and just fan them out a few times. The quicker you do this step after painting an edge the less pages you will have stuck together. Once the paint dries you are free to touch it and fan the pages. So usually when I paint the third edge I’ll grab the first edge I painted and fan from there.
Step 5: Double up with another layer! Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until pages are completely covered!
After you have finished the first layer on all edges and let it dry you can begin painting the second layer! I almost never do more than two layers unless I’m using black paint and not everything was covered. I don’t know, this is probably a personal preference. I just don’t want it to become too thick. Repeat Step 4 of fanning the pages and Step 5 if you want to continue with additional layers!
Step 6: Let completely dry
I usually leave the book as is, with protective papers and tape on the book while I let it completely dry. I do this just to ensure any wet paint around will not get on the beautiful hardcover. After about 20-30 minutes I take the protective paper/tape off and fan the pages out a few more times. If there are any stuck together, usually a couple, you can easily separate them and continue fanning until you’re satisfied. Then I put the dust jacket back on and admire my work!
Step 7: Enjoy your newly painted book!
This is my favorite part! I love seeing how well it all comes together! Keep in mind, your first time might not be perfect and that’s okay! The first book I painted is one I will never read and is missing the dust jacket, so it isn’t one I’m particularly attached to. I’m glad I chose it too because I definitely learned a lot about the process and improved my technique from that experience. Now I’m painting some of my favorite series and I think today I might even attack my UK Nevernight/Godsgrave and paint those red and blue 😬
Don’t forget that this is definitely not the only method on painting books. It works well for me but it might not work well for you. Try different things, try different brushes or different paints, just find what works best for you! I’ve seen some use stamp pads, some prefer to use spray paint (I don’t because I live in an apartment and I’m too afraid to ruin something, plus I have rather shaky hands and I know I would end up with one side thicker than another or all globby haha).
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how I paint my book pages! If you have any questions about the process PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask me! Drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP 💖 I can’t wait to see all the beautiful books you paint!