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Exclusive Project

Mixed Media Sketchbook Cover by Hannah Oxberry

Transform an old sketchbook using these fun and effective mixed media paint techniques!

You will need:

  • Chalk Paint – Dark Grey
  • Chalk Paint – White
  • Chalk Paint - Blue
  • Chalk Paint - Green
  • Chalk Paint - Red
  • Chalk Paint – Crackle
  • Decoupage Papers
  • Decoupage Glue
  • Acrylic Paint - Metallic Silver
  • Acrylic Paint - Metallic Gold
  • Acrylic Paint - Paynes Grey
  • Acrylic Paint - Quinacridone Gold
  • Antiquing Creams - Carbon Black
  • Matte Varnish
  • Crackle Glaze Varnish
  • Heat Tool
  • Selection of Flat Brushes
  • Spray Bottle
  • Clear Wax Crayon
  • Sponge

Time to Make:1hr

Skill Level: Intermediate


  1. Take an old sketchbook you would like to transform, it doesn’t matter if the cover is damaged – it just needs to be sturdy. Protect the ribbons of the sketchbook while you are working by using a low tack tape, covering both sides.
  2. Using a flat wide brush, paint the front and back covers in a base layer of dark grey chalk paint.
  3. Select your decoupage papers and tear them to fit on areas on the covers. The best way to adhere the papers is to first coat the area with decoupage glue, spritz the papers lightly with water, press the papers on to the covers and run another layer of decoupage glue over the papers to seal.
  4. Take a clear wax crayon and run this around the edges of the sketchbook, and across the decoupage paper areas. This will act as a resist as you add more layers, allowing you to easily rub back layers to reveal those underneath. Paint the entire front and back covers of your sketchbook in your next colour, I have used a bright blue chalk paint.
  5. Next, use your heat tool over the surface of the covers – this will melt the wax you put down and allow you to remove layers easily. Use a baby wipe to rub away areas to reveal the darker base layers underneath. Also remove the paint over the decoupage papers, leaving patches to give a naturally worn look.
    On areas which do not have the decoupage papers, apply a thin coat of crackle medium using a flat wide brush. A thin layer is key, you only need a small amount to achieve a great effect.
  6. To activate the crackle medium, use a flat wide brush to apply a layer of white chalk paint. Be sure to use one stroke only, try not to over work the paint as this can interrupt the crackle process. Once dry, heat gently with the heat tool to encourage the crackles to widen further.
    Again, use a baby wipe to rub away areas to reveal the layers underneath.
  7. Add more crackles to your sketch book by applying crackle glaze over the areas with paper, again you only need a small amount. Once dry it should live fine crackles – paint these crackles with black antiquing cream, allowing the cream to penetrate all of the crackles. Wipe away the excess and seal with a matte varnish.
    Add further layers to your sketchbook covers by applying washes of acrylic paints, these add to the distressed vibe of the piece. I have used Paynes Grey and Quinacridone Gold, start with a lot of water and just a little plaint.
    Slowly build the wash layers, adding more paint to the mixture – until you are working with neat paint. You can also dry the washes with a heat tool, this will cause the paint to bubble adding more texture to your design.
  8. Continue to build the wash layers until you reach a level of coverage you are happy with. Use a sponge and apply neat Paynes Grey around the edges, this frames the piece and adds a level of drama.
    To finish, edge the covers in Metallic Gold to give the covers a “pop” and add a heart embellishment to the top right corner.