April 24, 2018

TUTORIAL: How to Draw Outlines in Your Bullet Journal

The last time I posted a photo of my bullet journal page that shows the map of the United States (where I color in the states that I've visited), I had several people ask me how to do it. I promised a tutorial, and since I was going to put it in a new book anyways, I took some photos to explain. It's very easy!

No, I didn't draw it freehand--I wish I was that good! I used the same technique that I used when I painted the sign for John and Ric's house. You basically just make your own carbon paper with a pencil...

First, print out a map outline of the United States. I used this one, and printed it at 100% size. You can adjust the size based on the size of your journal.

Then, turn it over and using a pencil, shade the entire back of the map, like this:

When you shade in the whole back, turn it back over so that the map is facing up. Carefully set it on your journal in the spot that you want the map outline.

I use a few tiny pieces of scotch tape to hold it in place (you don't have to do that, but it keeps the paper from shifting while you're outlining).

Once you have the map where you want it, use a ballpoint pen to trace the entire map.

I stupidly used a black pen over black printer ink, so you can't see very well what you've already traced--I would use a different color pen so you can be sure to trace the whole thing. I missed a few lines, which was annoying to have to fix later.

You want to press firmly with the pen, so you may want to place some paper under the journal page you're working on so it doesn't indent the pages underneath. You don't have to press super hard, though--it'll transfer pretty easily as long as you shaded in the back of the paper well.

Once you've traced the entire map with the pen, carefully remove the printed map, and you should see an outline from the graphite of the pencil. Then, just use your marker to trace over the graphite!

See? Super easy.

To answer some other questions about my bullet journal...

I'm not super into the bullet journaling stuff like some people are--people make AMAZING pages (just search Pinterest, and you'll be floored!). So, I don't have all the fancy tools that people use. My materials consist of: markers, colored pencils, a regular old #2 pencil, an eraser, a ruler, a stencil for circles (always hard to freehand), and White-Out (for all the mistakes! haha).

As for the specifics (Amazon affiliate links):

(And no, I have no idea how to pronounce the brands of the journal or the markers!)


  1. Such a helpful tutorial, Katie! Thanks so much!! It's a simple idea in concept but one I had not thought of at all!

  2. Okay, I didn't realize those are called "bullet journals." Now I get it, ha ha! Did you do this tracing technique with your other pages in the journal, like the Tom Hanks one?

    1. No, that one I did with a good old fashioned ruler! It took me FOREVER to make that page!

  3. Yayy thank you so much for posting this! Super helpful. :)

  4. Love the tutorial! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this for us! I love the bullet journals but can't draw at all, not even stick figures! LOL!

  5. Hi Katie, I just watched your movie on Netflix. Just wanna say you did amazing job both loosing weight and finishing this run. Kisses from Poland

  6. Have you written about bullet journaling before? I'd love to know more about how you do it. I googled and it looked so complicated and overwhelming... I need a easy version for a beginnger ;)

    1. It's very overwhelming! I just decided to do my own thing--keep track of what I wanted to keep track of. And then I searched Pinterest for layout ideas. It's less overwhelming when you're searching for just one thing.


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive