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How To Get Started In Your Blackout Journal

by Hayley Remde 22 Jul 2019 0 Comments

I was so excited to get my blackout journal! I saw so many gorgeous layouts made by Bonnie (the creator of Archer and Olive), and I couldn’t wait to get one in my hands! However, when it arrived I had this overwhelming fear of what to use it for and where to even start. Apart from a small bit of lettering, I had never really experienced writing on black paper a lot, and it felt so much scarier than white pages. It made me think you all could be in the same position too!

So if you’re like me and you have the blackout journal but don’t know where to start, or you’re seeing all these gorgeous layouts with the black pages on Instagram and you want to know if it’s right for you, I’m going to show you it’s different uses and just how easy it is to use!


Recommended Supplies:

  • Archer and Olive Blackout Journal – The same amazing quality dot grid journals, but with black paper! The dots are just the right size and colour to see easily, but blend in when you’ve finished a spread.
  • Gel Pens – I’m new to the gel pen world, but the Gelly Roll pens work amazingly in this journal! They’re my go-to for most spreads, and I believe they’re the best way to make journaling in black paper easy.
  • Endless Possibilities– There are actually so many things you can use in a black journal! I recommend Gelly Roll pens as a staple, but read on to learn more things you can use if you want to branch out.


Pen Test

Now the first thing I recommend doing in any journal is a pen test page, but this is especially important for the blackout journal. Your usual black pens aren’t going to work, so the best way of getting comfortable with using black pages is to find some staple supplies.

Pen Test

(Created by me: @hayleyremdeart on Instagram)


Gel Pens

As I said above, the Gelly Roll pens are a must-have for me, especially the white one. Investing in a good white gel pen is the first (and potentially the only) thing you need – as this will most likely become your regular journaling pen. I find the Gelly Roll size 10 is the most opaque for writing.

Gel Pen Test

(Created by me: @hayleyremdeart on Instagram)

You can also add a great amount of colour in with Gel Pens. Sakura now offer many different packs of coloured sets, and they’re super opaque! Just see this example by Bonnie herself:

Bonnie Coloured Gel Pen Spread

(Created by @archerandolive on Instagram)


Brush Pens

If you’re a fan of brush lettering: yes - you can still do this in a black journal! I actually think it’s even more striking than on white paper. The ones I really recommend are the Karin Décobrush Metallic Markers. You can see them in action here in this spread created by Nicola:

Karin Marker Header

(Created by @myinner.creative on Instagram)

With these you can create some amazing headers and illustrations. You can also find other brands of metallic pens and brush pens online, but I only have experience with Karin Markers!



Just like the regular white journals, the blackout journals can hold paint! I recommend an opaque medium like gouache or acrylic rather than watercolour. I’d say this medium was more for decorative touches, so it’s a great way to add illustrations or blocks of colour to a spread.

Paint Swatch

(Created by me: @hayleyremdeart on Instagram)



One medium that I regularly use for lettering on black card is metallic and white inks. The inks look really striking on black paper. Because of the amazing thick paper in these journals, you can use them in your blackout journal too! I was so happy to find this out as you can make lovely detailed doodles or small headers with dip pens!

Ink Swatch

(Created by me: @hayleyremdeart on Instagram)


Pencil Crayon

Another medium that actually works really well on white paper is pencil crayons. They take a bit more work, but they add a brilliant decorative touch if you like this medium!

Pencil Swatch

(Created by me: @hayleyremdeart on Instagram)


I’m sure there are more mediums you can use! These are just ones that I personally use and have access to. For more ideas you can see this blog for Bonnie’s personal favourites to use.


Fixing Mistakes

One of THE BEST advantages of a journal with black pages is it is super easy to cover mistakes. In white journals you can use white pen, but you usually have to do a few layers, and it’s hard to find something white enough in the Archer and Olive journals as the paper is so white it’s whiter than most correctors! The black pages are much easier to colour match. The best black pens I have found to work are fineliners or a marker tip pen rather than a gel pen, as they’re a matte finish.


(Created by me: @hayleyremdeart on Instagram)


Ways To Use The Blackout Journal

Now you’ve found some pens or other mediums that work well on black pages, and most importantly that you’re comfortable with using regularly, it’s time to decide how to use it! There are many ways to make use of this journal, and I am going to outline a few ways I have used it personally. I’m sure you will find more ways to create with it, and I’d love to see them!


Using It As A Regular Bujo

Whilst as first I found it really daunting to use the black pages, once I found some pens that worked well I can definitely see myself using the black pages as a regular bullet journal.

July Blackout Spread

(Created by @erinflotodesigns on Instagram)

I especially recommend it for minimal bullet journalists as the contrast makes even a simple spread unique and striking.

Future Log Spread

(Created by @erinflotodesigns on Instagram)

I also believe it isn’t any harder than using white pages. The white Gelly Roll pen in size 10 is lovely and opaque, and it completely substitutes a black pen in a regular journal.


Just for Lettering

If you don’t want to commit to using this journal full time, it would be perfect to have as a lettering journal. You can use some really fun mediums on this paper, and the effects are even more striking than on white paper.

Lettering Spread

(Created by @theyearofpaper on Instagram)


Add White Paper

Another idea for times you either run out of white pen, or to give you a break from the black pages, you can stick in boxes of dot grid paper to create really cool layouts that you can use your regular black pens on!

White boxes

(Created by me: @hayleyremdeart on Instagram)


Use In A Regular Journal

And finally, one way I have recently used this journal is for actually cutting out some of the pages and using them in my regular journal! This is much better than just sticking in black paper as it has the dot grid.

Black Boxes Spread

(Created by me: @hayleyremdeart on Instagram)

The dots are really hard to see in photographs, you have to really zoom in, but I promise they’re there!



Hopefully I’ve given you some help and inspiration to get started in you blackout journal. The black pages can be daunting at first, but I’ve really had some of the most fun I have ever had bullet journaling creating spreads on these pages. If you haven’t purchased a blackout journal, but sure to be quick when they restock as they always sell out really fast! If I have inspired you, I would love to see your spreads, so tag me on Instagram (@hayleyremdeart) and use #hayleyremdeinspired to get the chance to get your creations featured in my stories!

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