How to use lines expressively

Hello Messians!

I’m so excited to be back on the creative team this year and today I am sharing a very simple how-to guide for creating expressive lines in your pages. This was a tutorial suggestion from my co-team member, Ashley. I love to use expressive lines in my art journal pages but never thought of sharing how to do it as it comes so naturally to me. I hope you find this tutorial informative and inspiring – as always I’d love to see what you create from this so please share any pages with me!


I have chosen to show my expressive lines around a magazine image, this is something usual for my style but these lines could be added into drawings as well. As you can see, we have 4 Alexa Chung’s and 4 versions of line to try!

Technique 1 – sharp lines


This is my go-to, tried and tested way of making a collaged element seem more alive or vibrant. I added the yellow felt tip background just for an extra pop. My lines here are made from marker pen.

Technique 2 – outline

This is a fun way to add another dimension to a collaged or drawn element. I like to use a few colours of felt tips (these are tombows but any will work) and simply draw around the cut out shape.

Technique 3 – text


I love how this looks quite editorial – my advice here is to try and pick some text that will fit around your collaged shape. Text isn’t exactly “line” but it’s certainly expressive and when used in conjunction with the shape of something else on your page, can look striking and effective. Again, I used a skinny tombow here but any pen will work!

Technique 4 – washi tape


Washi will make your collaged image really come to life! It has a scrapbook effect to it and I love how you can tear different lengths off and play with different patterns. Washi by itself is great for creating expressive lines and adding another element and texture to your page.

And that’s it! Four quick and simple techniques that use limited materials but pack a punch.

Action Step: 

Try out each of the four techniques in your art journal this week!


  1. Sasha Zinevych

    Yay, Jules! Thanks so much for sharing your expressive techniques! I love how fast and simple they are, but they change an ordinary magazine image so much! The outlined one looks like heartbeat, or aura, or like the energy resonating. Love it!

    • julia Thomas

      That’s such a cool way to look at it! Thank you! xo

  2. Misty Granade


  3. Anna Oliveira

    😮 I loved it! I’m opening my art journal to try it right now!!!
    Thank you, Julia! ✨

  4. Katie Smith

    I think the lines give your work so much energy!

  5. Thea marie østerholt

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve got some markers laying around that rarely gets used…time to change that..!

    • julia Thomas

      10000% get those markers used! <3

  6. Karen Price

    it might be simple but wow, it really packs a punch!! I’m going to have giving this a go!

  7. Karen Price

    it might be simple but wow, it really packs a punch!! I’m going to have giving this a go! Thanks Julia!

  8. Karen Price

    it might be simple but wow, it really packs a punch. I’m going to have to give this a go; Thanks Julia!

    • julia Thomas

      You’re welcome! Enjoy! 🙂

  9. Ashley Rodgers

    Yay! So great. Thanks for sharing these techniques! I love how something so simple can add so much energy to a page.

  10. Melody Willoughby

    Yes, yes. I just need some practice. Love all the colors that can be added very easily. Not like paint.

    • julia Thomas

      Exactly! And it’s so much fun to play and practise around with 🙂 xo

  11. Elizabeth D.

    I love how your lines give these images such life and energy, Jules! xx

    • julia Thomas

      Thanks Elizabeth! <3 🙂

  12. Riet

    Simple and yet so expressive! I think you really rock this approach, Jules! Thanks for sharing your tips with us!

    • julia Thomas

      Thank you Riet <3 xoxo


Julia is a British designer and creative enthusiast. She loves to express herself through shape, colour and pattern – living by the ethos of more is more!