Imagining and creating fantastic creatures in your art journal

Hello Messians, it’s EmK again, and I am thrilled to be here for the season that I’ve been anticipating the most: Fairy Tales! I’ve always fancied myself a writer and a storyteller, and find the world of fairy tales to be a wonderful place of imagination where we can immerse ourselves in magic and wonder. It’s so easy to set your worries aside when you’re mind is busy wandering through the pages of mermaids, and dragons, and fae! So, for this tutorial, I am inviting you to create your very own fantasy creatures; creatures that speak to you, speak for you, and make your inner child smile brightly through the pages of your art journal.

For this tutorial, you will learn how to make soft colorful backgrounds by using watercolors on a gessoed surface. We will also discuss creating make-believe beings by collaging found pictures of people with animal-esque parts that we can associate with fantasy creatures. I’ll be providing you with antlers, aquatic tails, and different wing types so that you can easily create fairies, sirens, horned folk. In this tutorial, I’ll be using wings, but I promise I won’t stop there throughout the course of this season! Perhaps you’ve noticed them popping up already? In the photos found in this post, you can also see examples in which I’ve used many of the fantastic creature pieces found in the PDF below–which I recommend you print off and play with!


  • Your journal
  • White gesso or white acrylic paint
  • Watercolors, water, and paint brushes
  • Images of men or women with which you will collage
  • Scissors and adhesive
  • Images of wings, tails, antlers, etc (See PDF below!)

Optional supplies:

  • Transparent ink, like Sharpies or Copic markers
  • Transparent paint, like Golden fluid acrylics or watered down acrylic paint
  • Writing utensil
  • Other art supplies that you enjoy using

Note: Feel free to use all of fantasy parts included in the PDF in any way that you’d like to. I’ve personally drawn them just for you, so the use of them will not cause any copyright violations!


Download Fantastic Creature Pieces

Print out your fantastic creature pieces.

Action Steps


Paint a spread in your journal (or a piece of paper) with gesso. After it dries, get out your watercolors, apply two or three colors to your gessoed page and see how it moves, puddles, and pools. Add more water, more paint, or both.


Print out the PDF provided in this post. While your water colors dry on you gessoed page, paint, color, or shade the images of these printouts.


Look through a magazine, books, or your ephemera for figures that would work well with images in the PDF. (Feel free to print out images of yourself/others—or even draw a few!) Cut out these images for later use.


Cut out imagery from printouts, and adhere a combination of ephema and trimmed printouts to your dry pages, creating fantastical creatures on a soft watercolor background!


EmK Wright is a self taught artist with a passion for creating. She finds her true love in between the pages of her art journals, where she has been expressing herself for about 13 years. 


  1. Andrea Stern

    Thank you for the fun tutorial and parts! I’m off to the studio now. 😀

  2. Katie Smith

    I love your pages and the fact that you showed an example of the gesso vs non gesso!

  3. Clare Davis Etheridge

    Oh yes! I can’t wait to dig into my old National Geograhics and find some characters to customize! I might even find some wings in there.

    • Clare Davis Etheridge

      I meant National Geographics….can’t spell..

  4. Misty Granade

    OOH! So cool!

  5. CIndy Jacobs

    Oh I just love these!! Thanks for the wings and tails etc!! 🙂

  6. Sasha Zinevych

    This is so much fun! Totally playing along!

  7. Ashley Rodgers

    Awesome! Thanks for the printables too!

  8. Elizabeth D.

    I love your enthusiasm — you always make me want to break out the paints and get messy!