The Ultimate Guide to Creative Planning & Journaling | Amanda Rach Lee | Skillshare

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The Ultimate Guide to Creative Planning & Journaling

teacher avatar Amanda Rach Lee, Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction to Planning & Journaling


    • 2.

      Supplies & Materials


    • 3.

      Basic Layouts & Pages


    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.

      Planning & Journaling FAQs


    • 8.

      Your Project!


    • 9.



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About This Class

Follow along with me (AmandaRachLee) as I show you different ways you can add creativity to your journals and planners! In this 30 minute class, you will learn my step-by-step process for turning blank pages into beautiful spreads, combining elements such as lettering and doodling. I also share some of my journaling secrets and favourites throughout the class. This class is perfect for anyone who loves to doodle or add a little creativity into their life. No experience is necessary! By the end, you will have everything you need to create your own journal and planner spreads with ease.

If you are interested in learning more about lettering, doodling, and journaling, check out more on my Youtube Channel: AmandaRachLee.

Meet Your Teacher

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Amanda Rach Lee



Amanda Lee (AmandaRachLee) is a Toronto-based artist and digital content creator. She posts videos each week on her Youtube channel, focused on doodling, journaling, and sketching. Her planning videos have become a quick favourite of her 1.9 million viewers, as she incorporates her delightful doodles into her creations each month.

She wants to encourage people to add creativity into their everyday lives, while showing them that art can be fun!

You can explore more at

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction to Planning & Journaling: Hi, everyone. I'm Amanda from the YouTube channel Amanda ritually. And in today's class, I'm gonna be showing you guys different ways that you can add creativity into your journals and agendas. I want this class to be a creative one. Stop shop for you to build your knowledge base of creativity so that hopefully the next time you're sitting down to journal or doodle, you will not be out of ideas. So I'm gonna be taking you guys through a couple different things in this class. We're going to start off with the basics of journaling and agenda. I'll show you guys the different elements that you can implement. And then after that, we're gonna talk more about decorative things that you can add on to make them look more beautiful. So we'll do letter and will do dueling And, of course, more experimental stuff. So I hope you find this helpful and enjoy the class. Have fun. It's meant to be fun. Of course, I encourage you guys to share your projects and your work in the project showcase down below. And, of course, leave your comments as well. But without further ado, let's get into the class 2. Supplies & Materials: here are some supplies that she'll need to start. First off, you'll, of course, need a notebook. This could be any type of notebook. I prefer the dotted ones. It just makes it easier on me. You also need some fine liners or pens. You can use either felt tip or regular ballpoint pens. You can also have some markers for some color options. If you don't like markers, you can also use watercolor paint or color pencils. Just depends on what you prefer. Some other things that you could implement are some tape or glue for some decorative elements. 3. Basic Layouts & Pages: I'm going to start off by showing you guys a couple basic spreads that are really useful tab in your journals in planners, the 1st 1 being your index. Think of this as your table of contents. You'll be able to mark down where your important pages are so that you won't lose track of it. So example would be if you have a really important list that you want to keep track of, you'll just market in the index. Some notebooks come with it already created a like mind us here, but basically all you need is a table one column for pages and then one column for the actual subject of the page. So here I'm giving you an example. My yearly log will be on pages 124 Speaking of yearly logs, that's another important spread that I liked have in my customized planner, and it's a great way to give you a very visual overview off your entire year. The basic structure of a yearly log is kind of like what you see me doing. You have all of the months kind of listed out, and then there's a space next to it for you. to put any events or appointments that are going in that year. I'm gonna explain how you use all of the's modules later on, but just stick with me. These air just very basic kind of spreads. The next one is the monthly log, and this is a more in depth look at the specific month the's you would set up at the beginning of the month. And there's different ways that you can set up monthly logs. The 1st 1 I'm showing you is thieve vertical layout, where you write all of the numbers down the page and you also write the first letter of the day next to it. So Number one would be M for Monday or whatever day it is on that day, and then you can either right the appointments or events next to it, or you can split it up like I've done into different sections. You can do personal and work, and that way you have a separation of your different events and appointments, and it's a great way to kind of give you Ah, quick look at the month and see what day is really busy and what day is not the only issue with this layout is that it doesn't leave you a lot of space for events per day, so an alternative to this would be to do the traditional calendar grid. Leo. This one's a bit more tricky to do than the vertical out, because you actually have to measure of the boxes and draw the grid lines. But that's why having a dotted or greeted notebook is comes in handy because you can just kind of count out the boxes. And once you get the hang of it every month, you can have, like a template and just kind of copy it each month. But anyways, which, ever monthly that works best for you. You just want to be able to have a monthly hub where you can go to and refer to it and see what's going on during that month. The next spreads are the weekly and daily spreads. Now there are different ways that you can set this up just like all of these spreads, but they're kind of two different sections that I like to have in any weekly spread that I do and then I just change it up, depending on what my layout is and the two sections are your weekly events and then your daily tasks. So as you can see right now, I'm writing out my weekly events section, and this is going to be, ah, place for you to see what's going on during the week and what appointments, events, that kind of stuff. And then the daily tasks would be your to do list the little tasks that you have to do, no matter how small it is. It could just be to clean your room, but it's kind of the stuff that you don't want to put on your, you know, monthly count earlier or your weekly events. So here are a couple different weekly spread layout ideas. All of them have the to say modules, the weekly events and the daily tasks, but they're just placed differently on the page. I wanted to give you guys different options and show you guys that you can switch things up depending on your liking. So here you can see this allows for more space for your daily tasks, and then I have a little weekly events box in the corner. The next one is a sidebar. So the weekly events. I've kind of given its own little side section, and then the daily tasks are in different columns. So I've split the page up into vertical columns of two, and as you can see, this is where I would put my daily tasks. This next layer is one of my favorites because it is just very clean and simple and easy to set up and basically have seven columns, one for each day. And then I have split these columns into two vertical or horizontal rows. And basically the top row is for events, and the bottom row is four tasks. This leaves you a lot of players room, and you can change up the size of your roads, depending on how much space you want for planning. So again, as you can see, these layouts that have done are very minimal just because I want to show you the bare bones of these layouts. I also did a one page layout where I only put the weekly sidebar events, and then I did one large running to do list. This is a spread that I like to do when I don't have a lot of tasks that are specific to the days, but I do still want to have a running to do list and also be able to see what events and appointments I have going on during that week. All of these layouts are suitable to different lifestyles. It just depends on what you prefer for your planner. Next, I'm going to be showing you guys how to actually use all of these modules in action. I like to think of it as a funnel where you go from bigger picture planning into smaller picture planning. So obviously the yearly log would be the biggest picture. It's a yearly overviews, so you would mark down any important dates. This could be birthdays, holidays, appointments, and you can do this for as far as it and says you want to let states January. Right now, you can mark down your June events if you have any that you just want to remember when you end up setting up your June monthly log. So then, at the beginning of the month, when you're setting up your monthly log, you can look back at the yearly log and mark down any of the dates that you told yourself to remember for that month. As you can see, I have an extra section on the right called the Future Log, where I just put tasks that don't have a specific date. But I want to get done for that month. So then, for your weekly spreads or your daily spreads when you're setting that up, you can refer to the monthly log and mark them down in your events. Ah, the daily tasks, as I mentioned, is more of a running list. So this would just be kind of on the deli's stuff that you want to remember to dio. You don't necessarily need to have a weekly event section as well as a daily task session. Some people just combine them into one and just put the events into the daily tasks list. But for me, it helps me to kind of give myself a visual overview of the week, and so I can still see what I have to do on Saturday when it's Monday. So then, as you finish these tasks, you can fill them in or check them off. But if you let's say, for example, don't finish the task and you want to change it to a different day. Put a little arrow or just mark that you've rescheduled it, and then you can input it into your monthly calendar or your future log so that you can remember to do these tasks. So that was very specific to planners. But there's a ton of other spreads that you could do in your journals or your planners, depending on kind of what you want to go for. Some other page ideas that I had were lists trackers, motivational pages, quotes, poems, collages, inspiration, mood boards, diary entries There's a ton of different things and ah, you can use. Use us as you please, because basically, if you start a new page and just kind of do a little doodle or sketch, you can just turn over the page and keep going with your monthly spreads or your weekly spreads. And basically, what you would do is mark all of these down in your index so that if you are looking for a specific page, you are able to find them easily, so have fun with it. Don't feel restricted to only do planner pages because there is definitely so many other things that you can incorporate into your journals and planners 4. Lettering: One of the most essential parts of journaling or planning is lettering and typography. There's a couple different styles of lettering that I like to use, the 1st 1 being a standard all caps handwriting. Now, the key to this is making sure that the height and the width are relatively the same. If you were to draw a box around it, it would look like a square. The next one is kind of a tall and skinny font. This one, as the name implies, is just tall and skinny. So if you were to draw a box around it, it would look more like a rectangle, and I like to think of it as a 2 to 1 ratio where the height is doubled the width of the letter. The next one is Sarah's Now. These are just kind of decorative elements that you can add on to either the tall and skinny font or the kind of standard sized font. But either way, those little ticks that you see at the end of the letter are the Sarah ifs, and they're just more decorative and give it a different look. Next is the cursive. This is kind of its own category, and I will go into it a bit more into detail later on. So I'm gonna show you guys a couple different types of cursive. Keep in mind there's a ton of different styles that she can do, and everyone's will look different. But I have a standard size one. You can also space out the letters and kind of make it a little bit more flat and give it a different style. And on the opposite side, you can make it skinnier and squish the letters closer together for another look. Another thing that she could use is a brush pin, and this gives it a completely different look. And it does take a little bit of getting used to. I'm not going to go into detail for that right now because I could do a whole tutorial on that. But the basics of using a brush pen is to press harder on your down strokes and the lighter on your up strokes. You can do these little wavy lines for practice as an exercise so you can get the hang of the pressure and then you can go into doing the actual letters of the alphabet or words. You can also get different sized brush pens, and that will give you a different look as well. I get a lot of questions about ways that you can improve your cursive or your brush pen lettering. And really, there's no magic spell or trick that you can do to instantly become better. The only way to do so is to practice. So even if you write a word every day or kind of, just sit down and do a bunch of different letters of the alphabet, slowly and slowly iwill see improvement and kind of create your own style. It did also want to show you a little fake calligraphy secret. This is for interview who do not have a brush pen. Basically, you just use a standard pen, write in cursive and then go over it wherever there is a down stroke and make it thicker. And then you can either leave it hollow like this, or you can fill it in, and it'll mimic the look of an actual brush pen. This just shows you that you do not need a ton of different supplies and expensive pens and materials in order to create something beautiful. There's always a way to do it on a budget and an easy one at that. I feel like this one doesn't take that much effort, and once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy to Dio. Lastly, I'm gonna show you guys a couple different decorative styles that you can add to any start of lettering, whether it be regular handwriting or cursive, the 1st 1 being the drop shadow. And there's a ton of different styles of drop shadow that I like to use. But the basic premise is to rewrite the word slightly down and slightly to the right or left. I've done a hollow one, as you can see, and then you can also use a colored marker and do the same. Another method would be to have hollow letters and then just have a thicker, darker drop. Shadow gives you a different kind of look as well. I also like using hatching to kind of give it a comic book, very illustrative style. Simple things like this really make your lettering stent out and can make you look like you're more of a professional than you really are. I have kind of blown it up here so you can see in more detail what I am doing. The 1st 1 I just duplicated the letter downwards and to the right, The next one, I did more of a block letter style, and it gives it more of a three d look. And then the last one, I just did lines as an outline. And then I am showing you guys hear a different ways that you can fill in thes drop shadows . Look at how much better that looks, and we did it with minimal effort as well. 5. Doodling: doodles are always a fun, quick and easy way to add a little something extra to your journal or planner, and I have some tricks for you. My first tip would be to simplify your doodles, be saying less is more, goes a really long way for doodles, and it just makes your life a whole lot easier. As you can see on the left, I'm drawing a leaf with all of the details and the veins and the divots, and it took me quite a while to dio. But on the right side I did a doodle of belief that took me three strokes super easy and quick. But you can still definitely tell that it is a leaf now. The exception here is, of course, if you want your doodles to be more detailed, there's nothing wrong with that. I'm just trying to save you guys sometime and make things a little bit easier for you. My next tip would be to try to stick to a theme for a page. It'll make your page look a lot more cohesive and less scattered. Ah, as you can see on the left side, I just kind of drew random things. And then on the right, I stuck to one theme and did multiple doodles within that theme. So I chose stars. So I also did a moon, some shooting stars, twinkle lights. And as you can see, it just goes together a lot better. But of course, as I mentioned, if you prefer the other side, that is totally fine. There's nothing wrong with that. Now I'm gonna be showing you guys a couple of my go to doodles, and I'm also going to be showing you guys how I specifically draw these doodles. The 1st 1 is a branch of leaves. Only have to do is draw a line for a stem and then draw little leaf shapes on either side of the leaf. Going up super easy. I love doing this one. It looks so cute on any page. My next one would be to do a potted plant so kind of a different variations of the leaf that I did above start off with a trapezoid as apart. And then you draw some curved lines spreading out from the pot, and then you can add your leaves to thes stems. Similar kind of idea to the one above, I decided to just do some sort of scalloped pattern on either side of the stem, and it looks like leaves. An added extra detail is to draw a triangle on top, and it makes it look like it's hanging, which is really cute as well. My next couple of doodles are flowers, so you start off with an oval and then you add your pedals sprouting out. From that, you have to make sure that they kind of alternate. So one pedal should start and finish in the middle of the pedal underneath it. I also added a little leaf in the corner, just as an extra little D to the next flower is a daisy, where you start off with a circle and then you draw long petals radiating outwards from that circle, my simplified method of drawing a roses to start off with the center and then spiral out in a rounded, square like pattern as you go outwards. Thes square edges should soften out to be a circle, and it ends up looking like a rose. You can Adam relief in there as well. The last you know, I'm gonna be showing you guys is an oak leaf. You start off with the center line, which is the stem, and then the actual leaf pattern is a wavy line that goes all around this center stem. Those are just some of my go to doodles. But the cool thing is that since we simplified them so much, it's easy to change things up and create different varieties. For example, the leave drawing that would you earlier. If we make the leaves longer, it looks like a palm leaf. If we make them closer together, it looks kind of like a wheat grass, and then you can alternate the leaves as well. You can also do a similar type of thing with the daisy drawing that we drew earlier and just change up thesis eyes of the centre and the size of the pedals. Changing little things like this will triple the size of your doodle toolbox because they all look like completely different things. But the actual method of drawing them was the same 6. Experimenting: I wanted to show you a couple other creative spread ideas that are a bit more experimental , but you might be interested in implementing these into your journal or planner. The first of those are trackers. There are a ton of different types of trackers. There's mood trackers have it trackers, book and movie trackers, diet trackers where you can track whether you're eating, healthy or not. Water trackers where you track, whether you're drinking enough water, budget trackers, expense trackers, all sorts of different things, and it really does help keep you accountable. So again it just depends on your lifestyle and what you are interested in tracking. Here are some of my past trackers. As you can see, these ones were specifically for habit in mood trackers For this layout, I had the numbers going across and then the stuff that I wanted to track going down, and then I would fill it in accordingly, depending on what I did or felt that day. I've also done more artistic layouts like this wheel, where each segment represents a day and you fill it in according to your mood. And another thing that I've done is this leaf layer where each leaf is filled in with a different color, depending on your mood. If you're wanting to stay on a budget and save money about the tracker might be just the thing you need. And if you want to keep track of any grades that you have in school may be a great Straker would be your thing. I wanted to do a demo of me making a tracker because I just want to show you guys how many options there are, how creative you can get with it. And you can make spreads that kind of fit your interests. So one that I've created here is a book tracker. So this would be if you wanted to keep track of any books that you wanted to read, any books that you are reading and any of your favorites. So I'm drawing an outline of a book. This is just a quick doodle again simplifying. And then I put the title of the book on the actual cover. I drawn a couple of them here. You can change up the styles, or it would also be cute to do it. If the book was open on, then essentially what you are going to do is that once you start reading these books or are in the middle of reading these books, that you will fill it in and slowly you'll see that the books will become more and more colored in. I've added stars on the bottom of, um, in order for me to rate the book once I've finished reading it. And this is just for fun, a little creative thing for you to do and for you to practice your doodles for your lettering as well. Now, charters aren't the only thing that you can be creative with. Really, you can do pretty much anything. I wanted to show you some other spreads that I've done. I've done a monthly memories page where I've scrapped, booked and put pictures from the month that just kind of remind me of month. I've done brain dump ages doodle pages. I've also done kind of quote and motivational pages as well as moving lists in random scorches. Just make sure you have fun with your spreads and that they fit your lifestyle 7. Planning & Journaling FAQs: all rights, another of taking you through the basics and the decorative elements. Hopefully, you'll be able to combine them into a beautiful page for your journal or agenda. But now I'm going to be going through a couple frequently asked questions that I get a lot on my YouTube channel. Starting off with Do you have to be good at art in order to journal or agenda? And, of course, the answer is no. You can switch up the style of your journal or agenda in order to fit your needs. If you want to be more creative and artsy with it, you can go full out, incorporate all of the colors and collages and stickers and everything. But if you want to be more minimal with it, you can totally do that as well. You don't even have to doodle a single thing. Maybe go for a more structured look or a monochromatic look. That's totally fine as well. It's just whatever suits your needs. The next question is, when can you start? And do you have to start at the beginning of the year? Can you start midway through? And the answer, of course, is start whenever works best for you. If you want to start in the middle of a random week, that's totally fine. If you want to start at the beating of a school year, that's also fine as well. The best part about customizing your journal or agenda is that there's no rules to it whatsoever. Another question that I get a lot is how long does it take and how do you leave enough time to journal or agenda daily weekly whatever. And the answer to that is again, are you seeing the common theme here? Whatever works best for you if you find that you can only sit down to doodle or do your journaling and agenda once a week, then do more weekly spreads and kind of schedule a time for that. But of course, if you want to do it more frequently, you can schedule out times during the day that you could sit down for a couple minutes, maybe 10 15 minutes and doodle or at a page to your journal, that kind of thing. I think a lot of people feel the pressure to keep up with it daily, and that's just on unrealistic expectation to live up to. In reality, we're gonna be missing a couple days. There might be some weeks weighing. You do to spreads in a day, and there might be some when you just skip it altogether. It's fluid with your schedule, and you shouldn't feel pressure to do it, because all you have to do turn over a new page. 8. Your Project!: So now it's time for your project. We've been through all of the tools and elements needed in order to create an amazing spread, so you should be ready to go. So what I want you to do is choose different styles from each category. So the basic layout, the doodles and the lettering and then combine it into one weekly spread. So, for my example, I chose this version of a weekly layout, and then I'm going to be combining it with the flat, long cursive as well as the leaf doodles and some drop shadowing to accent it. You're going to see how I combine all of these omens to create a beautiful spread. Of course, there are an infinite number of ways that I could have combined all of these. So this is just one way, and every single person is going to do it a little bit differently. But the important part is that you have ideas flowing because you have this creative based knowledge of different elements that you can combine together. It's kind of like a mix and match game where you can choose different elements and then put them together and you'll come out with a different and result every single time. So I've done here my sidebar. And then I added my crosshatched drop shadow, and then for the actual title I did my long cursive. This is where I'm going to be putting my weekly events inside each weekly box. I've used my standard all caps handwriting. I've also decided to choose an accent color, which is green for this, and I'm just using a regular marker to do so. This was super cheap. It's kind of just a kid's markers, so nothing special. Another thing I decided to do was do the numbers in the hollow block letter style. So we're combining so many different things that we've learned from the classes for the headers off the day. I did thes same kind of cursive writing in order to create a cohesive look so that it kind of doesn't look too random. And then I thought it would be nice to incorporate the green accent color within each of these days as well. So I wrote the number of the day underneath the letters. I'm just taking you through my thought process here, so hopefully this will help you when you're thinking off what you want to do for your spreads now we're gonna, of course, incorporate the doodles that we learned which were the leaves. So I decided to do a couple of scattered stems of leaves underneath the weekly sidebar because there's empty space there. And I also thought we might as well throw in the potted plants in here as well just because we learned that in the class, and it kind of goes with the theme as well. This is where the tip that I said earlier about having themed pages comes in handy because it seems like we're incorporating a lot of different things. But since it is one theme, it ends up still looking cohesive. Something else that helps with the cohesion of the page is the accent color. Since we stuck with one color, it really does tie the whole thing together instead of going for crazy, multicolored rainbow. Look, of course, it's up to your personal preference, but personally, I really love the look of a single accent color, and I think it just makes everything look really simple and elegant. I had another empty space, so I thought we might as well, incorporate all of the different styles of lettering that we did. And do you a little motivational quote that says, Get it done. I used the tall and skinny method, and it works perfectly. So here is my finished spread, but I can't wait to see how you guys incorporate all of these different elements into your projects. Make sure you share your finished work in the project showcase down below. You can also check down there to see all of the other classmates work as well for some more inspiration. 9. Outro: Okay, everyone, congratulations. You made it to the end of the class. Hopefully by now, you have a greater knowledge of different ways. You can add creativity into your journals and agendas. Remember to have fun with it. Experiment? There are no rules. You don't need to do exactly what I have done. These are just kind of starting points for you to feel inspired and, you know, sit down and hopefully make your journals and agendas look a little bit more beautiful. We went through the basic elements and we went through the decorative elements. And now you can combine them into a variety of different spreads that suit your needs. I can't wait to see your creations. And the way that you implement the different elements from these classes. I have created a little project for you so you can check out the directions down below. And then, of course, I encourage you to share. You're finished, work in the project showcase, and you can look through all of the other classmates work as well. I can't wait to see what you guys do with it, but anyways, I think that's pretty much it. Thank you guys. So much for tuning into my class. I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to read it and leave a comment if you did have an awesome day and keep doodling by everyone.