Sunday, July 16, 2017

All watercolors, all the time!

I have some exciting news to share, if you've been missing the original look of 'Breaking Cat News'! Starting next week, (on July 24th, I believe!) the daily Monday-Saturday strips will be in watercolor too, just like the Sunday strips! If your local paper is in color, they will be in full color. If your local newspaper prints in black and white, you may notice a few soft gray washes added into the mix!

"But, Georgia, in your last post you said the strips would be digitally colored going forward!"

I did, and at the time I felt like that would be a good balance for me. When I was creating the web strips 2014-2016, I was painting at least 4-5 full pages a week. During specials, I was sometimes painting between full 5-10 pages a week. I have two small children and having a colorist sounded like a great way to free up some time.

And it did! I worked hard on creating a schedule with my editor. I cut my workload way down. Now I was writing and inking two pages of dailies a week. I went from painting 4-5 full pages to painting just about a half a page a week; the Sunday strip!

And boy... I was miserable. Don't get me wrong, I was SO HAPPY to finally be in newspapers! And the colorist was doing terrific work, the comic looked great! I should have had no complaints! Only a crazy person would complain, right? It's just... I love painting. More than anything else, I love to paint. I missed watercoloring all of the comic so much. It's my favorite step. And we discovered pretty quick, painting is actually a huge part of my writing process. It clears my head. It's a sort of colorful meditation. While my hand works, my mind empties, and new jokes and stories for the comic start popping into my head. I've always kept notebooks next to me to write out quick ideas--and somehow never connected what a big role painting played in brainstorming for me. Now, with one night of painting a week, my creative gears ground to a halt. I was still chugging along, but it felt like I was driving uphill in the sand.

By the time this was realized, the Sunday strips had been printing without issue. I talked to my editor about how hard it was for me to not paint the daily strips. She knew I had worried about this a bit, and had assured me before that if it did not feel right, I could always return to painting the comic again. The Sundays had gone well enough that we had reason to believe the dailies would print very much the same. I was working on the last full week in July. I watercolored those strips to see how much time it would take. It fell back into my routine very naturally, so I kept going. I'm still working a much more balanced schedule than when I was making the web strips. Now I write the roughs for a new week, and ink and paint the roughs for the week before. I'm writing, I'm inking/painting, and it's always something new! I'm almost into October, and I love this new schedule. It's a little more work, but it works for me. I have the time I need to write with an empty mind, so to speak, and that auto-pilot mode somehow pulls ideas to the surface. I can't explain it. I don't want to examine it. It just works, and it feels great.

I'm really grateful that I work with people who would try to think of ways to save me time, and equally grateful that I can be honest with them when I'm struggling and why. Every creative person works very differently. You may need to work against a deadline in the middle of the night. You may need to plot out each step and give yourself a few extra weeks. Stress may fuel you, or you need to not feel pressured. Maybe you skip penciling altogether, maybe you love a non-photo blue pencil, maybe you live for the way a digital stylus feels in your hand. We're all different, and if it works for us--it works! The first 150 so BCN strips, I had to paint the news desk first, before I did anything else. Do you know why? I have no idea. It worked. It felt like a ritual and I needed that little first step then. It was steadying and comfortable.

And for some reason, it was really hard for me to find myself painting less. My whole routine felt off. I'm really excited the dailies will be in watercolors now too.

So, let's take a look at how the new dailies come together, and catch a peek at what a black and white daily will look like!

Here are two sample panels from a BCN strip coming up in September! Long time readers will immediately recognize this story line, I hope. :) I'm thrilled I had a chance to revisit this one. When I first wrote it, I was exhausted. I had the idea and created it the best I could, but I was so, so tired. The idea was bigger than my energy that night, but I was working against a deadline. (I know now that I was pregnant with Gwen then. It would be a few weeks still before we found out :) ) I did not save the penciling rough for these new panels, alas, so let's begin with the ink phase:

I ink the panels and the artwork, scan it, and darken the lines in Photoshop.

Then, I paint watercolors over the inked artwork and scan the page a second time.

Next, I line up the inked scan and the painted scan. Honestly,
this step is the biggest pain in the tail of the whole process, lol!
However--here they are, and they lined up right! HUZZAH!!

Next, I add the text, any station identifiers/live signs, and the copyright and
web address info. The font was created using my own handwriting, and yes,
it feels really surreal every time I type my own handwriting, haha! We
created this so that if I misspell or leave out a word, my editor can
go in and fix it easily. THE FUTURE IS NOW!

After that, I save the strips and send them off to my editor! These are examples of what the painted dailies will look like in color. When I began painting them, I played around with how to keep the watercolor washes for the newspapers that print in black and white. I love the soft look of watercolors, and the black and white lines-only strips have looked a little stark to me, but I wasn't sure how to balance them. One of the artwork editors at GoComics gave me advice on how to keep my lines crisp and how dark/light the black and white washes should be for print. I'm very thankful I can ask someone in the GoComics office these things, because that part of the process does not come very easily to me.

This is how the strip will look in black and white!

There you have it! Watercolors are coming, get ready! Hopefully this is good news, I hope you're excited! They should begin on July 24th, if I have remembered correctly. If I have not, they begin the the last full week of July, I'm certain.

I'll write up a more personal blog post soon about some of the things going on in our lives. It's been an eventful summer! Good things, all good things! For now, I wanted to announce the return of the watercolored dailies--before I forgot and they changed one day and everyone was left scratching their heads!

I hope everyone is having a great July! If you see any June bugs whizzing by, you know it's just a certain fellow buzzing by to say hello!

Sophie enjoying her painting time and waving hello to the July bug.


  1. I am glad. Your artwork is delightful!

  2. I am so very excited for watercolored dailies! I love the subtleties of the colors and the "home-made" feel of it. Mostly, though, I'm happy because it makes you happy!

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!

  4. I am so happy that you want to return to watercolors. Lucky has not looked right to me and I am glad to have the old boy back.

  5. I see that Sophie is painting with mustard!

  6. If you are happy, we are happy (but I'm glad for the return of the watercolours).

  7. Georgia, this is great news, especially about how you'll be enjoying it more. I've one question, though: Will Pucky remain *black* or will he once again be dark grey?

  8. I'm so happy! I hope it works out well for you!

  9. Georgia, whatever you do looks great to me. I am happy to hear that this process works well for you but would read BCN if you did it in blunt crayons and used match sticks. You have such a gift for story lines and illustration, and a wonderful way of integrating the true to life with the imagined. No matter what, BCN is my first stop every morning and, if it counts for anything, you are the sole reason I signed on as a go comics insider. I just read you, and for my fifty cents a week I get a world in return.


  10. Still love the comic and looked forward to your lovely painting on the Sunday strips. wonderful news that you will be doing them all again, and even better that it's what you want! Thank-you for sharing your talents with us.

  11. This is great news, Georgia! I read BCN on GoComics and have missed the watercolors. They were the first thing that drew me to your strips. Of course, now I know they are special in so many ways. I'm glad this works for you.


  12. I know this is an odd question and please forgive me ;).. also because I imagine how you enjoy coloring with watercolors, I had been painting with both oil and watercolors for years... but... do you know the software ArtRage? I moved and left my colors on the other continent but this software is as near as real painting as you can imagine. (NOT at all like photoshop or the like) Just asking if you heard about it... Keep up this enjoyable work !

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I have not! That sounds like it would be a lot of fun to work with. The painting process itself is a lot of the love for me, though. I love the actual splashes and mess of paint, the smells, how the paper feels, and I like being able to paint anywhere and not being chained to a power outlet. Odd to admit, but I paint in the bathtub a lot, too, using a flat board I put over the sides. Tablet painting could literally be the end of me, lol!!

    3. I can well imagine that you'd be able to work with both, just using one or the other according to moments! One doesn't exclude the other. (website is just artrage . com. I'm just a user, I don't cash in from them ;) )
      btw, Puck is my favorite ;) don't tell the others !

    4. Thank you for telling me about it! I am curious to try it out!

  13. I'm thrilled to see the water colors on a comeback, joining your incredible wit and total insight into the world of CAT. All of which brighten my morning.


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