Wednesday, December 18, 2013

So yeah, that was fun!

I had a lot of fun with the stream this week; and I think I'm gonna stick to that format from now on- at 7.30 I post 3 thumbs, and leave it for YOU THE PEOPLE to vote on your favourite for one hour. A was voted on this year, and after a bit of liney liney I finally got to the fun colouredy part.

This is by no means a finished product; when I get a few hours of downtime I'll go back and put another pass on this. But yeah, I'm happy with how it's looking so far!

For anyone who wants to come along, voting will take place on twitter (@ciaranlucas) or over at my facebook page. Streaming's on every Monday at 8.30pm Irish time!

Usually I'll be listening to game soundtracks or some ambient stuff if you just fancy a listen ;)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I won't take this sitting down!

I once heard a great piece of advice; never skimp on shoes or beds, because if you're not in one then you're in the other. Great, but for a large amount of us, not very accurate.


Ergonomic Orthopaedic (Systematic Hyyyyyydromatic, why, it's Greased Lightning) chairs are all the rage. Expensive, at times uncomfortable but proven to be GOOD for you, especially if you're in the business of sitting down and drawing for a million hours.
But what if you don't have 500 quid to shell out on a fancy chair? Are backaches and sores the only port of call, or is there something you can do about it?

First, you could start by getting up and walking around more. Good for the head, and good for the muscles. Usually I'm up and down every 40 minutes or so for a minute or two; either a natural break or a break called by nature. Tea, the cause and solution to all of life's problems.

Secondly, you can be careful of your posture. You should be sitting up straight while you work, and not some extreme of slouched under your desk or clambered over your Wacom like it's your 'precioussss'
To help with this, check the height of your monitor. The top of your monitor should be in line with your eye level when you're sitting correctly. This is where phone books can still come in handy on a daily basis.

But something I've been wanting to try is working at a standing station, so I've begun today. I instantly felt more alert, and being able to look away or move about much freer felt significantly less constricting than I realised I'd been using a standard setup. I had a large box to elevate my intuos and keyboard, and while it wasn't quite big enough, it didn't put me off. My shoes were definitely not comfortable enough, but it's absolutely something I'm going to keep trying out.

I looked online for rising/sinking workstations, but I'm not paying 500 quid when I can juse take my monitor off my tower and keep a box beside my desk. Right now though, I'm sitting down, and not-sure-if-related, ready for some sleep.

But first, I have some colouring to do.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekly Roundup

I was really not feeling it last week when it came to me painting, so I set myself some exercises.
The first was to paint 3 things in the same file, on top of each other. The first three are the result of this. It's a great way to vent your brain; if you see a pattern or theme you can work with it, or if not you can ditch it and move on. I was in Paris last weekend, so cue urban spaces and airports :D 

I did miss my stream last week, so I did a quick pic up later in the week. Was really unhappy with how it turned out, and after two hours of hammering away I realised that using photo textures in my work changes the feel SIGNIFICANTLY, and not necessarily in a way I can comfortably control. The version below is before I got stuck in with photobanging galore, and to be honest I'm happier with it at this point.

In search of comparison, I looked at some of my favourite artists, and they didn't seem to use it all that much, so I decided for this week to shelf that tool and just paint something straight off the bat. I did some playing with design first out, and then knocked this one out for fun.

Oh , and if you're interested in catching these fresh off the presses, check out my twitter account @ciaranlucas :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013


So, every year I do a Ratchet and Clank pic, and with Into the Nexus fresh off the presses and big spacewalky adventures in the trailer I couldn't resist giving this a shot. FUN.

Last year's offering can be found here (and there's links to all the older ones from there, if you'd like an embarrassing look at my fanarts through the years ;)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Gonna be Streaming ;)

So I'm gonna be streaming while I work on my annual Ratchet and Clank picture in about 2 hours over at 
Feel free to drop in and say 'hi' or other words; I'm cool with the english language ;)
 photo ratchet2013b_zps7593d595.jpg

Friday, November 8, 2013

Weekly Roundup

Wow, that week really flew in!

This one took up a _lot_ of my time, but I wanted to bring out some of the stuff I'd learned over the past months and put it into a personal painting and finish it to a level where I was happy with it. 

In sort of a flipside to the earlier one, I'm really not all that happy with how this turned out. Anthro characters can either be cute or creepy, and I hadn't tried to draw a Chow before. In the heel of the hunt, it ended up on the creepy side of the fence. Boo. Learn and move on. I was playing with a new technique too, and SOME of it worked.

The time I'd burned on that chow picture was bothering me, so I did one or two spitpaints to bring the speed back up. Warden and War Ghost. Warden was fun because I wanted to play on expressions more than anything else, and am happy with the result. 

 It's November, which means it's time to start work on my Ratchet pic for this year. For those of you that don't know, I have done a Ratchet and Clank fanart every year since 2004, and use it as a metric for whether or not I've improved. So, every year I realllllly try and push the boat out, and with Into the Nexus coming out I get to play around in SPACE. Hopefully next year I'll be on a buzz from the movie.
 I might hold off on colouring this one until next week's stream.

If not, I'll find something else fun for ye to watch. If you want to make any suggestions for stuff you'd like to see, hit me up here or on twitter @ciaranlucas 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Unusual Visitor

So here's a breakdown of the picture I did for the stream last night for any of you that missed it.
Originally this was gonna be a 30 minute spitpaint, but after about 25 mins in I thought 'well, I could fix that pose, or play up the old lady's design and go to town on the whole thing' I did! 
I spent a bit of time on the linework; I wanted to have a bit more of a solid environment than some of the other work I've been doing lately, as well as play with the design of the old lady.

I started using a thinner line for my inking, which has thrown my scripts out of whack so there was a LOT of painting back into the flats. Next time I'll just work A3 and double up my brush if my computer can handle it. At least that's the boring bit over!

I did some quick lighting studies; originally I wanted to have the strong downlight with the lamp providing some rimlight but folks in the stream liked this version. Reallllly fast and loose, and definitely my favourite bit of the whole thing.

LOTTTTTS of rendering. The bug was fun; I haven't really painted that many insects before so it was a fun challenge.

 Some  texturing to finish it off...was a lot of fun to use floral patterns I'd usually balk at. But yeah, a lot of fun. Hope you like it!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Weekly Roundup: Week the Second!

A couple of years ago, I was having a bad day and I doodled a baby panda. A couple of days ago, I was having a bad day and I drew a this. Much like the panda, it's innacurate, doodley and just a bit of a vent. 

I didn't get to do many spitpaints this week, but I did do one or two. So some forests and firetemples, capped at 30 mins.
The speed of the spitpaints has really come in handy for quick colour thumbs and colour scripting. It's pushed me down more of a select-it-and-go mentality, and pushed a blockier Mary Blair inspired approach. I've been hesitant of going that route for years, but I'm finding it very freeing and totally something I'm gonna play more with in the future.

I was trying a few different things in the stream, and after playing a bit of Skyrim decided to draw this fellow. Only when I was finishing did I think that sword looked a bit familiar. Oh well, I like it anyway.

 Last up is some games work for Brindysoft that I'm allowed to show. Chris Brind  is a joy to work with and I had a lot of fun mixing up different approaches for this one :D

 I've also been doing some Gallery of Mo Mo'traits  and if you'd like one of my very limited number of portraits get in touch through the site. All in aid of Movember!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

This Week: Roundup

So a quick recap of some of the stuff I've been up to this week. First up, a WHOLE LOT of figure studies. I learned long ago that when something's not working for you, you need to go back to the basics and rely on your fundamentals.

"Mastery is based on mastering the basics." 

I then tried to put some of that into practice with this warmup that went on a little far, and brought back some Darklight characters from the ethereal abyss into which they had fallen. 

I polled on twitter (@ciaranlucas) on suggestions for the Monday night Livestream, and I got 'a werewolf; something fantasy'. Here's what I came up with. Thanks to everyone who dropped by, and if you want to catch the next one it'll be every Monday at 20:30 GMT at 
Alternatively, the streams for old sessions are going to be up there from now on as well if you'd like to check them out. 

 This was also from the stream; another tweet had asked for more inky things like the Darklight picture, and a quick poll of some thumbnails voted this little lady to be the warm down for the night.

Recently, Paul Canavan turned me on to the Daily Spitpaint group, where a number of themes are given and you have 30 minutes to complete an image based on the theme. No photo textures are allowed- just cold hard digital paint. This was my first offering, under the heading water spell. 

That's more or less all the fun stuff I've been working on so far this week; I've a lot more work from the Seed Project, but I'm saving that up for a post all of its own :) 

Have you been working on anything awesome that you can show? I'm really interested to see what people who read this are getting up to in their arting hours.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


When I found out that I had a bit of downtime, I said to myself that I would work on a personal project. I'd avoid falling into a game like Skyrim again and either make a comic, or a short film. That decided, I was faced by the overwhelming fear of starting something new.

Now, usually I squash this by diving straight in, and working out the kinks as I go. One thing that Darklight showed me is that this is, to an extent, a bad idea. I hadn't taken the time to nail the look and feel of that world, or give the script enough attention. It felt rushed, but this was more a case of patchworking problems than an overly tight turnaround.

So I'm doing things differently this time around. After doing my first serious draft, I got some help from friends that I trust- writers and content creators in their own right, and with the right mentality towards wanting to create new and original content.

Their feedback has been intrinsic to how I'm moving forward, and I'm still trying to hammer out better ways of working things based on their advice. It's not immediate though, and it can be incredibly frustrating to try and problem solve. Frustrating, and fun.

Another issue that hindered me last time was feeling weak at my figure drawing, and having worked mainly in environments for the past three years, the sense is much more acute this time. A friend commented recently that I 'wasn't really a character guy', and it set off all sorts of alarm bells when it came to beginning a personal project.

So I decided to pretend I was on a figure drawing course.

I start the day with a few warm up gestures, and try and remember what I handled the previous day. I then crack open a textbook or two, most notably George Bridgman's 'Constructive Anatomy' and go through it from start to finish. I read every word, and google anything I don't understand fully for clearer illustrations. I then draw the poses in the book, trying to understand why each mark is made instead of just copying rote.
Lastly, I attempt my own drawings, and see how they compare. If I haven't gotten it, I go back and start again.

So far, I can feel the weakness in the areas I haven't studied properly yet, and am a lot more ambitious with areas like the hands which previously I would have avoided. So that's a good start! I'm giving myself another day for studying, and maybe a half a day for just reviewing the whole lot before getting down to brass tacks on this project.

Next in terms of drawing, there'll be some style exploration and trying to peel back and cartoon enough that I won't be drawing forever when I'm in production. Then we'll have some environment design, some secondary characters and then on to the main event :)

Every aspect is difficult and terrifying, matched only by how much fun it'll all be.
My TV broke a few hours ago. I guess that's an added incentive to get work done :D

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Trying new things

So Paint Tool Sai has been recommended to me for the longest time, and I finally got a trial version of it. It does have an awful lot going for it. The brush work is possibly the best I've seen, and also borrows some of the wet media approaches and colour palettes from Painter (a program I'd love to use on a regular basis, but has a long-standing grudge against my Intuous 3).
So I decided to mix up trying my hand at this and copying a masterwork quite quickly, and with credit to Mr Caravaggio we have this

The colour palette was definitely a big boon for me; without having to click into anything to select colours I could bounce back and forth only once or twice using the inkdropper. This meant more vivid colour choices,  and a quicker turnaround. I was also looking a lot at underpainting and the effect on the final form. Was definitely a very interesting exercise, and hopefully I'll bounce back into SAI much quicker with the knowledge that it accomodates some of my preferences so well.

The actual UI is a few versions from looking truly slick, but it definitely gets a painterly job done.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Backburner Frontwarmer

It's been a few years since I put out my own book. I've learned a lot since then, about a lot of things. Most importantly though, it's been asking for help.

I hate asking for help. It makes me feel insecure, stupid and incompetent when the truth is very literally the opposite. Nobody is a master of everything, and different people's experience and insights can provide solutions to problems you might not even be aware of.

Nothing good is ever made by one person alone, and to forego getting help is to sacrifice the quality of the product you're trying to make. I'm waiting to hear back from a select few people I trust. Frankly, I'm terrified.

But something my brother once said to me, and it's stuck in my brain since;

"There's no comfort in the growth zone, and no growth in the comfort zone. "

I'm looking forward to this, though. My last goal for the year is to put out an art book, and that's gone through some iterations as to what exactly that would be but now is settling into something I'll (hopefully) be proud of until I resentfully try and top it with whatever I do next. 

The process of its creation will be quite public, and once I have the script locked down I'll be doing regular streams and updates on the project with character designs, background designs and- depending on what the final medium is to be- actual building of the pages all on camera. 

If I go the short film route, it'll be the basis of the 'Art of' book, which is something I've always wanted to make and if it's a comic there'll be more to watch. 

Either way, I'm pumped, and I hope you guys like it too. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Back in the swing

I've a number of different skillsets under my belt, and they overlap in strange and wonderful ways. I work as a background artist, illustrator and comic colourist. From a layman's perspective, they could come off as being more or less the same thing.

I'm back colouring comics for the first time in a while, and as always, the first page is always painful to work through. Firstly, it's the only job I do where I'm not technically drawing anything. Everything else allows building, adding, fixing.

Colouring has you in a purely supportive role; what has been done before you is set in stone and that is what you work with. I've worked with artists of many different skill levels and you can see in the great ones how much time and consideration has been put into the visual weight of each element. Even doing colour holds upsets that balance, and you are literally messing with their storytelling.

Over a longer run, a rapport and understanding can be built in an art team, and you can tell where you can push the envelope or where to play it safe. Page 1 though, it's still too soon to know, so it's safe all the way.

Technically, there's different tricks to flatting and colouring other people's lines and this takes a while to get used to, and learning how to compliment each artist's visual language.
It's not uncommon for me to colour a first page two or three times, just so I get used to the lines, the tone of the story and what is feasible to get done under deadline. Putting in that work early on will save you from going over the top and overburdening yourself later on.

For some of the more novice art teams, the penciller is still getting used to the story as well, so page one will usually host a lot of superfluous traits that may be honed as the book progresses. Things like how clean the lineart is, resolutions, borders and so on are for a lot of people mistakes yet to be made and usually will only be made once. So teams grow, and get better, and great books get made.

There are some small things that make life incredibly awkward for people further down the chain This is why I recommend that anyone wanting to work in any creative collaborative field should try AS MANY of the different disciplines in their field as possible. Harper Lee said it best

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

I've immense respect for everyone in every part of the comics machine, and I do my best to give as much leeway as possible in any project I work on. After all, it is a process, sometimes clunky at first but can become a great adventure that lets you do cool and different things. Already, three pages in today it's like the gears have been greased and I'm back having fun.

Speaking of which, it's time to get back to work :D

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Couldn't let the finale pass without doing SOMETHING to mark it. Some Heisenberg for you.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Blogger I'm cheating on you

I'm trying to get my website overhauled, so I'm looking into wordpress, some from scratch-HTML builds and one or two new suprises. In the meantime, here's an update on that picture I was working on the other day.
The thing about this approach is you really need to slow down and be methodical. I got sloppy on this one early on and ended up rendering a bit on my flats layer, which bit me in the ass later on. Also, I need to refine that when I work in thinner lines I should up my resolution so that my filling scripts don't go haywire which is sort of what happened here.
Learning though; got to play with some depth dissociation through colour here. Also got to  play with brush shapes and try driving a subtle more graphic approach in an otherwise painty landscape.
All going well I'll be doing a lot of painting next week, so hopefully I'll be nicely warmed up by the time it get to my evening-tide excursions.
I can't wait. But first, I depart on holiday with the family. I doubt there'll be any internet, but I will be doing up some pictures to be sold at DICE next weekend.

...or I'll do some dramatic watercolours of the Atlantic coast., both of them sound fun.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Through the Woods WIP

A few months ago I did a loose little doodle that I was quite happy with, and I'm finally getting around to giving a proper going over. I'm looking to capture the approach of some of my day-job stuff and mix it with my own colour palettes and little flourishes, so this is a bit experimental.

I usually fine line my character work, but looking through my personal environment work I seem to stick to splodges of colour and refining as I go. As a technique I love that approach- changes are instantaneous and nothing is ever locked down, right up until the final save. In animation production, however, lines get signed off on first so everything has to be thought out and placed first.

There are definitely benefits to this approach; once you finish the linework it's exactly like a comics workflow in many respects. I've worked out some quick ways to flat out pages in colour, and they all apply in situations like this.
Also, with everything planned you can line out seperate planes for easier rendering later on. This doesn't help *that* much for me because if I'm being clean, I always refer to my flats for selections anyway. If I do go lineless later on, it'll still stand to me. Similarly, line holds are much easier to manage.

The biggest disadvantage is it drawing a line in the sand in terms of design. About 3/4 of the way through doing those trees (all the background, and half of the foreground) I thought 'what if they were all curled and gnarled, and the stones were taller so it draws the eye more'...not much use to me after an hour or two of inking.Were I just splodging along in paint I'd have painted straight over, but my hands were tied unless I wanted to draw a whole lot of trees all over again.

So for finished designs, yay it's a win, but for evolving designs on the page it's an absolute killer.

I'll update again with this as I go, and it should be interesting to see how the rendering process will be affected. Fingers crossed!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Streaming Done!

Was streaming earlier at   - hopefully it'll become a regular event from here on out.

I had a blast, and thanks to everyone who stopped by and spread the word.

Here's where I'm at on this, definitely closer but a long ways off being happy with it. Had a LOT of fun designing the lizard creatures, will definitely do this back-and-forth creature vs landscape design thing again. Yeah, this is fun. I'm actually really looking forward to the polishing pass.

Some quick things I've learned on this
-Name your layers. FROM THE START
-Grouping objects/layers is your friend.
-Starting off with a greyscale render is fine but it loses oomph when you try and convert it to colour. Still trying to work around it. Doing a colour thumb on another layer before you render your greys definitely helps.
-I need to play around constructively with channels some more. I have ideas that SHOULD be simple that I can't quite do without just painting it out straight.
-Preparation is ALWAYS worth it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I love this part

The one thing I'm always very wary of when I'm working in-studio is finding time to work on my own things. Doodles are doable, and the odd bit of sketchbook work is definitely feasible, but it takes a significantly greater scheduling commitment to dedicate seven or eight hours on a finished pic.

Hence, I've been doing a lot of cel shaded stuff and speedpaints as of late, but I'm trying out a new approach and giving about an hour to any night I'm home to chipping away at a bigger picture. My initial brief to myself was much more constricting, and that'll reveal itself in time but for now it's all about putting in the time and getting something done that's just for practice and just for me.

So I've been working on this the last two nights. at about an hour a night, and I realised that THIS is my favourite part. Not the thumbnailing or the finishing, but where you get to go in and add the visual style to a picture.  Right now I'm going all CURVY SPIKY with everything, in honour of Mr Lizard who will probably be redesigned to suit his environment when I'm done with the rest. Actually rendering out surfaces and finishes has its own unique glee, but this is where it feels most like I'm putting my own stamp on a picture.

That's sort of the point with personal stuff. Stamping yourself on the page

Anyways, all going according to plan there'll be updates on this picture as it nears completion (WAY off yet) and I'll have a little WIPPY GIFFY thing to go with it in case anyone's interested as well as some master studies and whatever else I think is super important and needs to be done before laundry and other practical things.

If anyone has any suggestions of artists (or architects, philiosophers, or ANY field) that you think are cool/relevant/worth looking at, please let me know! Knowledge is power and all that jazz :D

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Out sick at the moment, so decided to do at least ONE THING whilst sitting here staring into space. Irish Sketch Society are doing Self Portraits this week, so I thought that's as good as anything else.
It actually hammered home a few things I really need to pay more attention to.
Mostly in the vein of photoreference, building forms and how they relate in 3d space, and not taking all day on something. I'd wanted to do a bunch as a demo of different approaches, but the being-sick thing has kicked in so I'm gonna crawl back to bed.
But, hey, SOMETHING!

Friday, August 16, 2013

This week's doodles

It's weird, the more specific my day job gets, the more abstract my home stuff gets. There's days where I come home and literally throw colour around in pure abstraction, but that's not really where I want to ultimately head. So here's some warm-downs from this week. Not finished by a long stretch, just for lulz. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I have NO idea. Should maybe have painted a Pond considering a time vortex kind of thing happened, but just played around anyway and THIS happened.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Warm Downs

These are just some quick ten/twenty minute doodles (maybe? I wasn't timing) BUT ANYWAY, I was just playing around with splodges of colour, and seeing what happened. Deliberately loose and fun. There's enough staying between the lines during the day :D