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.