The Art & Design of Ryan Livingston

Claddagh Hawk

Digital art deco-ish, art nouveau-ish depiction of a hawk with a claddagh shaped face.

Behind the Scenes

So, I had recently come across an old Claddagh Ring which was the starting point of this project. After adding the oval under it I began to see the bird in it (the claddagh bit as the eyes, the oval as the beak). Down further came the jeweled “wishbone” and out came the wings.

claddah hawkBy this time I’d been imagining the now psudo-claddagh in the center as a helmet for the bird, so the feathers grew in as chainmail/ scale mail, and that I was going to eventually go with gold and silver for the colors. The shoulders seemed a little too plain so I added snakes for the heck of it (hey Irish claddagh, St. Patrick and the snakes… it fits). Bit of frame on it, scanned it in and got to work in Illustrator.

I’m still finding my way with illustrator and the pen tool. On this project I had just learned about the “Width Tool,” and oh man do I like it now. It makes lines taper off more naturally as if you’d drawn them with ink, or had been able to wrap your head around a pressure sensitive tablet (alas my hand eye coordination lacks with the wacom). Short story long, a week later I had learned a bunch! And had lines to import into Photoshop.

The blacks in this were all overlaid with combo of grunges and filters. In the original sketch I had really been loose filing in large areas of dark. I wanted to keep this somehow as I thought just solid black would be way to bland. Once it was all colored in, I added another layer of noise and a little HDR toning to pull it all together. I say pull it all together as by this time I was working in tow separate files – the frame and background as one and the central hawk as another. I never knew a file could get so large so quick! And bring 8gigs of RAM to a hault! Anyway…

I had wanted to change the title of this as the claddagh in the Claddagh Hawk wasn’t as prominent anymore, but it stuck. Claddagh Hawk had become a finalist in the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) 2012 Guru Awards. Didn’t win, but man was it trippy to see you work up on the movie screen during the Photoshop World key note address! And here I thought 24×36 was big!

A Tale To Tell


This is a draft of a fable I’m working on based upon staring at this thing for too long :p

Cara’s Hawk:

The village was a mile or so from the river back in those days, and irrigation was a luxury yet unable to go up hill. The task of getting the day’s water befell the children.

Everyday, before chores or school (depending which part of the village you haled), most of the children would gather and head to the river together to bring back the daily supply. It was safer and more efficient this way. Most children, that is, except for Cara.

Cara would routinely leave well before the group. She wanted to play with the turtles before the rest came and scared them off.

Then one day in the spring, as the forest came alive with the newly hatched, Cara headed out as she always did. This time, she happened upon a fledgling hawk along the way who fell out of it’s tree. Cara did what only seemed right and climbed the tree to return the young bird to it’s nest.

By the time she got to the river the rest of the children had arrived and scared off the turtles. Cara shrugged and knew there was always tomorrow.

The next day it happened again, the fledgling hawk was again out of it’s nest. Cara again returned it, and again missed her play date with the turtles.

This would play out again for four more days.

By the end of the week, as Cara again passed the tree, she saw the hawk just sitting in the nest. “Don’t give up,” Cara said, “the Great Hawk Spirit will show you favor soon!” The hawk sighed. Cara climbed the tree and consolingly petted the hawk before heading on to the river.

Luckily, despite her detour this time, it appeared the other children hadn’t arrived yet to scare off her turtles. However, instead of her turtles there were two vipers waiting for her! Cara let out a shout as she got cornered by the snakes.

Hearing the scream, the hawk immediately spread its wings and flew to Cara’s aid. It swooped in and lifted the snakes high into the sky, saving Cara’s life.

Seeing this, the Great Hawk did indeed show favor on Cara’s hawk, adding him to the pantheon of guardians and giving him a silver helmet in the shape of the Claddagh, representing the protective power of friendship!

Still working on it, my writing is indeed rusty.


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