The Lord of the Rings Project – Part I

So as promised I have spent some time over the weekend locked away within the solitary confines of my sanctum, working towards this Tolkien inspired project. I managed to get five sketches done in all and experimented with different drawing materials than the usual graphite pencil method I zealously employ.

For my reference and influence I will be using both the books written by the genius JRR Tolkien himself, and the films made by Peter Jackson.

This is only Part One of this project, a series of sketches that I’ve created mainly to get myself into the mindset needed for further artworks.

For Part Two I plan to create a couple of watercolour landscapes of Middle-earth locations, there’s plenty of reference material available to work with and I’ll have to do some research for this before jumping into it in order to choose the perfect locations to work with; again for these watercolour landscapes I won’t be spending days on them, treating them as sketches or studies in order to familiarise myself with the scenery for the final part of the project.

All in all  this project will be documented in five parts, broken down as:

  • Part I – Sketches
  • Part II – Watercolour landscape sketches
  • Part III – Preliminary sketches and drawing for final piece
  • Part IV – Progress of final piece
  • Part V – Final piece and description; more than likely an oil painting (depending on how it goes as I’m completely new to oils.

Okay, now that the formal introduction to the project is done it’s time for the sketches from Part one.

“I have no memory of this place at all!” – Sanguine Dry Pastel on Toned Paper

This is the first of my sketches and it shows the scene where the Fellowship are in the mines of Moria, Gandalf has the party stop in order for him to recollect his previous knowledge of the place in order to know what direction to head in for the exit.

I used a relatively new sanguine dry pastel pencil for this sketch, they’re not the easiest pencils to draw with but they produce beautiful results, especially on the toned paper. I also used a white charcoal pencil for highlights.

“The stars are veiled. Something stirs in the East.” – Charcoal on Toned Paper

Of the sketches this is my least favourite, mainly because my Legolas looks less like an Elf and more like a Medieval doomsayer; I think perhaps I should have sharpened my charcoal pencils a bit more and worked for finer lines. That said however, this was only a quick sketch and it serves its purpose as such, I enjoyed sketching the background mountains.

The blue toned paper worked well for the atmosphere of the scene but with hindsight I would have used a slightly darker blue, still I live and learn.

Frodo's Flight from Amon Hen - Charcoal on Toned Paper
Frodo’s Flight from Amon Hen – Charcoal on Toned Paper

This sketch shows the scene when Frodo is fleeing from Amon Hen, having made the decision to break away from the Fellowship and go it alone to Mordor, he flees towards the boats in order to slip away unnoticed.

The sheer simplicity of the surrounding elements of this sketch really appealed to me in the creation of it, I used to be so anally retentive when drawing and would have depicted every single tree in the background rather than the scratchy lines that I have put there.

The freedom of sketching used to be something of a myth to me as I was always so concerned with detail and not the fluid motion of marking the surface with a quick, rough interpretation; something  that can worked into more at a later date if need be, or used as a foundation to recreate the scene again but in a finer detail.

Weathertop - Charcoal on Toned Paper
Weathertop – Charcoal on Toned Paper

Opting to sketch a landscape scene, I chose to draw the ruins of Weathertop or Amon Sul. During the reign of Elendil, the Dunedain of Arnor built a watchtower on its summit and installed a Palantir there.

This is also the location where Frodo was stabbed by the Witch-King with a Morgul blade.

Sketching this piece was a great pleasure as I love both landscapes and ruins.

Portrait of Frodo Baggins - Graphite Pencil on Paper
The Ringbearer; Portrait of Frodo Baggins – Graphite Pencil on Paper

This piece I spent the most time on and possibly overworked it in areas but again it was a good experience and also a great learning curve for portrait drawing.

I actually considered creating my final piece for this project as a portrait of one of the members of the Fellowship but reconsidered as my goal is to create narrative artworks so I’m going down that route instead.

Tolkien created a very strong character in Frodo and a character who faces extremely challenging circumstances which affect him both mentally and physically. I chose this portrait as I believe it shows some of the mental anguish of the ringbearer and the burden that he bears.

Anyway, that’s about it for Part I and I hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing the sketches I’ve created for it and I look forward to posting again with Part II; this should be ready in a fortnight and will be available to find under my Art Projects page if you miss it when posted originally.

Please feel free to leave any feedback on this post or my work and also to make any suggestions of Lord of the Rings scenes you would like to see; I’m strictly focusing on Lord of the Rings for this project though and I may do another project for The Hobbit at a later date.

Until next time, take care and thanks for reading!


11 thoughts on “The Lord of the Rings Project – Part I

    1. Thank you very much for the feedback and I think evetybody is their own worst critic, I find it a task to post my work but force myself to. All I can say really is practice and keep doing it it all gets better the more you work at it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great sketches! I do like the Legolas one – it works well, also love those mountains. And the sketch of Frodo’s flight from Amon Hen reminds me of Tolkien’s own artwork, has a ‘faerie’ quality about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, that is such a compliment indeed, I’ve started drawing up my final piece to culminate the project and it has been nice to work in more detail, although there is a lot of good with the faster looser sketches.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, it certainly helps to work with on something like this and that I have a passion for, so much source material as well that one could never fall short of ideas for artworks.

        Liked by 1 person

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