Layout sketch v.0.7
Ok, Im going to reveal my prrreciousss.. "eternal WIP project" - something that I dont know if Ill ever manage to complete. But Im hoping that this fine community might help me in this task by providing feedback and discussing ideas! Id really appreciate if anyone familiar with Tolkiens books / characters / heraldry / languages would take the time to read the (very long - sorry.. ) description below and help me out.
The sketch might not look like much yet, but believe it or not theres already hundreds of hours of work spanning several years behind it! Ive wanted to draw a "Lords of the Noldor" triptych for almost two decades.. ever since I first read the Silmarillion. Its supposed to be a big three-piece "family portrait" of Finwë and the two first generations of his descendants, posing at the great hall of the kings house upon Túna, sometime during the heyday of the Age of Trees, when everything still seemed beautiful and peaceful in paradise...
I made some sketches for a large watercolour version already some 15 years ago, but I never got very far with that one. About two years ago, when I started drawing more again, I remembered the idea and made this sketch as an initial study for some of the characters.
A bit later I ran across =elegaers elven heraldry designs and was completely blown away.. I decided that if Im ever going to do this triptych, I must include the heraldry in it! I made a lot of heraldry designs and some layout sketches already back then, but Ive been constantly too busy to get started on this big an undertaking.
Even though I have very little time to spare for anything save work nowadays I figured Ill never finish it if I never get started! So, I thought I might actually start working on it on the side, one small piece (=one character) at a time, if I just made up my mind about the general layout, background architecture, character placing, poses and heights, etc. So I dug up my layout sketch from two years ago and revised it, and this is what I came up with.
The basic concept is simply three A3 size (actually 2x 7200x4800px and 1x 6000x6000px digital) panels, featuring Finwë and his five children in the middle panel and the second generation of his descendants in the wing panels; the seven sons of Fëanor in the left-hand side and the eight children of Fingolfin and Finarfin on the right-hand side. The diamond (male) and circle (female) shapes at the top are frames for the heraldic emblems of these individuals.
Its still very rough and Im going to work on the frame design later, but for now Im still looking for a good way to place all the elements. Inside the frame I constructed a simple interior perspective sketch for the background and character heights for placing the people in it.
The characters in the drawing are organised in order of age (the eldest are closer to Finwë, who is in middle). They are from left to right:
Left panel: Amrod, Amras, Caranthir, Curufin, Celegorm, Maglor, Maedhros;
Middle panel: (Míriel statue), Fëanor, Finwë, Findis, Fingolfin, Lalwen, (Indis statue), Finarfin;
Right panel: Fingon, Turgon, Aredhel, Argon, Finrod, Angrod, Aegnor, Galadriel. *
So the middle panel would also feature the heraldry of Finwës two wives as well as two statues depicting them. Im still contemplating whether I should do the same in the two other panels by including images of Nerdanel, Anairë and Eärwen, the wives of Fëanor, Fingolfin and Finarfin (or at least their heraldic devices). Probably not, since they are not descendants of Finwë.. and theres more people on the right-hand panel already and I fear it would seem even more imbalanced if I added these three. Including the third generation would wreck the balance of the picture completely, so no Celebrimbor, Idril, Orodreth, Maeglin or Celebrían here either.**
A note on heights.. I know many people seem to think Tolkiens elves should be incredibly tall, but Im not that sure - they were called "Elves," not "Giants," after all! Even though Tolkien gave some quite astonishing figures in some of his later texts, Ive decided that 6' (183 cm) is a sufficient average height for Ñoldo men and about 5'8"(173 cm) for the women. That would make them very tall (especially in a fictional prehistoric era) but not ridiculously so (183/173 cm is still taller than the tallest human height average today, mind you). The Vanyar could be slightly taller on average. Based on the measurements above, I list below the heights Ive decided to use as a basis for sketching this project. Finwë and his descendants were all very tall, way above average height. (the average height of those in this sketch is 200/190 cm!).
6'11" (211 cm) Turgon (The tallest of the Children of Eru save Thingol alone. - a notion in UT)
6'10" (208 cm) Maedhros (The Tall -whether this meant only among the Fëanorians is debatable)
6'9" (206 cm) Aegnor, Fingolfin>( The strongest of the brothers. Also, Vanyarin descent)
6'8" (203 cm) Argon ( The tallest of the brothers - from Shibboleth ..although this contradicts with Turgon above.)
6'7" (201 cm) Fingon, Finrod, Angrod, Celegorm
6'6" (198 cm) Finarfin, Caranthir
6'5" (196 cm) Finwë, Maglor, Amrod, Amras
6'4" (193 cm) Fëanor, Curufin, Galadriel (Her height is given in a text regarding Númenorean measurements.)
6'3" (190 cm) Findis
6'2" (188 cm) Aredhel
6'1" (186 cm) Lalwen
*) I decided against my original idea of drawing the characters according to the published Silmarillion only. Instead the family tree, names and character descriptions are an amalgamation of several HoME sources, of which Ive chosen the ones I consider the most logical, internally consistent and interesting. Thus those of you who are only familiar with The Silmarillion but not the History of Middle-Earth series (ummm.. are there any Silmarillion fans who arent?) might notice some differences. If Ill ever finish this I might actually do a second version according to the published Silmarillion, but I wouldnt count on it..
**) The two last ones were not even born in Aman (as was most likely the case with Celebrimbor also, although his history is filled with contradictory stories..) and the idea of this picture was that such a gathering could have actually taken place.. at least theoretically. Ardhel, Galadriel (and possibly Lalwen) married and had children only after they went in exile so they couldnt be present in Aman. Even Idril was only a child during the flight of the Ñoldor.
Suggestions and ideas very welcome!
The nature of this project at this stage is very fragmented. I keep developing the ideas for the main panel layout, frame and decoration while working on the individual character and heraldry designs separately, one at a time. Once (if ever..) theyre all finished I will combine them in Photoshop and start working on the shading, highlighting and colouring of the entire panel.
I will keep updating this entry as the layout evolves. I will also keep adding links to the individual character and heraldry design WIPs below as soon as I have more of them done.
This where I think you people could help me out. (anyone actually bothered to read this far? Wow.. ) Im going to keep this WIP sketch here in my main gallery, because Im hoping for comments, feedback, ideas, suggestions, critique, etc. that might help me to make it better. Ive been planning it for years so Im willing to take as much time as it needs. Listen to peoples advice and try to make it as good as possible. Especially ideas for colour schemes, decoration details and the panel frames (knotwork) would be very welcome. Thanks a lot !
LoN WIP Status:
0% ||||||-----------------------------------| 100% -- 13% completed!
Basic layout - concept done, (7th) sketch done, character sizes set, developing...
Heraldry designs - 1st versions done, developing...
Border design - 4th sketch done, sketching...
Character pencil lineart - 7/22 done, sketching/drawing...
Lineart cleanup - not started
Shading/highlighting - not started
Background design - concept done, (3rd) sketch done, developing...
Digital composition - not started
Colour scheme design - not started
Painting - not started...
UPDATE I: changes in v.0.7:
New layout sketch added. (Decided to keep the previous one up too so that changes can be compared). Slight changes in border design, added heraldry sketches to frames, added house emblems and the heraldry for Nerdanel, Anairë and Eärwen in the wing panels (but decided not to do "sculpture versions" of them). I think that might work, since the balance is not affected too much (and I feel its important to see their devices as the designs of their children are partially based on them). Nerdanels design is annoyingly off-centre, though.. but I dont see how that can be helped. And theres still one design less in the Fëanorian panel and Im thinking adding something - perhaps Tolkiens Silmarili design? - at the beginning to even it out.
Links for the other parts of this project:
WIP:Lords of Noldor: Character Portraits
WIP:Lords of Noldor: Finwë
WIP:Lords of Noldor: Míriel and Indis
WIP:Lords of Noldor: Fëanor
WIP:Lords of Noldor: Findis
WIP:Lords of Noldor: Fingolfin
WIP:Lords of Noldor: Lalwen
WIP:Lords of Noldor: Finarfin
'They were called “halflings”; but this refers to the normal height of men of Númenórean descent and of the Eldar (especially those of Ñoldorin descent), which appears to have been about seven of our feet.’
'The Quendi were in origin a tall people. The Eldar (...) they were in general the stronger and taller members of the Elvish folk at that time. In Eldarin tradition it was said that even their women were seldom less than six feet in height; their full-grown elfmen no less than six and a half feet, while some of the great kings and leaders were taller.'
So they way I understand is that their shortest are about 6'6'' while the average Noldor probably about 7' and their Kings and leaders like in the Finwe's house for example are taller.
btw, how's your progress today?
I also liked seeing the relative heights of the Noldor mapped out in your description -- I'd thought Maedhros must be just under 7 feet tall.
Good luck with your project, and persevere!
But, still, this is a very well laid out piece of art, and I'm looking forward to seeing it when it is finally completed!
may you finish it! even if it is not colored (cool old paper tone).
Very nice research on clothes.
oh funny I've always pictured Fingolfin and Finarfin with fair hair !
your feannor seems very original to me (i perhaps paint him more like a dark and uncompromising figure) but i think you're right to give him "short" hair.
well, go on !
I wish you the best... don't give up! I know I would! In fact I started drawing them separately only a while back and never quite finished, got tired and all I really got was a big amount of... rubbish.
Now that I think about it... won't you have problems with the colouring of the different haracters? I mean, as far as I know Tolkien doesn't talk about the appearence of many of them. Correct me if I'm wrong, but we do know indis was fair-haired for she is a vanyar, but we don't know how many of her children take after her... and much less how many form the children of Finarfin (minus Finrod and Galadriel) do too, or in the other hand take after their grandfather or even their mother (Earwen is a telerin maiden, and thus she ought to be silver-haired)...
Sorry, that was rather long. Wish you luck!
Also the idea of a 3rd generation panel I think is very good.It could include Celebrimbor, Gil-galad (there too I go for him being Fingon's son- much more plausible given his looks and character), Idril, Maeglin, Finduilas(daughter of Orodreth) and Celebrían.
As for Orodreth.. Well, if I'll ever do a "plain Silmarillion version" I'll add him and do away with Findis, Lalwen and Argon.. but we'll see.
As you know, the 1977 Silmarillion was in effect a plot synopsis, put together by Christopher Tolkien with amazing effort, managing to get it published in just four years after JRRT's death. He pulled it together from the very same material that he later published in the HoME series, and in doing so he had to do a lot of editorial decisions and even some 'filling the gaps' here and there to maintain consistency. Those decisions might have differed slightly in few cases, had he had all the material available to him that his subsequent research of 20+ years have brought us in the form of HoME. If he would compile the Silmarillion today, there might be some differences.
What I mean by this is that since the stories remained largely unfinished we are free to speculate "what Tolkien intended to be the final form of X or Y" and make our own pick of the legends.. like "real" myths and ancient oral tradition, they come in many forms and often conflicting versions.. one could always say that "this is the way the story is told among the X people in the land of Y, etc." -- So we can all take what we consider the most interesting and logical version and stick to that..
Accordingly, as a framework for this project, and the rest of my illustrations, I use the whole of Tolkien's legendarium, not just the Silmarillion, and I've formed "My Personal Canon" out of the wealth of material given in Tolkien's books and HoME.. I've had to change my views on a few things in light of the new information, since when I first read Tolkien's books, most of the HoME series hadn't been published yet and I only read those years later.
I have in most cases tried to read all the changes and usually go with what was Tolkien's last decision, since most of the time it also makes the most sense (although there are some confusing details I've chosen not to take in, especially with his very last writings about Galadriel).
So.. In my personal "canon" I consider Orodreth (or Arothir, actually, as the name Orodreth was also abandoned) to be Angrod's son, and Gil-galad in turn to be his son, since that was Tolkien's final decision and it seems to fit best and makes the most sense for several reasons.. but as I said, we're all free to choose, there's no "one absolute truth."
It's always fun to discuss the subject, though.
Oh, I'll have to add that we actually don't know almost anything about Gil-galad's looks or character.. only that he was a wise ruler, had a shiny helm, mail and shield and a famous spear called Aeglos, his device was white stars on blue background, and he was originally intended to be the son of Felagund.. but that got changed around a few times as we know..
All your artwork is magnificent but I think that in this last work you've truly outdone yourself. The House of Finwë is the very core of the Silmarillion in general and to see each one of them individually and together...You put faces in the heroes that until now we could only imagine through reading Tolkien!!!
May I ask what you have in mind for Galadriel? Do you plan to take UT into account concerning her hair (silver-gold-trees of valinor) and general description? I can't wait to see how you'll portray her if based on that. Her hair was supposed to be the most unique among all elves,right? I also imagine her as arrogant and proud as Fëanor...
Thank you for doing that!
And I definitely plan to have it coloured.. eventually.
I think you ought to give them their own seperate section, the Queens of the Eldar.
And you should defintely make something for the 3rd Generation. Maybe you could
call them the Princes/Princesses of the Noldor, or Heirs of the Noldor.
And don't leave out Earendil and Elwing.
Heck I think you should do all the Lords
Lords of the Vanyar
Lords of the Sindar
Lords of the Nandor/Silvan
Those are pretty good titles for other drawings.. although I think there wouldn't be too many people on the Vanyar or Nandor panels.. The Sindar one might be a worthy idea, though.. with Thingol, Círdan, Elmo, etc.
I already drew some rough sketches for the border that included designs based on your "Two Trees of Valinor" and some ideas for the type of knotwork and different elements to be included.. but I have not yet made any kind of final decisions about the border (except perhaps that heraldry will be on top and their names written in tengwar at the bottom). I can send you the sketch if you’d like to comment on it.. but by all means, if you feel like taking a hand in the border design, don’t feel restricted by it!
I'd love to help in any way I can
I really like the measurements you've given them. That is also how I've always imagined them, as they are described in Tolkien's works as a taller and stronger race than humans - but not monstrously so. How you've listed them, in my humble opinion, is very good. When today's humans are that tall, they are often very thin - I imagine Tolkien's elves to be tall, but strongly proportioned (not slender and delicate as they are depicted in the LotR movies!).
By the way, I do know someone who is 6'12 (7 feet!!!)
As for suggestions...I think it would be neat to have some tengwar in the border/design, perhaps some phrase or prophecy or somesuch (In Sindarin, or Quenya, or even English) from the HoME or Sil, so that it looks cool, and to those of us who know tengwar it will be a sort of extra dimension to the meaning of the piece.
I commend you for the planning and effort you are putting into this, I know it will be a masterpiece! I'm rushed for time right now, but I'll come back later with more suggestions!
I actually imagine Elves as quite slender on the average. somewhat less physical than Men.. but among them there are some very strong individuals, who would break the norm.
Wow, I've never know anyone quite as tall, but I do know there are some very tall individuals around. However, they are "statistic anomalies" (no offence to your tall friend..:. 7 feet tall people are one-in-a-hudred-million or so..
Oh, I'm definitely going to include tengwar in the border design.. in fact, there will be no other kind of writing in the triptych (save for perhaps a small copyright text somewhere). I'm planning to write each character's original Quenya names in the bottom border at least.
“…and they were tall and dark-haired and strong like fir-trees, and from them most of the Noldor later were sprung."
“…The Noldor, outnumbered and taken at unawares, were yet swiftly victorious; for the light of Aman was not yet dimmed in their eyes, and they were strong and swift, and deadly in anger, and their swords were long and terrible." –So here the Noldor have two different kinds of strength one is physical and the other is related to their spirits."
"In general the Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Exiles, being dark-haired, strong and tall, but lithe." The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "Quendi and Eldar,"
They were called “halflings”; but this refers to the normal height of men of Númenórean descent and of the Eldar (especially those of Ñoldorin descent), which appears to have been about seven of our feet.’- Noldor and Numenoreans about the same height.
'' But in the dim dusk of a winter's day there appeared suddenly among them a man, as it seemed, of great bulk and girth, cloaked and hooded in white...'' - This is a physical description of Beleg in comparison to the men that were following Túrin Turambar. Keep in mind that he’s one of the Sindar the Noldor were in general larger.
"The Númenóreans ... are in constant communication with their ancient friends and allies, either in the bliss of Eressea, or in the kingdom of Gilgalad on the shores of Middle-earth. They became thus in appearance and even in powers of mind, hardly distinguishable from the Elves..." - If you read about Numenoreans you would see that they were very tall and strong but still it was quite hard to distinguish a Numenorean from an Eldar.
I'm as the others above neither an expert in the world of middle earth. I read the lord of the rings and some parts Silmarillion although it's on my to read list. So for that part I can't really help out. I know one site thought that might be helpfull but I can't imagine you do not yet know it. [link]
Then I had a suggestion, you might think of giving them something to do while posing. So they'll not be 'just' standing. Overall I like the way you placed the hieraldy. Might think of making the perspective less strong but then again this is just the sketch. Anyway if you feel like you need specific feed back let me know.
I have read most of the written facts (although it's completely possible that I might overlooked something, in which case corrections will be welcome), but I'm perhaps even more interested in other people's views of these characters as well as basic artistic help that doesn't require any specific knowledge of the subject itself.. meaning layout, border design ideas, etc.
Thank you for that thought. I want them to be in quite neutral portrait poses, but i'm planning to give some of them some items or something that reflect their personality or activities.. I'll see if I can think of something else, like some of them talking to each other, for instance.
What did you mean by making the perspective less strong, incidentally? What's the problem with it? Did i make a mistake somewhere or is it a stylistic issue? I mean, it's not very strong and certainly not exaggerated as it is.
Thanks a lot for commenting!
It would be nice if they would stand talking to each other! In doing something I didn't mend really active things but for example drinking a glass of wine, holding it. But so as it seems you already had great ideas.
As for how I see the elves. I think they're really gracious but at the same time tough and convinced/certain of who they are, move and stand. I think the height you described sounds good.
Looking forward to see your next stage
Sadly I've always been too busy to actually read the HoME (well, further than volume 1 anyway, but I really loved that!) so I don't know much about the characters not mentioned in the Silmarillion or the Lost Tales.
I like the idea of doing it as a huge renaissance style triptych. Will you hint at some landscape in the background windows? I hope you'll try to achieve a certain depth of perspective, especially since the characters seem to stand fairly closely to the wall.
The alignment of the emblems seems a little unbalanced, but I guess that is due to the "order" of the characters both within the family tree and in the painting, so that's okay. What does that empty female emblem space over Miriel mean, though?
I haven't thought much of the background yet, but I suppose there will be some kind of landscape.. distant mountaintops, most likely... maybe a tower or two. I have construed an actual 3-point perspective for the sketch, so the characters who stand further back are slightly shorter and so on..
The balance is an issue, but it can't really be helped.. there are more people on the other side. That empty space is just an attempt to make the frame more symmetric.. I will definitely keep tweaking the frame design there.
I'd certainly like to think I've done my research on this.. but that doesn't mean I would not make mistakes or neglect details that someone else can point out. When you stare at a project long enough you become blind to your own mistakes..
Yes, I know, and I do understand why you'd like suggestions, but I was just saying that I'm not going to be able to help, because you have obviously done your research where I never did more than read the Silmarillion. Once. A few months ago. I should read it through again sometime.