The Drawing of the Sword – Evolution

(Drawing the Drawing of the sword always results in semantic weirdness.)

It was in early 1994 that I realised this scene was one tough cookie. Two Elves, one at an arm’s and a sword’s length from the other? That means a bit of Elf at the margins of a picture and rather a lot of nothing in the middle.  I realised that this was an iconic scene from the Silmarillion, but I abandoned the project after this quick sketch.


(Yes, I was under the impression that Fingolfin was blond.)

One and a half years later, I was doing my first ever watercolours, and I had found out that Fingolfin was dark-haired. I also found that a wider shot would solve part of the problem. I probably realised, theoretically, that foreshortening was called for, but this is 1995 we’re talking. No foreshortening in 1995, no, sir.


So, this year, I took on a commission of this precise scene and knew I would have to deal with foreshortening and some clever positioning.

In the first sketch, I still had to resort to a carefully draped cloak in order to cover up my foreshortcomings. Then I got some terrific help from the guys at, and managed to pull the pose off sufficiently for me to go with.

A progress shot from the lineart proper: Underneath, you see the sketch printed out in pale yellow, so I can filter it out later.


Second progress shot.


Final version of the lineart (plus some parchment texture):


Left to right: Finwë, Fingolfin, Fingon, Turgon, Argon, Fëanor, Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Curufin.

Stand by for the coloured version, plus a tutorial to make a busy picture appear busy but not cluttered! ;)

26 thoughts on “The Drawing of the Sword – Evolution

  1. You’ve come a long way, baby! So much elf hotness in one drawing. Thank you for sharing your progress over the years. That takes courage and it also give us all hope, that if we try and keep trying, we’ll learn and get better.
    Wonderful image.

  2. I have to say, “Ditto on everything Rhissanna said,” because that was exactly what I was thinking as I read your blog today and enjoyed looking at your progress. It gives me hope! Beautiful drawing.

  3. Agree with Suzy and Rhissanna, thank you for sharing your progress as an artist with us, you’ve come a long way and it does inspire hope that progress is possible if you keep trying… you’re an amazing artist, and the new painting is pretty much perfect in every way, even without colour (and knowing your art, it will look even better with colour).

  4. Incredible work and workmanship, Jenny. Less than 8 years from “dabbler” to “professional phenomenon.” Exquiste work – as always! I can hardly wait for your book to be published this coming year!

  5. Das Gebäude von 1995 erinnert mich stark an die Fachwerkbauten in meinen Heimatdorf, könnte aber auch daran liegen, dass ich da sehr gerne wäre…
    Aber zu der “neuen Version”: Ich finde es großartig, dass du die Schilde, die da schon offen getragen wurdest, allgegenwärtig in dem Bild hast…. (ist auf dem von Maglor einer der beiden Bäume, so wie er auf dem Moriator ist, oder täusche ich mich?)
    Und mit tut Finwe leid… besonders hier… weil er so… entsetzt? aussieht…

      1. Ah… damit habe ich wohl nicht nur Gespenster gesehen ^^”

        Nein… und irgendwo war er mit seiner Familie auch gestraft… ersst stribt seine Frau… dann hasst sein über alles gliebter Ältester seine anderen Kinder und töten einen beinahe…

  6. i’m sorry, i just had to laugh at ‘no foreshortening in 1995’! :) so true, though! that, and your demo image reminded me of art history and art before the discovery/implementation of perspective.

    you have also made me feel better about my art. your line and watercolour mastery have me in complete awe; never once did i even suspect it didn’t spring from you perfectly formed from your first forays. thank you. i might even find it in myself to forgive my early art….

    1. Interestingly, I don’t feel ashamed for my old art. Not for my lack of skill. I may feel ashamed of clearly hormone-inspired things I drew when I was younger, but you can’t blame yourself for making progress. ;)

  7. Such a beautiful drawing! ( yours. Not Feanor’s. Definitely not ). Gorgeous intricate detailing, and the pattern on Fingolfin’s clothes! I also love the fact that Finwe is in the scene; many drawers avoid it, maybe because they can’t figure out what the first reaction of the king was, about his beloved son’s outburst…

  8. Is this the scene where he first draws the sword and says “Get thee gone and take thy due place”, or is it after he follows Fingolfin and says “See half brother, this is sharper than thy tongue”?

    1. It’s the first of the two – the one taking place inside Finwe’s halls. The second is on the square outside, and the other princes are no present anymore :)

      1. I always imagined that it was only Fingolfin, Finwe, and Feanor that were present in the chamber, since Fingolfin got there early, but I suppose it could go either way. It does say that Finwe “summoned all his lords to counsel”. It never even occurred to me that Feanor’s son’s might be there.

          1. I don’t doubt that. I noticed that in one of your earlier sketches Maedhros is the only one other than Fëanor to have been given any detailing yet. ;D

  9. I have loved your Tolkien illustrations for years (found you on elfwood once upon a time, I think, and then rediscovered you via your illustrations in the back of Lippincott’s Fantasy Illustrator’s Technique Book) and only just now realized I could follow you on WordPress. What an exciting day. :)

  10. I must say this is stunning-ever since I started following I’ve been hoping you’d tackle this scene (one of my favourite, and in my mind most pivotal)-I just can;t wait to see the coloured version of it!

  11. Fantastic depiction. i love the intimacy that you have created in this image. Id always saw this scene as spacious and tense. You have challenged that concept, by inspiring a passionate impression.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s