After “Noldolantë”, I felt myself groping for other media once again. I remembered how much I’d always liked to work on Ingres paper with pencil and white pencil for highlights, and found some sheets lying in my art shelf (bought in England in 1997, O_o). I hadn’t done anything with them after 2003 or so, after trying and failing to scan them.
I then remembered yesterday that I’ve had a new, very good, scanner for five years now and that might just be a reason to give that technique another go.
As usual in such experiments, Maedhros was my guinea pig. It’s obvious that he was rather pleased with it this time. I gave him long hair because I meant it to be pre-Thangorodrim.
And decided I liked it entirely too much. Hot damn. I was deserting my every principle.
Now, feel free to skip the next bit if you’re not into Tolkien hair length or -colour obsession (which would be forgiveable but, if you don’t mind me saying it, completely incomprehensible). Jump in again with the next picture. (This is why I love this blog, by the way. I can ramble about all sorts of things that would totally clog up any picture description in dA)!
I’ve been drawing Maedhros with short hair for… twenty years. Almost to the day. I’ve fiercely defended his short hair with those people who said that ALL Elves had long hair always, ever, from birth, under any circumstances. (Fun fact: I seem to associate hair length with name length. If a Tolkien character has more than three syllables, he stands a good chance of long hair.) Maedhros, with his Greek last syllable, his utter no-nonsense attitude and temporary cruel streaks, always struck me as someone who would never fuss with his hair.
I’ve drawn Maedhros with long hair before, always tied on his back, and always before his captivity on Thangorodrim. But I have to admit the movies have steadily worn out my resistance. And so I suppose it’s official. Maedhros has long hair.
Until further notice.
So, the new look needed to be put to the test. Could it hold up to a full image of a very firm and angry Maedhros sans right hand?
Left: first loose sketch, pose far from final. Behold the reason for my often skewed anatomy: I don’t construct enough.
Right: If looks could kill, the War of Wrath would not have been necessary.
So… I dare say the new look will hold up to pretty much everything.
It helps that, with his hair tied, I can still keep his silhouette.
And good grief, this technique on pastel paper is so incredibly, incredibly satisfying. Results are so fast and so refined. And so wonderfully fitting for illustrating Middle-earth.
This is an image that’s been floating around the back of my head since 2004, I suppose – Maedhros as Lord of Himring.
After failing with Elven architecture in “Noldolantë” (which I wouldn’t be averse to revisiting on pastel paper some time), I made some sketches for Himring. It’s described as a “great fortress” and “citadel” in the Silmarillion, and so I wanted it to convey strength but still retain Elven elegance. Maedhros would not have fussed with an overly filigree design to something that was to withstand a direct assault of Morgoth, but he was still born and raised in Valinor and would not have wanted to live in a huge block of stone (especially not after Angband). I found a nice compromise with a very compact silhouette and flowy design elements within the form.
Still needs some thought, and other paper – this was done on Daler-Rowney Ingres paper which is only 90g thick, so it did not take kindly to my liberally using white gouache for the sky.
Drawing these, I felt reminded suddenly of an RPG adventure I played in the mid-nineties – “Palantír Quest”, from the MERP RPG (which went out of business just afterwards), which sends the characters on a hunt for two lost palantíri in the Fourth Age. It also sent them to the ruins of Maedhros’ citadel on Tol Himling, an isle in the middle of the ocean off the coast of Middle-earth, all that was left of Beleriand. Among the treasure they found there was a suit of armour that belonged to Maedhros – only that it wouldn’t fit anyone under eight feet. :D Never had more fun spoiling an adventurers’ treasure hunt.
That adventure had Maedhros’ personal chambers deep below the ruins of the citadel, because it said that Maedhros was afraid of heights after his torture on Thangorodrim. But seriously – I would expect him to have his chambers in the topmost room of the highest tower, so he could always see Angband. Afraid of heights… no. Just no.
I can’t wait to do more with this technique. Has anyone ever seen a sketchbook with tinted pastel paper? If so, please drop me a line!