Starting February 2014 this blog will be out of action.

But DO NOT DESPAIR. We've just moved, and you can still find the same riveting and informative posts that you have come to expect on our new blog:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Great Goblin: Sketches

"We were on a journey to visit our relatives, our nephews and nieces, and first, second, third cousins and other descendants of our grandfathers, who live on the East side of these truly hospitable mountains," said Thorin, not quite knowing what to say all at once in a moment, when obviously the exact truth would not do at all.
"He is a liar, O truly tremendous one!" said one of the guards. "Several of our people were struck by lightning in the cave, when we invited these creatures to come below; and they are dead as stones. Also he has not explained this!" He held out the sword which Thorin had worn, Goblin-cleaver.
"Murderers and elf-friends!" The Great Goblin shouted. "Slash them! Bite them! Gnash them! Take them away to dark holes full of snakes, and never let them see the light again!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bilbo and the Trolls: Final Digital Treatment

justin gerard illustration the hobbit bilbo and the three trolls

"You're a fat fool, William," said Burt, "as I've said afor this evening.
"And you're a lout!" said William.
"And I won't take that from you, Bill Huggins!" and Burt put his fist in William's eye.

Next up: The Great Goblin!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Hobbit: The Blood of Numenor

We take a break from your regularly scheduled hobbit posts to bring you another paper test. This time we are working on Rives BFK 400.  

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bilbo and the Trolls: Reference Hunting

This is the Alpine Lakes, in the Cascades region of Washington State. I spent a week here with friends in 2007. There was a particular stretch of trails that we were on that keep coming to mind when I imagine this scene from the Hobbit.

I am certain that trolls have met here.  North American trolls at that. 

Tolkien's story ends with the Trolls being turned to stone. It made sense to use rocks for the main reference for the trolls.

"And there they stand to this day, for trolls as you probably know, must be underground before dawn, or they go back to the stuff of the mountains they are made of and never move again."

I had considered making the trolls more organic, and more inspired by moss covered rocks. Moss-covered rocks are wonderful. They conjure the feelings of places that are either remote, and undisturbed by man or secluded and well-tended by man. In the end, adding the moss to the trolls stony skin seemed too tranquil a covering for a set of characters who are about to cook our hero and a dozen dwarves.
At some point I think I may go back and do a piece of the 3 trolls as the giant stones, from when Frodo and Sam camp amongst them. Alan Lee has done what could be considered the definitive version of this scene, and it is marvelous. But I would still like to illustrate it, with these trolls, covered in moss and sticks and over-run by woodland creatures.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bilbo and the Trolls: Sketches

"What did i say?" said Bilbo, "and please dont cook me kind sirs! I'm a good cook, and i'll cook a perfectly beautiful breakfast for you if only you wont have me for supper!"
"Poor little blighter," said william. "Poor little blighter! Let him go!"

"Not till he says what he means by 'lots and none at all.' I don't want to have me throat cut in me sleep. Hold his toes in the fire, 'til he talks."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Hobbit: Bilbo and the Trolls

"Blimey Burt. Look what I've caught," said William.

This is one of my favorite scenes in literature. 
The most enjoyable performance of this scene is from the 1974 Argo Records Vinyl LP audio version of The Hobbit, performed by Nicol Williamson.

The whole reading is wonderful and this scene is particularly excellent. Williamson's performance of the characters is perfect. If you get an audiobook version of The Hobbit, do not get any other version, especially any of those bungling, full-cast performance versions.
The 1974 Nicol Williamson reading is the definitive reading of The Hobbit. Sadly, it is almost impossible to find now. I have found that it occasionally pops up on Youtube. Look up "The Hobbit 1974 Argo Records"

"You can't expect people to stop here forever just to be et by you and Burt. You've had a village and a half between you since we came down from the mountains."

Bilbo should have gone back quietly and warned his friends, but he decided to do a bit of good, quick burglaring. He could not go straight back to Thorin and company empty handed. So at last he crept behind a tree just behind William, plucked up courage and put his little hand in William's enormous pocket. There was a purse in it, as big as a bag to Bilbo.
"Ah, This is a beginning!"
It was!
William turned round at once and grabbed Bilbo by the neck, before he could duck behind the tree.
"Blimey Burt, look what I've caught," said William.
"What is it?" said the others coming up.
"Lumey if I knows. What are ya?"

"Bilbo Baggins, a bur- ..uh hobbit."
"A burrahobbit?" said they, a bit startled.
"What's a burrahobbit got to do with my pockets anyway?" said William.
"And can ya cook em?" said Tom.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Hobbit: Shade of Dunharrow

I depart for a moment from The Hobbit and steal a page from The Return of the King. I am testing out some Arches papers for use in the rest of the series.  This is on their Moulin Du Gue series.

The way is shut.
It was made by those who are Dead.
And the Dead keep it.
The way is shut.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Map of the Mountain: Final Digital Steps

Next Up: Bilbo and the Three Trolls

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Map of the Mountain: Digital Process

Balin (with pint) and Bombur (with pipe). 

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Map of the Mountain: Watercolor

"It may have been secret once," said Thorin, "But how do we know that it is secret any longer? Old Smaug has lived there long enough now to find out anything there is to know about those caves."

Aside from the Hobbit series being awesome and such a great story to work on, I also wanted to do this project as a means to improve my technique. I've been wanting to get back into watercolors for some time now. I have never really had the patience for watercolors and I need to practice and find a method by which I can slow down and patiently, methodically finish a complete, full-size illustration in watercolor. The Hobbit story seems to lend itself to being rendered in a classic medium.
My parents are wonderful people who did their best to make sure that my sisters and I recieved excellent educations. I am forever grateful to them for their efforts. Sadly, I ignored the eductional systems they perscribed for the most part and was instead raised by video games. Video games promised me superior hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills and quick reflexes. And (like television,) they also promised me vicarious adventures where I could pilot military aircraft and journey to space without ever having to worry about getting shot or losing limbs. School promised me hours of boredom, tedium and an occasional snow day.

So I chose video games, and among many other character deficits, it has left me with an inability to cope with the tedious drying times and baffling mixing qualities of watercolor. (I also blame video games for that car wreck I had 2 years ago, but that is another story.)
Nobody establishes to children WHY they are at school. Children are intellegent, they see through the smokescreens. They may play along, but their minds are sharp and they are seeing through the falacies and unless there is substance there they aren't REALLY going to buy in. For instance, had I been informed that if I excelled in english and literature at school, that years later I would be able to construct my thoughts in a way that would impress girls, that might have had currency. Had I been told that if I stayed dedicated to solving the problems in algebra, even though they were stubborn, obsitanant and went against all the fundamental logic of the universe, that I would later be better able to master classic mediums, I might have bought in. As it was, I was told that I needed to finish school so that I could go to more school later on. Like algebra, this type of logic didn't make any sense to me.

So now, in the uphill treck to correct at least some of my bad habits and life errors, I hope to improve my watercolor technique through practice with this great story.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Map of the Mountain: Sketches

On the table in the light of a big lamp witha red shade he spread a piece of parchment rather like a map.
"This was made by Thror, your grandfather, Thorin," he said in answer to the dwarves' excited questions. "It is a plan of the mountain."