CM: What prompted you to draw all of the main Lord of the Rings characters?
MY: I was rewatching the movies and slowly realizing I had never drawn the characters before! For the past few days, I had been thinking of projects to draw that would make me practice drawing men – since I mainly draw ladies when I am drawing on my own. Drawing the characters from the series seemed like a great idea! Since LOTR is my favourite movie I figured it would be a fun way to get myself to practice drawing different characters who are all connected in one world/style. Sauroman was the character I started with. He was fairly easy to draw and had a basic triangular shape. After completing his design I had the confidence and motivation to do them all! I was very inspired by Peter Jackson’s films. All the characters are based on the actors and costume designs from the films, with a couple of my own changes. While watching the movies the costumes have always stood out to me and I wanted to capture the film character’s personalities and designs in my own drawings.
CM: Can you describe your process for drawing the characters from the first sketch to the final product?
MY: I would quickly sketch out the character trying to focus on overall shape/silhouette. I’d purposely use a rough brush so that the final sketch wouldn’t look too finished. Sometimes if the drawing is too “complete” the line art ends up seeming very stiff. I would then draw the lines on a new layer on top of the sketch. Since I wanted to give the drawings a style I went with the idea of having both sides of the characters being identical. This way, I would line one half of the body and then mirror it to the other side. The patterns and designs on their clothing was done much same way! I wanted to give certain characters lots of little details within their clothing to accentuate their position – Arwen, Denethor, Theoden, etc. Others I wanted to keep simple. Then I would block in the basic colours of their costume on another layer, followed by the shadows on another layer. Finally, I coloured the lines that are inside the silhouette just to give a bit more colour to the art!
CM: Who was your favorite character to draw?
MY: This is a hard one! I really enjoyed drawing all of them! I really enjoyed drawing Denethor – his design just came easy. In the movies he has such a distinct look. Arwen was another fun one to draw. I played around with the idea of drawing her from other views as well. I was considering drawing some of the characters from different angles and with multiple outfits. The costume designs in the movies are so great. I also really enjoyed drawing Frodo. I had the idea of all the characters being upright with their hands at the side except for Gollum and Frodo – Gollum begging for the Ring and Frodo holding the Ring.
CM: Who was the most difficult to draw?
MY: Aragorn was the hardest character for me to draw. He ended up being the last one I drew of the series as well. I had a very difficult time sketching him out and getting a likeness to the actor. His design ended up slowly coming together when I was doing the linear. None of the sketches were working but something sort of clicked when I started drawing out the details.
CM: What are the challenges of drawing characters people are so familiar with?
MY: Everyone has their own attachments to the characters. I was worried about not doing them justice. I tried to keep them very close to the original designs but also put a little bit of what I wanted to see into them.
CM: How does the character’s backstory affect how you draw them?
MY: I tried to keep the character’s stories in mind while drawing them. Faramir is a good example – I made his expression pretty concerned. He has been seen as not good enough and is pretty down about it. But his outfit has a large White Tree on the front showcasing his connection with Gondor and how important it is.
CM: Who is your favorite character overall?
MY: Ah, the hardest question. All of the characters have traits that make me love them. But my favourite character would have to be Aragorn. I like that he is so reluctant about his position at first but then rises to the occasion and does what he has to do. I think his journey is really interesting and enjoyable to watch. I really love him as Strider!
CM: What did you learn from this experience?
MY: In terms of drawing, this project gave me a lot more confidence with drawing male characters, which as my original goal. It gave me lots of practice with lineart and small patterns and details. It was also great to see how many people responded to the characters and really got into the series! It was incredibly fun and I’d love to try to do more with it in the future.
Miranda Yeo is a recent graduate of Sheridan’s B.A Animation program. She is a character designer currently residing in beautiful British Columbia.