I’m taking about The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyChronicles: Art & Design by Daniel Falconer. This beautiful 200-page book from Weta Workshop was just released today and, having pre-ordered it from Amazon, my friendly Fed Ex lady delivered it to my doorstep a little earlier. Squee!
And “beautiful” is no exaggeration. The sturdy cover, embossed in gold, has the look of fine leather, with a reproduction of Thorin’s map ready to fold out inside the front cover, and Bilbo’s contract with the Company inside the back cover.
The book is chock-full of conceptual art for the film, from the furnishings for Bag End to the environs of Goblin-town, done in detailed pencil sketches and vibrant watercolors. We see the development of the costumes, hair, beards, weaponry, accoutrements and more for the cast of characters, along with descriptions from costume designer Ann Maskrey and many others instrumental in creating the amazing world of Middle-Earth.
I still don’t have a scanner here, so I tried to take a new photos of some of the pages I thought would most interest you: the ones about Thorin, of course.
From the Chronicles, artwork depicting concepts for Thorin’s look. On the right, Thorin’s “oakenshield,” an addition envisioned by Richard.
I even found a snippet written by a certain fellow you might know of–
Thorin receives the name Oakenshield when he is younger, when finding himself without a shield in the middle of the dreadful battle, he breaks a branch off a tree and fights with it on his arm. I thought it would be nice to bring something of the past into what was happening now: he might have kept and nurtured this chunk of oak that had saved his life and perhaps honed it into something else. I made a sketch of it, like a branch that had been hollowed to become something like a vambrace with prongs, which I showed to Peter and he liked the idea of it.
Richard Taylor picked it up and we went through a development of the idea. It briefly had a fist-like end with nails on it, but it started to look Orcish so we pulled back from that to give it a Dwarvish feel.
Richard Armitage, Actor, Thorin
(In case you are wondering what a vambrace is, it’s a “forearm guard worn as part of a suit of plate armour.” Yeah, I had to look it up. Who says Richarding isn’t educational?)
Here’s some of Thorin’s gear:
And guess who else is featured in the book? Yup, young Thorin. Sadly, I believe the concept image of a bare-chested, sweaty young Thorin working as a blacksmith was simply done as a request. They ended up sticking a shirt on him (shades of Guy!). “I think this one was done for the ladies,” said the artist, Gus Hunter. Oh, yeah . . .
And here’s a passage from another page on young Thorin:
We see Thorin as a young prince in a time before Smaug’s coming. Initially we offered suggestions that were quite princely, but it became clear that Peter, Fran and Philippa really wanted him to contrast with the pompous grandeur of the scene and be much more of an understated hero. My immediate reference of choice for that was Aragorn. I worked up ideas to suggest he’s just come back from a hunt and is dressed in functional leathers. It’s interesting that little things such as shortening his hair or raising his crotch-line, all make Thorin look younger: little tricks that convey a sense of youth.
(Raising his crotch-line? Oh, never mind . . .)
This is just a small sampling of the treasures to be found within the pages of this book (trying to avoid spoilers here), in what promises to be a series of such volumes from Weta Workshop on the trilogy. Why, you even get a glimpse of lady dwarves complete with varying degrees of hirsuteness!
It’s wonderful to see the creative efforts of all these talented people spotlighted in such a handsome volume. You can order the book ( retails for $39.99, $26.39 through Amazon) and use RANet’s portal for a portion of the sale to go to Richard’s Just Giving charities. It really would make a fabulous gift for any Hobbit fan (including yourself).
And now, back to salivating over that picture of half-naked young Thorin working up a sweat . . . oops, did I type that out loud?