Friday, December 11, 2009

John Howe's art for The Lord Of The Rings

Part four of four. Overall, I don't know what prompted me to post four sequential galleries on John Howe. It might be because this month always makes me want to curl up with a good fantasy novel under a blanket. Or possibly it's because growing up, there was always this tradition of seeing a new fantasy film right before Christmas (mostly, Lord Of The Rings when I was in high school, then continued with substandard films trapped in it's colossus shadow). Either way, this is my way of expressing what gets me pumped when snow starts to fall and I'm stuck indoors due to weather as opposed to exploring some abandon dams in the woods somewhere during the warmer months. Or something like that, but I digress.

Looking at these, I realize that his work for Lord Of The Rings is pretty dark. If only the Uruk-hai in the films were more like the ones pictured. I feel like they are more menacing, but that's just me. I'm also going to point out that The Witch King is more imposing and terrifying in these paintings. AND that the Balrog looks demonic and nightmarish. The movie one was good, but John Howe's comes off as some creature from hell, stuck in a foreign landscape, which I feel makes it more effective than a skull headed ash being with crinkle-cut ram horns. The Film version one is scary, but I'd prefer something that could be more of a variation on satanic imagery- possibly with bits of ancient war armor, but that's just my personal taste. Enjoy!

John Howe's art for The Hobbit

Part three of my four part intro to John Howe. Peter Jackson is producing a two-movie version of The Hobbit as a prequel to his Trilogy. He'd be smart to hire John Howe for production art again. Hopefully the dwarves and goblins look more like these versions than what was in the film trilogy. No to say they were bad by any means, just that these variants are more interesting. The painting of the interior of Bilbo's hobbit hole is pretty much what was seen in the LOTR films.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

John Howe's art for The Silmarillion

This is more of a gallery in conjunction with my four part introduction to John Howe. His art for "Lord of the Rings" is probably some of the best conceptual work for anything fantasy related. We all know that Peter Jackson hired him for his conceptual skills for the movie trilogy, even though I can't make out how much input he had int he final product. I always felt that the Armor and Weapon design was sub-par and pushed too far from anything based on historic Europe.

Anyways, the following three posts will be based on his Tolkien-based works. I'm doing The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and Lord Of The Rings. If i can get his material for "Unfinished Tales" and "History of Middle Earth" then I'll post that later. I Feel like this is his strongest work, simply because of the Biblical content "The Silmarillion" contains. Seriously, It talks about the creation of middle earth and the heros of the earlier eras and how The Third Age came to be. This includes sinking continents, the destruction of ancient cities, armies of dragons, etc. Heavy stuff, and it isn't an easy read AT ALL. It literally reads like a cross between a text book and the bible. Someday I'll grind through it (or hang out on the LOTR wiki). Anyways, the following images are BIG so you can fully enjoy John Howe's mastery of the brush and of the imagination. They also make great desktop images!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The real reason why John Howe is brilliant

Why is John Howe incredible? Is it because his technical ability to paint is jaw-dropping? Or maybe it is his use of composition? Possibly it is because his art is organic and has a kinetic quality? In my opinion: Yes, but his strongest point is that he's a Nerd. This is my four part introduction into one of the finest, most skilled, artistic nerds around.

He loves the Medieval Era ALOT. On his website (which I'll link at the end of his post) Here is a section called "Medieval" which is photos of him in various forms of medieval armor, garments, feasts, and yes- even a monster costume.

I have no idea who or what he does these recreations with. When I lived in Vancouver, BC, I studied and practiced Western martial Arts (WMA). Since Mr. Howe is from Vancouver, I thought maybe there was a chance I happened to rub elbows with someone who knows him through Historic European Martial Arts (another way to say WMA), but i find it doubtful. Then I thought that maybe he was a member of Society of Creative Anachronism (or SCA). But I also doubt that, because the SCA is more of a repectable form of LARP-ing based in historic fact.

It turns out he is a member of the "The Company of St. George" who are a group of medieval warfare reenactors. It seems similar to the SCA, but minus the nerd element and based in Europe. I don't think they have a Chapter in Canada, so I'm curious to know if he flies to Europe with his Sallet (helmet) stowed under his seat. Doesn't matter, he knows his material (he practically lives it).

Since he is so familiar with the medieval era, His work is that more believable. He takes a 15th century Germanic armored knight and throws a dragon into the picture (see above image). BAM- functional fantasy art. It's very honest to me, and makes more of a impact on my imagination than someone in non-functional, jewel-encrusted elvish rune armor. His use of Medieval realism really pulls me into the image more than any mediocre piece of art commissioned for Dungeons & Dragons could. His art is real. Any artist can paint landscapes of other worlds populated by various characters and creatures, but it will all blend together with other works. If you use real world elements rooted in European history, your work will stand out above the rest, because your using fact as your basis for creativity.

The following gallery is his art that isn't Middle-Earth based (that will be the following three posts). All of this is based off of either Arthurian Legend, various forms of contemporary fiction, or non-commissioned paintings. All of the characters are historically accurate, even if they're placed in an alternative or fantasy world.

John Howe's personal website-
Historical European Martial Arts (Get hip to it)-