In the foreword of "The Art of The Lord of the Rings," Gary Russell reveals that he always intended to create a "best of" book, after doing the previous books for the hit movie trilogy. Now that all the extended versions are out, and everybody knows the ending, this Best Of collection proves itself to be just as useful as Russell's previous books.
As the previous books have had, Russell takes a look at all sorts of concept art for the films: There are storyboards, intricate pencil drawings, paintings, and action shots. Some of it was previously unreleased, like a picture of Gandalf the Grey looking over an army. Quite a few of the pictures are almost identical to the film, especially the digital shots, which are 100% realistic. And there is even a gallery of maquette models, including trolls, Shelob, mumakil, Treebeard, the king of the dead and the intricate Easterling armor.
The difference between this and Russell's prior books? Here, Russell divides the artwork by artist, rather than by subject. As a result, readers can get a better idea on what the assorted artists specialized at, and their different concepts about what "Lord of the Rings" should look like.
First and foremost are the legendary Alan Lee and John Howe. Lee's artwork is very vivid and action-based, and his color pictures are almost like photos. Howe's are mostly black and white, extremely detailed, and are more delicate than Lee's more muscular style. Without a doubt, these guys were the bedrock for all the concept art.
But there are quite a few other artists included, and each has their own style and focus. Christian Rivers and Ben Wootten seemed to specialize in armor, beasties and menaces, while Warren Mahy tended to focus on the grotesque and gruesome, such as the orcs, the dead men, and uruk-hai. And Daniel Falconer did a little of everything, including ship designs, radically different designs for the ent Treebeard, and lots and lots of armor (both past and present).
Russell ends it with small shots of the ending credits of ROTK, which was made of delicate pictures of each actor in costume, as "we would wish to remember them." It's a bit saddening, but as he reminds us in the foreword, there's always "The Hobbit" someday.
on 20 February 2010
Anyone interested in the art and design process for this film, the work of John Howe, Alan Lee, and the many superb talents of Weta, would love this book.
You get glimpses of the incredible amount of artwork produced from DVDs and other books, but this really is a great presentation, covering some of the artists own favourites one to the other.
A great book.