As usual, it all started with a sketch…
For a very long time now, since my last re-read of The Hobbit, I have been wanting to explore in depth the character of Bilbo Baggins; of all of Tolkien’s characters Bilbo is the one that I feel akin to and relate to the most.
Before I had made the second mark on paper, I knew that I wanted the final piece to be an ink drawing; ink is a medium that I absolutely love but don’t get to work with enough and thus my experience with the medium is somewhat lacking.
However, knowing that the final piece would be inked, informed my sketching process in a different way than usual and thus made me adapt to a different way of drawing to my usual charcoal and blend method.
Here’s a behind the scenes shot of the piece in progress, I tackled the transfer in a different way to usual. Rather than using graphite paper or tracing paper and charcoal, I scanned the refined outline drawing into Photoshop and printed the outline in a low opacity onto the toned Canford paper that I wanted to ink. This made life easier if there were any restarts, I could just print another version, rather than transferring again traditionally which is time consuming.
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The Final Artwork
When Bilbo opened his eyes, he wondered if he had; for it was just as dark as with them shut. No one was anywhere near him. Just imagine his fright! He could hear nothing, see nothing, and he could feel nothing except the stone of the floor.
Very slowly he got up and groped about on all fours, till he touched the wall of the tunnel; but neither up nor down it could he find anything: nothing at all, no sign of goblins, no sign of dwarves. His head was swimming, and he was far from certain even of the direction they had been going in when he had his fall. He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel.
It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it.
JRR Tolkien – The Hobbit, Chapter V – Riddles in the Dark
The opening words of chapter five of The Hobbit give us that pivotal moment that changes the course of history in Middle-earth, Bilbo’s finding of the ring sets in motion the rest of the story leading up to the ring’s destruction in Mount Doom 78 years later.
Over on the next page (in my copy) is another beautiful piece of the masterful writing of Tolkien that gives us a little bit of information on Bilbo’s sword.
Still at the moment he felt very crushed. But in slapping all his pockets and feeling all round himself for matches his hand came on the hilt of his little sword – the little dagger that he got from the trolls, and that he had quite forgotten; nor fortunately had the goblins noticed it, as he wore it inside his breeches.
Now he drew it out. It shone pale and dim before his eyes. “So it is an elvish blade, too,” he thought; ” and goblins are not very near, and yet not far enough.”
But somehow he was comforted. It was rather splendid to be wearing a blade made in Gondolin for the goblin-wars of which so many songs had sung; and also he had noticed that such weapons made a great impression on goblins that came upon them suddenly.
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The Farewell Speech!
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Until next time, farewell!