When in April 2008 Guillermo Del Toro was talking about the tone The Hobbit movies (with our friends of theonering.net), he mentioned two very important persons, namely Alan Lee and John Howe:
"Alan Lee and John Howe, these guys are integral for us to map out that progress in the two movies, and allow you to completely blend in to the universe that is already in place."
It was soon obvious to me that John Howe would become the lead designer of Smaug the dragon and Alan Lee would ensure that the movie of The Hobbit would match in look & feel with Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. John Howe then released his wonderful book forging dragons in October 2008. This title presented the entire collection of John Howe's dragon art, created over his 30-year career, in one breathtaking volume. It presented a personal exploration by John of the inspirations and techniques he uses to render these amazing beasts. Each dragon is gloriously presented on a double page spread; accompanying this is a series of pages where John reveals how he forged each one through working sketches and reference material. From fire dragons erupting from molten depths, through sea dragons churning stormy seas, every medieval, celtic, gothic and sci-fi icon is represented. Fascinating text reveals the myths behind each dragon, as well as an exploration on its render, with full captions, annotations, highlighted details and design elements.
Wonderful to see was that the forward was by no one less then Guillermo Del Toro!
Not much later John Howe moved over to New-Zealand, just like for The Lord of the Rings, he and Alan Lee were one of the first to arrive on the scene to start working on the movie. There was a bit of a radio silence after that and in June of this year the first rumors came out that John Howe was working at WETA on Middle-earth related sculptures.
The first two pieces in the range were on display and available for order at the Weta booth at Comic Con in San Diego, 22-26 July 2009. Beyond Comic Con, the range is now available to order from the WETA website. One thing is certain, John Howe's dragons are wonderful, now in the form of sculptures his dragons become creatures that could easily give us a good idea of how Smaug will look like in the movies! Still it seems Guillermo is in for giving us a surprise and make Smaug into a dragon like we have never seen before, as we could read on total film in May:
"I think one of the designs I'm the proudest of is Smaug. Obviously he took the longest.
It's actually still active: we're finishing his colour palette and a little bit of the texture. But the bulk of the design took about a year, solid. It's because of the unique features of the dragon.
Early in production I came up with a very strong idea that would separate Smaug from every other dragon ever made. The problem was implementing that idea. But I think we've nailed it."
For sure Smaug will be majestic and able to talk, and not be a dragon like we saw in Reign of Fire. Since we know in May they were already designing about one year, and John Howe was there, we can presume all work done so far has connections with the movies... in fact I should write John Howe and ask! In the mean time enjoy his art for one more time, this time not as illustration, but as illustration that came to life!
The Art of John Howe - Sculptures from Middle-earth
The Art of John Howe - Sculptures from Middle-earth™ is a series of sculptures from John's iconic representations of tolkien's worlds, sculpted by Weta sculptors Daniel Cockersell, Brigitte Wuest and Eden Small under the creative guidance of John Howe and Richard Taylor. Here are the first two statues both available in bronze (20 pieces worldwide ) or in faux-bronze (300 pieces worldwide). Once more are available, I'll add them to this page.
SMAUG THE GOLDEN
The statues comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by John Howe and Richard Taylor and a 22 page hard cover book written by John Howe, Richard Taylor and the sculptor, Daniel Cockersell. Hope this book comes available for order separetely as well...
ÉOWYN AND THE NAZGUL
Having seen the beautiful, but expensive art by John Howe - let us end with something nice we can all enjoy and afford!
THE RED EYE OF SAURON
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