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Thread: Alan Lee & other illustrators

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I LOVE Alan Lee's artwork, who does too? in case you didn't know, Alan Lee is an illustrator who has illustrated many of Tolkien's novels. He also has worked on the films, creating concept artwork. I also like John Howe who has done some pretty amazing work too. Are there any other illustrators you like/prefer? Do you even like illustration? Obviously the words are the greatest source of imagination and pleasure in a novel but I think Lee's work captures the spirit of the book and is a great accompaniment. Let me know what you think Smile Smilie

I find Alan Lee's work to be very good and portrays the scene of sorts he is drawing very well.

yes, Alan's work is very nicely done,I like it. And also the lady whose work Tolkien himself liked, do you remember her name, it has escaped me at the moment.

I think you're thinking of Pauline Baynes Leelee. I love her work too.

I'm a fan of Alan Lee! To my mind, his landscapes and structures are particularly nice -- thinking of Orthanc and Bombadil's House at the moment, the latter being especially amazing in my opinion.

And regarding his pencil work, I like his sketches for The Children of Hurin more than some (at least) of the full colour work there.

It seems the Tolkien Estate likes Alan Lee too!

 Why an illustrated edition ?

We have always admired the work of Alan Lee, ever since he was commissioned to illustrate The Lord of the Rings at the time of J.R.R. Tolkien's centenary. While preparing the story for publication, Christopher decided that to have the book illustrated from first publication would also underline its essential quality as a story rather than a scholarly work. 


From the Estate's temporary website (FAQ).

I was just checking out some Rodney Matthew sketches I just happened to chance upon on facebook and then this thread.

I like sketching a lot and I adore Alan Lee.Though am yet to see the works of the lady you mentioned Galin and Leels.

Thanks for introducing me to Pauline Baynes, I've just googled her I love her work! I'm doing my art A level at the moment and we can choose artists to study and produce work in their style. Now there's another one I can add to the list Smile Smilie Gaudi, Alan Lee, John Howe and Pauline Baynes.

Thank you Galin, that was her. I read a fair amount about her and in the Letters our professor shows great respect for her and admiration for her understanding of his writing through her art work.

Hi Communikate -

I thought it more appropriate to reply to your question about my favorite Tolkien illustrator here in "your" Alan Lee thread than in "my" Collecting Tolkien Calendars thread.

My favorite illustrator is Ted Nasmith.  His landscapes seem to capture what my mind's eye has alread seem from reading the books so often.  I have six of his signed/numbered giclée prints in my collection of Tolkienalia.  Well, I have three (Minas Tirith at Dawn, Rivendell, and The Shores of Valinor) and gave three to my children (Luthien, At the Ford, and The Glittering Caves of Aglarond.)  I have worked with him (he contributed to the 2008 Heren Istarion/Northeast Tolkien Society calendar that I created) and met him at MythCon 39 (where he very graciously signed all of the Tolkien calendars that he had illustrated for me.) He's just great.

Also like John Howe and his realism.

I have an appreciation for Alan Lee.  The rather dull colors associated with his chosen medium (watercolor) used to put me off.  But in the preface to one of the Tolkien calendars that he illustrated, he explained that rather than force his vision of a particular scene or character on a reader, he uses watercolor to gives suggestions and lets the reader fill in the rest.  So I understand his creative process.

There are other illustrators that I like, all of whom I have friendships with from creating the HI/NETS calendars.  Love the drawings and works of Henning Janssen.  Got to work with Anke Eissmann last year (for the 2011 calendar.)  Her works are wonderful.  And without any doubt, I LOVE the pen/ink works of Colin Williams.  He's an amateur (in name only) illustrator whose pen and ink works are simply amazingly detailed.  We communicate regularly.

In my Tolkien calendar collection, there 341 calendars (currently) and hundreds - if not thousands - of illustrators.  Even if I can not draw a glass of water (as the expression goes), I can appreciate the talent that it takes to put brush to canvas, or pen to paper, and create something from nothing for one's own enjoyment if no one else's!

Away from The Green Hill Country,


Yes, Lee is very good.
I also like John Howe very much.
But my favorite is Ted Nasmith, although he is not very regular. He has some passable stuff, but a lot of  jewels.

Thanks everyone for your insightful information and opinions. By the way, you can call me Kate, communiKate is just my cheeeeeeeeeeeesy online name, I must think of a better, Tolkien related name!

I'm a Tolkien collector, and Tolkien-related art is one of my passions. Living here in the UK gives me plenty of opportunity to meet Tolkien artists -  for example, Ted Nasmith has been coming over here for, well, decades now; for Oxonmoot or some such venue. Just about every book, calendar, diary and poster  I have of Ted's work is signed by him. he's such a nice guy.

Alan Lee and John Howe were guests at the Fellowship Festival, held at London's Alexandra Palace in 2004. they are the only reason I attended (I'm not too keen on the movies) - and they are both gents. I made sure to take along my copies of one of their books - not movie-related!  From earlier in their respective careers. They were both delighted to see these. They also each signed my poster sets; and my 1987 calendar - Ted signed it later that year; so all I need now is Roger  Garland's sig. on that, and it will be complete.  :-) 

I've  met Alan a couple of times since - he's a very nice bloke, easy to talk to. My copies of The Children of Hurin are signed to me; inc. one with a bookplate which is also signed by Christopher Tolkien and his son Adam (thanks to a friend of mine, who stood in the queue at Waterstones in Piccadilly, to get me my copy).

What else? Many more calendars; including every UK one from the beginning in 1974; quite a few US ones (my 1975 Tim Kirk one is a special favourite, as Tim signed it for me at Aston Uni in 2005);  there's a smattering of Dutch, Italian and Polish ones, too.

As for books; the signatures range from the usual suspects - Lee, Nasmith and Howe,  to Michael Hague and Steve Hickman.  There's even a reprint of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, signed by Pauline Baynes.  A tidy collection, and one which keeps on growing.

I have none, not one. sigh. How wonderful to listen to all of you.

Parm, that was fascinating to read.  I myself do watercolor and it  really not that easy. I do acrylic mostly and some oil, but not that much. I should love to see with my eyes what all of you own. How wonderful.

We all collect things in our own way, Leelee.  I don't have nearly the collection these others speak to.  And nothing of mine is signed by any artist or the Tolkien family.  But I do have a few things I treasure to make Middle Earth come to life a bit more when I read.  I have picture books with Alan Lee's and the other famous artists' depictions of ME.  I also have a couple of wall maps, one published in 1970's and drawn by Pauline Baynes.  This I have covered in plastic and framed, since I use it in class.  I also own an atlas of Tolkien's world, with maps of Arda, Beleriand, and Middle Earth, as well as chronological maps for The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings.


I like both Alan Lee and John Howe..

I think they did an amazing job before the films came along, but also during the films, helping Peter and the crew to show us Middle Earth, which we so dearly love. Smile Smilie

Hin-o-elassar, do I know you , have we met? If not welcome and I much appreciate your thought.

You know Gandalf, you so suit doing what you do, sharing and spreading Tolkien work and the beauty that lies in his canon , and I wish for you many more things of his, signed. And for my part I should like, I should very much like to see you actually teach on Tolkien . With your passion and your correctness and your gift for reading, so many would be enriched.

As for me, the only thing we have aside from the normal books and such are a few maps and also the cd of Professor Tolkien reading the Bilbo Baggins/Gollum bit under the mountain, the riddles. I was so frightened for some unfathomable reason by his reading I stopped midway and would not go on until another day when the sun was bright and happy. And never before had that part bothered me in the least. That was the power of the creator reading it I suppose.

i am in the process of scultping the busts of most of the main characters, I love sculpting. But this time, unlike when I was still at home and did all the major characters from The Robe, I am haning on to them. I came home from school one day and my father , a practical Irish man (I was adopted by Celts) proudly handed me a wad of money. An associate had been by for a visit and had been smitten by my work and bought it outright. I was very unhappy.  Smile Smilie

LeeLee: No, we haven't met before, I just signed in yesterday. Thank you very much for your welcome. Smile Smilie

Wow, I don't how I started this thread without mentioning Chris Riddell!!!

He is the co-writer and illustrator of The Edge Chronicles- the books which first got me into reading let alone fantasy fiction! He does beautiful line illustrations and has a great style. 

I like Ted Nasmith for environments, John Howe for Characters and Alan Lee for Architecture.

All three manage to draw you in and want more!


I love how every one of three main Tolkien illustrator's (Lee/Howe/Nasmith) has his own unique style, which is making his works distinctive in their own way.

I personally love Ted Nasmith's works - especially for Silmarillion. The scenes he creates look epic - he always uses some great perspective which makes you think that the world he painted is so much larger than what you exactly see on the painting. Alan Lee's has this unusual style, which makes me think about antique art - probably because of those pale colours he uses. And John Howe created the most beautiful vision of the Shire in my opinion!

There's a lot of illustrators (also digital ones) who are great at painting Middle -Earth. Good for me, because I love art and everything related to Tolkien's works is prescious to me Smile Smilie I like Matt Stewart's works - he paints beautiful clothing, and Donato Giancola's sketches are nice also.