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Hi guys,

Hopefully this is in the right place!

Allow me to introduce myself, My name is Lee and i go by the internet pseudonym of Almighty_gir, and i'm a character artist who works in the computer games industry. Some fellow industry artists and i are about to undertake a project (starting proper at the end of February) which is to create a digital scene based on a part of the Silmarillion. It will be an animated clip designed to showcase our individual skillsets, as well as our teamworking abilities.

The clip will likely last around 30 seconds. The scene we have in mind is Glorfindel and the Balrog. but we're unsure about how to go about doing a couple of things. which is where we need your feedback.

Firstly, our Balrog will have wings, he will not be able to fly. the wings will be skeletal with no visible membrane or connective tissue. we will be using some VFX tricks to make them look like they're made of shadow instead. We're aware of the controversy surrounding Balrogs and wings and quite frankly, we've taken the artistic direction of "do what looks badass".

Our Balrog is inspired in part, by the one created by Weta for the movies. we want them to look similar enough that on first glance people say "that's a Balrog", but dissimilar enough that people recognise that they are two separate entities, after all there were more than one of the beasts and Maiar were personalities of their own... we feel this should be reflected in our Balrog. so here's a very early sculpt pass (done in zbrush) of the Balrog so far. it's almost entirely a block out of forms, the face has had some special attention paid so far as i got a little carried away! but please feel free to critique and give feedback, i'd love to hear it! in particular, i've been toying with the idea of giving him some form of armour plating across various parts of his body, possibly made of some kind of blackened steel with fiery red runic script across it... let me know what you think to that idea please!


Secondly, we're unsure which characters to include in the scene. we know Glorfindel was escorting Tuor, Idril, and Earendil "and many others" through the mountain range. Unfortunately i'm the only character artist, we have one animator as well as an environment artist and a VFX artist involved, so we're a very small team.

Realistically it's only feasible for me to create Glorfindel and the Balrog, however if we have time we'd love to include Tuor, Idril and Earendil as well... if that were to be the case, what kind of dialogue would be appropriate between them before the encounter with the Balrog?

Bear in mind it's a short clip so it should be something that focuses on what's about to happen, maybe an ill feeling they all share or something. If there were to be any dialogue, we'd love for it to be in elvish, with english subtitles. here's where we all fall down though, none of us know even the slightest bit about elvish. so any help here would be great! especially if you can (or know anyone who can) actually speak it! you may well end up voicing some of the dialogue.

Finally, this scene is a portfolio piece which we will all have a shared interest in, there is no money or profit involved, we're all doing this in our spare time. all of us are established artists, but we wanted to do something fun, and a bit different. when the project is completed, any special help received here will be credited.

Please bear in mind that we are games artists, and while this is a cinematic work you should expect the quality you'd see in a game cutscene, not a hollywood movie. I look forward to updating this thread as we progress further (we're in planning at the moment), and definitely want to hear your feedback, impressions, and ideas about the project. Certainly if you have any ideas on what we could do differently, i'd love to hear them!



Maybe have them face off. Glorfindel should say, "I am Glorfindel, chief of the House of the Golden Flower." Personally I think in English would be better. Remember that the balrog should cover in flames. This might be too close to the movie, but as the balrog falls, it reaches out to grab Glorfindel's hair. Both falls to their doom.

Hi there,

Have just gone back and formatted my first post, for some reason it came out as a giant wall of text!

We're of course aware of the fact he needs to be wreathed in flame. it's one of the most exciting aspects about the project!

the idea we have as far as the animation goes, is that the scene will "freeze" during their first clash of weapons, so all of the animation will preceed that moment and we won't actually animate a completed fight scene... not at first anyway.



Please try to fit in the eagles, Thorondor himself in particular.  Although they appear after the clash itself, so maybe it wouldn't be easy.

Your idea is wonderful, let me see if I can contribute something in the way of dialogue... tomorrow, maybe.



Can't wait to see the finished product. There are a few pics on line of the battle between Gothmog and Glorfindal.

Agreed on the the Eagles Marghana as they indeed save the surviving Gondorlindim from the Ors filing along behind the Balrog. Gir I would like to see Glorfindal cast as a youthful but mature, tall and fair actor, not too young. Also the survivors should be led by Tuor and Idril with a young Earendil as a child. This child should be truly beautiful in face, grey eyes and a light in his face. The surviving people in single file trail behind along the mountain pass. Perhaps smoke and mist cascading down the mountain side having tumbled over the high mountain from the sac of Gondolin.

Can't wait to see! Good luck.

Maybe you could somehow work in Tolkien's: Alae! Ered en Echoriath, ered e·mbar nín! "Alae [?behold?]! [The] mountains of Echoriath, [the] mountains of my home!'

I might be able to work up some Neo-Sindarin for: 'Death to the demon of Morgoth!' based on Tolkien's Gurth an Glamhoth 'death to [the] din-horde [orcs]' but I'm not an expert like Carl Hostetter (or someone of his stature in the languages).

I would have advised that you do a 'new' Balrog of your own, but I get why you want to base your creature on the one in the films.

In the battle with Glorfindel -- with the only version ever described in detail by Tolkien being the very early Book of Lost Tales version -- the demon is twice the size of Glorfindel... but I assume you will be going larger? 

hello Galin!

size wise, we were going for 2.5x or there abouts, but it also depends on how you define height, is it defined while in their "hunched" posture, or when stretched to full height? i think we wanted ~2x Glorfindels height while hunched.

Thanks for your help with the language! any help we can get there will be very gratefully recieved. so with that in mind i have a question:

if i were to do some form of armour plating for the balrog, with some kind of infernal rune-work, would the black script suffice for that do you think? here's an example of the style of armour i'd want to use, although i certainly wouldn't want to cover his head:

i'll have some updates on the balrog sculpt in the next couple of days.


Hello Almighty_gir!

Hmm, the Black Speech was not invented until later in the history of Middle-earth. I'll think more on this.

If it is just a 30 sec clip then I don't recommend you using elvish speech.

OK, here's my suggestion for Neo-Sindarin: 'Death to the demon of Morgoth!'

Gurth an graug Morgoth!

Sindarin graug is a word for a 'powerful, hostile and terrible creature' -- also raug, noting that in Balrog we have -au- to -o- in this compound. And 'of' can be expressed by word order in Grey Elven [ennyn Durin 'doors of Durin'].

With respect to the script, did you mean the writing on the One? That's Elvish even though the language is Black Speech.

Anyway, as I say I'm no expert, so I would check my Neo-sindarin with an expert if you can!

Looking over The Fall of Gondolin, the part where the fugitive Gondothlim are approaching the Eagles' Cleft, I find that there is not much dialogue to be had.  Barely whimpers, surely some coughing, but two sounds are definite: the howling wind and the sound of the slender waterfall plunging into the depths.  Tuor could perhaps say. "I fear a trap," right before the first Orcs attack.  Galdor, up at the front of the line, could yell, "Orcs!" when the foul creatures pounce.  As for Glorfindel, I agree with Galin's suggestion.

Yes I agree with Marghana, I wouldn't have too much dialog.

My first bit of Elvish might not really do (especially for a very short piece), but that's actual Tolkien written Elvish, and it had to do with the Echoriath, so I thought I would note it. 

Well perhaps just subtitle, but that would mean all dialogue would be in Sindarin and you will need to train your actors to pronounce properly. This will be difficult to keep the purists happy. PJ had a specialist to help with his films and there were still supposed errors. So perhaps Westron (English) is the way to go. Perhaps use Sindarin with no subtitles and let the acting portray the meaning. This sounds so interesting and I wish you luck and hope you then do more climactic scenes. Thingol meeting Melian for the first time would be great.

Jackson's films have heaps of fan invented Neo-Sindarin, but no one can speak fluent Sindarin in any case, not even Tolkien (although the films could have used more actual Elvish invented by Tolkien in my opinion).

Anyway I'm assuming much of this short scene is going to be action? The duel itself, or no?

actually there won't be any kind of fight... this is going to be a portfolio piece, showcasing each team members abilities. the scene will end just as they make their first clash.

we've all said we'd love to do an elaborate scene, but we're ultimately bound by time.

as promised, here's an update on Mr. Balrog.

again be aware that this is just a simple colour pass, there's no extreme detailing or even texture work going on. this is just to help get a feel for the final colour base. i've removed the wings for the moment as they're still in need of some love!

the scene will end just as they make their first clash.

Ah, I see... so no death of Glorfindel then! And if you use my Neo-elvish, remember to trill r.

Smile Smilie

like i said man, i'd love to do a full scene. but the problem is the longer it goes on the more things we need to introduce, like the orcs, the other elves, the eagles etc.

at the moment we feel like we are comfortable with just glorfindel and the balrog, but there would be almost certainly no dialogue in this instance. adding Idril, Tuor, and Earendil would push our limits as artists in the timeframe we have to complete this project, and would allow for a very small amount of dialogue.

adding anything else would require more artists, and that would defeat the point of the project.

OK, I was just wondering (and possibly forgetting what you already said above).

I've no idea about most computer stuff, but I imagine what you're doing isn't easy.

Since you explained how the scene is, I think it's best to not have any dialogue

Hey guys!

Sorry it's been so long since my last update, i've been very busy... such is the life of a family man, and freelance artist!

I'd like to present my first work in progress shot of Glorfindel, it's only his head and as you're about to see he doesn't have his trademarked golden locks just yet. in fact all i've been focused on so far is nailing the anatomy as best i can.

The issues i'm running into at the moment, are that i want to make him more than just a "handsome man" kind of look. i think that's the biggest problem with the elves in the movies... because they were played by humans (and good looking ones for the most part), they still failed to capture the magic and majesty you would expect of the Eldar.

Right now i feel like he falls into "handsome man" catagory. so i'm going to try and push the features a little further, give him slightly more hawklike, sharp features, try to capture that air of magic that's infused into his being... "try" being the operative word.

Anyway, enough rambling, here's the art!

Here's some nice concept art for Glorfindel's armour: Best of luck with your project! Can't wait to see the finished version.

thanks for the feedback!

I've made a couple of changes to Glorfindels face. most notably i've sharpened the nose somewhat, and angled the jawline more severely. this should give him a narrower, hawk-like appearance. i've also adjusted the brow slightly... i've kept the brow line itself in the same place, but altered the angle of where the eyebrow (hairs) will be when he's ready. again going for that slightly alien, hawk like appearance. this is much closer to where i want him to be, and hopefully he still reads as that "handsome, beautiful man".

the real challenge is going to be the hair. computer game rendering engines hate hair, and long hair is almost impossible. but we're going to try some things that haven't been done yet just to see if they work. that stage comes later though, still in the sculpting stage right now.

here's an updated pic of the face:

in terms of armour, i was going to use this as a basic reference with regards to shape, but the detailing would be more ornate and "pretty".

with the cloak being styled like this (i love the way it wraps over his shoulders and behind his back)

I don't know anything about digital graphics, but I have a suggestion about the "long hair issue." Maybe have the hair being braided and tied down. As for the armour, remember that Glorfindel wore an armour detailed with gold.


hi everyone! been a really long time since i updated, my apologies! i've been incredibly busy with work (being freelance means you occasionally go weeks without a "day off"Wink Smilie. but i've managed to squeeze in little bits here and there. 
i finished the high poly sculpt (see youtube link below) and managed to put together the final game-ready mesh. the high res sculpt is somewhere around 100 million polygons and contains no colour information. the game-ready mesh is only 14,000 triangles, and uses a combination of normal maps and other information generated from the high res sculpt to generate the texture details.
there's no special effects in the scene yet, those will be coming along in due time. so at the moment we only have a smoldering Balrog, and not a flaming angry one!
youtube turntable of high-res sculpt:
shot of in-game Balrog (big image, caution low bandwith users):

Wow, this is amazing.

I was peering into this thread, but had no time to say that, so I say it now - great job! In my opinion that's exactly how the Balrogs should look like Smile Smilie His head looks great. I love the textures you used. I

How much time did it take to render those images? What software did you used?

I'd suggest to put some watermarks on those images - I'm sure that the members wouldn't use them, but since you uploaded them in such a good quality I think it might a good idea to mark them.

Can you write a message here when the full result will be ready?

Hey Indis,

Thanks man, i'm glad there are die-hard Tolkiener's who like the look we're going for!

It didn't take any time at all to render really, since it's all real time (currently rendered in the Crytek SDK, the engine used to make the game, Crysis) it was just a case of loading the model and applying the textures, the engine handles everything else in real time.

that's the benefit of real time, it speeds up huge portions of the process and delivers very fast results, the downsides to it though, are that it has to "fake" a lot of things, it doesn't accurately calculate things like global illumination and light bounce, it also couldn't do realistic smoke/fire simulations in real time. those are things that would take maybe half an hour of rendering to achieve.

this is a kind of tech-demo for real time anyway, so while we know and appreciate how much better it would look if we used slower rendering techniques, we're just trying to push real time to its limits and see what we can get out of it before we break it haha.

i don't mind people using the image as long as credit is given.

and i'll be posting more progress here as it happens, including the final images.




The balrog looks nice. Have you finished with Glorfindel yet?

hey man, 

i'm still working on glorfindel, progress has been slow unfortunately as i've been very busy. but here's where the high poly is so far.

Hey Indis,

Thanks man, i'm glad there are die-hard Tolkiener's who like the look we're going for!

If it was directed to me I need to correct you on something - I'm a woman Wink Smilie

this is a kind of tech-demo for real time anyway, so while we know and appreciate how much better it would look if we used slower rendering techniques, we're just trying to push real time to its limits and see what we can get out of it before we break it haha.

Oh, that's cool. The effects look great and if it is that quick to render the models, then it has to be good approach!

Glorfindel looks nice, I'm looking forward to seeing him with some hair now. And a sword! The clothes look beautiful in my opinion!

Loving the look of this, can't wait to see the final thing. Nice work.

Hi guys,

Indis, sorry if there was any offense caused. It's pretty much a part of my particular vernacular... i even call my girlfriend "dude" from time to time!

there will be some updates coming soon, have a lot on my plate at the moment, but still slugging through this. thanks for all the feedback!

No problem, Almighty. I'm used to clarifying that on various forums Smile Smilie

Hi guys, 

Just wanted to drop in with a quick update! We decided we weren't happy with Glorfindels face, so i've revisited it and made it less stylised, we feel this is a better direction to go in:

i've also got an update from our VFX guy, who's working on the fire simulations for the balrog, very much work in progress:

And here's a couple of work in progress rolls of the basic walk cycle for the balrog, they've only had about 8 hours of work, so again... very rough and definitely work in progress!
we look forward to your tearing us apart Big Smile Smilie

Glorfindel's face looks awesome. Especially his mouth, chin and cheeks - very realistic and detailed. I like Balrog and his movement - I see it is going in the right direction for sure. In the 'front perspective' one of his arms is a bit lower than the other (or at least looks like that from this angle, I didn't observe it in the other movie clip) - was it deliberate choice?

Fluid fire looks great! Very sharp, very realistic - I'm glad it's not too blurred. It will be placed around Balrog's wings, right?

Thanks Indis!

I've got a long way to go though, there's a few things i need to fix up about him (if you're interested, here's a link to a game art forum where we all post and ask for feedback etc. ).



and also, here's an update on the Balrogs walk cycle!

Hi guys,

a piece of visual feedback we've gotten about the balrog is this:

and the accompanying notes:

Looks like youve got the balrog pretty much done, but I really think you could go back in there and really push things a bit further to make him more fierce. 

He's got a really smooth silhouette; pushing the spikes out more and making his anatomy a bit more angular and interpretive could give him a sweet unique look instead of being so similar to the movie. 
His glowy parts look really small and dim now too, I think you could draw focus to his head and chest by directing attention to those areas by dimming the extremities and having it brighter where you want the viewer to look. You could also make the glowy parts follow the muscles (or where forms meet) or hard armory bits too.

Overall i like the feedback, except that we don't really want to give him the angular forms that are mentioned. we do want to make him look a bit more chitinous in his hands and feet, as well as rethinking some of the glowing parts to look less "messy". 

what do you all think?



I agree with you. I'm not a fan of the 'angular shapes' idea - the more 'developed' his anatomy is, the less airy his appearance will be (I hope I wrote it properly, English is my third language). It's not a troll after all, it's a demon - he's supposed to be covered with fire (and shadow).

I think the suggestion about making his chest glow more might be interesting  though - I try to think how the glow in his chest could be interpreted.

Thanks for the link for the forums - I read the thread about your project and it was fun. I like watching how the whole project grows, the discussion the attention for details and tips you received there. I might even learn something from it by accident Wink Smilie

Hi Indis,

Which languages are your first and second? i am native English, but speak semi-fluent Dutch. I wish i had more time to study languages, they fascinate me! i suppose if i were to say i speak a third it would be hlsl shader language haha.

here's an update on Glorfindels armour. there will be a golden flower on the chest piece, and a jewel at its center.

I'm glad you like the other thread! im hoping to get the other guys to update it a bit more frequently haha. just be warned, Polycount is a community of weirdos... we're fond of cats, tanks, phalic objects, and mixtures of the three... i would say the entire forum is considered NSFW haha.



Hi guys,

I was demoing some new rendering software that's currently in beta, and we were streaming it via youtube. i actually used Glorfindels (bald, unfortunately for now) head as part of the demo.

there's a link from the specific point where i started showing off the head. as always, it's unfinished, there's a lot more i want to do with it.

let me know what you think!