Posts filed under ‘The Hobbit’

The Hobbit, part six

Posted by: Sam Bosma

Book: The Hobbit

“Farewell!” they cried. “wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journey’s end!”

Chapter VII: Queer Lodgings

After escaping the from the tunnels of the goblins and besting Gollum in a riddle contest, Bilbo and the dwarves arrive on the other side of the Misty Mountains. They are chased up some trees by a new troop of goblins, who then set the trees aflame. Just as the fire is about to consume the party, the lord of the eagles and his flock swoop down and save them. The eagles deposit Bilbo and the dwarves in their mountaintop eyrie before winging them away to the border of Mirkwood forest.

For me, this is one of the stranger parts of the story. In both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, the eagles sort of show up and then are gone. They seem a lot like deus ex machina in both stories, arriving at the nick of time to save our heroes when nothing else can. They rescue the party from a flaming copse of trees in this story and then pluck Frodo and Sam from the bowels of an erupting volcano at the end of Lord of the Rings. I have heard that Tolkien wrote these stories chapter to chapter without a real outline, and the inclusion of the eagles makes me wonder if that’s not true. It seems like in both instances he sort of wrote himself into a corner (or up a tree or into a volcano) with no way out but to fly.

Despite all that, I like the eagles a lot. They only do good in the stories but Tolkien is very careful to not make them cute. They are still giant raptors that steal livestock and might hunger for a hobbit-sized snack at any time. Bird of prey of any size are frightening

As always, visit my blog at for more information about this piece and this project in general, as well as detail shots and notes about the process.


October 12, 2010 at 7:09 am 7 comments

The Hobbit, part five

Posted by: Sam Bosma
Book: The Hobbit

“What iss he, my precious?” whispered Gollum (who always spoke to himself through never having anyone else to speak to). This is what he had come to find out, for he was not really very hungry at the moment, only curious; otherwise he would have grabbed first and whispered afterward.

“I am Mr Bilbo Baggins. I have lost the dwarves and I have lost the wizard, and I don’t know where I am and I don’t want to know, if only I can get away.”

Part five of this series finds Bilbo separated from his companions and quite alone, down very near the roots of the Misty Mountains, where old Gollum lives. Our narrator is unsure of what Gollum is, only that he has lived in this cave a very long time, but that he did not start his life there. Gollum is curious as to whether he can eat Bilbo, and whether he wants to. Bilbo is curious as to whether Gollum wants to eat him as well, though with obviously more grim implications.

Gollum is an interesting character in The Hobbit, and becomes an even more interesting character in Lord of the Rings. Here he represents the absolute unknown in Middle Earth. Bilbo and his companions have recently and rather dramatically broken free from a hoard of goblins, which are the known evil, and all of a sudden Bilbo falls down into the darkness and finds the unknown evil. Gollum is strange and piteous, ancient but childlike. In order to buy time to figure out if he really does want to eat Bilbo, he engages the Hobbit in a riddle contest. In the previous scene, where Bilbo and the dwarves are interrogated by the goblins, both parties intentions are clear and understandable. The goblins don’t like the dwarves and the dwarves don’t like the goblins. Thorin wishes to hide the secret purpose of their journey from the Great Goblin, and that one wants to wrest it from the dwarves. The exchange between Bilbo and Gollum is not quite so simple, and is one of the more interesting parts of the story.

It also, of course, is the moment with the magic ring (which will be revealed as the One Ring), changes hands. The ring leaves the possession of Gollum, and indeed leaves him withered and mad, and finds a new bearer.

You can follow the progress of these Hobbit drawings, including sketch progressions and process posts (the accompanying process post for this drawing should appear in a few days) on my blog:

July 14, 2010 at 4:26 pm 9 comments

The Hobbit, part 4.5

Book: The Hobbit
Posted by: Sam Bosma

Because of the amount of time it takes me to complete these illustrations to my satisfaction, I am altering my posting schedule from a final every month to a final every two months, with a process update on off months. I will still be doing twelve illustrations, but from now on, they’ll be arriving a bit slower. I must apologize for this, but I only want to deliver my best work and my free time to work on these flights of fancy is limited more and more each day.

That said, here are a few of the many, many sketchbook pages I’ve devoted to this next illustration and to the design of its main attraction, Gollum. None of these thumbnails will be used in the final, and I’ll probably have twenty more before I get to where I need to be. I’ve had a much easier time determining what shouldn’t be in this image and I’m still trying to figure out the rest. These Gollum drawings neither great nor are they the final design, but they are on the right track. The rest of my process work for this project, including more Gollum drawings, can be found on my blog.

June 9, 2010 at 10:11 am 1 comment

The Hobbit, part four

Posted by: Sam Bosma

Book: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Suddenly a sword flashed in its own light. Bilbo saw it go right through the Great Goblin as he stood dumbfounded in the middle of his rage. He fell dead, and the goblin soldiers fled before the sword shrieking into the darkness.”

Chapter 4: Over Hill and Under Hill

Click to enlarge.

At this point in the story, Bilbo and the dwarves are crossing a mountain ridge when they are are kidnapped by a hoard of goblins and taken into a cavern below. The Great Goblin recognizes the Elvish weapon Thorin carries as one that had slain dozens of goblins and goes mad with fury, leaping up and preparing to devour the dwarf. The great bonfire goes out in a pillar of blue smoke as Gandalf appears and kills the Great Goblin and many of his soldiers and the prisoners beat a hasty retreat.

I’ve written fairly extensively on my blog on the creation of the goblin design and the many different iterations I went through before landing on something I liked. There’s some further exploration on what the Great Goblin is compared to his soldiers and why he’s so big and weird. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, head on over there and take a look.

May 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm 7 comments

The Hobbit, part three

Posted by: Sam Bosma

Book: The Hobbit (purchase on Amazon)

“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a good bit of telling anyway. They stayed long in that good house, fourteen days at least, and they found it hard to leave. Bilbo would gladly have stopped there for ever and ever –even supposing a wish would have taken him right back to his hobbit-hole without trouble. Yet there is little to tell about their stay.”
The Hobbit, chapter three: A Short Rest

Please click to enlarge.

Apologies for lateness, but things are done when they are done.

This chapter was both a pleasure to illustrate and a bear to deal with. The chapter centers around one event (the finding of moon letters on Thorin’s map) and a whole lot of nothing. It seems like a given to illustrate Elrond holding the map before the moon and discovering those runes telling of the key to the secret passage into the Lonely Mountain. However…there are precious few rests to The Hobbit, and this is one of them, and that in itself is worth visiting.

When it comes to illustrating a passage where the central point is that nothing is happening to our protagonist, a new set of problems arises. How do you make a narrative image with no conflict without it becoming boring or trite or cliched? I guess it’s all about activating the senses. I wanted to evoke that sense that Bilbo is feeling, where you wouldn’t want to leave this place ever again. I don’t know if I’m there, but that was the goal.

I picture the elves as existing in perpetual June, at least in The Hobbit. They are beautiful and exude strength and vivacity, which can be a bit frightening (at least to little Bilbo), though their demeanor is pleasant. They have absolutely no worries at this point, or if they do, they disguise them well. They spend their days, months, and years doing the things we have to wait until the best days in summer to do. Their clothing is made of linen and cotton and is without much decorative ornamentation. It is beautiful, simple, and comfortable. They are the ancient Athenians of Middle Earth at this point.

Tomorrow you’ll be treated to two posts, you lucky devils, so stay tuned for Julia and John’s terrific work!

April 15, 2010 at 9:00 am 7 comments

The Hobbit, part two

Posted by: Sam Bosma
Book: The Hobbit
(purchase on Amazon)

“Dawn take you all, and be stone to you!”

This scene with the three trolls is one of my all time favorites in literature. I love the trolls arguing about how to cook the thirteen dwarves, and their dimwitted back and forth with the unseen Gandalf. It’s the first real scene where Gandalf reveals some of his power, keeping the murderous trolls occupied until the sun rises and smites the three.

I’ll be posting a rather lengthy post on the process of this piece on my blog come Friday, which should make me look like a real idiot.

Next month I’m looking to do something a lot more simple; these extensive pieces are sometimes pretty nasty to deal with.

March 10, 2010 at 5:10 am 4 comments

The Hobbit, part one

Posted by: Sam Bosma
Book: The Hobbit
(purchase on Amazon)

The Dwarves of yore made mighty spells / while hammers fell like ringing bells / in places deep, where dark things sleep / in hollow halls beneath the fells.

Pencil, ink, digital. 13×20″ (click  the image to view it larger)

Here we are, right at the beginning of the story, where Gandalf and the dwarves peer pressure Bilbo into joining their crusade against Smaug the dragon. This particular scene is towards the end of their meeting, when Bilbo gets a little carried away and embarrasses himself.

The Hobbit is wham-bang scene after wham-bang scene, but I thought it was important to start here, where the seeds of the whole adventure are sown. It only gets crazier from here on out.

Please check out my blog: ( where I have been and will continue to post exploratory sketches for this project. I’ve written pretty extensively on how I’m treating the project throughout the sketching phase, so there’s a lot more information there if you’re interested.

February 10, 2010 at 10:00 am 16 comments

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