Eowyn Confronts the Witch-king Picture

“I will smite you, if you touch him.”

One Stood There Still – Éowyn Confronts the Witch-king

“But Théoden was not utterly forsaken. The knights of his house lay slain about him, or else mastered by the madness of their steeds were borne far away. Yet one stood there still: Dernhelm the young, faithful beyond fear; and he wept, for he had loved his lord as a father.
Then out of the blackness in his mind [Merry] thought that he heard Dernhelm speaking; yet now the voice seemed strange, recalling some other voice that he had known.

‘Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!’

A cold voice answered: ‘Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.’

A sword rang as it was drawn. ‘Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.’

‘Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!’

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel.

‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.’
A little to the left facing them stood she whom he had called Dernhelm. But the helm of her secrecy had fallen from her, and her bright hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders. Her eyes grey as the sea were hard and fell, and yet tears were on her cheek. A sword was in her hand, and she raised her shield against the horror of her enemy's eyes.”

-- J. R. R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings, Book 5

This is quite a tricky scene to arrange poses for. I must have drawn a dozen versions of it years ago and was never quite happy with any of them. This time I left the ringwraith out of the picture to give him more of a looming, overshadowing presence. I feel it builds up the threat he poses, more than if I had confined him to the same scale as Éowyn.. Also, this scene is so much more about her than anything else; I felt putting them both in would diminish her importance as the focal point in the composition.

In my opinion Éowyn is one of Tolkien’s greatest characters despite her relatively small role in the Lord of the Rings. She is more multifaceted than some more prominent characters – a true heroine who embodies such qualities as loyalty and love, dignity and pride, courage and strength. She has a human side and suffers her losses and failures, but beyond all hope she overcomes her weaknesses and becomes the stronger for it.

Tolkien’s literary style is derived from heroic legends and mythology such as the Eddas, where people typically “are what they were born to be” and always act accordingly. In such context, Éowyn is a rare and interesting example of a more complicated personality who also manages to have a tiny little something in the way of character development in the course of the story. In other words: she’s way cool!
Anyway, this is another attempt at drawing an entirely digital piece in Photoshop with a pen tablet. Even though I’m sufficiently pleased with the result to consider this my personal favourite of all my Tolkien illustration so far, I definitely know now that I prefer pencils over the digital medium when it comes to drawing! Well, I guess did know that already, but this has just proven the point. The fact that you can do (and redo) anything in the magic world of Photoshop means that someone who’s as obsessed with details as I am will have hard time knowing when to stop fiddling with the drawing! I also wish I had thought out some of the details more before I drew them.. for instance, I don't think Eowyn's scabbard and boots fit my idea of the Rohirrim too well. On the other hand I think they look quite good so it'd be a shame to erase and redraw them.. I have to draw the line somewhere.

The process of working digitally is also a lot less comfortable than good old pen and paper. I would often open the file when I got home and just look at it and then end up doing something really minor and trivial. So I’ve been staring at the screen for countless hours, probably a total of 50 at least, zooming in and out, just occasionally working on some small corner or detail. And most finer detail was lost anyway when I shrank it down to 1/3 of it’s original size.. Talk about waste of time!
At any rate, I’ve been working on this FOREVER.. one small piece at a time, for almost five months (this was actually one of the first drawings I started after finding my inspiration again). Part of the reason it has taken so long is that I've been working with colouring and textures at the same time. Still, I think I would have finished it months ago if it wasn't for the background – especially that friggin' dead horse in the middle.. I've drawn it half a dozen times already but I just can't make it look the way I want it to. Arghh, we hatesss it, we hatesss it for-everrr!
Photoshop + tablet. (+ an unhealthy amount of coffee, insomnia and general madness..)

Coloured version here.
"Inked" version here.
Continue Reading: Old Man of the Sea