JRR Tolkien as an Illustrator

Christian Fantasy

Here’s a quick dose of fantasy for your enjoyment–illustrations by JRR Tolkien. In addition to his work as a scholar and an author, Tolkien dabbled in artwork for his stories, and I find it fascinating to glimpse how he visualized Middle Earth. If you’re interested learning more about his ventures as an artist, you may want to check out the book JRR Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator.

Without further ado, here are a few illustrations of familiar scenes from Tolkien’s books (some of these were originally black and white with coloring added later).

The trolls encountered by Bilbo:

The view east of Rivendell:

Beorn’s Hall:

Do you have a favorite scene from Tolkien’s books?

If you’re a writer, do you create illustrations or character images for your own work?


  • Nichole White
    April 27, 2011 - 4:30 pm · Reply

    To your second question: oh yes, all the time. I should work on creating scenes more vividly in my sketches, but I love to try and make something come to life in a sketch as much as through words. It’s fun and it’s fulfilling. 😀

    • Sarah Sawyer
      April 29, 2011 - 11:54 am · Reply

      Nicole, that’s great! Illustrating and writing go so well together–I’ve always wished I was artistically inclined so I could create images from my stories. It seems like it would be very satisfying to see a visual representation of the world/character/scene you’re writing, exactly as you envisioned it. I do have a sister skilled at drawing and painting though, and she drew me a scene from one of my books as a gift. That was fun to receive. 🙂

  • Mary
    April 28, 2011 - 11:27 am · Reply

    I love the illustrations, Sarah. Thanks for sharing!
    Regarding your second question, I love drawing maps of the locations in my stories. I have tried on multiple occasions to draw scenes and characters from my stories as well, but it rarely works out like I want it to. Only once did I manage to do a portrait of a character that actually looked like she was supposed to look. Blame it on a lack of hand-mind coordination, I guess 🙂

    • Sarah Sawyer
      April 29, 2011 - 11:59 am · Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed them, Mary! I rarely hear Tolkien’s illustrations mentioned, and to me they represent another facet of his world-building.

      I have come to realize how important a good map is to storyworld logistics, but I can’t manage a hand-drawn map–I have to use software. Given that drawing a map challenges me, you can imagine that I haven’t endeavored to depict characters and scenes…so I admire that you’ve done as much as you have! It must have been satisfying to see your character come to life in that way, even if it was only once. 🙂

  • Pam Halter
    April 30, 2011 - 10:45 am · Reply

    I love Tolkien’s illustrations, too. Makes me wish I could draw. 🙂 I just got in Tree and Leaf on the recommendation of a friend. Haven’t read it yet, but am looking forward to it.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      May 2, 2011 - 9:17 pm · Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Pam! It’s good to know I’m not the only one without the gift of drawing. 🙂

      If you enjoy Tolkien, I think you’ll love Tree and Leaf. Leaf by Niggle is a fascinating story, plus I loved reading his thoughts on fairy story. It’s good stuff.

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