THE LORD OF THE RINGS – BBC Radio adaptation – “One audio book to rule them all !”


Welcome. This will be a review for THE LORD OF THE RINGS and it´s here because the original masterwork from Tokien it´s one of my main inspiration sources for when i´m creating illustrations and so i had to talk about it on this blog too.


Actually, I´m not talking about the brilliant Peter Jackson movies or about the original novels even, but I want to present you the almost forgotten and fantastic BBC Radio Adaptation produced back in 1981 more than twenty five years ago wich still remains in my opinion one of the best audio books you can ever buy or listen to.
If not the best ever !
And it´s mine, it´s my precious !…ssss.

By the way, the cover you see above is the modern cover for this product. It was now re-released again because of the movie´s success and so that is the new look for the box cover. I don´t know how the interior package looks like.

The other photos you see on this article below are from my very own purchase and they represent the version which was available some years ago on, (you can stil find this version in amazon sellers if you want to). This version was presented in a box, which contained this really cool hardcover book with all the Cds in it, a small booklet with plenty of notes about the making of and also a map of middle earth.


Yes, it´s The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien but in a radio dramatized version with a huge cast and it´s hard to describe in words something that can only be truly experienced by sound. After its initial radio broadcast in England, it became available in cassettes for a while, until it was released in CD around 1999.

The Lord of the Ring BBC Radio adaptation - audio book review

I first listened this incredible radio play, about eleven years ago, when i bought it in CD from Amazon.Uk attracted by some reviews but i was not expecting this at all for the quality of this radio production rivals the work of Peter Jackson but in audio form.
It got me hooked on audio books since then, and since then i´ve been searching for something that could top it but to this day nothing ever came close to it.

Ready to return to Middle Earth ?
If you´ve check out the dvd extras in Peter Jackson´s Lord of the Rings movie adaptations, you probably didn´t noticed a guy called Brian Sibley.He was there for more than one reason, and among them is because he´s the person behind the first ever great adaptation of Tolkien´s novel. Precisely the BBC Radio dramatization of The Lord of the Rings, which was also used by Peter Jackson to help planning the initial structure of the movies and so, if you´ve never heard about the radio version of this story, you can see there´s much more to it than it seems at first.
The radio version of The Lord of the Rings,  is about 12 hours long (more or less the same as the new Peter Jackson movies altogether), and  immediately got a place of honor on my bookshelve next to the printed traditional Lord of the Rings novels.
In fact, it still surprises me that although, the BBC Radio adaptation is popular among people who love audio books, it´s not very well known outside that circle of fans.

Although it´s not exactly part of the official Peter Jackson´s movie versions Lord of the Rings merchandise, for obvious reasons, it surely deserves to have a place in the heart and bookshelves of everybody who loved the movies or read the books and so i hope this text now, will contribute to spread the word around about this incredible alternative to the dvds or the books themselves.
If you like books on tape, or you´re curious about them and never listened to one, this is the first one you should get.

As good as the movies in all aspects and even if you don´t like Fantasy, but enjoy good acting, you´ll be amazed at the quality of this audio production.


Huge cast of perfect voices, great editing and to top everything there´s an incredible music for this Lord of the Rings soundtrack too, that you won´t forget and its as cinematic as the music from the movies.
At this point i still don´t know which of the two i like best yet.
Also the BBC radio adaptation differs from the movies because it´s more faithful to the books. There´s a few chapters left out of the movies and the ending is the original one written in the novel by Tolkien with the original structure and it´s different from the ending in the movies. So if you haven´t read the books and only saw Peter Jackson´s adaptation you´ll enjoy to discover how the real ending of the books was done. It´s all here in the BBC radio version.
The only thing left is once again the strange chapter about Tom Bombadil for those who know what I´m talking about. This radio version also left that one out for obvious reasons that all Tolkien book fans understand.
There´s so much to tell about this work, but at the same time i don´t want to spoil the joy of discovery, so let me see…I can start by speaking about the voice cast.
It´s brilliant ! You don´t need to know more.

Actually…I can tell you that if you love the Lord of the Rings movies, you´ll recognize many of the characters just by listening to them in this radio version. Although this audio production was created around 1981, you´ll be amazed at the similarity between some of the voice acting here and the actual voices of the actors that Peter Jackson cast for the modern movie versions.
You´ll feel right at home and sometimes if you close your eyes it almost feels like you´re listening to an alternative movie cut.

Middle-Earth Dejà-vu… 🙂
Gandalf´s voice (Michael Hordern), is almost the same as in the modern movie versions, the same goes for Frodo and Sam, and some other characters too, which demonstrates how influential this radio version was for the making of the movies more than twenty years later.
Ian Holm, wich in the movies now played Bilbo Baggins, in the audio-book, plays Frodo Baggins instead and it´s brilliant. It´s almost like you´re listening to Elijah Wood creating the same character nowadays. It´s really weird.

And wait until you get to ear Gollum !

Before the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy came out, i lent this audio book to my friends and after listening to it, they went around the streets screaming “Precioussssss ! My preciousssss !” long before the common person ever heard of the movies and so you can imagine the reactions.


The actor that plays Gollum in this radio version, is the same one who created the interpretation for the character in the infamous Ralph Basky animated movie of the 70´s. The same one where Andy Serkis based its performance as talked about in the dvd movie extras.
There´s almost no difference between the voice acting in this audio book and the magnificent work that Andy Serkis did for the movies. It´s like a continuation of a brilliant performance shared by two actors, Peter Woodthorpe and Serkis.
If you loved Gollum in the movies, and don´t know this audio book, get ready for a surprise. You´ll love it !



I don´t want to continue writting a giant text here as i had plenty to say about this fantastic Lord of the Rings audio book, so let me summarize the remaining brilliant features of this production.
If you loved Tolkien´s poems from the original books, and you missed them in the movies, you´ll absolutely adore what Brian Sibley has done with some of those bits. Many Hobbit and Middle Earth songs are put to music an sung during the story and contrary to what would be expected they don´t sound corny at all. In fact, the songs fit just right into the narrative and you´ll be completely fascinated by the power of sound to carry you into a fantasy world.

The music soundtrack is beautiful overall, and best of all, you can have it on a isolated CD that comes with the 13 Cd set.


As an adaptation, well, it´s as good (or bad depending on the views) as the movie was. There are some bits missing from the novels, some events changed around, (exactely like in the movies), and like I said the Tom Bombadil episode is also absent, but nothing can detract this work from being an incredible masterpiece of voice acting and storytelling, that you must buy today.
The only thing that i don´t like at all, is the way the first episode begins with Gollum being captured by the Orcs. It sounds weird (the orcs sound too British and polite), and starting the story at the middle can be a bit confuse for those who don´t know the books. In my opinion it was a very bad choice to begin this magnificent work in this way.
But don´t worry, once we get to the Shire about five minutes into the episode, you´ll start to love it and you´ll be totally hooked ! Trust me.

A funny trivia about the project, was in the fact that Michael Horden who plays Gandalf, did it without even liking the book or understanding of what it was about as it was known at the time that he only did it basically for the money and as a job opportunity. If it was like that and his Gandalf is absolutely incredible, i wonder how it would come out if Horden actually liked Fantasy novels ? His performance in this audio book is just pure Tolkien and you can find much of Horden´s Gandalf in McKellen´s work later in the movies themselves.

Buy the right version. The BBC one.

I would recommend you buy the European Edition, (the golden one you see in all the photographs above , either my version or the new box),
It´s worth the price. Believe me and go for it.

In alternative, you can search for the American editions of the BBC version. There´s now TWO as i understand…the one with the more colorful package and a new one similar to the european but with an ugly design.

All editions carry a folded map of Middle Earth which looks the same as the one in the books.

Other safe european editions to buy are these ones where you can either buy the trilogy in separate CDs

cd-bbc-lotr-thefellowshipofthering  cd-bbc-lotr-thetwotowers  cd-bbc-lotr-thereturnoftheking




… or even buy a new excellent edition with both BBC the Lord of the Rings COMPLETE TRILOGY and the earlier BBC The Hobbit radio dramatization of which I´ve spoken in this blog in a separate review and it´s excellent too. This is my pick to buy for sure.


DO NOT BUY THE AMERICAN radio adaptation by mistake.

No matter what you get, make sure you´re buying the BBC RADIO Dramatization with Ian Holm starring as Frodo.
There´s 2 radio adaptations out there. The BBC and the American one.
Make sure you´re getting the BBC one first.
There´s another radio-play adapting the Lord of the Rings but don´t get that one, before you listen to the BBC one. Please !
The other is known as the National Public Radio Version and it´s the American one, much inferior to the English for many reasons which i´ll detail in my other review in the future.

Beware, then. Get the right radio-play, the (English) BBC Radio version, not the National Radio Play (American) one which is depicted on this photo right here.

I know that wooden box looks much cooler and atmospheric than the other packaging for the BBC versions but don´t be fooled by a pretty box.
Make sure you listen to the original English one first and then you can check out the US inferior version to compare. But only then. Not before. Trust me. 😉

You´ll love the original.



More photos from the creation of my illustrations (TreeWorld (alternate version) and Ufo Kid) – Mais fotos da criação de algumas ilustrações.

If you´re like me, you´re probably always curious about the process of creating an illustration, so in this section i´ll try to document the creation process of some of my pictures, (when i remember to take photos as i go along…).
I´ll not do an exaustive step by step for each pic, but i´m planning some visual tutorials on how i create my style of art, so if you guys and girls like this Making of section, soon i´ll start creating detailed tutorials because the best way to learn is to see how it´s done. 😉


Se forem como eu, provavelmente gostarão de conhecer como são criadas muitas das ilustrações que encontram, por isso nesta secção eu agora irei colocando algumas fotografias do processo criativo, (quando me lembrar de ir tirando fotos….).
Não será ainda uma exaustiva documentação de todo o processo, mas se vocês gostarem de espreitar este tipo de coisas, em breve penso criar uns tutoriais-passo-a-passo, pois a melhor forma de aprender a fazer algo é ver como se faz. 😉


“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” – THE HOBBIT – BBC Radio adaptation – Audio book

As an illustrator, one of the questions i get asked the most since i professionaly started on this path back in 1992, is:
– “Where do you come up with this crazy stuff ?!!!”
This was the top question thrown at me back in the days before Fantasy was fashionable and before it became so popular within the general mainstream audience; thanks to the new hit movies we all know and love.
Before Peter Jackson´s – The Lord of the Rings – presented the genre to the casual movie goer, it´s hard to believe but not many people read Fantasy books (not like today anyway), and so only the real genre fans knew about “A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula Le Guin, “Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S.Lewis and of course, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” by Tolkien, that inspired so many artists like me myself to create our own worlds of fantasy.

But back then Fantasy was treated almost like the poor retarded cousin of science-fiction (or worse; some fairytale crap for little children) and so illustrators like me that created images within those imaginary universes always got that odd look from observers and the usual question was always inevitable:
“Where do you come up with this crazy stuff ?!!!”
Followed by the inevitable: – “Isn´t that for little kids ? Do you still like fairytales ?!“(chukles).

Well, speaking for myself, i always got inspiration from the sea and the seascapes from around where i live, from fantasy books, earlier fantasy movies (The Neverending Story, Lady Hawke, Legend) and more recently in the last 10 years from audiobooks.
So now, i decided to share here on this blog, some of the best ones i know and that i´ve listened to over the years and that still inspire me today to create my art.
I always wanted to diversify this webspace talking about some of my best inspiration sources and so let´s start with one of the very best.
Let´s talk about  THE HOBBIT.
Not the upcoming Peter Jackson movie, but about the almost forgotten and fantastic BBC Radio Adaptation produced back in the 60´s more than fourty years ago.

Nowadays almost everyone who has seen the Lord of the Rings movies knows about the early novel that later developed into that now famous trilogy. Many people have read the book, but maybe not so many people know that this early novel was also adapted by BBC Radio back in the 1960s.
To me, altough the BBC 1981 Radio adaptation of Lord of the Rings overall is the best audiobook ever made, nothing beats the first minutes of narration in this earlier radio adaptation for pure Tolkien atmosphere and i´ll be very surprised if the opening of the upcoming Peter Jackson movie adaptation can match the one in this audiobook.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

This is how the story starts off .  If you´re a fan of the book and never listened to this 1968 BBC Radio adaptation you´re in for a treat.
There´s no way i can describe in words what two actors can do with only their acting skills backed up by the perfect music soundtrack to fit the original text.

Essentialy, instead of just having this initial and totaly iconic bit of narration read by a single person, this was transformed into a dialogue between Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins as they both start to tell this magic tale and in the process interrupt each other with snippets taken from the original text in a way that i wasn´t expecting at all but wich is simply a brilliant piece of audio narration that not only remains true to the original writen material but enhaces the whole initial setting of this amazing prelude to The Lord of the Rings.

After listening to the begining of this audiobook you´ll never be able to read the actual writen book without thinking of this narration and play it inside your mind as you read along. I guarantee you.
It´s that good.
Yet again, if you never listened to this and you´re a fan of the book, you really, really must get this one too along with the LOTR Brian Sibley adaptation. Yes you do. You don´t know it yet, but you really, really want to.;)
After reviewing in this website the BBC Radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, i simply had to do The Hobbit next as it was the most logical recomendation to present to those who are looking for audio books on mp3 or cd and even good audio books for children. After all this book was writen as a novel for kids to begin with.

The Hobbit radio play is as good as the Lord of the Rings BBC Radio adaptation…although diferent.
This 1968 BBC Radio earlier atempt to adapt a Tolkien novel, has a totaly diferent feel to the later 1981 LOTR adaptation.
Actualy if feels much simple. The cast is smaller, the soundtrack is much more like Celtic music without that big movie orchestration from the Sibley LOTR adaptation but this whole setting is just perfect to adapt the much less complicated novel that lead to The Lord of the Rings as The Hobbit is also a much simple book than what later followed.
It might sound less sofisticated, (the sound quality is also much inferior than what you can listen to for the LOTR later adaptation), but the 1968 BBC Radio adaptation for The Hobbit is in my view another masterpiece of audio dramatization and so i guess i must consider it as the second best audio book i ever listened.
And probably you will too. 🙂

This radio play is a good and captivating adaptation that follows the book very well, with a couple of exceptions that in my view are not even worth mentioning as they don´t ruin the original work at all and the acting is absolutely fantastic. Gandalf sounds diferent than what was later done for the LOTR adaptation but nevertheless it´s the perfect interpretation for this character as it appears in The Hobbit.
And Bilbo Baggins audio depiction is not only perfect and brilliant but absolutely captivating as you can really believe that if it had existed somewhere it would surely sound like that.
The whole dramatization has a very British feel to it and that couldn´t complement the book better as the rural atmosphere from this work totaly carries you into an earlier Middle-Earth to simplier times long before the events of The Lord of the Rings.

Technicaly, nowadays this BBC Radio adaptation might sound a bit disapointing to those who will go into it expecting modern  state of the art sound effects and atmosphere, but remember this was done more than 40 years ago and at the time it must have been a radio event i´m sure.
Nevertheless, do not worry, as there is nothing here that will prevent you from enjoying this amazing prelude to The Lord of the Rings as much you probably liked the 1981 adaptation.

It´s a must buy if you love Fantasy, so don´t try to resist.
Even if you download it in mp3, i believe you´ll want to own the original edition after you listen to it. One of many available with different covers.

And by the way…speaking of mp3…The weird music in this radio play adaptation of The Hobbit fits the tale perfectly altough it doesn´t carry the same modern cinematic punch that was present in LOTR BBC soundtrack made more than ten years later but has tons of atmosphere nevertheless and fits perfectly with this magic tale.
The actors shine through, the characters are alive and if you´re a Tolkien fan you can´t miss this audio book, particulary if you never listened to it before.
It sure deserves a place in any good audio book club.
You can download it on the net for free, (but not in free audio books legal websites) but don´t waste your time, just buy the thing because if you love the book after listening to this version you´l want to own the audio book.
Besides it looks cool on the bookshelves next to the actual writen book as it´s got a nice package. Go buy, listen to it and enjoy pure Tolkien magic.
Then get The Lord of the Rings BBC Radio adaptation too. Because after this one, you know you have to anyway. 😉

But wait…What´s a Hobbit ?!
To those out there who never eard of The Hobbit as a book, well…have you seen The Lord of the Rings movies ? Want to know in detail how Bilbo Baggins found the One Ring and met Gollum ? It´s all in this book.
And in the audio book as this is another of the best books on tape you can get and it´s been re-released in 5 cds along with some goodies such as a Tolkien interview and aditional music.
If you´re searching to buy good online audio books and you love fantasy, you cannot go wrong buying this one, either in the UK edition or American ones as there are now a couple of diferent editions with a variety of covers available on CD.

Just make sure you´re getting the BBC Radio dramatization and not the book read by a narrator to get this version. Either for The Hobbit or for The Lord of the Rings. Above are some of the Uk and American releases.



Somebody, posted the entire radio play on Youtube, so what are you waiting ?!!
The sound is not as good as in the CDs (or very good at all) but you won´t care after five minutes of listening to this brilliant radio adaptation. Trust me, you´ll love it !


Here´s the complete links for all youtube episodes:
or There and back again, by Bilbo Baggins aka as Tolkien.

Episode One part 1
Episode One part 2
Episode One part 3

Episode Two part 1
Episode Two part 2
Episode Two part 3

Episode Three part 1
Episode Three part 2
Episode Three part 3

Episode Four part 1
Episode Four part 2
Episode Four part 3

Episode Five part 1
Episode Five part 2
Episode Five part 3

Episode Six part 1
Episode Six part 2
Episode Six part 3

Episode Seven part 1
Episode Seven part 2
Episode Seven part 3

Episode Eight part 1
Episode Eight part 2
Episode Eight part 3



In case you want to listen to the full play in MP3 before you decide to buy it on CD, you can download the full episodes in mp3 here.


Learning to fly 01 – Background color test and making of…sort of…

This is just the first test i did for a new illustration i´m working on for a commissioned set of pics to illustrate a children book.
The final illustration will have one more character in it, but this is the first one i did, so i wanted to try and see what color mood could work best for a background setting.
Actually this simple version ended up looking like a greeting card somehow…hmmmm………
Along with this pic i´m also posting some photos of the creation process.

Este é o primeiro teste relativo a uma das novas ilustrações que me encomendaram para um projecto de livros para crianças em inglaterra. A imagem final irá ter ainda mais um personagem mas como criei já este bonequinho quis ver como ficaria com um background por detrás e encontrar o tom de cor certo para talvez usar mais adiante.
Curiosamente este teste simples agora parece-se com um cartão postal….hmmm…..ideias….
Coloquei abaixo também algumas fotos do processo de criação deste personagem.

Stay tuned for the rest of the pic, i´m still working on. 😉
Em breve, o resto da imagem pois ainda estou a trabalhar no que falta. 😉

Looking for a freelance children book artist and illustrator ? Check my portfolio and my site and contact me today with your project.
Procura um ilustrador que se enquadra no meu tipo de trabalho ? Consulte o meu portfolio no meu site e contacte-me com o seu projecto.

Drawing Tutorial – How to draw landscapes or background scenery – INTRO

Fear of the great outdoors ?
It´s a matter of perspective, you know. 😉

Want to know how to draw landscapes or background scenery ?
Looking for online drawing lessons on how to draw scenery backgrounds ?
If you browse most amateur drawing galleries on the web it won´t take much time before you notice that one of the things where people have the most dificulty when rendering a drawing is adding a background.
Particulary a landscape or scenery background.
Not many try, and most of those who are brave enough end up stuck somewhere.

There are thousands of drawings on those galeries but most of the time people stick to drawing characters only and rarely we see an amateur illustration with a great landscape complementing a figure, much less we find many landscape-only drawings around. Why ? Because people tend to think creating a scenery is very difficult due to the dreaded fear of perspective.

So let me show you how you can avoid all that and let you know how to draw, perhaps that imaginary children book landscape you always wanted to do but never thought you had the talent.
Stick with me, but be warned this is going to be a long and detailed post. 😉



Are you looking at me ?…

You cannot escape it. No matter where you look you´ll find perspective staring back at you. The big diference between people who know how to render that on a paper and those like you who probably don´t, is that most of you don´t even notice perspective happening all around you in your ordinary life. Things were always there and they always will be, and of course you know if an object is far from you, it looks smaller and seems bigger the closer you get to it. But then things get more complicated.

If you´re looking straight at an object in the distance, (let´s say a house), and that house is right in front of you, when you walk straightforward towards it, the house gets larger as you get closer but its facade generaly still has the same shape, you saw in the distance, only bigger. And generaly the horizon line gets lower.

The problem starts when you get too close to the facade of the house. As you get near the house you see that the lines of its shape change at your eyes, the details increase and you get more choices where to look at.
You notice that, not only you can look at the house straightforward but as you are smaller in height to the architecture, you can even look up to it and see even more features revealed…by the perspective.
The same perspective that changes relatively to the observer as you move along in relation to an observable feature.
Note that now you can look up at the roof and see new lines that pull that shape of the roof behind the house into an unseen vanishing point and that enables you to look under that roof in this example. Same 3D effect on thewindow.


If you want to create a cool landscape first of all you should start by deciding what type of view you are going to use, because once the process starts you can make some serious errors in your drawing if you try to correct or change that type of view later on.

So first, imagine that you´re inside your paper and decide if you´re going to look at your landscape illustration from below, from above or straight at it.
Maybe you´re at the bottom of a castle tower looking up, or flying above the clouds looking down. Or maybe you´re on plain looking straightforward at a farm house.
Essentialy you have to choose your view and be the eyes of the person wich will look at your scenery when it´s completed.

You can create something at eye level where all the vanishing points (more on this ahead) are located at eye level and where the amount of sky and ground area is more or less the same like you see on the pic below.

You might decide you´re actualy looking down at your landscape and so the lower you look at, the less sky area you can see as the horizon line in your sketching goes higher almost to the top of the canvas.

This is what gives the first illusion you´re looking down. As you see more of the ground than of the sky as it happens in reality.

If you´re into radical drawing experiences, you can even eliminate the sky area totaly and create a pic where people are really, really looking down, but i wouldn´t advise it if you´re just begining.

Having a horizon line to place your vanishing guiding points is not only useful but trully mandatory if you know nothing about creating a scenery.

And of course, if you´re going to do something with a vast scale looking up, maybe a fantasy illustration where the sky is the main element, the more you look up the less ground you see and the more sky area you have to work on.

Notice that independent of the fact that you look up, down or straight ahead if you place an object at the horizon you can still be looking straight at it at the same time if you choose to make it so.
Once again, this has to do with perspective.

Keep on reading.

Next –  Little House on the Grid

Drawing Tutorial – Part One – “Little house on the grid”

Ok, perspective…don´t cringe now.
It goes like this. No matter where you look at in nature or all around you you can always pull some imaginary straight lines from inside a central point of a feature you´re looking at.
And the only way to pull dozens of imaginary lines in your direction that don´t overlap each other is to give them diferent angles.

The degree of each angle does not matter now but it´s useful that you make sure you imagine the lines on your left to have the same inclination as the ones you pull on the right, just so that you can have a nice grid and not make a mess right at the foundation of what you´re going to use to grow a scenery out of it.
As you have to make sure these lines do not overlap naturaly as you spread them from a single point to the side they create that sense of 3D space because they endup occupying all the ground area of your pic.

So far so good, right ? You´ve created a little house on the horizon, you´ve pulled those imaginary lines on the ground and all the 3D effect is looking good.
But what happens if you want to add another house on the side ? Do you use the same lines you pulled from the central little house ?
And why did you pull those lines in the first place ?!
Well, more on this ahead, but for now you just place another house on the side right on top of the horizon and pull more lines from it.

You start by pulling a straight line right from underneath as you did on the original house, and then keep pulling lines to its sides.
This creates another grid that overlaps the original one. Don´t worry, this is what you want, only you don´t just know it yet.
Notice those original horizontal lines parallel to the horizon wich make the original green grid ? The closer to you, the bigger the spaces between them and as you have those you don´t need to create more to represent the floor.

Those central points on each feature from where you are pulling those imaginary lines, are what´s usualy called “vanishing points” and they´re one of the most important things you need to focus on when you´re creating a landscape, perhaps to illustrate a childrenbook or rendering a simple view.
A complex scenery can end up having dozens of individual vanishing points as each feature you want to put on the scenery needs those points (and their guide-lines) to be correctely placed on a 3D ground while relating well to the other scenery elements you have.
Are you cringing now ? It´s not that dificult. 😉

Look at my little house there. This is the most simple way to have a landscape. Ok, it´s not that impressive, but even with only the house and the guide lines, you already have a 3D space that people will imediatly recognize.

And all this without even adding anything else to the scenery. Anyone looks at this and imagines a house, the ground area and sky.

Then again, raise the horizon level and you get plenty more of ground area to fill in later.

The angle of the pulled imaginary lines from the vanishing point also determines the angle in wich the viewer is seeing your scenery.
If i had placed those pulled lines in a more tigh angle to the central one right from underneath the house the floor would look much more inclined that it is now.

If you don´t get what i´m saying, try to pull some lines with diferent inclination to see the illusion effect you get.

In this case i´ve spread those lines in a more wide angle across the canvas and so my ground area became less inclinated than the one from the other example above independently of the fact that this is the version with the horizon placed up.

The angle in wich you pull the imaginary lines from each vanishing point determines the illusion of looking down in a balanced way or creates the effect of a really high straightforward drop.

Experiment with pulling those lines from an object and try to create all sorts of grids yourselves to get a more realistic idea of what i´m trying to explain here. 😉

And of course this is the version with lots of sky area to fill in.
How do you fill in that area in a realistic way ?
Oh, yes, once again…perspective and vanishing points and some new imaginary grids to place things in. Mostly clouds.

More on this later, at the right time.

Next – “Going 3D

Drawing Tutorial – Part Two – “Going 3D”

Lets go back to the original grid with the little central house from where you pulled the lines. It´s time to go 3D and create your first landscape feature, using precisely the first imaginary grid we sketched.
In this case we want to add another house. But as it´s located closer to the viewer eyes ,it stands on the ground and very important, in this case we are looking slightly down from an imaginary high point (maybe a hill), you get to see the top of the roof.
If you still only saw the facade then the view would be also diferent, but more on this ahead too. 😉

The new house looks 3D and with volume. That is simply because i´ve pulled the side lines of the original triangle further back to create some roof faces. Notice i´ve followed precisely the same angle of the imaginary green grid lines ? Well this is the secret to all this and the reason you have to pull them from a vanishing point. It adds depth.

Lets do the same with the other house on the side.
Notice you still have the original house facade intact. You´re only adding aditional volume to it in relation to the guide-lines.

See how the left bit of the roof follows exactely the nearby left guide-line ?
See how the right side of the roof does exactely the same related to the next nearby right guide-line in wich the house stamps on ?
Also now you can see a right wall on the house because we had to pull more lines from the square shape of the facade to follow the exact same guideline the roof is following.

And because we are looking from slightly above, the roof overlaps a bit of the new wall and you don´t need to pull the top line of the wall face also, because that right side face of the roof already defined the shape of the house when it was aligned with the guide-line. A house pointing into a vanishing point. 😉

This – pointing to vanishing points technique is the trick to place things right on 3D setting. As long you know, wich objects relates to its vanishing point you´re on the right track to creat all sorts of illustrations you dream of.
Maybe you can get into freelance illustration one of this days too.

Lets take a look at the example where you´re looking slightly up at the little house.
Notice you can see a little bit from underneath the roof ?
Why´s that ?
Is it pointing to the same vanishing point ?

What imaginary guidelines is this roof following ?

Well… these guide-lines. 🙂

As you can see, the lines that define the bottom area of the roof, are also following parallel to the new imaginary guide-lines for the sky.

The angle of these lines determines the depth or perspective in the way the roof looks to the viewer.

Once again you can experiment with grids having diferent angles to see slightly diferent depth views. Just remember to always pull lines and faces from an object in a parallel way to your guide-lines originated by the vanishing point you designated for each particular object.

This type of grid works well for a more graphic example like this and it´s good for beginners to get a good sense of how a vanishing point is used to create depth and volume, but as you can see it constrains the whole natural flow of a landscape and can make it a bit unrealistic. Tunnel-vision-style is never a good thing if you want to create a dynamic fantasy landscape or children book scenery.

After all, look around you… you don´t see everything converging into a single point of detph, do you ?

So how do you avoid creating a landscape, background or scenery that has this constraining and unrealistic tunnel view ?

You simply have to build a landscape based on multiple vanishing points. And those points don´t even have to always be associated with an object. Some can even be located outside of your canvas.

See those clouds ? What´s up with those ?

What guide-lines are these floating shapes following then ?!

Well they´re not following that single vanishing point grid for sure. And much less have much to do with the vanishing point on wich the little house was built with depth.

At least at first glance.
Keep on reading and forget about the clouds for a moment.
Lets focus on the actual landscape ground elements.

More on clouds later.

Next – “Scenery takes shape

Drawing Tutorial – Part Three – “Scenery takes shape”

We have some clouds, lets add another house to the scenery.
Let´s keep it simple, and make another structure facing us, only from the other side of our view.

So, to begin once again we imagine another vanishing point on the horizon and pull some imaginary lines.
Remember the angle of those lines starting from the center of the vanishing point determines the ilusion of where the viewer is observing the landscape.

In this case we try to give them more or less the same angle we´ve used to create the original house, otherwise we risk building a new one with the wrong perspective.

There´s ways to avoid those common errors but for the beginners out there, let´s stick with the simple version for now. 😉

Now we build another house. Once again, starting from the basic facade shape, we extract new lines and create faces wich give depth to the house.

As you can see, once again the faces follow the same angle as the guide-lines. Parallel to the roof shape.

Notice that in both houses you´re only able to see one side of the roof. That is what you would see in real life if the houses were located as they are in the drawing related to the observer.

That view as you can guess is determinded by these guide-lines. The same wich are all around you in real life but that you never think about as you look at things.

You see that something is up or down but you never think about why you perceive it like that.

One of the biggest errors that people make when trying to render a landscape such as this, is trying to show both sides of the roofs. This is mostly, because they know those roof-sides exist and so, most people feel they have to show them, otherwise the viewer would think there was something wrong with the drawing. Big mistake.

You should only render what the viewer would see in reality and never what you know it´s there behind something.
You would need a view that it would be impossible for you to render properly, simply because you have to follow the grids generated by the vanishing points.

We now have added a little tree to scenery. As you can see it doesn´t have much volume and because of that, in this example it can be placed anywhere as long you respect its size relatively to the distance.
Smaller when faraway – Bigger when close to the viewer.

It´s time to give the scenery some real scale and that is why the tree is now here.
As for the original little house it´s now back to show that you can make an horizon look as far as you want just by adjusting the size of an element you place at that horizon level.

Now that the little house is back, suddenly the landscape does not look as wide as it seemed without it, does it ?
If that original little house was even bigger your ground area would look even smaller.

So, first very important tip: – the vastness of a landscape can be increased or diminished by the size of the objects you place on the horizon. The further that object goes away from its real scale the vast your landscape will feel. The closer it comes to its real size the smaller and unrealistic your scenery will look, particulary if you already have some well placed elements as we now have with the two houses and the tree almost at foreground.

Next – “Planes & Viewpoints

Drawing Tutorial – Part Four – “Planes & viewpoints”

Wich brings us into another very important aspect of creating a good and dynamic scenery or landscape background.

Let´s talk about planes.
And i´m not talking about airplanes, but simply of the natural divisions that you can identify all around you when you contemplate a beautiful view in nature.

No matter where you look, and the vaster the view is you can always divide a scenery into mainly three diferent planes of view:
– Background
– Middleground
– Foreground

Usualy there´s more space for the foreground in my fantasy illustrations than i give it here on this pic but i have a reason for make it like this for now.

When you contemplate a view, you´ll notice that objects that are faraway are all about the same scale. The same goes for the ones that are located in the middle area of the scenery and finaly for the ones that are closer to your position.

These are the three planes you need to represent when creating a landscape.
You will never have a really tinny house the size of the one you can see in the distance next to the house near you as that is an impossibility.
Nevertheless many people make the mistake of representing that when trying to create a landscape.

In our example, you have the little house in the horizon as the background, then the two ones with the tree in the middleground and finaly, we follow the guide-lines and we´ve added two new ones and a new tree generated from simple shapes now located outside the canvas and extracted as before.

Usualy i make the foreground area bigger, but in this example, i wanted to show you something. If the foreground was bigger we could have filled it with the complete new foreground houses and tree and that would be almost repeating what it´s already done in middleground.

What i want to show you now, is that, altough you have to define an imaginary border for each of your planes and stick to the relative scale of the objects you place inside each of them, you don´t need to respect the top border at all to achive a technicaly valid scenery. Particulary when adding foreground scenery elements.

In fact, as long as you respect the scale of the elements you place as foreground pieces of your scenery you can overlap those “seconday borders” of the middleground and background planes.

Placing elements in a foreground is a great way to give scale to a scenery.
You don´t even have to draw the complete objects for people to identify because you already have similar ones present at your landscape and the mind of the viewer will make that association.

In this example the trees and branches of the foreground are nothing but flat shapes, but you can see they already create a good effect even without volume, simply because the scenery already has depth because of the 3D shape of the houses and so…this is highly subjective, but you can play with this level of details when you place landscape features.

You don´t always have to draw details in everything you place on a scenery.
To avoid the risk of overcrowding your landscape, if you balance between detailed elements and less detailed ones you can still create cool scenery. I use that method for my fantasy landscape illustrations.

Of course, you can also add depth to an element like a tree, more or less the same way you did with the houses.
You see, each tree also has its own grids and guide-lines as well as vanishing points they have to respect inside the landscape and those can also help you to add volume to a tree. More on future tutorials about this. 😉

For now lets stick with the basics and so…lets spread some more trees around inside our landscape.
Notice i always try to respect the scale of each element depending if i´m placing it on the background, middleground or foreground.
You can also place some big trees to add scale but don´t overdo it. Try to respect the scale of a level plane inside your scenery.

Getting back to the clouds…
You have noticed that they don´t exactly follow a grid pointing into the original little house vanishing point in the center, right ?…

Next – “Fluffy clouds in the sky

Drawing Tutorial – Part Five – “Fluffy clouds in the sky”

What´s up with those clouds? Where are they coming from ?
How are they positioned if it´s not from that center grid that is used for the sky ? And why not ?
Is there something wrong with that grid ?

Not really. In fact when you get experience in creating landscapes, imaginary grids like this can help you position some of the horizontal aspects of elements in the sky like these clouds here.

I know they are a bit tilted but if their base was following the horizontal lines on this grid the effect would be ok too. In this case most of the effect is on the variation in the size of the shapes and on their location.

This grid could also help positioning details in the actual clouds, like shadows or bright areas, but it´s not time to go into this sort of details yet, so for the moment, let just pretend this is a completely wrong grid to place clouds on this pic.

In fact, using a grid like this wich is focusing only on a single vanishing point centered at the middle of your canvas can bring some serious problems for the beginners.

Because i´m writing this tutorial particulary to help those people who know nothing or have very small knowledge about this type o scenery drawing, for the moment i do not recommend you try to place cloud elements on a grid like this.

Mainly because, if you´re been following my instructions, i can bet ,you would surely be trying to draw and place clouds the same way we created the volume for the houses and you probably would come out with a result like this. Lots of flat shapes in weird angles.

Wich is not exactly…a natural way of presenting a sky…unless you´re looking for a cool cartoon design.

To avoid having a typical cartoon effect like this in your scenery there´s a good solution.
Like i said before, the key to create a vast and dynamic scenery is not to have all your elements focused on one single vanishing point and instead you should use several vanishing points to place your elements.
Only making sure that they relate in angle to the guide-line you defined as the horizon line for your landscape.

A good example of this is how you should create a grid to place you clouds.
Forget about this grid, wich was good to define the basics of your 3D space for the ground area but that´s it.
If you want to design a landscape that does not look static and instead has its own life and dynamics you cannot stick to design everything around a single vanishing point like this.

Nature has tons of diferent focus viewpoints, so try to diversify the ones you use when creating your scenery. 😉

What you need for the sky are clouds that can open up your scenery even more.
A good way to do this, is to choose a vanishing point to the side and pull an imaginary grid from it.

Tip: A very important element in a landscape is also the way nature affects a scenery and so in this case, having some wind blowing from one direction affects the heading of the clouds in the sky as it happens in nature.
The idea with this sky grid is to create that sense of motion up above and so that´s the reason the horizontal lines in it are tilted.

Tilting an horizon is always a good way of adding a sense of “motion” to a landscape and in this case the fact that the clouds have their base aligned to the horizontal tilted lines of the grid, creates that ilusion and makes for the perfect contrast with the “solid stilness” of the ground area.

More on clouds on another tutorial ahead. 😉

Have you noticed ?
The scenery is completed. We now have a simple background with depth and dimension and also some cloud movement feel to give it life and we did all this without even adding any sort of details.
It was all done….with shapes and… perspective !!! Go figure ! 😉
What do you mean it´s not complete ?
Ok, to finish things off, lets add some green for the ground and some blue gradient to the sky. Why a gradient to the sky ?

Take a look at the sky above you. Its color is always darker above your head and gets lighter as it nears the horizon. So anytime you want to add depth with color to a landscape, creating a gratient sky is always a good start.
More on colors in a future drawing tutorial and on how you can even use color to replace detailed elements of an illustration.

Ah, but we´re not finished yet…come back !

Next – “Endless worlds