Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Battle of Five Armies - "The Last Stand of Thorin Oakenshield"

"The Last Stand of Thorin Oakenshield"
30x40 Oil on Masonite

If you were at IlluXCon in Sept of last year, then you've seen this already.  I had the original on display at the show.

One of my first illustrative drawings when I first started attending art school was the iconic scene of The Battle of Five Armies from the book The Hobbit.  It was a decent effort, but an ambitious image to tackle, especially for a new art student.   I had always wanted to illustrate the scene again at some point.  So, when Ares Games emailed asking me to illustrate their The Battle of Five Armies board game cover, I jumped to the opportunity.


There were a couple of artists Matt Stewart and Justin Gerard who've illustrated this scene before and they just nailed it!  As much as I wanted to do my interpretation, I just didn't know how I was going to go about not looking like a hack next to these amazing works.  The director and I agreed that picking another moment in the battle might be best.  There were a few key things that happen in the battle that would make for a cool image.

We finally decided on the scene where Thorin enters the battle and is surrounded.  Seeing this as a golden opportunity, I wanted to go as epic as I dared with the image.  I came up with a composition that I thought would make a great image.  It encompassed a pretty large scene with 20 or so characters in it.  The director only needed a certain amount of the image for the box art, but I had a second agenda.  I made sure to finish what they needed first so that I would be able to hit their deadline.  The final box art also has some digital manipulations.  They wanted key elements on the box art that didn't fit exact with what I had in mind for the original paintings.  For example you'll notice the eagles in the background are moved closer to the center.

After the assignment was over I would spend another few months, off and on, finishing the painting.  Since half of the painting was for my own pleasure I had to work on it in between jobs.


I wouldn't normally do something like this, but the subject was something I've always had a strong passion towards.  I would have been a fool not to take the opportunity to do it.  Plus, I wanted to get this out before Peter Jackson put the visual out there that will forever be in people's minds!



  1. Such a great painting, it doesn't need a giant bear to make it kick ass. I'm glad to have seen it at Illuxcon. Congrats on the sale too!