From the Dragon's Hoard

October 14, 2012

From the Dragon's Hoard by Shaylynn Rackers. 18x18 inches, charcoal and graphite.

This drawing was inspired by The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. In the book, Bilbo Baggins discovers that the dragon Smaug is mysteriously missing from his cavern hall and fetches Thorin and Company. The dwarves were at first hesitant, then delved eagerly into the piles of gold and jewels. They find beautiful weapons and gird themselves with armor. I imagine this taking place just before Thorin gives Bilbo the mithril coat.

A few weeks ago, Mom sent me a link to the Hobbit Design Contest. I love art and I love The Lord of the Rings and I'm completely hyped for the Hobbit movies, so several friends encouraged me to enter. Technically I wasn't even old enough to enter when the contest began, but I turned 18 before the deadline so it's all good. :) This is a worldwide contest and there are some SPECTACULAR entries, especially in the Characters and Creatures categories. Go check it out. I hope to be able to paint like those artists someday! Anyway, that is what inspired this crazy venture.

At first I wasn't sure what to draw-- and even now I'm surprised I didn't do a drawing of one of the characters! But I love intricate detail and I love designing jewelry, so I had decided to try my hand drawing a sword and putting in as much crazy detail as I could.

The drawing took a week of my free time (and then some! I wasn't very productive that week...). I listened to the entire unabridged Fellowship of the Ring, so I guess it took around twenty hours.

And now, some behind-the-scenes stuff...

When I first told my teacher that I was going to draw a sword and started getting very animated about weapons, she disappeared upstairs and came back with this beauty! She let me bring it home to use as reference for a week.

(A friend just told me that this dagger is a replica of the one that Harry tries to kill Peter Parker with in Spiderman II!)

A katana, sparring staffs, and a couple of awesome swords made their way downstairs, too, and we giggled over them for awhile. She was a black belt in Taekwando and did weapons training, although she doesn't remember any of the weapons' forms. (It was pretty epic watching her do a couple of basics, though). Then we talked for a long time, comparing my taekwando lessons with hers, and I wasn't super productive that class. :D

I did a concept drawing of my sword, which wound up looking nothing like the Spiderman dagger. I did use the filigree design on the scabbard, but turned it into proper knotwork by adjusting the over-under pattern.

My brother Will was my "studio" guinea pig and stood like a statue in the back room while I played with camera settings. Dad's awesome-strong hands became the dwarf's hands, and Mom posed for me so I could get the tunic's wrinkles right. My football-player brother was supposed to help, too, but he went and got his hands stuck in casts after a game and couldn't pose as a dwarf.

I still wonder if I should have tried harder to get that drastic lighting you see in the photographs.

By the way, yes, it IS very possible for veins to be this big in real life, and for fingers to be so muscular. People keep asking if it's all super exaggerated-- it's not, just look at the pictures of my dad's hands above!

Dad surprised me by buying me a thick pad of my favorite paper ever-- Bristol board. And a nice giant size, too! Thanks for saving me a long drive to the art store. :)

(Note the Dwarven runes on the ring! It says "treasure.")

Everything was going fine, until:


I'd put the drawing in the securest corner of my bedroom (a two-foot square space by my desk). My littlest brother decided to play with some of my sister's toys. Which would have been okay, except that he got bored and apparently started spinning around on my desk chair. Which somehow fit into the two-foot space. And somehow, he fell over with the chair and the chair went SQEEEEEEK across my drawing. (I felt so bad for him, he was so sorry).

I wasn't too worried until I saw that the permanent gray color and the deep dent wasn't just on the blank space. It was on the already drawn sword guard.

The funny thing is that the dent was easy to disguise on the guard. It took less than an hour! However, the dent across the blank space was very difficult to deal with because my charcoal would not fill it in! I was able to darken up most of the streak (and make the tunic less detailed) but in certain lighting you can still see the shimmer from the compressed paper. It turned out OK, though.

Taking the photo of the finished piece.

A friend asked me to film myself the next time I did a drawing, so I did. If you feel like spending ten minutes of your life watching clips of me drawing, you are welcome to.



Check out the blog post about it here!

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  1. I own this dagger! That's so funny :D

  2. Awesome illustration, Shaylynn! Really fabulous detail! You did a wonderful job on both the composition and the execution in graphite. It must have been a ton of work and a ton of fun!

  3. daaaaaang, Shaylynn. That's incredible. **jealousy rears its ugly head** You are very, very talented, and you inspire me to get my act together and start working to improve my own art. Thanks much! :)

    God bless!

  4. WOW!! that is amazing!!
    Exquisite! (:

  5. First: I love the music you added. I felt like I was watching an artist in the appendices of the movies.
    Second: I seriously teared up watching this. It was like God was shining through your work.
    Third: Where did you get that awesome TARDIS/Narnia wallpaper? So cool.

  6. That was a truly beautiful and inspiring video, Shaylynn. Seeing the amount of work and love that you put into this project was very moving and very impressive. Thank you for sharing your talent with all of us. I second one of the comments above: it was like watching footage on the LotR special features DVDs. What an amazing piece.
    Oh, and I did notice the dwarf runes, and though I couldn't make the ones on the bottom out, I got "treas" and figured it out from there. :) Excellent detail!

  7. Wow! Hands are so hard for me to draw. I hates them! lol. That is such a cool picture. So well done. :) I love how much detail you did on the dagger, it's beautiful! Love it.

  8. hello,
    i watched your film and completely enjoyed watching this piece come to life. it is such a wonderful piece, full of feeling and spirit. I wish you success in the competition!

    plus you look so cute in your purple cloak ;-)

  9. You are a very talented young lady. I looked at some of the other work in the contest quickly. Your drawing is very powerful and strong. I love all the detail you put into it. Great to hear how your family helped. Dad's are brilliant for getting their girlies just the right stuff. You mentioned that you love designing jewellery. Here in France I've heard several jewelers complain that there not enough young people going into the design and make side of the business. What ever you decided to do, you will be great... so glad you shared with Sunday Sketches... :)

  10. agree with all the other comments here - amazing drawing, and I also enjoyed your fast motion movie! All the best for the competition!

  11. I liked the theme concept. Very Beautiful and Colorful.

    Anyways, Take a look on my work as well.
    }{appy }{alloween !! Trick-or-Treat !!

  12. All your research really aided you in creating a wonderful piece of art.

  13. this is amazing. your sketch work is just beautiful you capture light and texture so very very well!

  14. This is absolutely fabulous. What amazing work you've done here! Wow! :)

  15. Divine illustrations ~ Wow! ~ (A Creative Harbor)

  16. WOW! I am so impressed with your work...absolutely amazing! I bought the LOTR extended edition trilogy a few weeks back and we're waiting for just the right weekend to settle in for a movie bonanza! This post has made me even more eager. :)


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