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The Crossing of Helcaraxe b/w by aautio The Crossing of Helcaraxe b/w by aautio
The Tragedy during the Crossing of Helcaraxë

“-- and finding no other way they endured at last the terror of the Helcaraxë and the cruel hills of ice. Few of the deeds of the Noldor thereafter surpassed that desperate crossing in hardihood or woe. There Elenwë the wife of Turgon was lost, and many others perished also; and it was with a lessened host that Fingolfin set foot at last upon the Outer Lands.”

- J. R. R. Tolkien: The Silmarillion, chapter 9: Of the Flight of the Noldor


Now that I have this Tolkien inspiration rolling, here’s again a Silmarillion illustration. I wanted to study the characters of Fingon and Turgon in particular and I chose a less illustrated scene this time (at least I have seen no illustrations of it.. of course it doesn’t mean there weren’t any.) :roll: It’s the painful crossing of Hecaraxë, more specifically Turgon devastated by the loss of his wife. Again a sad scene, I know, but those make often the best illustrations if one manages to get some emotion into them.. I’d like to think that with this one I succeeded to some extent at least. :)

Tolkien doesn’t tell how Elenwë died in the Silmarillion, but here (to make it more dramatic) I’m assuming she fell into the grinding ice. [EDIT: I read later on the description from HoME that she indeed drowned in the icy water, but i didn't know it when i drew this]. Fingon stares in horror at the crevice where she disappeared while Aredhel, also shocked, tries to comfort her brother together with his friend Finrod. Behind them Idril clings to her grandfather Fingolfin, who silently curses the name of Fëanor, adding yet this tragedy to his half-brother’s ever growing list of sins. Galadriel and Orodreth stand further away.

I tried to get the feeling of cold into the drawing with the wind and snow.. I don’t know if it really works though (especially in this scan).. I also wanted to show that the clothes and equipment of the Noldor were not meant for these conditions. They have a couple of animal hides they have managed to hunt during their journey but mostly they’re just wrapped in their thin cloaks and fancy clothes. Fingon, ever the warrior, wears parts of his armour even in the bitter cold and carries with him his bow and two-handed sword (I never thought he’d one to use a shield..) ;)

HB pencil and 0.5 mech. pencil. I’m not sure how much time I put into this because I was working on it an hour here and an hour there, but probably 8-9.

I’m quite pleased with this.. I hate my scanner though -- just like with the previous pencil drawings, it just loses all the fine lines.. I put quite a lot of work into the sky, snow and the wind effect and almost nothing is visible, no matter how I try to tweak the curves or levels in photoshop. Stupid piece of junk scanner :shakefist: ..all these look so much better on paper, damnit!

[ EDIT: Updated with a better scan, looks much better.. also no more evidence of weird hair colours and nonfunctional bows! =P]

A sepia version can be found here .
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:icongeekoftheworld:
Geekoftheworld Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Student General Artist
This is amazing. I love galadriel. It is so touching and sad. I felt like I was in the story
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:iconsilencem:
Silencem Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2010
Very well done. This picture shows how hard the Helcaraxe's trip was.
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:icondeliriouslyelphaba7:
deliriouslyelphaba7 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2009
Very, very good job although a) Idril was blond b)Some of the guys look a bit too feminine and c) broken ice wouldn't still have a nice soft layer of snow.
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:iconwedgefactor:
WedgeFactor Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
This is beautiful. The crossing is one of those scenes that everyone who thinks about it can picture perfectly, so it's wonderful to find someone who portrays it so well. It's also great to find a picture that isn't just everyone marching along in formation. Those pictures don't always convey the same sense of sheer desperation everyone must of had.

It's good to see Galadriel and Aedhel here, it seems most people focus all their attention on Turgon, Fingon and Idril. Galadriel looks so uncomfortable here, her and Orodreth (I never spell his name right) both look as though they aren't quite sure what to do.

Idril's despair, though you can't see her face, is obvious, as is Fingolfin's. This makes me want to re-read (for the billionth time) all my Tolkien books. All of them!
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:iconfaraith:
Faraith Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2007
Your attention to detail is mind-blowing. I found myself lost looking from character to character. Outstanding!
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:iconladymornariel:
LadyMornariel Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2007   Photographer
This drawing, and a piece Filat did regarding the very same crossing are among my absolute favorites. This is a heart-wrenching piece, for many different reasons . . . Elenwe's death, Turgon's grief, Fingolfin's wrath at his half-brother, and the fact that Feanor was driven to such madness in the first place.

Or maybe I'm just too fixated on the Noldor, and Feanor in particular . .. . ::grins::
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:iconaautio:
aautio Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2007
Thank you! :) Drawing emotions was the main idea in this drawing and it's still one of my personal favourites.. I'm glad you like it! :hug:
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:iconplim-plim:
Plim-Plim Featured By Owner May 1, 2006
I like it!
:tears: I CAN'T DRAW MEEEEN!!
I wish I had the time, the skills or the patience to draw like you :(

Pretty good job!:)
**
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:icongold-seven:
Gold-Seven Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2006  Professional Traditional Artist
O.O

Wow.

The composition here is outstanding, as well as - again - the characterization. Composition wise, I'd say this is by far your best. The depth here is terrific, and the cold does indeed come across.
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:iconaautio:
aautio Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2006
Thank you! :) I like this one a lot myself, although this is another piece that _really_ needs a rescan.. most of the fine detail is lost in this one. I've also changed this a bit and added some more pencilwork in the sepia version -- it's more final, but i need to rescan that one too.. my current scanner is a worthless piece of junk!

I had not read the part from HoME where Elenwë's death is described when i drew this.. i guess if i wanted to go according to that, Turgon and Idril should have wet clothes.. And i also had this brain flip and drew black hair for Idril -- that i fixed in the sepia version, though.
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:icongold-seven:
Gold-Seven Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2006  Professional Traditional Artist
I've forgotten what the story was of Elenwë's death - what was it again? I only remember that I read it and thought, "Oh bugger - my pic is wrong now" ;) I've drawn the scene too - eleven years ago :D
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:iconaautio:
aautio Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2006
I don't have the books with me now (locked them to a closet to help myself concentrate on my thesis.. :roll:), but IIRC, it's from HoME 12, the author's note on the Shibboleth concerning the names of Finwë's decendants. There it's said of Turgon that he came near to death in the icy waters while trying to save his wife and daughter who fell through the ice. He saved Idril but Elenwë was lost. That was it pretty much.. I think Idril was also supposed to be still quite young at the time. Had i read that when i drew this it might have turned out differently.. It's not completely contrary to that story, but Turgon definitely doesn't look like one who just took a swim in ice water (on the other hand, it is not told in the above note either with certainty that he did.. it might be interpreted that he just dangled on the edge of the ice while he pulled Idril to safety. Idril in this picture could be wet.. that would explain why Fingolfin tries to shield her with his cloak). Oh well.. i think i try to explain too much already! :D I might just as well accept that this picture has it's errors.. especially this version where Idril's hair is still the wrong colour and Fingon's bow looks uttely nonfunctional! ;)
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:icongold-seven:
Gold-Seven Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2006  Professional Traditional Artist
Count yourself lucky if nobody yells at you that Idril's hair colour is wrong, and that Turgon should be wetter! :D

Thanks for the story, I'd forgotten!
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:iconaautio:
aautio Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2006
:XD: Ah, yes.. i read about your problems at Elfwood. Oh, the dumbness of people.. :roll: There are characters whose hair colours Tolkien described and there are those that are open to interpretation.. AND one can always choose to follow the text or not. I think everyone is entitled to their own vision and anyone is free to paint Fingolfin with pink hair if they want to.. ;) Nothing changes the fact that according to Tolkien Fingolfin had dark hair. I really don't understand people who try to force their opinions on others in basically trivial matters, especially if they do it in an insulting manner and don't know the facts to begin with.. :no:

I'm personally obsessed with details, hair colour included, and i want to keep my vision as true to Tolkien as possible.. and i don't mind people pointing out such errors in my work -- as long as it's done in a polite manner and based on facts. Funny thing was that i had always imagined Idril as blonde, but when i drew this i couldn't remember if her hair colour was mentioned in the Silmarillion (i've read the book countless times but hadn't touched it in a couple of years). I was too lazy to check it out properly and when i didn't find it i just figured she'd actually have dark hair as she was Turgon's daughter. I then got polite feedback after submitting this, reminding me that her mother was a Vanya. So i checked the book again, found the passage and changed the picture. I also went ahead and read the book once again, as well as the Unfinished Tales, and bought most of the HoME volumes i didn't have while i was at it, and they've been quite inspiring! :)

Perhaps i should just update this picture with a new scanned image and hide all the evidence, so no one will start any kind of flame war about Idril's hair.. ;)
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:icongold-seven:
Gold-Seven Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2006  Professional Traditional Artist
That would be wise. :D

The funny thing is that I was probably as bad as some of those flamer when I was their age (assuming they're twenty at most). I had very fixed beliefs about how the characters should look (of course, they hardly ever conflicted with anything as there was no internet back then and nobody in my vicinity was a Tolkien fan), but I think I might have been quite an a$$hole too if there had been an internet :D
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:iconaautio:
aautio Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2006
Ehh.. in all honesty, i had my purist days too when i was a teenager.. ^^; Heh, there's definitely something mystic with hair colours and tolkienists.. it's almost like a religious war out there at times. :XD: But i can't remember ever starting discussions like that.. Well, I guess you're right about the fact that it was just lucky we didn't have the internet at our disposal back then! ;) I believe these books and characters are just so powerful.. so dear to each one of us who read them that we really create very strong and very personal images of them.. then when we run across someone who sees it differently we feel they are insulting our own private image of what the story and the characters are all about.. That's my professional 30-second psychoanalysis of our incurable condition, schizophrenia tolkieniis or something like that..

I'm still a nitpicker.. especially about my own work. and I can't deny that for example obsessive blond-Legolas fangirls annoy me, but i'd like to think i've got enough self-control that i'll let them keep their vision and won't go yell at them that "his hair is BROWN, damnit!" or something.. :D And that one is a matter of personal opinion, really, since no information is given in the book. (And a bad example, too, since i did like the movie elf, even though he's different from the way i picture him..). Ah, but i'm rambling again.. :roll:

I scanned the drawing again at the office with a good scanner and updated both images.. i think they're MUCH better now. And i got rid of the wrong hair colour too.. :paranoid:
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(1 Reply)
:iconalthene:
althene Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2005  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
What an awesome drawing! I'm actually writing my own take on the Crossing for my History of Middle-earth class final project, and I found this really quite inspiring. :D I think your portrayal is the first one to agree with what I had in mind, in that the clothes the Noldor wore were not at all fit for the bitter cold. A lot of the ones I've been seeing have them decked out in thick furs! :P And I found it really interesting that you had Elenwë die by the grinding ice. I simply thought she perished from the cold.

In any case, love the details! Keep up the good work!
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:iconaautio:
aautio Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2005
Thank you! :D The sepia tone version is more final than this.. here Idril still has wrong hair colour and Fingon has that stupid-looking bow, too. Your project sounds interesting, i'm glad if you find this helpful.

Also i didn't know it when i drew this, but someone told me there is a story (possibly in one of the HoME volumes, but i'm not sure.. haven't read it myself) where it's told that Elenwë and Idril, who was still very young, fell through a hole in the ice. Turgon managed to pull Idril out of the water but Elenwë sank and drowned. If Tolkien really did write something like that i think this image would still fit the description.. It would also explain why Fingolfin covers Idril (whose clothes would be wet) with his cloak, though like i said i didn't actually know about the story when this was made! :)
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:icona3ulez:
A3ulez Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2005
This scene always made me so sad. The only other versions I can think of are the cover of a Blind Guardian album and pne by the member Golden-Seven. i personally liek this one the best, since it doesn't just show a marching formation. The snowy wind is a nice touch, and I really like the detail you put in all the outfits and the expressions. At first I didn't understand what happened, then I just followed the faces and got sad again, lol. I could only remember how it said in The Lost Tales that some got lost and were still roaming around in Helcaraxe lookign for a way out.
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:iconaautio:
aautio Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2005
Thank you. The crossing of Helcaraxë is one of those things that Tolkien only mentions in his text, but if you start thinking about it and try to relate to the characters whole new stories spin up.. This image just came to me when i thought about a moment to draw several of these characters together and i had to check the passage from the book. I was surprised that it was only like 3 sentences.. i guess we who read Tolkien's books have such a strong image of each of these characters that they start to live a life of their own in our imagination.. :)
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:icona3ulez:
A3ulez Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2005
I definitely agree! Some of the images in the Silmarillion are so strong they just really stick with you. Along with the Helcaraxe scene and Fingolfin, I have to say Maedhros being chained up was a pretty painful one to read. Keep up the great work ^^ I hope to see more :)
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:iconaautio:
aautio Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2005
Thank you. I will.. There's plenty of ideas and wonderful scenes to choose from and i'm just getting started! :D
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:iconmindofka:
mindofka Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2005
Great composition ,your interpretation of Tolkien work is so strong and , how I can say, perceptive. A piece filled with emotions, a very nice pencil work.
To check absolutely the full view! :clap:

I think your pencilworks concerning the Silmarillion will look great on a slightly brown paper, it could give a plus to this ancient look, what do you think?
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:iconaautio:
aautio Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2005
Thank you very much! :thanks:

Yes, you're right -- that brown paper might look great.. i love the way you work with a middle tone paper, i really need to try that too! :)
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:iconrainbirds:
RainBirds Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2005  Hobbyist Photographer
That's so beautiful. Wonderful details <3
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:iconaautio:
aautio Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2005
Thanks a lot! :)
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