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Luthien dances before Morgoth by TurnerMohan Luthien dances before Morgoth by TurnerMohan
"For they came to the seat of Morgoth in his nethermost hall that was upheld by horror, lit by fire, and filled with weapons of death and torment. There Beren slunk in wolf's form beneath his throne; but Luthien was stripped of her disguise by the will of Morgoth, and he bent his gaze upon her. She was not daunted by his eyes; and she named her own name, and offered her service to sing before him, after the manner of a minstrel. Then Morgoth looking upon her beauty conceived in his thought an evil lust, and a design more dark than any that had yet come into his heart since he fled from Valinor. Thus he was beguiled by his own malice, for he watched her, leaving her free for awhile, and taking secret pleasure in his thought. Then suddenly she eluded his sight, and out of the shadows began a song of such surpassing loveliness, and of such blinding power, that he listened perforce; and a blindness came upon him, as his eyes roamed to and fro, seeking her."

--The Silmarillion, of Beren and Luthien

How to draw a god; step one, accept the inherent futility of the endeavor; that anything you do will inevitably fall far short of conveying the power, terror, majesty and general 'godliness' of your subject.

One of the greatest difficulties in depicting gods (whether the valar of tolkien's world or the ancient greek/roman/nordic deities upon whom they are largely based) in a way that feels right and consistent with their character, stature and abilities, is that the gods are usually not that consistent in these things themselves, ranging wildly in their scale and their impact from the cosmic and metaphysical to the extremely temporal, even human (Melkor for example is the reason the world has clouds and winter snow, but  somehow he can't destroy the Trees of Yavanna by himself, and apparently you can hurt him with a steel sword, go figure) In Melkor's case, Tolkien at least seems to have tried to offer some rationalization for his devolution into an ever smaller and pettier entity (unlike the authentic myths of the greeks or nordics, which rarely obligate themselves to making any kind of sense) Morgoth is said to have lost his ability to leave his physical form like the other valar can do, presumably from his continued pouring forth of his own power and divine grace in an effort to establish himself as temporal god-king on earth. His fall into evil (or rather his discovery/creation of it) seems to have been chiefly motivated by that same force which in many religious traditions draws people (and angels) away from the will of God, Ego. Melkor wants to be his own master, he wants to be God unto himself, and have power over others. In this respect he is not so different from "evil" men - either of tolkien's fictional world or of our very real one - who hold themselves as all-important to the point of having no qualms about dominating and subjugating others. He is in some ways the original sociopath, believing all others to be either enemies or pawns for his uses, and having no love except for himself. If Melkor, his motivations and his ultimate trajectory says anything about evil, it is that, even in it's divine origin, evil is indeed stupendously banal; one of the first things that strikes about his "vision" (if he might be said to posses one) is just how limited it is, seeming to be motivated mainly by small-minded anger and jealousy, directed at increasingly smaller targets (first at God the father, then his fellow Ainur, and eventually down as far as elves and men) his only creations are perverse ripoffs, mockeries and re-appropriations of what others have done (though, to give credit where credit is due, dragons are irrefutably kick-ass ;)) I wanted to portray him, despite his goliathine stature, as appearing somewhat small and shrunken in his own trappings; the sharp spires of his Iron Crown rising to ridiculous heights, beyond any sense of scale or proportion, dwarfing the wearer. I imagine that, when finally uncrowned by Eonwe, the last power he could put forth to cause himself to appear beautiful or even formidable dissipates, leaving something that looks like a cross between a leper and a full body burn victim, the poison of his malice having indeed spoiled the jar it was kept in.

despite this, and despite being locked by this point into one form, morgoth is still a Vala, and still possessed of tremendous powers of both force and persuasion which make him a nigh unassailable adversary for the Children of Illuvatar. I imagine that, while unable to "go unclad" or to appear fair, as he did with the noldor in valinor, he is still capable of presenting different "versions" of himself suited to different audiences (like the many, many faces of Gary Oldman's Dracula) he emerges for battle with Fingolfin an armored titan, and appears before Hurin as the overlord of all creation, incontestable in his might, wisdom, and authority. His appearances are varied in their scale and their intended impact, but all conforming to a unified will and vision. here I thought he should appears as the Seductor; striding forward to meet the young, pure elven maiden like some dark prince; exuding power, poise and a kind of predator's charisma (Luthien is half an Ainur herself, and he has successfully brought many of them under his sway in the past)

my influences for this one were too many to keep count of, but among them William Blake's "Great Red Dragon" paintings and the beautiful, terrifying imagery from Tarsem Singh's  "The Cell" deserve special mention (not that my humble endeavor really lives up to either)

Part of the Weekly Tolkien Sketchblog
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DanPilla Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2015  Student Digital Artist
The best de Morgoth representation that I've seen!
Wasserwaldnymphe Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love to read your essays which come along with your beautiful pictures, although I don't think that Melkor always was so petty. He was the first Ainur, mighty, curious and very eager to create things. I sometimes think he was disappointed and ashamed, because he wanted to be more than Eru would ever allow him to be. 

And I totally agree with your "how to draw a god" XD
multigrade Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
Alex-Voskanyan Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
That's awesome
Greenhatman Featured By Owner May 7, 2014
I've seen a lot of Morgoth pictures throughout the years, but this is now one my favorites: it makes him feel both powerful, primal, and terrifying.  And amazingly, that vastly oversized crown actually works, rather then looking pretty ridiculous as it would in any other picture.  Bravo!
ridikill Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2014
Just wonderful. I think when drawing Morgoth many artists have been tempted to emulate (and exaggerate) movie Sauron's excellent design, but this is really how I think Morgoth should be: more primal and biblical.
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2014  Professional General Artist
that spiky gothic style armor, while it worked for sauron in battle, never seemed elemental and, well "godly" enough for morgoth to me.

Glad you like it, Thanks for the nice comment!
Libra1010 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2014
 … but am prepared to be prove wrong or so I SHOULD have concluded.Oops! 
Libra1010 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2014
 I admire this work immensely Mr Mohan (the looming Dark Lord, radiant Luthien like spring come into the depths of winter below him, the burden of the Iron Crown topped off by the three Silmarili, burning like Orion's belt in the darkness); one question I would like to ask - amongst many others, as I fear you have already discovered - would be to ask whether or not you ever considered putting the Three Jewels in a vertical, rather than a horizontal configuration? (I imagine that this might flow more elegantly into the lines of the Crown).
Voxterx Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2013
Cool I like it
lifeisforguitar Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013
this is one of the most best depictions of Morgoth in my opinion. He is almost just a part of the darkness, not all decked out in baroque armor ( not that I don't like to see those as well ). very well done, Keep 'em comin'!
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you, your comment very astutely captured what I was hoping to convey. I'm partial to a good armored morgoth myself, but I don't quite buy a god having to concern himself with the details of buckles and rivets and harnesses. it doesnt feel elemental enough, and more elemental was what i was going for.

Thanks again!
wegwerfthrowaway Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2013
Hi TurnerMohan

Thank you for this very very good piece. 
The little essay you wrote completes it, though the essay could be standing by itself and be one of the best texts (despite it's brevity) I have ever ready about a facette of Tolkien's world. 

Bravo! I hope to see and read more of you.
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you! I'm glad you like the piece, and my writing. It's not really nescessary to supplement a drawing (which should theoretically be able to speak for itself) with so much text, but most of the time I just cant help myself. Working on the drawings themselves gives me a lot of time to think about the subject, so I usually come to the end of one with a lot to say about it, plus many people out there have given a lot of thought to tolkien's world, and have many (often fascinating) ideas about it, so I find a nice block of text can be a good conversation starter.

anyway I appreciate your kind words, and feel very complimented. stick around, I post pretty regularly

Cheers! :D
chopsmusic Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2013
Wow. This piece of art truly depicts the dark, powerful, destructive aura Morgoth had. They said he was "as a mountain that wades in the sea and has its head above the clouds; clad in ice. His eyes, "withered with heat and pierces with a deadly cold." You got that down to a 'T' here. Brilliant capture, Turnermohan. You are a hell of a talent. I can't look at this without shivering for my life. This sketch really embraces the essence of the Melkor/Morgoth character, and the Valaristic baddass he was.


TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2013  Professional General Artist
he was much better at destroying things than creating them. that's one of my favorite aspects of Tolkien's depiction of ultimate evil; the fundamentally reactive, uncreative nature of it.

thanks for your kind words man! and thanks again for the facebook publicity :D
Zeonista Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2013
Don't have a lot to say about this one. It just looked really great!
colgatetotal97 Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2013  Student Digital Artist
i think this is my absolute favorite of an artistic depiction of this scene, great job!!
NordicLynx Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, really cool. Great work with the shadings :)
PeanutbutterJelle Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2013
An amazing description you produced there :) I enjoyed reading that.
Wild-Huntress Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I absolutely love it !! I think you captured Morgoth's godliness very well ^^
jayden444 Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2013
Excellent.  Love how obnoxious that crown is.  Very morgothian :]
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2013  Professional General Artist
like something a really sour, napoleonic little kid would wear to say "i'm the king of the world."

glad it's doing it for ya!
Andharion Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2013
One of you best works, i think. Really love the style. You are slowly becomming my favorite Artist on DA :D
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2013  Professional General Artist
wow, what a nice thing to hear, thank you (i better go and step up my game ;) )
TenoreRobusto Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I think one of the most interesting things about this picture is your masterful use of contrast between light and dark.  The Silmarilli and Luthien both have this radiance that pierces the shroud of darkness around them, and yet blurs the details in a way I find very realistic.  Very well done, sir.
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2013  Professional General Artist
well thank you! light and shadow seemed a better way to tell this particular scene than with extensive surface details. glad you think it worked
6133 Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2013  Student Traditional Artist


JackRover Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Half the fun of watching these beautiful designs is read the descriptions ... they are always full of ideas and suggestions, and always very wise. The depiction of Morgoth is beautiful, the idea of the crown is absolutely brilliant.
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013  Professional General Artist
thank you. honestly I wasnt even sure I wanted to try my hand at morgoth (does the world really need another dark lord picture?) until I came up with the idea for that crown. glad you like it, and my thoughts, though this one was a rambler :)
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Submitted on
October 25, 2013
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