The doom of Doriath

“Then breaking the silence he said: ‘I see the ring, son of Barahir, and I perceive that you are proud, and deem yourself mighty. But a father’s deeds, even had his service been rendered to me, avail not to win the the daughter of Thingol and Melian. See now! I too desire a treasure that is withheld. For rock and steel and the fires of Morgoth keep the jewel that I would possess against all the powers of the Elf-kingdoms. Yet I hear you say that bonds such as these do not daunt you. Go your way therefore! Bring to me in your hand a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown; and then, if she will, Lúthien may set her hand in yours. Then you shall have my jewel; and though the fate of Arda lie within the Silmarils, yet you shall hold me generous.’

Thus he wrought the doom of Doriath, and was ensnared within the curse of Mandos. And those that heard these words perceived that Thingol would save his oath, and yet send Beren to his death; for they know that not all the power of the Noldor, before the Siege was broken, had availed even to see from afar the shining Silmarils of Feanor. For they were set in the Iron Crown, and treasured in Angband above all wealth; and Balrogs were about them, and countless swords, and strong bars, and unassailable walls, and the dark majesty of Morgoth.

“Of Beren and Lúthien”, The Silmarillion – JRR Tolkien.


Technical aspects: Beren was the last survivor of a group of men led by his father Barahir that had still resisted Morgoth, the Dark Enemy, after the Battle of Sudden Flame, in which Morgoth had conquered much of northern Middle-earth. After the defeat of his companions he fled from peril into the elvish realm Doriath. There he met Lúthien, the only daughter of King Thingol and Melian the Maia, who was dancing and singing. Seeing the beautiful Elf, Beren fell in love with her, for she was the fairest of all Elves and Men. She later fell in love with him as well, when she heard him calling for her in a longing voice. As Thingol disliked Beren and regarded him as being unworthy of his daughter, he set a seemingly impossible task on Beren that he had to achieve before he could marry Lúthien. Thingol asked Beren to bring him one of the Silmarils, the three hallowed jewels made by Fëanor, which Morgoth had stolen from the Elves.

This image captures that pivotal moment when Thingol pronounces the task that Beren must complete before he may have the hand of Lúthien. Thingol, unknowingly, is pronouncing his own doom and that of his kingdom, as the desire to possess the Silmarils would eventually consume him.

This image took 10 months to complete. For the first time I experimented with dynamic clothing in Poser 6, and Thingol’s gown and texture were created from scratch using a number of tools.

DAZ 3D’s Michael 3 dressed with the M3 Tunic Pack formed the basis of the character of Beren; DAZ 3D’s David formed the basis for Thingol, David being more “elvish” than the more masculine Michael 3 model. Victoria 4 formed the basis of Melian, the female figure in the background, and the older (but more familiar and controllable) Victoria 3 was used to create Lúthien. I use the Morphing Fantasy Dress for Victoria 3 and a custom texture.The scene takes place in an Menegroth, Thingol’s palace in Doraith and is an underground cave. I was inspired to use a Gothic cathedral as a basis for the internal architecture as this was light and lofty and not at all “cavelike”.

The figures were posed in Poser 6 and had to be exported to Bryce 6 in individually as the memory consumption of the figures and their custom textures crashed Bryce, even with 2Gb of memory.

This scene had to be done in 4 parts: The background scene – lit by a single radial light, a second pass with several volumetric parallel spotlights, then the background figures light with Image-Based Lighting, and then the foreground figures also lit with IBL but with a couple of spotlights to enhance the rim lighting.

The whole scene was deliberately composed to have 2 visual planes, the light and magical realm of Thingol – king of the Elves, and the dark and brooding mortal plane with the two lovers – Beren and Lúthien. The juxtaposition of the two worlds and the framing of the figure of Thingol pronouncing the “Doom of Doriath” was vital to the image.

The final renders was took about 200 hours to complete – in total. Image-Based Lighting will kill any slow machine. The final renders were then composited in Corel PhotoPaint X3, and the two foreground figure hair was cleaned up and made less artificial, and then a slight glare filter was applied to make the background figures “glow” – to accentuate their immortality and nobility. Then the title and signature was added and the files reduced for display on a web page.

Worlds in the Making