Dwarves

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Certainly, I can share your dwarf art for the final Silm Film session of Season 4, Kathrin. If I recall correctly, the final word on beards on dwarf women was that we could give it a try, and if we could come up with artwork that wasn't ridiculous, they'd go for it. Basically, it was a 'go ahead and convince us' decision. Hopefully, seeing your images will invite them to comment further on how they imagine dwarf men and women distinguishing themselves from one another visually.

And I think this is a relevant Season 4 question with the presence of Dís in the Frame and Telchar in the main story. I would say that, as written, Dís is more clearly a female character. Telchar's main trait is her craftsmanship, and she is not defined by her relationships. She is, presumably, unmarried and without children. Whereas Dís is clearly mourning the deaths of her brother and her sons, and that alone makes the audience identify her as a woman moreso than they would with Telchar. So, I think there would be a stronger impulse to picture Dís in a dress with braids, etc.


I know I've shared this image before, but here's my friend Sasha, costuming as Tinkerbell and Thorin Oakenshield:

Obviously, a lot of work goes into the transformation to Thorin - there is a bodysuit under the armor to alter musculature, and a wig and beard and eyebrows and ears, and about 2 hours worth of putting on makeup. Whereas Tink is wig, ears and makeup (which likely takes significantly less time, but I haven't seen her get into Tinkerbell, so I wouldn't know for sure). Sasha is clearly a skilled chameleon, who can transform her appearance at will, but worth pointing out that this is something done for fun and not professionally - so certainly, a costume and makeup crew on a TV show can easily achieve similarly impressive results with altering a person's appearance in terms of age or gender or apparent height/build, etc.


Saying that outsiders can't tell the difference is not the same thing as saying that there is no difference. I would not be surprised to learn that some white people have trouble telling the difference between male and female Asians (and not just people intentionally being ambiguous with the Visual Kei stuff)*. Cheekbones tend to give away feminine facial features, but that can be disguised with contouring, so it's certainly possible to use makeup to give a more masculine or feminine look to anyone's face. But it's also true that cheekbones are going to be a bit different in Caucasian and Asian faces, so if you've trained your eye to identify 'male' and 'female' by looking at the face and unconsciously looking at how high the cheekbones are, that tell won't read the same and the brain can get confused.

Elf designs are often quite androgynous, right? So if someone commented that outsiders couldn't tell male and female elves apart, we'd just say that it means that the women aren't very busty and are maybe taller than you'd expect, and the guys are all clean shaven and have long hair, with everyone having a build leaning towards 'slender'. Put like that, you could understand the confusion. So, we could have a similar level of similarity/confusion between male and female dwarves as seen by outsiders - maybe the women have deeper voices than you expect, and you can't exactly check for an Adam's apple under the beard. Etc.

Basically, if Elves and Dwarves have slightly different secondary sexual characteristics, they would be easily confused by one another...but that doesn't mean there is no actual difference between the appearance of men and women in either group. And certainly, with Men trained to recognize the dichotomy between male and female humans, they're likely to think the beardless elves are all much younger than they actually are, and the bearded dwarves more universally male than they actually are.


* There was an entire episode of Bones where one of the questions was whether a character was male or female. Like, the office gossip was on people trying to figure out the gender of an androgynous-presenting Japanese person. Don't ask me why the writers thought this a good plan, but there you go.
 

Kathrin

Active Member
I agree with a lot of this. Tolkien's statement that Dwarves can't be distinguished by gender is probably not absolute, it totally depends on if the group that sees the dwarves has set their standards for secondary and tertiary sexual characteristics. So someone who has never or only rarely met dwarves would totally be unable to distinguish them, but the Elves certainly are all around long enough that they'll catch the drift some time. With men, it would depend on if they live/travel a lot in regions where Dwarves live. And yes, good point, the dwarves would of course also be confused by everybody else in the beginning.

In that spirit the differences could be still more nuanced than in my drawings, but those were mostly me trying to draw some dwarf women with a respectable beard but a still quite noticable, yet not blatant female aesthetic. I remember the hosts saying something that they don't want "whispy bearded dwarf women" or straight up ridiculous clashes of "beards & breasts".

This is probably all a plea of: "Do not be afraid of the beard!" :p We can deal with most elf men leaning towards a certain androgynous/feminine body type after all. Admittedly this is one step further, but I don't think this is such a hurdle.
 

Kathrin

Active Member
I'm still thinking about dwarves. I agree with the things said last session, the problem was that my paintings looked too much like humans with some dwarf elements, which clashed more the less "ambiguous" the women were. So, comparing with the dwarf design in the Hobbit, for example, we wouldn't want dwarves like Fili, Kili, hell even Thorin, that are very much humanised for the convenience of the viewer bonding with them. Also we don't just want to just copy and paste human "masculine/feminine signifiers", but achieve some more original features. Also, will these dwarf looks will be achieved with make up, heavier prosthetics, cgi?

So I've started to draw some dwarves again. I like the full beard, no mustache - combo suggested by Bre's drawings and I've used that. (except in the middle, I've drawn a a very brawny mustachioed guy) I've also tried to make all the facial hair blend into itself and into the face, I like the way it frames the face. On the middle right that ended in a bit of a Beorn situation, but oh well. It's just a bit of tinkering around.

Young Dwarves in "Puberty" must be the most awkward thing though. Do they just lock themselves away for a couple of years until they've achieved an acceptable beard? :p Do any dwarves shave, ever? Or is that like when people only really shaved their hair in the olden days when they were very sick?

Also I wonder how much diversity there is among the dwarves. They are different from the other children of Illuvatar in that Aulë made them with only a vague idea of the elves and men he imitated, so of course they stand apart, but I can't imagine that the master craftsman was like "eh I'll just make a batch of identical ones, I can't be bothered" Also you'd have to wonder how the conception of men and women that happened in the Song differs from Aulë's personal idea. Maybe he likes beards so much it's just a must-have for everyone, but where did he get that idea?

À propos, has this been discussed somewhere else: how similar are silmfilmelves and men between each other? I'm sometimes a bit amused in fantasy things when it's just a game of spot the pointy ears. :p


dwarves_sketch2.jpg
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
I'm still thinking about dwarves. I agree with the things said last session, the problem was that my paintings looked too much like humans with some dwarf elements, which clashed more the less "ambiguous" the women were. So, comparing with the dwarf design in the Hobbit, for example, we wouldn't want dwarves like Fili, Kili, hell even Thorin, that are very much humanised for the convenience of the viewer bonding with them. Also we don't just want to just copy and paste human "masculine/feminine signifiers", but achieve some more original features. Also, will these dwarf looks will be achieved with make up, heavier prosthetics, cgi?

So I've started to draw some dwarves again. I like the full beard, no mustache - combo suggested by Bre's drawings and I've used that. (except in the middle, I've drawn a a very brawny mustachioed guy) I've also tried to make all the facial hair blend into itself and into the face, I like the way it frames the face. On the middle right that ended in a bit of a Beorn situation, but oh well. It's just a bit of tinkering around.

Young Dwarves in "Puberty" must be the most awkward thing though. Do they just lock themselves away for a couple of years until they've achieved an acceptable beard? :p Do any dwarves shave, ever? Or is that like when people only really shaved their hair in the olden days when they were very sick?

Also I wonder how much diversity there is among the dwarves. They are different from the other children of Illuvatar in that Aulë made them with only a vague idea of the elves and men he imitated, so of course they stand apart, but I can't imagine that the master craftsman was like "eh I'll just make a batch of identical ones, I can't be bothered" Also you'd have to wonder how the conception of men and women that happened in the Song differs from Aulë's personal idea. Maybe he likes beards so much it's just a must-have for everyone, but where did he get that idea?

À propos, has this been discussed somewhere else: how similar are silmfilmelves and men between each other? I'm sometimes a bit amused in fantasy things when it's just a game of spot the pointy ears. :p


View attachment 2692
I love the way you've altered the shape of the face, particularly in the two (female?) Dwarves in the upper and middle right. I also really like the patterns on the skin. Perhaps Dwarves could tend to have more freckled and mottled skin than Men and Elves.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
À propos, has this been discussed somewhere else: how similar are silmfilmelves and men between each other? I'm sometimes a bit amused in fantasy things when it's just a game of spot the pointy ears. :p
We haven’t really finalized how much different Elves and Men are from each other. As far as casting is concerned we tend to cast taller actors for Elven roles (ie Thingol is played by the 6’3” Paul Bettany while the actor playing Turgon is 6’5”). I’ve mostly tried to gear it towards physical abilities, but that hasn’t been locked down (we probably should).

Can we please finalize Elven and Mannish abilities?
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I like where you are going with this, with a completely unique skull structure rather than just human + ears. That can be challenging - as quickly you become too alien, beast, uncanny valley, but you do get the opportunity to make something wholly unique. And, as you say, quite the challenge for actors to act through that much prosthetic, so do you go CGI/motion capture? Though, there is a lot you can do with makeup to alter a human's face. Contouring works!

The Dark Crystal has humanoid-but-definitely-not-human gelflings and podlings. They use puppets to achieve that effect.

Original 1982 film gelflings


Original Podlings


2019 Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance gelflings:


Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Podling:


The Rankin/Bass animated The Hobbit has unique noses and faces on their dwarves.




Can you make a human actor look like a gelfling without prosthetic or puppets or CGI? Well, sorta....



 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I like where you are going with this, with a completely unique skull structure rather than just human + ears. That can be challenging - as quickly you become too alien, beast, uncanny valley, but you do get the opportunity to make something wholly unique. And, as you say, quite the challenge for actors to act through that much prosthetic, so do you go CGI/motion capture? Though, there is a lot you can do with makeup to alter a human's face. Contouring works!

The Dark Crystal has humanoid-but-definitely-not-human gelflings and podlings. They use puppets to achieve that effect.

Original 1982 film gelflings


Original Podlings


2019 Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance gelflings:


Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Podling:


The Rankin/Bass animated The Hobbit has unique noses and faces on their dwarves.




Can you make a human actor look like a gelfling without prosthetic or puppets or CGI? Well, sorta....



I don't know. The gelfling look makes me think of sheep. Also, I don't think we should take too many tips from the 1977 Hobbit, where the Silvan elves looked distinctly different from the High Elves (and the Silvan Elves look like frogs).

 
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Darnok

Member
Well, eh, i do actually think we Should take qutie a lot of tips from the 1977 movie, it has some really gorgeous designs for the Dwarven armour and Elven clothes, although the woodelves look a bit too "Goblin"like.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
You honestly like those clumsy plate armor and silly loincloths R&B used for that movie? You're the first person i have ever met who says so...
 
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Darnok

Member
2738
The Dwarven Plate is absolutely beautiful, love the almost Bronze-age feeling it has, also looks very much like the helmets that Tolkien drew in the Smaug drawing. It is actually the only plate armour that i think might even look quite nice for Middle Earth, and i'm usually a no-plate hardliner.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
View attachment 2738
The Dwarven Plate is absolutely beautiful, love the almost Bronze-age feeling it has, also looks very much like the helmets that Tolkien drew in the Smaug drawing. It is actually the only plate armour that i think might even look quite nice for Middle Earth, and i'm usually a no-plate hardliner.
Plate armor should be used in some form or another, since chain mail doesn’t do much against arrows.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Well i agree on that helmets...and i like the belt! The rest... i don't know... it at last would need some serious overall revision i think.
 

Darnok

Member
Ofc, but i think it unwise to ignore such quite nice designs that could be fit for one of the Maaaany dwarven cultures we have.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I have recently discovered my liking for the thracian/phrygian helmet type...

I think they look totally dwarven and they might go into the drection you are aiming for, but in my mind a bit better executed...

Screenshot_2020-03-30-15-11-41-1.pngScreenshot_2020-03-30-15-11-11-1.pngScreenshot_2020-03-30-15-10-44-1.png

I also could easily imagine a dragonfigurine on the top instead of a smurf-pommel...
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
That is because the helmets represent a stylised version of the phrygian cap,,which is what the smurfs do wear, apparently to the popularity of phrygian caps during the french revolution...

A lot of people find these sort of hats silly, but it's actually what many of the dwarves, elves and lakemen do wear on some of Jrrts illustrations... many cultures had caps like that, the scythians, the greek, even the old norse ...

Personally, well i like them.Screenshot_2020-03-30-15-30-12-1.png
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
That is because the helmets represent a stylised version of the phrygian cap,,which is what the smurfs do wear, apparently to the popularity of phrygian caps during the french revolution...

A lot of people find these sort of hats silly, but it's actually what many of the dwarves, elves and lakemen do wear on some of Jrrts illustrations... many cultures had caps like that, the scythians, the greek, even the old norse ...

Personally, well i like them.View attachment 2767
True.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Plate armor should be used in some form or another, since chain mail doesn’t do much against arrows.

That is not necessary true... a lot of arrowheads do not penetrate good quality mail.They still might hurt or do surface wounds, but mail usually does prevent otherwisely serious or deadly wounds.Of course there were special chain-piercing heads,,but those were high-tech products... and then theres still splint and scale armor, segmented armor, padded armor,,linen armor, ...

Of course it also depends on the strength of the bow.Medieval or antique bows or crossbows generally had far less power than our modern ones
 
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