The Lord of the Rings: The Art of The Return of the King (ISBN 0-618-43029-6), by Gary Russell, is a complete guide to the art direction of Peter Jackson’s 2003 film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, telling the process of all behind-the-scenes conceptualization up to the computer-effects stage. It was published in 2004 by Houghton Mifflin (US), and contains hundreds of exclusive, preliminary sketches, paintings, and designs.

This book follows The Art of The Two Towers and The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring.


The text of this guide is commentary by members of Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, and by commissioned illustrators such as Alan Lee, Ben Wooten, Jeremy Bennett, Daniel Falconer, and John Howe. Each bit of commentary accompanies the sketch, Matte painting sculpture, maquette, color study, digital art-piece, armor concept, or costume that said member was involved with. Each chapter presents the process gone through for cinematically rendering a certain region of Middle-earth and its related characters or buildings.

A costume concept for Eowyn by Ngila Dickson

Some illustrations and images of conceptual artwork in The Art of The Return of the King appear also in Weapons and Warfare (a book written by the editor, Chris Smith). Other images are exclusive to this book.

Table of contents

  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Ithilien
  • Minas Tirith
  • Dunharrow & The Paths of the Dead
  • Minas Morgul
  • The Siege of Gondor
  • Shelob's Lair
  • Cirith Ungol
  • The Pelennor Fields
  • The Black Gates
  • Mordor
  • Epilogue
  • Afterword

Featured personnel

See also

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