The One Wiki to Rule Them All
The One Wiki to Rule Them All
This article is about the real world.

The Lord of the Rings: The Art of The Return of the King, 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

"With Peter Jackson's Acadamy Award-winning epic motion picture trilogy drawing to a spectacular and triumphant close, Gary Russell's detailed research takes us back into the world of Middle-earth, to relive all the visual drama and excitement of The Return of the King. The Art of The Return of the King illustrates the creative development of the film from sketch to special effect and features 600 images, most appearing nowhere else. This fully authorized book includes pencil sketches by Alan Lee and John Howe, costume designes by Ngila Dickson, magnificent full-color paintings by Jeremy Bennett, and prop designs, concepts, sculptures and digital artwork from Weta Workshop and Weta Digital. From Minas Tirith to Mount Doom, from the Army of the Dead to Shelob the monstrous spider, all the spectacular landscapes, characters and creatures are covered in stunning detail, including concepts that did not make it into the final film. To accompany this wealth of imagery, detailed and informative commentaries appear by all the featured artists and designers, together with a special afterword by Peter Jackson. Their personal thoughts and explanations offer unique and fascinating insight into how The Return of the King was brought to life. An artistic journey begun in 1997 reaches its glorious conclusion within these pages, giving the reader a unique chance to witness the creative process that led to one of the most spectacular movies of all time."
From the publisher


Foreign Language Translated name
Danish Filmguide: Grafikken i "Kongen vender tilbage"

See also