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Feature Friday: The Art of Lord of the Rings Artist, Daniel Reeve

Updated: Apr 2

Feature Friday is back! Once a month I'll be introducing you to the work of an artist who has been a great source of inspiration for me in the hopes that I can pass the inspiration on, and this month, I start with the art of Daniel Reeve.

You may not know the name Daniel Reeve, but trust me, you have seen his work. A name synonymous with beautifully detailed cartography and calligraphy, Reeve has been a professional artist and illustrator since 2001, and has created work for the likes of Peter Jackson's King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia, Doctor Strange, and my personal favourite of his extensive portfolio: the art of The Lord of the Rings franchise.

A detail shot of Daniel Reeve's map of Middle Earth, which shows tiny mountains and details rendered in ink.
Daniel Reeve's map of Middle Earth

For me, Reeve's maps, calligraphy and illustration for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy (almost every document you see in Bilbo's house in Bag End was created by Reeve, twice! One small set, for the hobbits and dwarves to appear the correct size, and one large set, for when Gandalf visits!) have been a profound source of inspiration. His ability to weave intricate details into his creations, particularly through the use of fine, detailed line work, his use of hand lettering, and the distinctly ancient feel of his maps, has significantly influenced my own cartography. His maps would stand alone, even without the context, telling a story all of their own.

A detail shot of a map of Skull Island by Daniel Reeve. It features detailed topography depicted in black and white line work.
Here's a tiny bit of his eye for detail in action, with this snippet of his Skull Island map. Artist: Daniel Reeve

I particularly love the mountains in the map above, and have always tried to emulate these myself (without copying! A very hard task when you admire a piece of work so much!). Perhaps you can see that a little bit in this piece of one of my maps below:

A drawing of a fictional world called Hytal. It shows mountains that are reminiscent of Reeve's map of Middle Earth
My map of Hytal for David Hair's The Burning Land

He also happens to be in one of my favourite map books ever. An Atlas of Imagined Islands by Huw Lewis-Jones, where the maps are the story. A book I highly recommend if you are looking to create your own maps and want some inspiration, or if you just love maps and want something unique to sink your teeth into.

A page of a book depicts a detail shot of an intricate monochrome map
A part of Reeve's Map from An Atlas of Imagined Islands

If you can see echoes of his work in my mapmaking, I will be a very happy woman.

Do you know of any artists I should take a look at or do a Feature Friday on? Let me know below!

As always, thanks for reading


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