Tolkien Gateway

John Howe

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John Howe.jpg
John Howe
Biographical information
BornAugust 21, 1957

John Howe (born August 21, 1957 in Vancouver, Canada) is a renowned artist, especially well-known for his illustrations of Middle-earth. He served as a lead concept artist and designer for The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy as well as The Hobbit: The Motion Picture Trilogy alongside fellow conceptual artist Alan Lee to ensure continuity of design.



John Howe was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He graduated from the École des Arts Dècoratifs of Strasbourg. Howe has illustrated many of Tolkien's works including The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. He now lives in Neuchatel with his wife and son.

Howe's version of Boromir is based on his own face.

Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings

Howe, along with his colleague Alan Lee, was the lead artist for The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy. Contrary to popular belief, he does not appear as one of the nine Kings of Men in the Prologue of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Howe is often identified as the second from the left, but a picture with better light shows that to be a different person.[1]

Published Artwork

Howe is one of HarperCollins' most used artists, and his cover art is frequently featured on translations as well.

Multiple editions

Calendars and books


"Illustrating Tolkien means treading warily, dipping one's brush in shadow and rinsing them in light. Battle and balance, down the impossible path between the clear and the obscure."
― John Howe on painting Middle-earth, Tolkien's World.
"Somewhat shamefully I am obliged to admit that I first read The Two Towers and The Return of the King, and finally The Fellowship of the Ring. [...] Thus, I plunged directly into the world of Tolkien just above the Falls of Rauros and have been swimming diligently ever since."
― John Howe on his reading experience, Tolkien's World.
"It was this place in North Island, and we wandered round these fields saying, well, Bag End can go here, that can be our party tree; it was very exciting. It's almost even more fun to have a location imposed upon you, because you really have to get down to brass tacks and figure it out, imagine it on paper. It's a real illustrator's job."
― John Howe on working for Weta, Interview.

See Also


  1. Published in: Chris Smith, The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare, page 3, also Jude Fisher, The Return of the King Visual Companion, page 32.

External Links