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Minas Tirith Cross Section Progress

General / 17 January 2018
I thought I'd utilize ArtStation's new blog feature to document the progress of my next Middle-Earth Cross Section ... Minas Tirith, the great white city of Gondor.

For those of you who haven't seen here are the two cross sections I have currently completed.

Helms Deep:
The Golden Hall:

I began by sourcing a whole bunch of reference images from as many places as I could. I am fortunate enough working at Weta Workshop to have access to a lot of old images of the original shooting miniatures and sets. I also was able to grab a copy of the Minas Tirith collectible Weta produced a year or so ago -

Since Minas Tirith is such a massive structure, estimated to be about 300m high and 1200, across at the base, I knew I probably wouldn't be able to illustrate the whole thing. I decided to focus on the top levels of the city. A lot of the action in the film takes place there in a variety of locations (Hall of Kings, Houses of Healing, Courtyard and of course the iconic White Tree of Gondor).

I begin my cross sections by building the structure in a 3D modeling program called Modo. For this model the most logical place to start was the top of the huge rocky central prowl.

From there I began roughing in the seven levels of the city, before moving on to building the structures on the top level.

This angle is probably what will eventually end up being the final look for the cross section. The composition works well for the format I have established with the previous two cross sections, leaving room in the top right for a block of text outlining the history of the city and the role it plays in the Lord of the Rings.

Sometimes I find the easiest way to know what I need do build is to take quick screen grabs, bring them into Photoshop and do quick paint overs based off the reference imagery. Settling on a view early on means I can focus my efforts on building what will be seen in the final illustration and not wasting any time.

I started to realize that the interior of the Hall of Kings was going to be an important aspect of the cross section. I began building the interior of the hall, much in the same way I built the interior rooms of Helms Deep and the Golden Hall. 

I'll try keep chipping away at this when I get some spare time, so unsure when the next update will be!