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Aragorn Research - the first steps:

Aragorn is being used as an example, but these same methods can be used regardless.

Please note... the links is this section are out of date... pics will be updated soon.  However, the research steps are still useful.

  • For Aragorn's costume breakdowns, click <here>

  • For Legolas' costume breakdowns, click <here>

  • For the rest of the character costume breakdowns, start <here>

Everyone has their methods... Here's a view into mine for da folks that asked. Real step by step instructions would have put everyone to sleep... so I'm going to walk you though how I research.  (Warning, I'm veryyyyyy detail oriented. )  This research would be the same whether you were doing a beginning, intermediate or advanced project.  The only difference at this time is how much time you spend of research.


(Please note, the questions in these sections have been solved or moved to the latest section.)

  • Beginning step one <here>.
    • Just the final results of step one here, <here>.
  • Step two: photos for Rivendell outfit - why we picked these
    • Lots of links to guide you along
  • Step three: photos for Strider outfit - why we picked these
    • Lots of links to guide you along, but not everything we could find, only the ones that mattered for the costume.
  • Step four: description of Rivendell outfit - all we have to date

1st phase: I gather my resources

These resources are pictures from any source from books to web links  to the toys and any other resources I can find.  (More details on available resources is <here>.) 

I'm going to review all the pictures I know about, keeping in mind there are just two FOTH outfits for Aragorn. I'm looking for layers in the outfits and throwing out pictures that don't belong. While I do a quick scan of the pictures, I'm going to make my first set of notes right here using general links already found. To make life easer for myself I cut and paste links into a Word  document... Literally, just like you'll see below. 

First thing, I went to the site where the pictures were grouped by story to get an overview of the costumes. (If I didn't have this, I might have tried the movie books first, instead of last.) 

Here's an evaluation of each chapter that has Aragorn in it.

Looking at other organized pictures.  Start looking for better pictures.

Next step, find the next place that has organized pics but that has been updated more recently than this site. Note: purposely skipped Fantasy Planet for now since I'd have to go though all 1000 pics to find what I want. So I choose the German site and went over to their Aragorn section:

Ah, some of the same shots we've seen before... and a new costumes that will be left for another day: The star tabard and his battle shirt (w/ mail sleeves). Other interesting note for this web: am finding some of the same pictures, but the resolution is higher or the pic may be bigger.  

Big party... one of the sepia portraits is here... full yummy resolution. (   ) This picture will be the main reference photo. Costume check... this will be our base photo... Suede jacket of X length with matching long sleeves attached by a braid design. Middle layer, can't tell exactly???? Ties??? Inner layer, old faded shirt, "XXX" in hand embroidery on small collar.

Looking to better resolution pictures.  Start looking for real details.

Next, where to look????

Went back to our links list... Since I'm looking for high res... went over to the Internet Movie database...  This loads faster than the pic direct from New Line... but are the same. (Muttered at the pop up adds)

Check Fantasy Planet (  ) for any brand new additions.... nope... Not desperate enough to go though all the pics now. (Famous last words, as it turned out.) 

OK... next step. Found a new site with less pictures than Fantasy Planet's, but some of the better ones, and shorter links. Site is selected... good picks, not every pic. Hummmm, fond a dark close-up for Rivendell outfit. Can almost see the collar... Yes, two layers here again. (Note, mark this for Arwen too) xxxxxx

Ohhhh, found a better resolution picture:  , Final battle in FOTH where he's kneeling by Frodo. Looking at this photo, notices the light spots are really washed out. Has this whole scene been digitally lightened??? More thinking about this .  Still can't tell if this is a different costume.

One more from the same scene:  (He's fighting, arms are raised.) Can be useful, look at the tabard edges. Here these color is not so bright. Could this still be his original middle layer???

What, besides the web?

OK, enough with the web sites....... there is only so much that can be done this way. (Though LOTR is allowing a lot more than most movies) Next????? 

Folks... now it gets confusing..... open things in multiple windows if you need to (right click on the links and 'open new window'). Try and follow... or reread a couple of times. I tried to capture the confusion and the research... think it's more confusion than anything else... but at least it proved that figuring out costumes isn't "poof! magic!" These observations in the book also entailed a lot of web surfing to bring up images so you could follow along.... Remember the web images are much, much lower in resolution. 

I get out the movie books and start flipping pages.   <Sigh>  Most of these are glamour shots... not good for costuming. Whoa! Visual Companion has an 8x10 with him right after the big fight. (This pictures is also in the smaller, inexpensive Insider's Guide.) Visual has a tiny shot of the bridge, no new use. Insider has at least two shots of him in Rivendell. Maybe there is hope for this costume yet. 

Rivendell pics:

Strider pics:

OK, question for the group. Is Aragorn 's outer layer in the post-battle picture the same as the middle tunic in the sepia photo: . If you've got the Visual Companion use it.  

  • Shirt study:
    • Can't see the sleeves now that he has Boromir's leather wrist guards (w/ the tree pattern).
    • The shot where he's kneeling there are multiple lines.
    • The shoulder is a bit of a drop shoulder? yes, on both. What the heck is this fabric???
    • Is the body of the fabric causing it to look one way in one photo (padded) and then soft when the wrist guards are on. (OK, Rob, what do we call those guards???) 

Anything else?

Books have been taxed out for the general study.  They will matter again when we get to details. 

Pop quiz... what other sources do we have????? 

  • Toy - will help with layers and accessories. Maybe wrong at main torso. Give us any hint on the books and the construction of the tunics????  
  • Casa Loma pics won't help with basic identification... they're for the next step... detailed description 

What do we have so far?

When we're all done, what does all this really mean????

  • Rivendell outfit:
    • We don't have much, BUT we do have shapes so we know how many garments. We have close up of the collar so we know a bit about the neckline.  The rest is going to be handled by seeing the movie.
      • Two layers of Fabric (?) tunics, belted
        • Inner layer is long sleeved, diamond patterned
        • Outer layer is soft with embroidery(?)
    • Later this week, I'll get my movie notes posted and that will give a bit more... and I'll pretty up the links. Then I'll sum it, even if I don't get back to the movie to check my work. 
  • Strider outfit:
    • We've got a big enough collection of photos to get close on describing the whole outfit - even if there is a question of what he is wearing at the end.
    • We know the layers.
      • Cloak we first see in Bree
      • Leather duster/coat (with braided seam at sleeve cap)
      • Something that ties as a middle layer, maybe a sleeveless jerkin.  ????
      • Very faded shirt, that has smocking at the sleeve cap and gets torn in the final battle.
      • Lothlorien Cloak
      • Grungy boots
      • Misc accessories and weapons.
    • We have long shots and close-ups and everything in between We have shots from different angles and really killer resolution pictures like the sepia photo and the movie book pics.
    • We still need to decided if the sleeveless tunic is the same.

We have enough to start working on describing the individual garments. We need best pictures to work from to describe the Strider outfit.  Most of the pictures have been listed above,  but we don't have all the best resolution items.  - the 3 shot (just because)   Remember, there are more links in the human section.


2nd phase: Find the best pictures

What am I looking for?

Here's where I start being picky about photos.  I have to look at the photo's differently.  I look at lines for clues of pattern shapes, fabric drape, seam lines.  (It's not a complex as it sounds... it just takes some staring.. and some practice to look at photos differently.)  It's time to compare details seen on other clothes.  If a shape or the drape of a fabric on something known matches, it helps describe the current garment.  This is hard to explain... so I'm going to start by presenting photos a group of us have pulled from various sites and walk though why these were chosen.

Aragorn's Rivendell Outfit

When I first starting researching this I thought it almost was a lost cause.  There just isn't that much film time of him in this outfit... and what little there is happen to be in ultra close-up or at council.  Also, since it's not his gritty battle outfit, the guys (that do most of the web page) basically skip over the images if they're "swiping" them.  As of now there are no major reference shots, but we have most of the costume after all. The number of images increased looking closely to see slight changes in poses.   It took looking at very similar images and  beyond.  I found the same pictures out there with different resolutions as well as different levels on contact. 

(I will admit for looking at the dark photos, I temporary modified the brightness setting on my monitor so the photos were lighter.).

Since there were no great reference photos, I had to use most of the photos we found of him in Rivendell and not each for the piece I see.

The bridge

These photos are all two shots of Arwen and Argon whispering sweet elven phrases to each other. 

In the hall

Full council meeting at Rivendell




Step 3 -  Collect the photos when there are plenty.

Sometimes too many photos can be a confusing as too few  (well almost).  You need to concentrate on the best photos.  Organize extra photos based on which details they show.

While picking these photos, it can be very useful to open a lot of windows at one time and stare at bits side by side.  Remember you are picking the photos for costume details, not something that shows the actor's face.  So sometimes you look for weird lighting, the camera in a different spot or an action shot.  Also, look for back shots.

Categorize all the pictures you have (not just your web ones) by sets of criteria.  You do not have to get as formal as we are here, but you should know what you have... and therefore know what you are still missing.  What is listed here does not have to be followed to the letter, but it's a useful guideline.

  • Master Reference Shot
    • Best high resolution shot with good contrast you can find.  
      • Detail is more important than color here.
    • This is the shot you always want to come back to to check details.  The other photos should be just for side and back shots... or close up on details or accessories.
    • We're lucky researching LOTR to have the Sepia photos.  These are the best of most of the costumes.  Many movies never issue photos that are as good as they are.
  • Full Length Shot
    • Want to be able to see everything including the pants and boots.  These shots are rare.  
    • the character is hardly ever just standing there.  
    • Often may need a long shot of the character walking... or settle for a shot that gets about 9/10s in and then supplement it with a long shot to confirm things like the height of the heals in the shoes and other details.
  • Correct Color
    • This is probably a shot you already have. Best bet is often natural light.
    • Be careful if you are dealing with pictures from both the web and photographs of the real costumes.  The colors may be different enough you will need to choose which version you are making.
      • Remember the old "V" TV serious.  Those bright red jumpsuits were brick red in real life.
      • Look at the issues we're having with Aragorn's clothes. 
  • Any other high detail shots
    • Want collars, sleeves, boots, gloves, belts, outerwear
    • look for different angles, different lighting.
    • Don't look at the face, look for clothing resolution
  • Action shots
    • Shots do not have to be good resolution
      • seeing how a coat swirls can show you construction
      • Lighting changes and movement can give you clues to the type of fabric used
  • Fiddly bit shots
    • Sometimes you take what you can get, any shots that come close to giving you a view of something when you don't have a detail shot
      • To do this list, you really need a list of the bits you're looking for.  Example: cloak, boots, gloves, etc.
  • Emotion shot
    • This one is very important... and may have nothing to do with costume detail.  Post this one over your sewing machine.  This is the one that best identify the "spirit" of the costume.  This remind you of the costume you're recreating... and why you are spending the hours making it.

Aragorn's Strider Outfit

He wears this though most of the movie just pealing layers off and on.  By the final scene there is a bit of transformation so we will end up with two reference shots.  Also, note this is just for FOTR.

Summary of the Strider layers:

  • In Bree, is wearing the Strider black cloak, leather long sleeved duster, brown jerkin, black silk shirt that has seen better days, suede pants, boots, and much mud.
  • From Lorhlorien on, duster is not worn.  Cloak changes to the one given by the elves
  • After the final battle, Aragorn dons Boromir's Vambraces.

Main reference photo

Full length reference photo

Various detail shots

Action Shots

Accessory Shots



New pictures to be organized.


Step 4 - Describing the Rivendell Outfit

We've been discussing this off and on over on the Yahoo board, time to ante up with a description guess.

This outfit is only seen in Rivendell for a short time so we do not have a large description.  It's worn for the bridge romance with Arwen and at the Rivendell council over the fate of the one ring.

Basic description:  Soft velvet over tunic worn over a long sleeved diamond patterned tunic.  We have grouped Rivendell pictures together.

  • Articles we need to describe:
    • Over tunic
    • Under tunic
    • Boots
    • Pants (?)
    • No hat or cloak with this outfit.
  Aragorn Rivendell outfit guess. Click photo to enlarge.


  • Very minimum we know about them. 
    • They can be seen in the long shots at the Rivendell bridge.
    • Assumption, probably a version of elf boots (since he was raised there) but loose fit of boots makes that questionable.
  • Description:
    • Flat heeled
    • Do not look fitted
    • Unknown if they go to the top of the calf or mid-calf.
    • Looks like soft suede or leather
    • Assumed to be free of mud.


  • Know nothing about them.
    • Assume they exist because the tunics only reach to mid calf and film makers would not go for bare-leg gap-osis.
  • Assumption Description
    • Doubt it is suede pants underneath.  Knees would catch on soft tunic fabric.
    • So, pure guess:  Some kind of silk.  Probably a bit loose.  Tucked into boot tops.

Under tunic

  • Pictures are minimal of details.  Best shot up close is from the official screen saver.
  • Fabric
    • Silver metallic and black brocade in a diamond pattern - aprox 1/2 to 3/4 inch
      • Black threads form the raised diamond edges
      • Inside of diamond is mostly silver with black design (not heavily raised)
      • Speculation: look for this fabric with the opposite colors.  What we see may technically be the standard back side of the fabric.
    • Medium-heavy weight fabric
      • Thin for a brocade, but stiffer than most.
      • Would make a smooth underlining for the soft over tunic.
  • Description:
    • Basic pattern
      • High collared, long sleeved narrow 3/4 length tunic
        • Length is a major guess, but based on the fact that it would be a smoother fit.  Also would be more complete than ending at waist or shirt length.  Don't think it's just tacked to the yoke.
        • If 3/4 length, guess that the tunic is split on the sides. (Though this is debated by some of the other folks.)  May be seeing the edge of the under tunic in the full length bridge shots just under the velvet tunic.
    • Long sleeved
      • No cuffs but sleeve appear to flare out just slightly a few inches from the end of the sleeve.
      • Sleeves are fitted into body of the tunic - armscye curve
        • How know?  There is no bunching of fabric under the arm and no dropped shoulder needed for a straight cut.
    • High collar - Nehru style
      • Collar looks to a separate pattern piece from the body of the tunic
      • Only about an inch stand-up collar.  Drops down to a point in front.
    • No closure evident.  It is open enough down the front that it could be slipped on over the head.  (However, there is evidence of invisible zippers being used.)

Outer Tunic

  • We have only minimal pictures since the outfit is seen only in Rivendell.  Even the color is questionable given that all scenes in Rivendell have a yellowish cast.
  • Fabric:
    • Tunics in made of what appears to be stretch velvet.  Color is guessed to be either steal grey, teal, blue or green. 
      • Why the color mix up?  It could be silver to match the under tunic, but the yellow cast that has been added to the Rivendell scenes could cancel out the colors.
  • Description:
    • Sleeveless tunic with basically a sweet-heart neckline or yoke.  Tunic opens down the front to the waist.  3/4 length tunic. Belted and tunic slightly bloused.
      • Closures:  4 silver decorated buttons, top to waist.
      • Belt: silver buckle, wrapped around the bucket and knotted.  the rest hangs down.  Belt is about two inches wide.  Not sure the length of the belt.
    • Yoke area
      • May be a separate attached yoke that is interfaced or is just heavily interfaced under the decorations. 
        • Sewn embroidery surrounds the neck opening.  Pattern is rather circular, about an inch wide.  There is a gap of about two inches, then the same pattern is repeated.
  • Open questions:
    • Is this a closed A-line, slit on the sides or open down the full front???
      • There is absolutely no consensus.  Everyone is looking at the same picture seeing different things.  Will probably take seeing the tunic in person or getting the DVD to answer.
      • There does not appear to be any goes on the side, but stretch velvet is 60" wide.  That is wide enough to add the flare that can be seen in the full length pictures.
    • Yoke on tunic - one piece or separated?
    • Pants?
    • Details on belt and buttons.
    • The color?


       Basic pattern of the velvet outer tunic. Rough sketch of the diamond pattern fabric of the inner tunic.

Main contributions thanks to Judy, Tammy and Cat.

For the current section of research, please go to the main Chalkboard.

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This page was last updated 04/22/08