8.09/10 rating (150 votes)

Pickle Jar Variations what's this?

7.48/10 rating (33 votes)

7.73/10 rating (33 votes)

8.32/10 rating (25 votes)

Member Comments

I hadn't logged into the site in a while, so I was clicking through everything since late last year and when I got to this one, before I even saw the title, my jaw dropped and I said to myself "holy @#$! that's Valinor!"

While I never pictured the trees quite so bright, it's otherwise very close to how I've always pictured it. Excellent job.

Thu May 2, 2013 at 11:47 am

Stunning Tolkien would have loved it.

Mon February 11, 2013 at 9:02 am

Stunning Tolkien would have loved it.

Mon February 11, 2013 at 9:01 am

Every time I return to my desktop I am -startled- by how beautiful this piece is. I would say "stunning" but that somehow seems to imply a one-time experience; this happens over and again. Amazing work.

Sun January 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Chris B
"@ Ryan"

I still really like the Image. Not sure if it came off that way lol When I read the Silmarillion I pictured them as gigantic Oak Trees. I searched for some images, just to see what was out there. I was surprised to see most were tall thin trees. Which makes sense when you consider they also created thin graceful elves, but still ;). The 4th version in the gentle hour looks by far the best. It's not as bright you you can see a lot more of the inner structure of the trees. They also seem to be fluid like.

I'm not sure how it would look, but did you do a rough image of one tree bright and the other dark? Just curious.

Fri January 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Chris B
"@ Ryan"

I still really like the Image. Not sure if it came off that way lol When I read the Silmarillion I pictured them as gigantic Oak Trees. I searched for some images, just to see what was out there. I was surprised to see most were tall thin trees. Which makes sense when you consider they also created thin graceful elves, but still ;). The 4th version in the gentle hour looks by far the best. It's not as bright you you can see a lot more of the inner structure of the trees. They also seem to be fluid like.

I'm not sure how it would look, but did you do a rough image of one tree bright and the other dark? Just curious.

Thu January 17, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Thank you so much. That may be the best compliment I have ever received.

Thu January 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm

You may have taken "quite a few liberties", but when I saw this image, on a screen without the title present, I gasped, "Tolkien."

Thank you.

Thu January 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm

"@Andrew S."
Thanks so much for the kind words! I spoke to Paul about your problem with the Android app. He suggested deleting the App Data and reloading. That worked for me and the new image showed up right away.

Hope this helps!!

Wed January 16, 2013 at 9:06 am


Wed January 16, 2013 at 1:50 am

Andrew S.
Been a member for years and never felt compelled to give a 10 for a wallpaper before. Many 9's but this is my first 10. Besides the artistic quality of this piece, I totally dig the Tolkien influence. One complaint however, this is the ONLY wallpaper I can't seem to find on the DB Android app. I know it's developed by someone else but maybe you have some info why it's missing? Anyhow, you're still gracing my many shop computers with wonderful artwork every week. Keep it up, Ryan!

Tue January 15, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Thanks!! You should be able to do that with the triple-screen once it is up.

Tue January 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

"Now that's a 10"
v.4 has got it. Really great piece.

As for the multi-screen ... cutting off the top and bottom is a disappointment. Is there no way to use, say "2880 x 1800 (16:10) Lossless" and just add "sides" to it, as you've done in the past? Just a though. I use the duals at work, but I may have to stick with a single on this one.

As always ... Bravo Ryan!

Tue January 15, 2013 at 9:09 am

This is awesome work! Amazing how you were able to take something so vivid in detail from a book and represent it.

As far as the multiscreen goes, try bringing the camera out a little ways from it more. Widening the F.O.V angle a bit and then shorten vertically. I've done that myself in hard situations with graphics and its worked for me a couple times. This might be one of those

Tue January 15, 2013 at 2:51 am

I am having some difficulty finding the right framing for the multiscreen. When I shorten the frame vertically (to widen it horizontally) a lot of stuff gets cut out. I don't want to crop the trees themselves too much but I don't want to leave out the environment either.

Still working on it...

Mon January 14, 2013 at 9:01 am

I love this version. Now comes the all important question of when will the multi-screen be up :-D

Mon January 14, 2013 at 8:44 am

margaret t
i am familiar with lord of the rings i think it was the best books ever written i think your dipiction of the two trees is very good and im looking forward to the rest

thank you well done

Mon January 14, 2013 at 0:15 am

"easily the best"
I knew you'd make it work and you did. Very, very nice, thanks.

Sun January 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm

thanks dear.....

Sun January 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I absolutely love the Simarillion. My Grandmother and I are huge Toklein fans, went to see The Hobbit over Christmas vacation. While I enjoy this render of the Trees of Valinor, I always pictured a softer but more expansive light from the trees. Not so much darkness around them but more of a fading of light as you distanced yourself from them. I always pictured the city of the first elves to be in an expansive valley, where the lights of the trees reached the slopes of the mountain with the intensity of a moonlit night. That being said, I still really enjoy this work! More Tolkein PLEASE!!!!

Sun January 13, 2013 at 11:22 am


Sat January 12, 2013 at 11:37 pm

does someone have the zip file of Valnor3??? somehow I missed it!!! beautiful!!!

Sat January 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm

You are definitely getting close with this! I am liking it more with each render. I think that the towers on the left side give some good perspective.

As an aside, I am thinking that a more top view of this scene would be awesome and really show the grandeur of Valinor.

Sat January 12, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Beautiful! I love the colors. Anxiously awaiting the dual monitor version! :)

Sat January 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I never read the Silmarrilion but enjoyed The Lord of the Rings. I think you've captured the essence of the beauty, power, and mystery of that world.

Sat January 12, 2013 at 12:59 am

A few minor changes for this fourth (and probably final) revision. I've made Laurelin leaves a little more red and a bit darker so the branches on both trees can be made out. The light cast by Laurelin is redder and a bit brighter.

I've also tweaked the surrounding buildings a bit.

@Chris B: I see your point but I always pictured the Valar as being more graceful and delicate. It was one of the Valar (Yavanna IIRC) who created the trees after all.

Perhaps that is why it was so easy for Morgoth to darken them...

Thanks for all the great feedback so far!

Sat January 12, 2013 at 12:16 am

Hope the multiscreen can have the trees further apart near the 2 ends of the screen.

Sat January 12, 2013 at 5:55 am

It really does keep getting better!

Fri January 11, 2013 at 11:49 pm

"Keeps getting better"
v.3 is the best yet. I think this one does a much better job of capturing the "gentle hour".

Fri January 11, 2013 at 8:51 am

Chris B
"Looks cool but..."

Looks cool but... I always pictured them as strong, solid, trees that all other trees wish they could be like. You picture the Huge, Strong Great Oak Tree that is the heart of the forest in so many fantasy works. I always pictured these two as even bigger and taller than the world tree of Warcraft, or the home tree of Avatar. These trees, Though cool looking, look really fragile. The lamps got smashed up, wouldn't you try to grow tough magic trees that could better withstand an assault of a big bad demi-god? A tree that he would look at and go... eh, I better try to poison the tree, I don't think I could chop that one down! I know in the book, and most fan art, they tend to be tall and small trunked if that's a word, but I would make it more solid if I were Iluvatar ;)

I look at the trees (it is improved in the 3rd version) and think oh cool, silver and gold glowing trees. Then you think, what are those lights under it? Then the scale starts to come into focus but it doesn't jump out at you. When You see the world tree or the Home tree, you are immediately thinking, "Woah that's one massive *add expletive here* Tree!"

Thu January 10, 2013 at 9:14 pm

"9/10 for v.3"
The trees are much better; we can now see the branches, which gives the trees more texture and dimension. Also, the reflection off the water is much improved, and so is the background. Unlike some folks, I've always liked the bridge and the stone pillars surrounding the base of the trees. IMHO, this is a go, Ryan. A winner, as always!

Thu January 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Of course right after I posted the update yesterday I saw some things I wanted to change. This new version changes the camera angle a bit, updates the tree colors and the reflections.

Getting closer to happy with this one. I hope you enjoy it!

Thu January 10, 2013 at 12:33 am

99.999999% of your art I love and just has me going "Wow I wish I could even get as half as good as that" for the past ten years and more. This one just makes me go "Meh" for the very first time. It looks like two Christmas Trees dressed up and plonked in a hedge somewhere, very underwhelming.

Thu January 10, 2013 at 10:41 am

Great wallpaper but is there no Facebook timeline version?

Thu January 10, 2013 at 7:54 am

Great image. The trees are awesome. However the water looks quite calm, so I would think the reflection of the buildings and lights would be clearer, more pronounced. So not a 10 in my book. :)

Waiting on the dual screens :D

Cheers Ryan!

Wed January 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Mike D
"Middle Earth"
You can always do mythology like this in my book! Looks great!

Wed January 9, 2013 at 12:06 am

"v.2 an upgrade"
I definitely agree that this version gives a better sense of the scale/age of the trees. Their scale does make it difficult to get a proper perspective on the rest of the scene, but I think you've done a bit better job of that in v.2 as well.

Wed January 9, 2013 at 10:53 am

"v.2 better!"
I like the bigger heads on the trees!--represents their age better. Maybe the final edit (if there is one) should make the trunk thicker? Looking good though!

Wed January 9, 2013 at 10:23 am

I've added an updated version this morning with much larger trees. There are still a few aspects I would like to tweak but changing the trees was relatively straightforward.

Let me know what you think of the changes.

Wed January 9, 2013 at 10:05 am

I love the concept! However, at first glance (especially in a thumbnail or on my screen at distance) the stonehenge-like walls surrounding the trunks appear to be far too urban, like a bomb shelter, or beachside bunker like Normandy in WWII. This initial impression is reinforced when the full size is inspected as the bridge between the two has the same initial appearance.

As far as the primary subject is concerned, I am not a fan of the trees' taller aspect ratio and agree with Tom's comment that a wider format on the trees would appear much more stately. They look just like Gingko trees planted in city sidewalks! Maybe I'm just a biased Southerner, but we love our wide, graceful live oak trees! Moreover, the rural/primeval feel I get from the Hobbit series is lost with the decidedly urban shape of the trees.

Pleaes keep the series coming, as I love the idea of a dusk to dawn picture!

Wed January 9, 2013 at 9:18 am

When I read the email, loved the concept upon logging in I looked at the wallpaper and was like what are those yellow lines beneath the trees? As I pondered the trees they just dont seem large and majestic enough to match the story. When I viewed the picture as higher resolution those lines became buildings and such. Which struck me as odd that the only light was from windows. These would of been Elves and they light the walkways in their cities, perhaps if there was more light it would show the cities and scale better. Perhaps dump the cities and make the trees larger and stately. This is how my minds eye see's the trees http://www.oakalleyplantation.com/

Wed January 9, 2013 at 7:26 am

Love the wallpaper, with the exception the golden dew drops laying flat take away from the image what it otherwise gives. Only within that respect it seems artificial, also the bridge that connects the two. Perhaps if I had read the book I may understand the image more and come to appreciate it. Still, a very enjoyable work of art.

Wed January 9, 2013 at 4:27 am

I think this is a fine image. Unless it was described in great detail in the book, what Ryan has submitted here is better for civil engineering than what the rules of Bonsai dictate. The trunk is thin, which allows more space for building under the branches. The apex is high, so the shadows need not be so long.

Tue January 8, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I want to start out by saying thanks for all of your excellent work, appreciation and help with the promotion of my product! I can't wait for you to finish these so that I can try this out myself. :) Given that I am a Tolkien fan as well, this is very much a nice treat. I still have yet to read the Silmarillon - but after this, I will definitely be looking into it. 20/10 in my book. Thanks, as always Ryan.

Tue January 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm

"Love it!"
Ryan, I love that you've done this, and this is a great attempt. Like many of the commenters, I am a huge Tolkien fan, and it so happens I am currently re-reading the Silmarillon (with the audio book and Martin Shaw's amazing reading of it). I do have to agree with many of the comments here, though. I always imagined the Two Trees as very grand. I'm thinking of Ted Nasmith's painting of the Two Lamps in the illustrated edition of The Silmarillon; the scale of the majesty of the lamps is very apparent. I wish he had done a similar painting of the Two Trees for that book.

Nevertheless, this wallpaper is great--thanks so much! And yes, I too would love to see more fantasy and sci-fi this year!

Tue January 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm

I saw the Two Trees as being more "substantial" - like large, noble trees with big trunks - rather than slender, willowy trees. I love the concept, and look forward to further developments!

Tue January 8, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I always tried to imagine what the trees would look like when I read the Silmarillion, I do think you have done a beautiful capture, can't wait to see the rest.

Tue January 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm

"Edit to trees"
I love the inspiration--the "creation" story in the Silmarillion always fascinated me.

Because they represent the trees of trees, if you will, I'd think that they'd be more substantive (perhaps Banyan-like)

Tue January 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Dennis M.
The trunks look a little spindly... I would like to see more of the architecture of the buldings below. Will that show up better during "noon"?

Tue January 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm

"beautiful, but..."
I love the concept - always been a fan of Tolkien's work. However, I do have to agree with others that it doesn't seem quite... right yet. A few of my personal thoughts to think about, though obviously this is all interpretation off of what Tolkien wrote -

1 - the trees branching out more... they don't seem quite as majestic as I would've pictured, though I love the rain-like effect you have underneath them. Willow tree idea might work, although it's not a major point of contention.

2 - If they are shining over the entirety of the world, the ground should have far more variation in it - mountains, lakes, Mount Doom's volcano... it's a big planet.

3 - the cities are far too large for their structures in comparison to these trees - the whole perspective would seem more to me like looking down on the continents from a higher vantage point, as these trees are so big to illuminate the entire planet.

4 - the first peoples to populate Middle-Earth were Elves, Man, & Dwarves, after the Valar. If the races we know in Tolkien's books were descendants of them, I can't picture their original buildings looking as in your picture. Too... "alien" for this world, as another of your subscribers commented. One city looking more like Lothlorien, one pouring from a mountain cave, another similar to Gondor... that would show the variety that shines from the books.

5 - minor point - bridge between the trees is very odd to me, detracts from the trees & the cities you've created.

Ok, I'll be quiet for now. My 2+ cents :) Loads of potential, love the concept :)

Tue January 8, 2013 at 1:40 pm

"6/10... Willow Tree!"
Good idea but the execution isn't there yet. I have to agree with Celmendo below, they don't really look like grand majestic trees. I think I expect something fuller like a giant willow tree all lit up, maybe like this picture.


Not a huge fan of the surrounding landscape and the heavy green color either. I feel like the surrounding area should look more blue and white like it is truly lit from the trees.

Not trying to be overly critical cause there is a lot of potential.

Tue January 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm

"No FB Timeline version?"
I see that a FB timeline render is absent for this image. That being said, I haven't read the Silmarillion yet, but it's on my "to read" list. I like this image for its mystical properties. There's something ethereal, yet incredibly powerful about it. It looks like the trees are "raining" light, however. Was this an intended effect, or were you looking more for a coronal one? Either way, it's a solid image, and you could have a lot of fun tweaking it!

Tue January 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm

"11/10 - I love Valinor!"
Ryan, this wallpaper almost brought a grown man to tears. My love for Middle Earth is immense, and I am an avid fan of Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion (though to a lesser extent, The Hobbit).

I instantly recognized the trees before reading your explanation.

You have my full marks on this one. Well done sir, well done!

Tue January 8, 2013 at 12:59 am

I love Middle Earth! Gotta get back there someday.

Tue January 8, 2013 at 12:35 am

"Nothing but love for the concept..."
But it more resembles some weird fireworks and than some grand, awe inspiring trees with an inner glow. I know you'll make it work. It's still lovely.

Tue January 8, 2013 at 12:19 am

"Time renders"
That would be awesome! maybe as the trees wax brighter the surroundings will provide more scale and grandeur.

Tue January 8, 2013 at 11:17 am

Great way to start a new year. Personally, I hope to see more Sci-fi and fantasy this year. One minor point, the mountains in the background dip around the trunk of the silver tree, which makes it look like there is a net or something behind it. I had to look to make certain that was just the mountians. Maybe they could be illuminated a little more to make them easier to see? Just an observation. I do like the work.

Tue January 8, 2013 at 10:33 am

Trees: 100%

Theme: 100%

City: 60% (looks more alien than elven)

Water: 60% (very grainy)

Overall: 80%. I think it looks like one of your older renders, but those trees are truly amazing.

Tue January 8, 2013 at 10:24 am

"Valinor Time"
The Silmarillion describes the trees each waxing and waning in brightness over their own 7 hour period:

In seven hours the glory of each tree waxed to full and waned again to naught; and each awoke once more to life an hour before the other ceased to shine. Thus in Valinor twice every day there came a gentle hour of softer light when both trees were faint and their gold and silver beams were mingled.

This first render depicts the "gentle hour" above. My final goal is to render each hour in the cycle and folks can then use "ChronoWall" to set their desktop to a day in Valinor...

Tue January 8, 2013 at 10:22 am

This is really great, I am a huge Tolkien fan and love the histories of Middle Earth and Arda.

This image is very cool and I really like it, but when I look at it I don't get the perspective of grandeur and scale that i imagined in the Silmarillion. It may be that the surrounding of the trees is too dark to easily see their scale, or maybe the angle of the shotcoming from too low a POV, also maybe the zoom is too close to get a sense of the size of valinor itself in proportion to the trees. I am not sure, but I LOVE the subject of this image and would love to see some tweaks to scale.


Tue January 8, 2013 at 9:57 am

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