|The first and most
important part of creating a costume is collecting
reference material. Even if your recreation is made from
the exact same materials as the original costume, if you
have not been able to reasonably duplicate the basic
shape of the pieces your costume may not be as great as
it could be.
For reference material on LOTR costumes, look on the links page.
Pictures - The internet can be a great resource for photos of the costume you want to create, but books and DVD's also contain images you may not be able to find on line. Try to collect as many images from as many different perspectives as you can find and as high resolution as is possible. Sometimes you may be able to take pictures or find pictures taken at an exhibit that is showing your favorite costume. If you take your own pictures, be sure you have permission! And when you do, take as many as you can, especially of the details. Don't think you'll remember!
If a picture is too dark, you can try to enhanse it in photo editing program by filtering the color some. I used the "Overlay" mode at 80% to bring out the highlights in Haldir's armor below. Be sure to experiment on a COPY of the photo, and keep the original safe.
Drawings - If you are unable to secure permission to take picturs at an exhibition, or if you have a DVD and you can't make a screen snap or print out a picture, another possibility is to sketch what you are seeing and take descriptive notes. This obviously isn't as good as a photo, but it can help you remember details if a photograph isn't available. Some costumers share their drawings on line, so you may be able to find someone else's work. Drawing pictures of the photos you have can help you see the details better. You can either do this on the computer, or free hand. I prefer to either lighten the picture and draw it on the computer, or print out the photo and draw on it. This can also help you figure out possibilities for parts of the costume you can't see in the photograph.
Below is an example of how drawing can help you visualize your costume pieces.
Dolls - The dolls often are very accurate, if small. Be sure to find out how accurate the dolls are before you rely completely on one for your recreation! Sometimes all you will have for a certain aspect of the costume is what you see on the doll. It's better than nothing!
Below is an example. Besides the video of the rotating armor there are no known pictures of the back of the elf armor costume and the only reference is on the doll. Sometimes a doll can help you figure out how to construct a costume, but if it most likely will not show when you are wearing the costume, it is a personal choice to duplicate the doll.
Another way the doll can help is to give you a small reference on the proportions of the pieces you are making. Here is an example of how I made a small template for the dolls armor. Though it did take some modifying to make it full scale, it gave me some reference points when starting.
Articles - Costumers do get interviewed and sometimes they share details! So looking up pictures is not the only source of information on your costume. Articles are good for discovering exactly what the costume was made out of, if you can't figure it out from just looking at it.