I've been really excited to start working on the Goblin designs, although I've never had more than a vague smattering of concepts for them. I was never really thrilled with the Peter Jackson representation of the orcs (which I guess are goblins), even though it's pretty true to the source material. I thought it was sort of unimaginative, although it definitely worked in the context.
There is no real description of the Goblins in The Hobbit, though there are a few paragraphs detailing their mannerisms. They hate everybody and love digging and hurting things. No one is better at digging apart from the most skilled of the dwarves. They're described as being quite resourceful and even have some sick ingenuity when it comes to tools of torture and death.
I imagined them with some type of snuffling nose, either that of a bat, a tapir, or a mole. Something that moves constantly and leads the Goblins around their caves. I thought the natural thing to do would be to give them strong digging claws, like an anteater or aardvark or whatever, but that doesn't mesh well with them being excellent tool-users.
There are a few distinct representations of orcs in fantasy media, and the one that interested me most in creating these Goblins is the piglike version. I did a couple sketches of something like that, but it clashes with how the Goblins work in my head. Maybe if I ever do anything Tolkien past The Hobbit, I'd go down that road with the orcs.
In the end, my design combines elements of bats, salamanders, and turtles. The starred portrait on page three is the direction I'm going. You'll notice there is a rudimentary hat on what, every one of these drawings? I guess this post is getting long, so I'll talk about that and about the weapons page tomorrow.