A member of Thorin Oakenshield's company, Balin was the oldest (after Thorin himself). He was the second Dwarf to arrive at Bag End (shortly after his brother, Dwalin). Balin was always the Lookout of the Company, and only Bilbo Baggins ever slipped past his watch (and only then because he was invisible due to the Ring). After the Quest of Erebor, Balin tried to retake Moria, but he was killed by Orcs. He is described as looking very old, and having a scarlet hood and a white beard.
The hood thing is something I've been wanting to try for a while now, and I couldn't be more happy with the results. I hope you all like this book version of Balin (although Ken Stott had a practically perfect Balin [just needed a hood, really]). Comments and constructive criticism appreciated! Thanks for looking.
Quoting Cameron Wilson
Brilliant work. I like the hood. How come in the films Thorin looks young compared to the others?
Very good question indeed! Although I have read on a few websites (never seen it in the books, mind you) that around 40 or so, Dwarves basically look like they do for the rest of their lives and then during the last 10 or 20 years of their natural lifespan they age very rapidly. So judging by this information, it's entirely conceivable that Thorin would still look to be a middle-aged person, while Balin could have aged rapidly. Although I suspect the reason is more that they wanted the main male lead to be more of a handsome character, and less of a rough and rugged Dwarf, a-la-Gimli =P