As a child of the eighties, few things bring me back to my childhood as much as playing Legend of Zelda while flipping through some issues of Nintendo Power magazine. I would gaze with envy at the art submissions from kids around the country that were published in the front of the magazine. I spent many a afternoon drawing and coloring my next submission, hoping to get my work published in a future issue, but to no avail. This helped unite my love of art and all things Nintendo.
Fast forward to Spring of 2012, when I had the privilege to create a truly heroic room for two close friends of mine…Cole and Casey. Not of just any ole hero, but Link, the Hero of Time! My objective was to create a room that exemplified the spirits of courage, joy and adventure, not just in regards to a newborn baby boy, but also being brand new parents. In my opinion, no Legend of Zelda titles epitomize these qualities better than Wind Waker and Spirit Tracks.
Armed with just my sketchbook and a BIC mechanical pencil, I began sketching a few ideas down. I do this to not only flesh out the visuals, but to get inspired by the art style and character.
In addition to a traditional sketchbook, I employed the use of Photoshop mock-ups with rough measurements of the room to help with the entire layout of the scene. Having the ability to move and scale elements quickly was quite valuable in coming up with a design in a reasonable timeframe. After Cole and I agreed to a design, we set to work on prepping the room. After a couple marathon Turntable.fm (R.IP.) sessions and several coats of various blues later, we were ready for the real work to begin.
After getting a handle on the real life scale of the train and sense of its perspective (made more difficult by the locomotive’s lean), I quickly realized that I would have to get more technical and precise than my previous mural. Cole and I strung up several long lengths of white sewing thread along the train wall to form a large grid. I would sync this grid with an equally spaced grid on my Photoshop® layout I had printed out. This system allowed me to accurately transfer the more technical design elements of the train upon the wall. I found that merely transferring points was somewhat stifling my freedom and artistic expression, so we then removed the grid system for the rest of the project.
From this point onward, we both put many late nights into this project. It was during this time Cole and I spun many tall tales of our youth and shared together our own tastes in tunes thanks to the music libraries of Spotify® and Turntable.fm. The camaraderie he and I developed throughout the creation of this nursery is definitely one of the lasting memories I cherish. *Bro Fist*
Over the 150 hours of work we put into this project, there were definitely lengths of time where laying the groundwork of the scene did not seem to amount to much change to the casual observer. But thankfully Casey and Cole showed much patience and faith in the project, even when that fetal timebomb seemed to tick faster near the end of the project! 😉
I am happy to report that we were able to finish all planned elements on time, including announcing their baby’s name in Hyrulian glyphs on the Master Sword pedestal!
After finishing the mural we were very eager to share it with a few other Zelda fans. After Cole posted the embedded video above, the online response was phenomenal. We could not have anticipated the gaming media coverage we received. From Kotaku, to Joystiq, and even a full writeup on Polygon….we were flabbergasted. Then to top it off, we got an email directly from Nintendo of America.
“Thank you so much for sharing your amazing artwork, which ends up being the most awesome background for your beautiful story of love and dedication to your son. We’ve received photos and videos from our fans showing their enthusiasm for our products for 25 years now. Nonetheless, it’s still such a humbling experience when we see that our future generations will have the opportunity to carry on the same passion about the characters and stories that have enchanted us over the years.
On behalf of Nintendo, I wanted to tell you how much we appreciate your taking the time to share your feelings and efforts to make Zelda such a huge part of your little one’s life. Your story is very important to us; as such, I have forwarded your comments to our other departments so that they can get a chance to hear what our fans are saying!
Nintendo of America Inc.”
My Nintendo Power reading inner child’s mind was completely blown… While it wasn’t actually published in an issue, this was close enough for me! 🙂
This entire project was a blast to work on and I hope that it inspires others to go out there and create something.
Thanks to Casey and Cole for putting up with me and allowing me to spend so much time in your home.
And finally, special thanks to my wife, Katherine, for her patience and support while I spent so much time away from her and our family to do these, sometimes overly ambitious, things that I love! 🙂