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How I draw Link

Journal Entry: Sun Jun 15, 2014, 6:30 PM
It amazes me how much I get either this comment " You draw Link so well!" or this question " How do you draw Link so well?", and how I've even been asked to do a tutorial of some sort regarding just this character in his multiple versions.

I believe I've mentioned before that I actually study a character's nature before drawing it, and Link's not an exception. By studying him, I've studied all of them. Whenever an artist draws, their style often overpowers the character itself, in this case, resulting in what I call "Generic Link". A generic Link just covers the basics: blond hair (yellow), long elf ears, usually his hair is combed to the left or the right, and of course, blue eyes and the green  hero attire. It is practically impossible to tell if a person drew OoT Link, TP Link or SS Link etc. when we see a generic version, and that's because he's actually none of them. This is a Link perceived by our eyes, but it does not mean we actually understand the character's nature.

To understand how a character is physically, there is a need for analysis.
Skyward Twilight Ocarina by Kim-SukLey For example, these are sketches drawn directly from their ingame versions: Skyward Link, Twilight Link, and Ocarina Link (N64).
I do have to add that I've known Link for 13 years, and I've been drawing (in general) for 8 years so far.

When I study Link's facial features, I see a similarity, but also differences. A very important aspect that few take into account, and probably one of his most iconic facial features that actually give him the "link vibe" are his eyebrows. His eyebrows are thin in the center and thick at the sides, not the other way around! *Take note* and they are similar to a triangle.

This boy who came from the sky by Kim-SukLey Thick and handsome eyebrows!


His eyes are also based on a triangle shape, and the shade of blue varies from one Link to another and the same thing goes for his hair: different blonds.
This is the basic color scheme I tend to use:
SHC- Casual Clothing. Style 1 by Kim-SukLeyAs you can see, the hair, eyes and skin color changes.

Now, as you can see, not only the color scheme is what helps you identify one Link from another one, but also many other physical features. I tend to make Time tall, perhaps 1.80m, and make Twi about 1.60m and Sky about 1.55 (Yes, short). Since Windy is a Toon, "humanizing" him can be a bit complex, but the trick with him resides in making his head bigger and his eyes cover most of his face, leaving poor space for his nose and mouth. He has child-like features, so toning down the muscles and making him flowy helps to develop his persona.

Something I do a lot is enhance very particular features of each Link. If a Link has long bangs, make them even longer. If his eyes are big, like Windy's (and all the toon Links) make them bright, something that brings in attention.
Link U by Kim-SukLeyAway from here by Kim-SukLey
Here I painted Link from "Zelda U". As you can see, he has features that other Links already have, but put all together. Seeing this, I emphasized on his hair style: spiky, give it more spike (layers), long bangs, make them longer; pony tail, make it noticeable.  Plus, we can see his characteristic eyebrows and winged eyelining, something that all Links share.--- For Wind Waker Link, I focused on his hair style (his "cow lick") and his eyes, which were actually made of a lighter color and gave them a crystal-like look.

Finally, you must hive him a personality. This is not necessarily the last step, it actually develops along the way.
SHC- You need a lesson in teamwork! by Kim-SukLey Body language is our main tool. This is Four Sword Link. They actually all have the same proportions and facial features, but the way one approaches their personality is what defines who they are. For Green, his just cocky. Red is cute and sweet. Blue is a troublemaker and Vio is a thinker.

This happens not just with them, but also with the Links we were talking about before.
Where's the boy? by Kim-SukLeyMy take on TP Link, for instance, has always been rather sad and melancholic.

SHC- Duh-huh! I'm Sky. by Kim-SukLeySS Link is just clumsy--- but a very nice and happy boy.

SHC- Twi, darling, come here... by Kim-SukLey  OoT Link is, well, the "hot stuff". But then again, he's also caring.


Windy by Kim-SukLey  And WW Link is a child.

Evidently, although they are all Link, they are not the same person. So, to draw Link, I actually study the official art by Nintendo, both artwork and ingame. Then, I emphasize on those features that make each particular Link unique, and of course, I develop a background story along with a personality which can say who they are.

Finally Making your own Link.
Once you know the features that make Link the character he is, creating one of your own is quite a breeze.
SHC- Prince Link Liebenherz by Kim-SukLey SHC- Steady by Kim-SukLeyThis is actually my own Link OC, "Lieb". As usual, I tried to emphasize on the features that make him different, like his long hair. That is his signature. So, I did not only make it long, but also big and quite poofy(and yes, it's blond, don't be fooled by my scanner!). His eyebrows are the same as for the other Links, and giving him blue eyes plus a tunic draws the viewer to say " Is this Link?" while yet they are also looking at what makes him different--- and probably looking for the arm or the eye he does not have.

In the end, if you really want to draw a character well, you must practice and study that character, and not only that, but also have a knowledge about the world around you, society, human interactions and human feelings, to say the least.

-Shawn

PS.


Here's a small documentary which overall explains this long term process. Watch the parts that interest you most:


Add a Comment:
 
:iconprettynightlife:
Prettynightlife Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
OOT link is my favorite
Reply
:iconzeliga:
Zeliga Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You must be the wisest man on Earth .___. Or at least one of the wisest .__. 
I think I would be able to try to improve with these tips... .__.
I think it's possible... .__.
If I wasn't so lazy person... .___.
Oh, God, why? D8
Reply
:icontwiprilinkv579:
TwiPriLinkV579 Featured By Owner Edited Jun 16, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My style of drawing the Links is very anime-ish.  Three examples of my style on include:

miiverse.nintendo.net/posts/AY… - Twi telling a roll of bathroom tissue to not draw any closer to him.  I gave him this bizarre phobia after I saw one too many comments (Miiverse or not) that made fun of Twilight Princess.

miiverse.nintendo.net/posts/AY… - My version of the Link in the upcoming WiiU Zelda title.  I made him have cerebral palsy and cancer, since I have the belief that every version of Link should try a different idea.  (To explain why his hair isn't falling out from the treatment, I have a headcanon that the properties of Hylian hair enable the strands to oddly resist chemotherapy.  No modern world Hylian or human knows how, though.)

miiverse.nintendo.net/posts/AY… - A fansformation (Fan transformation) for Twi when the moon's light side is at least mostly shown.  His left eye has melted out (It's as gross as it sounds), the sclera in his right eye has turned black, he has an ungodly amount of fur, has two extra sets of ears, has a fluffeh tail with three spikes at the tip, and has spikes running down his back.
Reply
:iconkurokuroneko4:
KuroKuroNeko4 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Very interesting, thanks for pointing out the eye/brow shape. I studied him several times, even drawn him a bunch, but I never really realized the shape. *faceplant*
I do agree on understanding his character being important. I believe this applies not only to drawing. In cosplay, this is what irks me the most - a person will just throw on the clothes and a bunch of makeup, and then look so OOC that it makes me wonder if they actually tried at all. A sad example of this would be Lindsey Stirling's blue Link. I normally admire her a whole lot, but the way she portrayed him was painfully unLink. It's still a sore spot for me to this day. :/
Reply
:iconkim-sukley:
Kim-SukLey Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I never saw that particular situation as cosplay, actually. I just saw Lindsey in a blue tunic--- and honestly, I never considered she actually tried to be Link.  I think that being known for her music and violin skill, her dressing-up really shouldn't matter.
Don't give it that much importance; she's not a Li Kovaks xD
Reply
:iconkurokuroneko4:
KuroKuroNeko4 Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I actually never heard of Li Kovacs until just now. Damn, that is amazing stuff!
Ah well, I couldn't help but think Link when I saw her video, but especially after finding the Pot Smasher one as well. Maybe she never directly says she's being Link, but I had my suspicions when she mentioned Zelda and being an elf. I get the feeling she didn't study up much, but I guess I can't blame her since she is a busy person^^
But yeah, other than Lindsey, there are so many cosplayers who irk me with their attitude. I wish they'd focus less on their perfect hair and clothes, and more on actually putting on Link's character, truly trying to be him. One can do that even without the best outfit, am I right?
Reply
:iconobsessivelyblonde:
ObsessivelyBlonde Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
This is so detailed and pretty.
*lacks adequate vocabulary to express reaction*
Reply
:iconexcusemebuckaroo:
ExcuseMeBuckaroo Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The way you write just amazes me. Its just so beautiful. Heart 
Reply
:iconfoyet-of-hyrule:
Foyet-of-Hyrule Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2014
This is great advice for drawing not only Link, but any other character! Very helpful :)
Reply
:iconcloneace:
CloneAce Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2014  Student General Artist
Oh wow that is a lot 0.0 well better get to practicing. if only I knew you in real life so you could help me draw better ^v^
Reply
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