Without a doubt, fairies are one of the most iconic creatures from the whole Legend of Zelda universe. Perhaps it’s the fact that they have appeared in every single Zelda game. Perhaps it’s because they have served as Link’s traveling companions in several games.
Or, perhaps it’s because one very memorable fairy demanded attention constantly!
Fairies like Navi are extremely recognizable, but I avoid showing them in almost all of the pictures in the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project for two reasons:
- The project was meant to include scenes from only three games—Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword—and Link only has a fairy companion in one of them.
- Perhaps more importantly, I was hoping to bring a gritty intensity and realism to my pictures as I transported scenes out of the gaming console and into the real world, and having a cheery glowing ball of light over every enemy I depicted would cheapen them and be defeating to the overall purpose of the project.
Still, although I may not have put Navi into every Ocarina of Time picture I created, I made up for them all with this picture—a fairy fountain with 69 of the little critters!
Having appeared in so many games, fairies have naturally been represented in a variety of ways.
In general, the designs fall into two categories: humanoid females or balls of light with double pairs of insect-like wings.
The latter theme was the obvious choice, not only because it was used in all the games from which the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project was drawn, but also because I wanted the picture to feel positive, and trapping a little fairy in a bottle so she can heal you when you’re wounded just seems a lot meaner when she looks like a little person!
An added bonus to using this design was that Photoshopping the fairies to life was simplicity itself!
The brush set had several types of wings, which allowed me to create a variety of fairies to populate my picture. For some fairies I put wings on both sides, while others got wings only on one side, so that they would look like they were flying from all different angles.
The Fairy Fountain
Making fairies was easy, but my favorite part of the creative process was finding the perfect fairy fountain.
In Ocarina of Time, fairies are found near “fountains” in the back of caves. There is typically a pool of water with some architecture around it reminiscent of a Roman bath, and a number of fairies floating aimlessly around it.
Now, the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project was all about reimagining the games as if they existed in the real world, and surprisingly enough there aren’t a lot of real-life locations where people have bothered to put arches over glowing pools in the back of caves.
The good news is, the world is full of caves that are way more beautiful than that! In my pictures, I’ve placed Link in Carlsbad Caverns, Skylight Cave, and even New Zealand’s Waitomo Glow Worm caves.
But of all the caves I’ve taken Link to, the one in this picture is my favorite.
This is Iceland’s crystal cave. Whereas most caves are carved out of stone, the crystal cave is a natural ice formation sculpted out of a glacier.
The rippling bands of ice capture light in an unbelievably magical way. It’s hard to believe that such a place could exist, and if it did, it would surely be the habitation of fairies, right?
Aside from being gorgeous, the glistening reflections all over the cave walls make it feel like there could be a million little light sources (or 69 glowing fairies, as the case may be) illuminating the whole cavern.
A Moment of Reverence
When Link visits a fairy fountain, the little creatures circle around him and heal him from his battle wounds.
Far from “kidnapping” them in bottles, I wanted to show Link’s respect for the help of these kindly little sprites.
To create this feel I used a cosplay picture which showed Aden kneeling by a big tree, originally intended to be the Deku Tree.
In the picture, a war-weary Link was loosely clutching his sword and shield, but pausing for a moment of reverence. This was just the sort of convalescent mood I wanted for the fairy fountain (I actually used a different angle of this same pose for my Deku Tree picture. Click here to check it out).
I didn’t want to put motion blur on the fairies, lest I add too much action and movement to the scene and spoil its sense of reverie, but this made it difficult to convey that they were swirling around him.
I put fairies of different sizes in front and behind Link in a basic spiral pattern, but to really emphasize the sense of movement I added an effect not seen in the games.
I used Photoshop water splash files to create magically rising, swirling water. This is a very subtle effect against the busy backdrop of Crystal cave, but if I strip away the rest of the picture it becomes clear.
In creating this effect I was inspired by scenes from the film The Swan Princess.
I wanted to capture the same sense of movement, magic, and healing captured by Odette’s nightly moonlight transformations.
This picture was not complicated, but I’ve found that often the simplest pictures turn out to be the most effective.
In particular, I enjoy the sense of tranquility this scene offers amidst the many battle scenes I’ve created. In the games the fairy fountains, are a welcome rest from the dangers and wounds of the outside realm.
Despite my best efforts to bring the fountain to life, it’s unlikely any of us will find a magical cave full of benevolent balls of light waiting to cure what ails us, but I hope everyone has a special place they can go to shed the weight of the world for a while and refresh their souls in safety.