Farore’s Wind was the second installment in my triforce trilogy of pictures referencing the three magical spells available in the Ocarina of Time.
This picture was a lot of fun to create, because I had almost infinite room for creativity.
Whereas most of my pictures are of a recognizable boss or other bad guy from the Legend of Zelda franchise, there was no creature building required for this scene.
Farore’s Wind is essentially just a teleportation spell, allowing you to get back to a specific point in a dungeon (useful if you keep dying and don’t want to have to fight back through the temple over and over).
Visually, Farore's Wind isn't not very memorable. When the warp point is cast, link puts his hands in the air, a light appears, and he is surrounded by a swirling green cloud that we can only assume is “wind.”
Warping to that point is even less dramatic. No spell casting is involved, but the green light reappears and Link floats down from it.
This is a lot less iconic than the expanding fireball of Din’s Fire, or the hovering crystal shield produced by Nayru’s Love (the other two spells in the game). For this reason, I felt free to deviate from the game design more with Farore’s Wind and come up with my own way to express it.
Thus began a very satisfying creative adventure.
The Missing Link
To get across the idea that Link was teleporting, I decided that I would need to make him float weightlessly.
But, to convey that sense of weightlessness, I needed an action shot where Link wasn’t standing on the ground.
I had a lot of jumping pictures from various photoshoots. The only problem was...most of them were jump attack pictures. Link had his sword out in all of them, and typically had a very aggressive facial expression.
This just wasn’t going to work. For this photo, I wanted Link to look serene and lighter than air.
I had almost given up on the floating idea when I remembered a series of pictures taken of Link jumping over a wall. They had clothes flying weightlessly, feet clearly not touching the ground, and a peaceful expression on Link’s face—everything I needed!
The pictures were just…sideways.
Even after this discovery I had to combine two of the jumping pictures to get the perfect final pose.
Whoops! Link's cap is coming off in the picture on the right...but his leg still looks good!
I took the body and right leg from the picture on the left and the left leg from the picture on the right so that Link was reaching toward the ground with only one foot. This looked a lot more graceful and conveyed “floating,” whereas two straight legs looked like “falling.”
To see another great use of these wall-jumping pictures, check out my Scaldera post.
Speaking of fall, I decided that autumn leaves would be the perfect way to express Farore’s Wind.
Wind isn’t visible itself, but we see the things that stirs, so rather than painting a swirling green cloud of magic around Link, the scene would look windier if we just saw things blowing all around him.
And what blows better than leaves?
In creating the leaf design, I was inspired by a scene from the Chinese martial arts film called “Hero,” wherein two women fight in an autumn wood.
Even though it was a combat scene, it had a peaceful beauty to it, and even though the characters often stood still, there was a constant sense of rushing motion.
Serene beauty and rushing motion at the same time? That was just what my picture needed!
So…I went with leaves.
I used a couple of free dynamic Photoshop leaf brushes from Pixelstains to create most of the swirls that start at the bottom of the screen, wrap around Link as if lifting him up and then curl away upward into infinity.
I drew the color palette from the leaves on the forest floor in the background image so that they would look like they belonged together. To make the leaf swirls look more three-dimensional I put darker leaves in back and on the bottom, as if it the whole vortex were a tentacle lifting Link into the air, with some parts of it in bright light and others shaded.
The leaf brushes had both size, direction, and color jitter, which means that the leaves they painted didn’t all look identical. Even so, each leaf was completely monochromatic. As you can see below, this tended to make them look a bit too much like clip art for my taste.
Even after playing with leaf opacity and adding motion blur, they still looked fairly two-dimensional.
I addressed the problem by putting additional pictures of actual leaves (not just a Photoshop brush) close to the camera. Even when I heavily blurred these foreground leaves, it was still obvious that they had the variety of color and texture that we expect from nature.
By making the foreground leaves real, it creates the illusion that the background leaves must also be real and full of texture—you just can’t see it because of the distance…right?
As an extra plus, adding leaves meant I could put one over Link's right hand (which you'll remember was hidden behind a wall).
Now I know I said that I didn’t want to paint a green cloud of magic around Link. Still, even after the leaves were finished, I felt like I needed something more to clarify the spiraling motion of the leaves and to make the wind feel substantial enough to carry a 170-lb man.
I ended up using another Photoshop brush of spiraling sparkles to accomplish both of these tasks.
Finally, to reference the light which appears when Farore’s Wind is cast, I added a lens flare at the top of the scene.
The angle of the flare echoes that of Link’s body. The diagonal line also helps to draw the eye upward, and the light shines through the whirling leaves at the top of the scene so that they do not look as visually heavy, while giving the feel that the wind peters out as it swirls higher.
What resulted from this fun creative process may not be the Farore’s Wind you know from the game, but hopefully it’s actually cooler and a little more realistic (if you could ever call magical teleportation “realistic”).
With all the combat in the game (and in my pictures), I imagine Link must value some of these rare quiet moments when he can just enjoy a walk…or a float…in the woods.
Incidentally, I used almost the exact same leaf technique to create my Airbender cosplay picture. Click here to check it out!