Honestly, this picture started the whole Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project.
One thing I've always found odd about cosplay is the fact that while most cosplayers dress up as action heroes from one genre or another, very few cosplay photos depict any real sort of action.
I wanted to do something different.
So, instead of taking picturesque photos of my Link cosplay in a well-lit studio, we went hiking. I hiked through mountains, climbed up cliffs, jumped off buildings and engaged in hand-to-hand combat.
And, as we took all of those action shots, it occurred to me...what if we turned these pictures into real life, action shots of boss battles?
Of all the bosses in the Ocarina of Time, Morpha has always been one of the most memorable, which is probably why it's the first one I tackled.
Like most boss battles in OoT, fighting Morpha is fairly formulaic: you run around to avoid the water tentacles while trying to grab Morpha with the Longshot. Once you snag the big eyeball, you go to town with your sword until it either gets away or gives up.
For this picture, however, I wanted to create something that felt a bit more real than chasing a giant amoeba around a swimming pool. I had seen a couple different cosplay photos that included Morpha, but while they looked cool, a fountain...
Image by Kumamana.
...or a Photoshop brush effect just didn't have the sense of action I was looking for.
When I imagined a "real life" version of the fight with Morpha, I envisioned a battle deep in an underground reservoir where Morpha had drawn in all of the water from Lake Hylia. Morpha itself would be an almost incomprehensible creature that could bend the water around it to its every whim.
To beat Morpha under these conditions would take more than a little patience and Z-targeting. It would take an act of sheer desperation and bravery, where either Link would succeed...or he would be completely at Morpha's mercy.
Finding a decent watery cave was fairly easy, the Tham Khoun Ex cave in Laos fit the bill nicely. We also had a decent shot of a flying, death-defying jump attack from a recent photo shoot.
But Morpha? Morpha was hard.
After all, how do you get a water tendril with an amoeba in it to look scary? The idea's a little unnerving, but if you don't do it right, you end up with something along the lines of Bermuda Tentacles (a little sci-fi gem I found while trying to create Morpha):
Then, as I was watching the Morpha intro scene for the umpteenth time, something rang a bell.
Morpha looks an awful lot like the iconic scene from the 1989 horror classic, the Abyss.
The similarities are so obvious, it's almost like Nintendo based Morpha on this monster. All I had to do was recreate the tentacles from the Abyss!
The rest is history.
I added in a beefy version of the Abyss water tentacle, gave it an amoeba-like core and sent Link on a flying leap towards death...or victory!
Not too shabby, eh?
The Beginning of a Journey
The story doesn't end there, however. Once the picture was complete, I shared it with a few people and the response was overwhelmingly positive—particularly from Austin, who had taken all of the original cosplay photos.
In fact, Austin's enthusiasm for the project was ultimately even greater than my own and became the driving force behind the Zelda Cosplay Project!
Now, I'll admit, when I created this picture, my Photoshop skills were fairly rudimentary. Most of Austin's images ended being far more technically and artistically impressive than this picture.
But, for me, this picture holds special significance because it led to something far bigger and more magical than a single picture. It produced dozens of incredible Legend of Zelda cosplay pictures, a ton of great new skills and (most importantly) years of memories I will always cherish.
So, the moral of the story? Sometimes, a simple vision is all it takes to produce something great. You never know where your dreams will take you!