PSDFan Extra

Advanced Tutorial: Creating ‘Broken Link’’s David Cousens takes you through his design process…

Warning: This tutorial is NOT FOR BEGINNERS, it’s for people who know their way around Photoshop and are looking to further their design knowledge/skills. If you aren’t comfortable with radial gradients, overlay layers and clipping mask layers and have a good foundation level of artistic skill this tutorial probably isn’t for you. Oh, and you should definitely have a graphics tablet; it would be undiluted madness to try this with a mouse!

Still reading? Excellent stuff. This tutorial is going to focus on design choices and a little bit of theory. There are literally thousands of tutorials online that cover keyboard shortcuts and clever ways to tweak your custom brushes but less cover the reasons why we’ve chosen to do what we do when we’re creating a piece of art, which is often more important than the process of how you got there (but don’t worry, there will be some of that too!). And we’ve even included a few custom brushes that you can download here.

Final Image:

Here’s the final image that we will be creating:

What’s my motivation? (or ‘No, he wasn’t always a tree!’)

The goal of this image was to take an existing concept and push it further. For those of you that haven’t played The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask I’ll give you a very brief explanation of the story behind this image. The Zelda franchise has always flirted with a dark narrative, but Majora’s Mask was the first game where they really looked into the dark side. The hero “Link” gets a spell put on him that mutates him into a Deku scrub (a strange tree like creature), and the moon crashes into the planet killing everyone! The transformations in the game always looked quite painful and upsetting; Link would scream in pain every time. I always felt that the game could have gone even further with the transformation, so I thought why not do it myself?

Fun Fact: When Link was in his normal human form, dogs would simply ignore him, when he was in his Deku Scrub form they would get angry and bite him! As if being a tree wasn’t bad enough! At least they didn’t confuse him with a hydrant…

Step1: A good foundation (or ‘How to obtain a hot beverage with minimal effort!’)

First things first, open up an A4 PSD at 300 dpi. Start off drawing a rough layout using my custom “dc colouring opacity” brush (in the brushes download pack) with a light blue colour. Always try to get the main character’s pose sorted out and think about the general composition as a whole. Don’t worry about details until you’re happy with the bare bones first; you’ll only end up having to fix things later. It always helps to stand up and “act out” the pose so you get a better understanding of it. If you can, have someone else act it and take a photo that you can use for reference. Not only that, it’ll make great blackmail material when you next want a cup of tea! ;)

Fun Fact: Despite being ‘ethically sketchy’, blackmail can indeed get you a nice cup of tea… :)

Step 2: Lines

Once you’re happy with your rough lines, draw the character’s final lines on a new layer called ‘lines’ (imaginative, huh?) using the ‘ink’ brush (also in the brushes download pack!).

Step 3: Add some Colour

Next up, use the paint bucket tool to fill the background with an appropriate blue/teal colour. This serves 2 functions; firstly it helps set the mood of the piece, secondly it gets rid of the white space. Not only can white space be a bit intimidating, but colouring against white will throw your perceptions of colours.

Still using the ‘ink’ brush; lay in the flat colours of your image on relevant layers underneath the ‘Lines’ layer. Make sure to keep adjacent colours on separate layers to make shading easier, so colour all the skin on one layer, then clothes on a layer above, his strange branch hair on another, etc.

Step 4: Background

Open up your references to help inspire you. As you can see, everything from the game is a bit dark, twisted and creepy so let’s make our background evoke similar feelings. Using my “inking opacity” custom brush, lay in a basic background, with simple bushes and trees. Try to make sure everything in your background leads towards your focal point (e.g. all of the branches lead your eye towards Link). Remember the closer we are to things the more saturated the colour is, so use less saturated colours on trees that are further away to make them recede into the painting.

Step 5: Let there be light

Now we’re going to add our light sources; Link’s little Fairy companion (called “Tatl”) and the moon. We’ll keep it simple at first, as we are just adding them for reference so we can work out where the shading should go on Link. On the ‘skin’ layer, use an airbrush and choose a nice bright yellowy-orange, and draw a simple round glow in front of Link. Do the same with a white colour to establish the location of the moon.

Fun fact: Tatl has a brother called “Tael” which is a bad pun on the phrase “tattle-tale” which proves Nintendo loves bad puns even more than I do!

Step 6: More background elements

Add in some mountains in the background and draw the owl from the reference on a branch that is again pointed towards Link. Just render the owl as a silhouette for now; we’ll focus on him properly at a later stage. Use a texture brush to make the floor look a little varied. You don’t need to use a specific brush for this; it’s just something to make the ground look more varied at this stage. It helps to have things vaguely established so that you start to get a feel for the general environment you’re creating.

Step 7: The magic of clipping masks

Now for each of your flat colour layers, create two clipping masks each (create a new layer and tick the “use previous layer as clipping mask” box, then click ok). Set each of the top clipping mask layers to overlay in the blending modes, and the leave the bottom ones at normal. Using clipping masks will allow you to add basic shading to each layer without worrying about going over the edges; simple but brilliant!

Step 8: Shady business practices

We can now start adding some basic shading on the skin using the ‘inking opacity’ brush on the Skin’s normal clipping mask layer. Try to picture Link as a 3D object, and how the light sources would affect the light and shadows falling on him.

Step 9: Lather, rinse, repeat…

To avoid being repetitive, I’ll simply say that you need to repeat this step for the clothes, boots and hair on each of the relevant normal clipping mask layers. Add the strange fiery glow to Link’s eyes using a soft airbrush, and then a hard edge round brush to add the more defined parts (again this is just another element of his design that we’re pushing a bit further.)

Step 10: The Lockdown (or ‘you’re so transparent’)

Another tip which will help those of you that like to keep line work in your final image is to lock the transparency of the ‘lines’ layer by clicking the small chessboard icon in the layers palette. This means you will only affect existing pixels and not create any new ones on that layer, so you can now colour your lines easily on the ‘lines’ layer. Use colours darker than your darkest shading for each area (e.g. a really dark green for Link’s clothes outlines).

Step 11: Moonlighting

You can also render rim-lighting on the locked Lines layer (e.g. The moonlight on his hat and the light on Link’s hands cast by the fairy ‘Tatl’) by choosing a white colour or bright yellow and painting over the lines.

Add the moonlight to Link using a light blue colour (don’t use white as it looks far too strong) with the inking opacity brush. Try to fight the urge to render too much moonlight as we wouldn’t see much of it on Link from this view; he’s mostly blocking it from our viewpoint.

Step 12: Gradients

Lock the transparency of the skin layer (click the chessboard icon) and use the radial gradient fill tool on the skin layer to more accurately show the light emitting from Tatl casting a glow over Link’s hands, using a soft yellow colour at 25% opacity. Make the yellow more saturated the closer you get to the light source. If you repeat this on the ‘skin overlay’ layer it will add more variation and richness to the lighting. Add some more detailed shading and highlights to Link with the inking opacity brush, and don’t forget to colour the lines a bright yellow on his hands to simulate rim lighting.

Step 13: The overlay layer

Create a new layer called ‘Blends’, move it directly underneath ‘lines’ in the layers palette. Set the layer properties to ‘overlay’ and select the radial gradient too. We want to create the effect that light gives as it naturally scatters from a surface it has hit. Choose a light blue for the areas where the moonlight is hitting Link and light yellow for areas where Tatl’s glow is hitting him. Click on the point where light has hit the surface and drag the gradient tool outwards to create a subtle burst of reflected light. Remember that some surfaces are more reflective than others so vary the amount accordingly. Now add more glow to his eyes on this layer using a yellow radial gradient. Keep adding to the shading as you go; as you add more light to the image it will be clearer where shadows should fall, such as along the grooves of his hair.

Step 14: The overlay layer strikes again

You can also use the ‘blends’ overlay layer to enhance the colour variation on Link, eg. use a low saturation red to make his cheeks look more flushed and a soft orange on his boots, and a green on his hat to add more colour. The beauty of overlay and soft light layers is that they add richness without obscuring any existing details you’ve already rendered. It makes them very useful for editing colours on the fly.
Now spend some time perfecting the shading and lighting; add smaller details such as light and shadows in the grooves in Link’s body to make his skin appear more tree-like.

Step 15: Get dirty! (also, get your minds out of the gutter!)

People always bemoan that working digitally produces very clean, artificial looking work, so use some grimy texture brushes on the overlay layers (the clipping masks we applied and set to overlay earlier) to mess things up a bit. Link is currently half tree, so there’s plenty of scope to go crazy with texturing here. Likewise because he’s in a forest, feel free to add dirt to his clothes and scuffmarks to his boots. Everything should look well-worn. Doing all of this on the overlay layers helps because again, you don’t lose any existing details you’ve already drawn in, it just adds to them.

Step 16: Tatl’s tale…

Going on with my theme of pushing the design into a more ‘realistic’ fantasy, I’ve decided to give Tatl a more humanoid appearance; I still keep her colour and 4 wings, but using an almost white yellow with the inking opacity brush give her a more obvious female form; the more elements the viewer can relate to because they have a basis in reality, the further you can push the fantastical elements and still have them believable. Despite being a fairy, a humanoid version will illicit a more empathic response than a simple glowing light; having a form makes it feel more authentic to the viewer.

Create Tatl’s ‘pixie dust’ motion trail with a low opacity yellow airbrush and then use a speckled brush with opacity set to 60% to add in some faerie dust particles, with a mixture of very light yellow and white shades to make it seem like it has more depth.

Step 17: Clouding over

The night sky should be rendered with a mixture of blues; no blacks should be used because the moon is out in full. Use the radial and linear gradient fill tools on the background layer to get a nice variation of colours, making the sky darker at the top. Create a new layer above that to render the clouds, using an airbrush for the majority of the work and adding to them with some of the cloud brushes that we have provided alongside this tutorial. Start from a dark base and add the lighter colours to the clouds as you go.

Step 18: Star get!

On a new layer, below the cloud layer, add some random stars to the sky using a star brush (there’ll be one in the tutorial download file). Change both the size of the brush and the opacity to create stars that appear to be different distances, as well as a mixture of yellow and blue-ish whites. Then apply a slight Gaussian blur to the layer to soften them, and also add a Gaussian blur to the clouds.

Step 19: A lesson in landscaping

Create a new layer above the background, stars and clouds and call it ‘mountains’. Using a low saturation blue, render in the mountains. As you’ll notice, my first attempt at mountains was both (a) too detailed and (b) quite dull, so I changed them later on in the process. Later on, I brushed out a lot of the detail in the mountains as they’re too far away to see that level of detail, then I made them more dramatic and jagged for a sinister appearance. Also notice I made the largest peak a subtle pointer to one of the minor focal points; the moon.
Using the airbrush (because it has soft edges, as do things in the distance), add in clock town on a layer above the mountains, in a slightly darker and more saturated blue. I’ve gone for a stylised representation of Clock Town as everything is more curved and crooked than it would be in realistic architecture.

Add another layer in between the mountains and the town, and use a light grey airbrush to create the mist that collects at the bottom of mountains.

Step 20: “You look more like a flooring inspector” (+10 points if you get the quote!)

On a new layer, use a light blue brush suggest a very subtle path starting from Clock Town and leading down the hill to Link. Make it wind a bit because curves always look more interesting than straight lines. Create a new layer above the floor/path/etc. and set the blending mode to overlay. Add a yellow glow (cast by Tatl, of course) on the floor with the radial gradient tool. Erase this glow from the area near Link’s feet to imply the shadows they would cast.

Now that Tatl is even brighter, add some more yellow light to Link, and enhance the shadows even more. Use the inking opacity brush to add some light reflecting off of his boots and face, for example. Also enhance some of the smaller details at this point, such as using a light colour to trace the outline of the pattern on his clothes, and a small dark brush to add more detailed grooves and variation to his skin.

Step 21: The Menacing Moon! (or ‘I’m sure it wasn’t that close yesterday…’)

The moon in the game was given a lot of character as it would ultimately crash into the land of Termina and destroy the world; ending the game! (And your hands if you had the rumble feature enabled in your controller!) I’ve decided to reign this in a bit as the main story in this image is Link’s mutation; I want the moon to be there as an ominous threat of things to come that Link is unaware of at this time. We’re still going to keep the face, but make it much more subtle, and reminiscent of the faces people can see if they look at the moon. Use an airbrush to softly render an angry face, using reference of the in-game moon as a guide. To add authenticity, paste in a photo of the moon (there are a lot of photos around the web for you to use, it’s a pretty common image!), on a layer above your drawn moon, resize it (press CTRL+T to free transform) and set the layer’s blending mode to overlay.

Fun Fact: For the more curious among you, this is the point where I corrected the mountains.

Step 22: Sticks and stones (they’re more trees than sticks really…)

We have our far off background sorted, but it’d be helpful to have some mid-ground items to help push the illusion of depth, so on a new layer add some creepy trees on the left hand side. Use a fairly dark blue to show that they’re closer, but still far away enough that we’re still not seeing any real colour detail. Draw in the gossip stone (in the right hand side of the image) with the inking opacity brush, a search online will provide you with plenty of reference for it’s appearance. Once you’re happy with it, use the lasso tool to select it and open up a stone texture (once again, a quick check online should come up with something; there are plenty of free textures around), copy it and then back in the Broken Link image press Shift + Ctrl + V (or edit>Paste into) to paste the texture into the gossip stone selection. Make sure the texture is directly above your gossip stone in the layers palette, and set the layer properties to Hard Light.

Fun Fact: If you bombed the gossip stones in “The Ocarina of Time” and “Majora’s Mask” they would fly up into the sky like a rocket and explode. I don’t know why they did, but they did.

Step 23: The sky at night (or ‘I’ve drawn too many clouds, haven’t I?’)

You’ll notice I decided that the sky was looking far too busy with all of the clouds I had drawn in so erased a lot of them and went with just a few. Every picture needs some space for the eyes to rest; too much detail will start to harm your image because everything is fighting for attention. Copy and paste a cloudy sky photo texture above your sky layer and set it to overlay, to add a little authenticity and variation.

Step 24: “Eyes in the dark…” (or ‘Couldn’t they have just called him “the owl?” ’)

Time to take a look at Kaepora Gaebora; Link’s owl advisor. I’ve decided not to stray too far from his design as it works fairly well. A quick google image search for owl reference later, and we’ve found a fairly appropriate example to use in this pic. I like the way the real owl’s plumage is feathered (as in textured, not as in…um, feathers!) so I use this element in his design and exaggerate it a little further to continue the eerie nature of image. I also prefer the orange eyes that the real owl has to his blue eyed counterpart. I’ve kept in his trademarked eyebrows to make sure the audience will recognise him as a character and not just a creepy owl in the background. Just using a tiny bit of light to highlight some of his form keeps him mysterious.

Step 25: To the forefront (or ‘It’s rude to point!’)

On a new layer above everything else, draw in some dark silhouetted scenery in the foreground. Remember they are here to create depth and aid in composition so ensure they are all pointing towards a focal point (here the branches and grass all point to Link and an additional bit of foliage is leading our eyes towards Tatl). Draw in a very small amount of highlights just to suggest the 3d nature of the objects and apply a slight gaussian blur to these new foreground elements to make everything slightly out of focus. All that’s left to do now is make all of your small final touches, such as drawing some of the leaves that Tatl’s glow would hit to suggest more depth in the greenery and drawing a small clump of the ground in front of Link’s boots to suggest his weight on the ground.

Step 26: Final Touches

You can also add another layer set to Overlay at the very top and use gradients to add more “oomph” to your image. Feel free to experiment a bit, adding dark colour variation to the sky, mountains and clouds, or adding even more glow to Tatl and Link. Tidy up your image, before we finish with the final step…

Step 27: All good things

This last step is actually a really good method for improving photographs, but it works just as well on illustrations. Press Shift + Ctrl + Alt + ~ If you’ve managed to do this without breaking your hands, it will select the luminosity of the image (or all the light parts for those of you that have misplaced your thesaurus). Go to the very top layer and press Shift + Ctrl + C to copy from every visible layer and then Ctrl + V to paste it into a new layer. Set the new layer’s blending mode to Soft Light with an opacity of 45%, and you’ll notice that all of the colours are slightly richer. It’s a subtle effect but will often give that extra “pop” that arty people are always so concerned about having.

Not-so-fun Fact: This shortcut only works on the PC, as far as I’m aware, there currently is no mac equivalent shortcut. :( If anyone knows otherwise, please feel free to put me straight; I’d love to know if there is a mac shortcut for this trick!

I hope this guide has been helpful to you and that you can apply many of these principles to your future work. You can keep up to date with our artwork at our art blog and our website You can also come follow me on Twitter:

Have fun,

About the Author:

is a talented illustrator and digital artist. You can keep up to date with his artwork at his art blog and website

Leave a comment


  1. Tom says:

    Absolutely loved it David. Thanks so much for writing such an awesome tutorial, the outcome is mind-blowingly good! :)

  2. Kevin Smith says:

    Hey David, this is a great tutorial. I always struggle with (digital) painting and I’m definitely checking your brushes.

    Thanks a lot for sharing your skills and greetings from Germany,

  3. Lori Cole says:

    This is a great tutorial, certainly one of your best. I love your use of color and your suggestions of how to create a stronger composition as you go along. The beauty of Photoshop is that we can try things out on different layers and easily erase mistakes or add new elements as we go along.

    I also appreciated knowing about the game this was based upon. It really does give the art more depth.

    But does Majora’s Mask game really end with the destruction of the world? Seems like such a downer ending would not be much fun. :-)

  4. Tom says:

    Cheers for commenting guys, and welcome to PSDFAN :) .

    Lori: I believe that that is how the game ends, although I could never actually complete it! Definitely does seem to be a bit of a downer though.

  5. Tom: Thanks very much, it’s really nice to see the reaction this is getting so far :)

    Kevin: Thankyou! :) The brushes I’ve thrown in there should help you a fair bit. Remember to use most of them at 60% opacity to build up your colours.

    Lori: Glad you like the tutorial. I thought I’d make it a very honest tutorial as it’s helpful to know how and when people change their minds when designing.

    BTW, the moon crashing into the world was the “bad ending”. You actually had a way of travelling back 3 days through time to try to fix everything again. That was actually the main play tyle of the game; you keep learning new information which you use to get further every time you go back to the first day.

  6. excelente tutorial
    congratulations :)

  7. Adam says:

    That’s one of the best pieces of digital art I’ve ever seen, well done. I love the detail in the moon and the owl, I didn’t even notice it until I studied it closer.

    I wish I could do stuff like that, I might give it a go. The original illustration was brilliant though.

    I loved that game, never completed it though!

  8. JimmyBond says:

    Terrific game, terrific art. I linked to this through Kotaku (

    Makes me want to explore photoshop beyond my ‘Photoshop Elements 3′ puttering. :)

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Great tutorial! I’m using a Mac, and it seems to me that your final step works fine so long as you substitute the Apple command key for Ctrl in all your button combinations (a general rule for shifting such shortcuts across platforms). I will definitely be adding that particular tip to my bag of tricks. Thanks!

  10. Johnson Koh says:

    This is amazing work! Nice work David!

    • Yuri says:

      There are some attention-grabbing potnis in time in this article however I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take maintain opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish extra! Added to FeedBurner as effectively

  11. Hegyeli Hunor says:

    Congratulations, this is a great tutorial!
    I will try it in the weekend :)

  12. Martyn says:

    Really great tutorial!! Thanks very much

  13. Owww man! Great job, very perfect!
    Great tutorial! Thank!

  14. Tom: No probs, although I should point out I still haven’t finished the game myself, I was 2/3rds of the way through when the save file corrupted. I could’ve cried!

    evertt de sousa: Thanks very much

    Adam: Glad you noticed the small details; I always try to add small touches wherever I can to add more interest to a piece. I like to reward peole for looking closely :)

    JimmyBond: I was so pleased to be featured on Kotaku, I love that site.

    Matthew Taylor: Really? Cool! I assumed that was the case in the past, but when I sent that trick to a magazine they couldn’t get it to work. Maybe they were doing it wrong…thanks for sharing

    Johnson Koh, Hegyeli Hunor, Martyn and Feliphe Queiróz: Thanks for commenting guys, it’s great to know you liked it! :D

  15. Peter Shu says:

    You are by far one of the top talents the graphics industry has to offer. It is a combination of your ability to simplify seemingly difficult tasks. In addition to that you add a bit of comedy to your work. Very well done. If you don’t mind me asking; are you doing this for a living? And did you obtain a formal education in graphics design?

  16. Forsaken says:

    Wow… absolutely amazing picture and the most informative walk-through I’ve ever seen! This is a huge find for a beginner digital artist such as myself. You get a 12/10 rating from me! lol

    Someone should be paying you to make such awesome tutorials

  17. Rick says:

    Finally someone explained how to colour the line art itself!
    You have some insane skills mister :)

  18. [...] Advanced Tutorial: Creating ‘Broken Link’ [...]

  19. This is a great find. These tips will be very useful.

  20. OMG…beautiful….

    The moon effect is delicious!

  21. WOW. Simply wow. Zelda: MM is my favourite Zelda of all time, and this image only makes it even better for me. Absolutely awesome imagining of a dark scenario from a cracking game! Glad I randomly read PSDTUTS+ tutorial posts!

    Keep up the great work!

    P.S. The quote “You look more like a flooring inspector” is from ‘Monkey Island’ ‘spoken’ Guybrush Threepwood. Ahem

  22. Dragon Fist MD says:

    Wow dude, I just discovered this site recently and when I saw this i had to comment. Beutiful piece of work and the fact that you showed the sketch work from start to finish is amazing!

    Definatley a complete well rounded artist and the tutorial is detailed and comprehensive

    Great work man

  23. gerald says:

    Hi there a great illustration tutorial. where can I get the ink brushes? or can you tell me a good site to down load good brushes for ps? would be a help to me as I have started a new job as a storyboarder and they want them digital.

  24. Meepie says:

    Love it =) Just so you know: Selecting the image luminosity can be done from the Channels window, you will see a little circled on the lower left named Load channel as selection. That should do =)

  25. Peter Shu: Wow, thanks very much for the glowing review, glad you liked the comedy that I threw in there. I got a degree in illustration as opposed to graphics because you don’t get much drawing in Graphics degrees in the UK. I should point out that pretty much everything I teach in this tutorial was learned AFTER my degree as they weren’t too big on teaching skills! :/ Thank god for the internet, there are loads of excellent learning resources out there. Yes, I do this for a living; I work with my wife Sarah, you can see more of our work at

    Forsaken: 12/10?!? Ace, thank you very much, glad it helped.

    Rick: Colouring the line art is a great trick, it can really change the way your image looks.

    Simon: Hope they help :)

    Gabrielle: Hehe, thanks very much.

    Phil: Looks like you have some great taste in gmaes there. Yep, the line is spoken to Guybrush in the start of the game by the lookout. +10 points to you!

    Dragon Fist MD: Thanks very much, if you check out our blog you can see an animated version of the tutorial from start to finish.

    Zakkap: What’s not to love with a comment like that? Cheers mate :)

    Geraki: The link to the brushes is in the intro text (at the end of the secind paragraph). There are stacks of photoshop brushes around if my ones don’t suit your needs. Best of luck with them :)

    Meepie: Excellent, thnaks very much for sharing!

  26. Pieter says:

    Thank you, nice work

  27. FullMoon says:

    dude, u rock :D

  28. Baghdad_boy says:

    Awesome walkthrough! Definatly got me inspired now mate! :D I still don’t get the locking transperancy tool. I think I need to give it a try.

  29. Steph says:


    Thanks for your work. However, where can we find the “brushes download pack” ?

  30. Pieter: Thanks back at you :)

    FullMoon: Thanks buddy! Very nice of yoi to say so

    Baghdad Boy: Glad I’ve inspired you. Locking the transparency isn’t using a tool, you just have to click the small chessboard icon in the layers palette. Just draw a big splodge of colour, click “lock this layers transparency” and then try to recolour the edges of the splodge and you’ll see how it works. It’s simple, but brilliant.

    Steph: There’s a link in the opening paragraph, but to save you time, it’s here:

    Thanks again for everyones comments, it’s great to know people are finding this helpful! :)

  31. Really Nice tutorial! Very detail! Really Love it! thank you very much!

  32. Dude that was the sickest photoshop drawing tutorial ever. More like this pleeeaase!!!

  33. Rich says:

    I believe that they changed the copy luminosity shortcut to Shift+Ctrl+2 now. For Macs, its Opt+Cmd+2. Great tut

  34. priya says:

    its amazing digi
    thks 4 such a gr8 tut

  35. Josh L says:

    Thank you very much for this fantastic tutorial!

  36. Sweet Yee says:

    You are using CS4 Mac??

  37. Jonathan says:

    Whoa, your attention to detail is amazing!

  38. Dammit, I just wrote everyone a nice response each and then it got lost because I didn’t put my details in the form! Sigh… Anyway take 2

    Semmy: Glad you like it, thanks! :)
    Eddie: Hehe, I’ll make another one when I get enough free time (writing this took a fair bit of time) looking at my current workload that’ll probably be around April next year! :/
    Rich: Nice one, thanks for sharing
    Priya: Cheers :)
    Josh : You’re entirely welcome :D
    Eky: Thank you
    Sweet Yee: Nope, this tutorial was done on a PC with Photoshop CS2.
    Jonathan: Thanks very much, it’s great when people notice the smaller details.

    Thanks again for your comments guys, you make things like this really worthwhile

  39. Beto G. says:

    Thanx for this tut..I am a fan of zelda so this was fun , I thought the fairy was called navi? but it’s been a while that I played.. thanx for the brushes too. =0)

  40. [...] 44. Creating ‘Broken Link’ [...]

  41. Johnathan says:

    Really nice tutorial very easy to follow. I love Zelda so this was really neat to read and try.

  42. wow, it is cool, you are the master :)

  43. Patrick says:

    This is one of the most amazing pieces of art that i have ever seen excellent job man

  44. Beto G: You’re welcome. Navi was the fairy in Zelda: Ocarina of Time, in Majora’s Mask Link is joined by a new fairy called Tael who likes link a lot less than Navi did!

    Johnathan: Glad you found the tutorial easy to follow and that you gave it a go too

    Registry winner review: I try my best :)

    Patrick: Thanks very much, comments like that make my day!

  45. Rocky says:

    David Cousens, can I ask u what is the “inking opacity” custom brush ?? And how u make the bushes ??

  46. Snow Thrower says:

    Wow… Your work is realy impressive. I am also doing some stuff at Photoshop but I am far away from your skills :)

  47. Rocky: Inking opacity is one of the custom brushes that I often use for shading; it can be found in the brush zip file for this tutorial. You can make new custom brushes by going into the brush tab in PS (normally in the top right of most Photoshop versions) and play around with settings like opacity, scattering, texture, dual brush etc. to make brand new brushes. Experiment and see what happens

    Snow Thrower: Thank you :) Keep trying and I’m sure it won’t take you long

  48. Anbau says:

    This tutorial is so awesome. You should upload it on deviantart. Great talents like you are always welcome :)

  49. Web Design says:

    This is awesome art work man WOW Really WOW

    Great Job and Great Share

  50. Alex says:

    nice man!
    I have started digiatal art and was googling my time away trying to find helpful tutorials and…
    Holy Crap! Deku Link!
    I was so impressed… very helpful.
    keep it up…
    and good artwork…

  51. RonLey says:

    Superb and awesome skills here dude. Great tutorial. I wanna make one like this!

  52. Anbau: Doesn’t Deviant Art have a text limit? And is it possible to post mustiple images in the same thread as they appear here? If you know, please give me an email and I’ll get on it.

    Web Design: That made em smile, thanks very much :D

    Alex: Glad you found it helpful :)

    RonLey: Go for it!

  53. karsten says:

    I wish I could design stuff like you do ;-((( – great site and great pictures…

  54. Karsten: Keep, I’m sure you’ll get there with a bit of practice :)

  55. Very complete and impressive tutorial! You got talent.

  56. Duty Holster says:

    Crazy good tutorial. It must have taken hours to put together. Probably triple the time it would take just to make the image alone. Love it.

  57. sculpture says:

    Nice Site You Got Here!Very Informative. Highly Recommended!

  58. Graduates Strategy: Thanks very much

    Duty Holster: You’re right on the money there. The drawing part of it didn’t take that long, but writing the tutorial and organising everything took a lot longer. It’s always surprising how long the writing side of tutorials can take! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  59. Abundomedia says:

    I found your website perfect for my needs. It contains wonderful and helpful posts.

  60. good tutorial. It must have taken hours to put together.
    Toko Komputer

  61. [...] PS. If you enjoyed this tutorial you may also want to look at my previous game inspired tutorial, the Legend of Zelda themed “Broken Link” [...]

  62. Abundomedia: good stuff :)

    Harga: you’d be right there, it was definiitely a labour of love. The writing took WAY longer than the artwork, but this is always the case with tutorials.

    And for those of you that didn’t scan the last comment properly, my new Monkey Island based tutorial is now live:

  63. [...] Advanced Tutorial: Creating ‘Broken Link’ [...]

  64. Jascha says:

    Wow good job guy :]
    I started learning ps about 3 month ago and by now i’m still not so good.
    Actually I don’t believe, that i’ll manage that tutorial with a good result because somehow i don’t understand how all the artists draw pictures in ps and make it looking so real looking :(

  65. Mahnaz says:

    Thanks it is really nice.
    I am from Irain David.

  66. Jody says:

    Love the images, a lot better than the images the games have. They ought to have you in charge of imaging.

  67. alex Marti says:

    Absolutely brilliant…Love it. Definitely very inspirational. Thanks for the tips and I will be on the look out for more of your work….

  68. H. Khoudair says:

    I’ve never seen a tutorial like this neat!!

  69. This is superb David, really superb. Great tutorial.

  70. woah seems to be a bit complex, not sure I’ll be able to replicate that in Photoshop! :O

  71. Alejandro says:

    Awesome! great work!!

  72. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 5 post on Apr. 26, 2011. Thanks again.

  73. khazeni says:

    so beautiful tutorial

  74. Jascha: Thanks :) Keep practicing with PS and you’ll get there. You should see some of the first work I made with it!

    Mahnaz: Pleased you like it :)

    Jody: I would LOVE to be in charge of designing a games overall look, especially a Zelda one! Everyone start emailing Nintendo to let them know they should hire me…

    alex Marti: Thanks a lot. You can always keep an eye on my website (which I’ve just redesigned) and check out my blog on occasion too.

    H. Khoudair: Thanks :)

    New Homes Blackpool: Very kind of you to say

    St-Maurice Constructions: When I follow other peoples tutorial, I never actually try to replicate their work, I just try to take as much knowledge from it as I can. As long as you’ve learned something it’s worth your time :)

    Alejandro: Cheers

    CreativeBusyHand: Cool, thanks for letting me know

    khazeni: That’s great of you to say, thanks very much

  75. rahul- tour en inde says:

    one of the best d.p

  76. Ronan says:

    Wonderful. A like it a lot!

  77. ZenChip says:

    Thanks a lot Tom. This’s a great tutorial and very useful for me and my friends :”]

  78. Nisha says:

    this is so amazing wow!

  79. Leandro says:

    I need to say this. First time I read this tutorial was in 2010, and because of this tuto I’m today a very happy book illustrator. Thanks a lot.

    (Yes, of course I practiced a lot!!)

  80. Mataius says:

    It took me 4 1/2 hours just to get to step 6 and I’ve become so frustrated with this it’s starting to slip away. God only knows how you did this, but Bravo my friend! Long time Zelda fan and PS user so you nailed this on the head! Thanks for the fun 6 steps LOL.

    • Tom says:

      Haha yes it’s a bit of a beast of a tutorial I’m afraid. I hope you’ll stick at it though, the outcome and techniques learned along the way are well worth it.

  81. Dino says:

    Thanks for the amazing tutorial. Helped me out heaps to get to know photoshops and function

    Here is my versions


    • Tom Ross says:

      Wow! That’s incredibly impressive for your first ever digital painting Dino. Amazing work.

      I would sake the main character (Link) needs more detailing work. However, this is really, really good. Keep practicing. :)

  82. o0MSK0o says:

    “it would be undiluted madness to try this with a mouse!”

    Because I cannot draw to d=save my life, I shall now find someone who can to commission to do this with a mouse. xD

  83. Nigel Payne says:

    Nice tutorial!

    I tried with colour but I was just was getting a little confused with all the overlay layers so I striped out the colour for now. Currently at step :

  84. april says:

    omg this is amazing!!

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