Nintendo artist on how the Smash Bros. Ultimate mural happened, creation process, challenges
Japanese magazine Nintendo Dream was recently able to interview Nintendo artist Yusuke Nakano about the special mural made for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The drawing first debuted during the game’s unveiling last E3, and has continued to update with new characters since.
Nintendo Dream was able to ask Nakano about how the mural came to be, what the creation process was like, the challenges in creating the piece, and more. We’ve prepared a full translation of the brief Q&A below.
Why did you decide to go with a landscape wall painting-style design?
Nakano: I got the idea from Mr. Sakurai that having a wide design with all the characters included would really stand out as promotion material at events like E3. It was decided I would design something kind of realistic with a feeling of depth. I thought the fastest thing would be to start with the center first, so I decided to just bite the bullet and get on with it. First I designed Mario and Breath of the Wild Link with a thick-brushed oil paint aesthetic and showed to Mr. Sakurai. He liked the design and gave me the go ahead. That’s when things really took off. Out of all the fighters, those two were the first I made.
How did the painting evolve from there?
Nakano: First off, out all of those 66 fighters that were shown-off at E3, I had to decide what sort of poses and arrangement they would all have before I attempted the basic design. All of the fighters in Smash Bros are key characters in their own games, so rather than center in on one or two of them, it was more a case of trying to give each equal prominence. The basic theme was: Whichever segment you look at in isolation there is always something interesting to see. Also giving equal prominence to each had the benefit of making it easier to add additional characters. I originally had a rough idea of where those added characters would go, but then there is also an element of trial an error in this. It was really difficult thinking up all those different poses while also creating this huge landscape piece that had to be designed so that the characters could be re-arranged. Having said that, though, the original sketches were finalized relatively quickly. But I was always expecting something to go wrong! Working all-out for five months straight with the same team on the background and details, it was just about finished in time for the E3 presentation.
What were the main challenges you faced at the time?
Nakano: Most of the poses are action poses, but I thought people who were looking at the picture should also get that sense of fun. I wanted to add something a little extra for that. Also during the process something dawned on me. Since I had been involved in depicting Nintendo IP characters like Mario, Zelda and Pikmin for nearly thirty years, I should more or less have the knack for it, but handling those characters lent to us from other companies took a lot more courage. I was also worried that image of Robin looking bored while reading her book, for example, might not have been received well, but actually people really liked it. I’m also personally a big fan of Capcom’s artwork, so I was really touched to have the chance to design those Street Fighter characters. Finally, I also spent a while polishing the forms of some of the Pokémon until I was happy with how they looked.
What do you remember most about this project?
Nakano: At the Nintendo Live event before the game had even released, we used a large version of the print as part of the exhibit. Since I was also one of the attendees I was able to witness some of the audience responses fist hand. I think the large-scale we had used made it perfect for that event. When I heard people shouting things like ‘that’s amazing!’ and ‘what a masterpiece’ I was basically in a state of bliss. Then I saw people of various ages lining up by their favourite character to have their photos taken. I could see that a chance to get so close to their favorite character meant so much to them, and felt like I wanted to contribute even more for their sake. In the future I’d like to continue illustrating with that same tenacious spirit driving me on.
Translation by provided by Corks on behalf of Nintendo Everything
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