My girlfriend and I have kind of started a little ritual whenever I get a new video game artbook. I’ll text her a picture of a picture from the artbook that I think she might like, and if she does, I’ll come over and we’ll look over it together. She definitely has more artistic talent than me, and thus can probably appreciate the artistic value more than me. I just go “Ooh, Link looks cool there.” But even if we appreciate it for different reasons, we both love going through each and every page and just taking it all in. And the tradition has continued with The Legend of Zelda: Art and Artifacts.
This artbook contains concept art, region-exclusive art, and other promotional art for the 18 biggest Zelda games, as well as individual illustrations for all major characters from each game. They also include all of the character animations from the first three games and every item from all games. There is also an interview with some of the artists for various illustrations from different Zelda games.
Some of my favorite pieces of art are the pieces of concept art. I love seeing what was originally planned, and how that changed into the final product. I also love comparing the original art with art from remakes. Seeing the original art from A Link to the Past or Twilight Princess compared to the new, prettied-up art from the GBA port and HD remake, respectively, makes me appreciate the high-quality art even more.
This is, however, not like Hyrule Historia. There are seldom, if ever, notes on illustrations from developers, and while I have lauded the concept art, this only applies for promotional illustrations, and not the characters. There are also no updated timelines (thank God) or questionably-canon manga to be found. Hyrule Historia was a bit of a lore book, a bit of a look behind the scenes on the games themselves with developer notes and concept art, and a bit of an actual art book with finished art. The Legend of Zelda: Art and Artifacts is more of a clear-cut record of all of the art, in-game and promotional, with some concept art and an interview thrown in. They are both fantastic books that all Zelda fans should own, in my opinion, but they serve two very different purposes.
Here are some of my favorite pages of this book. You should, however, buy the book to see them in their full glory, as well as to see everything else that I haven’t shown here: