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Yusuke Nakano
中野 祐輔
なかの ゆうすけ
Yusuke Nakano.png

Yusuke Nakano is an illustrator and programmer who works for Nintendo.


Yusuke Nakano joined Nintendo as an artist in 1992, starting as the package artist for Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3.[1] The first game in The Legend of Zelda series that Yusuke Nakano contributed towards was Ocarina of Time. After being disappointed by the results from outsourcing the artwork of Ocarina of Time to an external studio, Nakano pushed for Nintendo to develop its own 3D graphical renders for the game.[2] Afterwards, Nakano approached Ocarina of Time's Character Designer, Yoshiaki Koizumi, and proposed to do all of the artwork himself.[2] After drawing a bust shot of Link as an adult and presenting it to Koizumi, Nakano received his approval and officially began work on Ocarina of Time's artworks.[3] When designing adult Link, Nakano incorporated Koizumi's 3D model of Link and designed his face after a "world-famous Hollywood actor".[3] Yusuke Nakano is also responsible for designing the Hylian Crest, which joined the cross from the Shields in The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link and the feathers from the Fighter's Shield in A Link to the Past.[4] At the time of its creation, the Hylian Crest had no deeper meaning, but later inspired the Loftwings from Skyward Sword.[4] The Hylian Crest was also joined with the Triforce to create the Royal Crest, which was adopted as the Symbol for Kingdom of Hyrule.[4]

While illustrating for Majora's Mask, Yusuke Nakano was inspired by the Hellboy comics and incorporated a gritty art style with hard shadows to match the dark atmosphere of the game.[4][citation needed] Using this motif, Nakano illustrated a piece in preparation for Nintendo Space World '99.[4] This artwork lacked many of the final details of the game, such as the Moon's face, the presence of the Clock Tower, and the final design for the Kokiri Sword.[5] After contributing to Majora's Mask, Nakano worked closely with Capcom staff to design Link in a manner that harmonized with the finished sprite work of the game and the artistic style of A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening.[5][6] He also drew from Link's Ocarina of Time design, giving the new Link a shorter nose and white tights.[5][7] Nakano struggled with communicating Nayru's beauty and wisdom in her design, taking half a year to finalize it.[6]

Nakano created all of the the illustrations for The Wind Waker by using a Washi texture after being shown Yoshiki Haruhana's cartoonish concept art of Link.[8] At the request of Eiji Aonuma, Nakano also illustrated the Scroll of the Hero of Time for the demo of The Wind Waker.[9] Its distinct woodblock texture was created by printing the art onto paper and using cellophane tape to partially remove ink.[9]

In anticipation for its large-scale development, Satoru Takizawa tasked Yusuke Nakano with designing Link for Twilight Princess to assist external artists.[10] To match expectations for a realistic title, Nakano took great care into meticulously detailing Link's attire.[11] Nakano's initial designs for Link depicted him as an adult in his late 20s, but he later revised it to more closely resemble the Link from Ocarina of Time after receiving feedback from Nintendo of America.[11] Using his new designs, Nakano prepared an illustration of Link and Princess Zelda for E3 2004.[10] After the concept of Link transforming into a Wolf was introduced, Nakano attempted to incorporate the "wolf cut" hairstyle into Link's design, but was ultimately unable to make him look "wild" enough.[11] When designing the Fused Shadows from Twilight Princess, Nakano incorporated themes from bronze artifacts from the Shang dynasty.[11] Nakano designed Zant's Helmet by using the themes from the bronze artifacts and sketching shapes that reminded him of Southeast Asia.[11] As Nakano was deeply invested in Twilight Princess's character design, he later approached Satoru Takizawa and insisted that he be the one to illustrate for Twilight Princess HD.[11]

Because of Nakano's work on The Wind Waker's woodblock-style opening, his team was tasked with creating the opening sequences for Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks.[12] Under Nakano's direction, Yuri Adachi created the artwork for Niko the Pirate's Picture Show.[12] Nakano is also responsible for Fi's design in Skyward Sword, which he submitted for an internal art contest at Nintendo.[12] His winning sketch was used as promotional material for the then-unnamed Skyward Sword at E3 2009.[12] According to Nakano, the similiarity in design between Fi and the Queen of the Fairies was purely coincidental, and the design of both arose from attempting to create a character with metallic features.[13] Yusuke Nakano assisted Takumi Wada in drafting the latter's first illustration for Skyward Sword, which was unveiled at E3 2010. At Nakano's request, Wada's designs for Link specifically featured a detailed set of lower eyelashes.

Yusuke Nakano assumed the role of artist for both A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes. He was also tasked with creating the "Everyone is Here!" artwork for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which was originally a piece featuring 66 Fighters made for E3 2018.


Work Role
Ocarina of Time Character Illustration
Majora's Mask 3D Illustration
Oracle of Seasons Character Design
Oracle of Ages Character Design
Four Swords Adventures Special Thanks
Twilight Princess Main Character Design/Illustration
Twilight Princess HD Stamp Design
Spirit Tracks Illustration-Supervisor
Skyward Sword Illustration
A Link Between Worlds Illustration
Tri Force Heroes Illustration
Breath of the Wild Ganon Battle Illustration
Hyrule Warriors Special Thanks
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Illustration
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Programming
Uncredited Contributions
Work Role
Majora's Mask Illustration[4]
The Wind Waker Illustration[8]


Ocarina of Time
Majora's Mask
The Wind Waker
Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess HD
Skyward Sword
Breath of the Wild
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books) pg. 413
  2. 2.0 2.1 Art & Artifacts (Dark Horse Books) pg. 411
  3. 3.0 3.1 Art & Artifacts (Dark Horse Books) pg. 412
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Art & Artifacts (Dark Horse Books) pg. 414
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Art & Artifacts (Dark Horse Books) pg. 415
  6. 6.0 6.1 Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books) pg. 255
  7. Art & Artifacts (Dark Horse Books) pg. 416
  8. 8.0 8.1 Art & Artifacts (Dark Horse Books) pg. 417
  9. 9.0 9.1 Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books) pg. 418
  10. 10.0 10.1 Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books) pg. 419
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Art & Artifacts (Dark Horse Books) pg. 420
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Art & Artifacts (Dark Horse Books) pg. 422
  13. Art & Artifacts (Dark Horse Books) pg. 423