Zed’s a beloved Champion of the Rift, often picked for his badass looks alone, which usually doesn’t end well, you know? That’s mainly because people, like myself, often ego-challenge other players and hope that our self-esteem matches our skill level, which it rarely does. However, it goes to show how appearances can lead to people selecting one Champion over another, which isn’t really surprising. When you consider that heavyweights like Esben Lash Rasmussen and Alex Flores are among the artists, it makes perfect sense. While you may not recognize these names, you’ve most definitely seen their splash arts in-game, often the catalyst to a purchase. So, with that being said, and Wukong‘s list in the books, it’s about time we continue the momentum and rank the 5 best Zed splash arts!
*I only considered and ranked the currently official splash arts.
5. SKT T1 Zed
The shockblade and Death Sworn Zed skins are superb, yet the splash arts are far from it. While I’d never question the effort of the artists, not knowing their timeframe and creative direction, there’s something visually pleasing about the 2014 SKT T1 illustration by Bo Lu. It’s the decision to utilize diagonal angles to create some symmetry, specifically with the legs, weapons and positioning of the champions. Furthermore, the angle of the artwork adds to this effect, making the background play an important part of the illustration. While that may seem like a given, background art is often an afterthought for many artists. Why? Well, they primarily focus on the characters they need to depict and highlight them above everything else. However, in this case, there’s a less-is-more approach, meaning that the lack of detail on Zed’s head and weapons is intentional. While it’s definitely noticeable, it doesn’t take away too much from the splash art, with the other champions elevating this illustration.
3. Original Zed
Like fine wine, isn’t it? Crafted masterfully by Pan Chengwei, this 2012 illustration is among the very best original/default splash arts in League of Legends. Given, that’s a lot of praise. However, considering that it’s 8 years old, the craftmanship and solid composition becomes far more noteworthy. It’s the type of illustration that shows how artwork can last a lifetime. While that’s primarily achieved through a great skillset and execution, it’s important to note how the color scheme beautifully draws our eyes to Zed. When you consider the monotone background and the high-contrast champion, the emphasis lands on the main attraction of the illustration. Obviously that’s the point, yet it’s achieved without losing the small details, like the addition of Zed’s shadow and the beautifully crafted structure behind the assassin. However, this illustration struggles against modern, somewhat more complex, splash arts of today. Primarily because of advancements in illustration/drawing technique through new and improved programs/software, which is quite hard to compete against. In turn, it lands at this respectable 4th spot!
4. Galaxy Slayer Zed
Start getting used to seeing Mr. Rasmussen on these lists, as his work is beautiful, with the Galaxy Slayer Zed showcasing his work nicely. While that’s not saying a lot, let me explain: his art is known for being clean, with great angles and great utilization of created sources of light. It’s something we see in this illustration as well, with both the lighting and shading drawing our attention to the hand and face of the Champion. In turn, the simplistic creative approach elevates the execution, doing just enough but not going over-the-top, focusing on the distinct features of the skin. However, some may like that their eyes get drawn to the hand, while others may find it distracting, as it somewhat overshadows the head. Although that’s subjective preference, it’s stunning overall, thematically fitting the skin it depicts and illustrates the best features. However, the primary reason it’s not higher is because there’s a lack of detail in the background and the lighting draws focus to the hand, which I don’t necessarily consider positives.
2. PROJECT: Zed
I’m going to assume that many people have this splash art as Zed’s very best, and quite frankly, I can fully understand. I mean, what’s not to love about it? It’s an action-packed and colorful splash art, with excellent detail and shading – it’s pure eye-candy! While it’s definitely difficult to rank these brilliant illustrations, I’m gonna keep firm on my ranking. However, it shouldn’t take away from Jason Chan’s illustration. If anything, it should lead to a discussion about these brilliant artists and their phenomenal capabilities. Nevertheless, this artwork deserves recognition, as it’s so vibrant and energetic, almost as if Zed would leap off the illustration itself. In addition, it’s a challenging composition, consider that it’s much like a freeze-frame when Zed’s in the midst of Battle, seemingly using Death Mark. While it’s quite over-the-top, with a lot going on, it’s also masterfully crafted and definitely lead to numerous purchase because of Jason’s Chan work alone.
1. Championship Zed
Let’s be honest, Alex Flores has some cojones, creating an illustration that’s almost devoid of color, primarily brought to life with excellent shading. Together with a few subdued light sources, subtlety becomes the key ingredient, with the grey color-scheme drawing our eyes to the highlights of the Champion. It’s the sheer creativity and decision making that sells this illustration, willing to commit to a challenging angle and a risky color palette. Moreover, it’s depicting a Championship skin, which tend to have colorful illustrations, making it even more noteworthy. However, it’s the execution that conveys the emotion/feeling and overall vibe, leading to both a badass and majestic illustration. It’s almost as if Zed’s getting ready for battle, born anew, only to wreak havoc on the Rift, stopped only by his own free will. While that’s more than enough praise, I feel comfortable in saying that this piece is among the very best in the entirety of League of Legends!