Fan artists can produce wonderful reinventions of all of your favorite characters. A few games have inspired as much fan art as the long-running Pokémon series. It’s a good thing it has, despite the early games being absolute classics, their simple graphics could only do so much.
Although things are a lot better now, the series still draws very heavily from cute, bright Japanese anime for its character and creature design. It’s elegant and simple, but it’s a shame that we haven’t seen Nintendo truly take advantage of the graphics capabilities granted by the next-Gen consoles, though that could change with their upcoming entry on the Nintendo Switch.
That’s where fan art steps in. Some artists have taken the simple designs of your favorite Pokémon and their trainers, and ran with a whole bunch of different art styles. Some have simply imagined how a certain character could look if Nintendo took a different artistic direction, others have rendered Pokémon with great detail for a realistic take at Pocket Monsters, or transformed them into hideous hybrids and creatures.
With over 70 titles and 807 total Pokémon, you can be sure that all of your favorites will be represented by a vast array of artists.
Here are our picks for 20 Pieces of Pokémon Fan Art Better Than We Got in the Games.
20 Pokémon Army
When Pokémon Go was released in 2016, everyone thought it would change the world. People were walking around with their phones, heading to parks and actually socializing with strangers! Pokémon fans all over the world started making friends based on a shared bond with a bunch of digital critters.
While Pokémon Go was awesome way to bond with fellow Pokémon fans, it was far from perfect.
It ate battery life, rebooted every other minute and, frankly, most of the Pokémon weren’t worth catching in the first place. The app has just caught up to Generation 4, adding 107 Pokemon, and that’s just swell. But it’s still as glitchy as anything with not much sign of improvement. The last straw seems to be that, almost two years after it was promised, we’re STILL not able to duel with other players.
This piece of fan art imagines what Pokémon fans were all imagining when the app was announced. Trainers running together against the backdrop of a starry sky, Poké Balls in hand with an army of Pokémon following close behind. Sure, it’s a little farfetched, but Pokémon in real life was far too tantalizing a premise for our imaginations not to run wild a little bit.
19 All Grown Up
Any shows featuring kids or teenagers are bound to inspire tons of fan art (and fanfiction) depicting how the characters could look and behave once they’ve grown up by a few years. Funnily enough, not all of it is suitable to show here. But, there are a few artists whose heads have remained out of the gutter long enough to create some tasteful reimaginings of our favorite characters.
This artist has chosen the cast of the long-running Pokémon anime series that is surprisingly still running. The show’s multiple iterations has accumulated more than 1000 episodes over the years, though, if anything, for a Japanese anime that’s on the shorter side! The show introduced the iconic Ash Ketchum and popularised his Pikachu as the most iconic Pokémon in the franchise’s history.
From left to right we have Jessie and James of Team Rocket and their Pokémon, Meowth, Misty, Ash Ketchum and Pikachu, Brock, Nurse Joy, and Officer Jenny. Team Rocket have ditched their frankly very dated looking uniforms for a pair of snappy suits, while the trio have retained their classic outfits, including Misty’s signature suspenders and Ash’s iconic baseball cap. Joy and Jenny are still just as cute as ever.
18 Ash Ketchum
One thing that’s sorely missing from Pokémon is the characters’ ability to interact with their newfound pets, beyond forcing them into battles with other Pokémon. Pokémon Go got close to replicating the experience of stumbling across a critter hiding in the grass in real life. However, unless you're bringing your favorite Pikachu plush along, it doesn’t come close to making you feel like you’ve actually got a Pokémon in your bare hands.
Ash is shown here, not all grown up but during his more childish and inquisitive years as he is in the show, making friends with a friendly Butterfree. You wouldn’t think of it, evolving from the lowly Caterpie, but the Butterfree is shown here having grown to an enormous size. If they had talons instead of those huge, slipper-life feet, it wouldn’t be hard for those wings to carry Ash off amongst the flock of Butterfree soaring in the air above them.
Ash has changed up his look multiple times throughout the history of the show, changing up his outfit based on the fashion of the time, but this piece essentially opts for his classic style, albeit with a few alterations. A sleek blue jacket with a bright red cap.
17 Catch ‘Em All
Using a motorcycle to stretch your Pokémon Go reach far and wide is borderline cheating, but this guy just makes it look so cool. Imagine riding down dusty roads, long, deserted stretches of tarmac yours for the taking, stopping in the middle of the highway and pulling over to check your phone, and finding a rare Pokémon right in the centre of nowhere.
Imagine stumbling across a gigantic bird, turtle or dragon, holding out your smartphone and trapping the beast, training it to fight by your side.
If you could choose any Pokémon to find, it would have to be a Charizard. Not only could you terrify or burn your enemies if they cross you, its powerful wings can take you great distances in a matter of minutes.
This artist has rendered a fantastic piece that captures the mysterious atmosphere of Pokémon in a way that the mobile app never could. A huge Charizard coils round a road sign that looks like it could read ‘Secret Charizard Territory’, a terrifying yet exciting sight for an adventurer. It’s also a brilliant rendition of the iconic fiery Pokémon, depicting it as a scaly, reptilian dragon with a glowing hot tail.
16 Creepy Charmander
Of course, Charizards don’t start life as full grown dragons. They in fact begin life as Charmanders, before evolving into Charmelons at level 16. They then sprout blue, leathery wings at level 36 and become Charizards, a fearsome asset to any Pokémon Trainer. Many Pokémon experts swear by the Charmander as an all-time great starter Pokémon.
This artist makes it their mission to reimagine the cute and cuddly Pokémon into hideous, black and white creature. This redesign of a Charmander could work brilliantly if Nintendo ever went crazy and draw from the black and white inspiration of Tim Burton films for a Pokémon horror game. With sunken eyes, disgusting, mottled skin and needle sharp teeth that would scare a shark, this creature wouldn’t look out of place in The Nightmare Before Christmas’s Halloweentown.
We’re not quite sure if this particular Charmander is a zombie back from the dead or just naturally carnivorous, but it seems to be making quick work of what seems to be a dead Pikachu. His dark, bulging eyes and razor sharp teeth make this a starter Pokémon you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley or between blades of grass. Definitely not safe for younger Pokémon fans.
Fearow was introduced all the way back in 1996 as one of the first original 151 Pokémon, as the evolution from Spearow at level 20. Its long, razor-sharp beak allows for the quick picking off of its prey and it can use its large wingspan for vicious aerial attacks on its opponents. It can be recognized by its crown of red feathers on its head.
Despite looking very impressive, other than Legendaries, the majority of Pokemon don’t actually grow to the enormous size depicted by some more liberal pieces of fan art. Most Fearows don’t grow much bigger than a rather large dog, so you shouldn’t be expecting any Lord of the Rings style shortcuts from a giant eagle. However, this piece of art reimagines the Pokémon as maybe ten times its normal size.
The Fearow’s soft feathers would certainly make for a more comfortable trip than the scaly hide of a Charizard, and you’d be far less likely to singe yourself on the back of a giant Fearow. The art could depict a happy scene of reuniting, or a sad departure. The greying feathers and weathered beak could indicate that this Fearow doesn’t have many battles left in them.
14 Garden Party
Although the character and Pokémon graphics haven’t changed all that much over the years, especially now the handheld Nintendo consoles have made the switch to 2D, one thing that has improved is the art direction for the games’ backdrops.
In the 1990s, games usually lacked the splash of colors most games nowadays have. Pokémon games weren't an exception.
Nowadays Pokémon games can utilise any color Nintendo see fit to render their worlds with gorgeous flora and houses to brighten up your trainer’s travels. In the most recent series, Sun and Moon, all of the canyons, valleys and towns were created with some of the best graphics ever achieved by Nintendo for a handheld game.
Nothing can quite beat the talented pen of a dedicated fan artist, however. This piece not only showcases a large bunch of plant-based Pokémon with an adorable, wide-eyed style, but just look at those colors. Luscious greens and sandy yellows, it’s still faithful to the cartoonish style used by the game series but the stunning use of lighting has so far not been matched by the video games. Pokémon for the Switch could be the one to beat it.
For a challenge, try to spot and name every Pokémon in the picture!
13 Gen One
Pokémon Red and Blue is still one of the best in the series, and introduced the world to what have remained Nintendo’s most iconic Pokémon. It started the tradition of beginning each game by picking a starter Pokémon to commence your quest with. Although they’re somewhat interchangeable except for their type and design, some fans swear by tried and tested methods of picking a particular starter each time.
Generation 1 began with what a still considered as some of the best starter Pokémon, Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur. They’re as cute as any starter Pokémon should be, but start to pack a punch when they start evolving, especially once Mega Evolutions start getting involved. To continue the tradition, they were the Pokémon you were made to choose from at the beginning of Pokémon Go.
This amazing piece depicts a formidable Pokémon Trainer who has managed to amass all three of the first Generation starter Pokémon, as well as their middle and final evolutions. Venusaur, Charizard and Blastoise are drawn huge, bringing up the rear, while their awkward teenage phases, Ivysaur, Charmeleon and Wartortle take up the middle. Honestly, a lot of fan art comes close, but the original Poké trio has never looked better than this!
Each Pokémon game introduces you to a different style of Trainer for you to play as. They are essentially ‘you’ in the game as, much like Link in The Legend of Zelda (until Breath of the Wild removed this function), you name the character either your own name or a ‘hilarious’ nickname. Don’t pretend you never named your avatar a dirty word. We were all kids once (and sometimes still are at heart).
Each game introduces the player to two new Trainers that you name, though they have official names as to not get confused. The most recent game is Sun and Moon and the trainers are adorable, and literally named Sun and Moon. However, Black and White introduced somewhat edgier player avatars, with the unfortunate names of Hilbert and Hilda.
This artist has drawn Hilda as she may have looked in a more graphically impressive Pokémon game. Her denim shorts, black vest and heavy boots translate perfectly into a more serious Pokémon RPG that we’re praying happens someday. Her hair is also a little more practical for catching and battling Pokémon, and the updated design of the Pokeball is amazing. We still love the classic cartoon look, though.
11 Human Tangela
You don’t have to search too far to find an artist who has taken it upon themselves to draw every single known Pokémon in their own style. Like with older depictions of young characters, for a TV show or game that centres on animal-like creatures, it’s inevitable to find a redesign of every single one of those creatures drawn in their human form.
This is one such artist who has humanized a number of Pokémon, and they’re still going strong with no signs of stopping at Pokémon number 332. With Sun and Moon bringing the total to 802 Pokémon and the list still growing, they’ve got quite a task still ahead of them!
Tangela has always been cute, but this humanized piece takes things to the next level.
This has to be one of our favorites, but there are many more to pick from and browse through at your leisure. Imagining Tangela as a shy little girl hiding away in the tangles of the tentacles she has for hair. Some of the ideas the artist has to translate the look of the Pokémon into clothes or body parts is absolutely stunning, with most of them instantly recognizable thanks to simple and distinct designs.
Of course, a list of fan art wouldn’t be complete without a piece that totally decks out the Pokémon with a bunch of robotic gear and sweet metal armor. Like with the humanised pieces, it’s an absolute staple of fan art to turn any cute critters into sick cyborgs. Don’t expect to ever see this idea play out in a real game though. This isn’t Digimon!
This artist has chosen the original trio, the Pokémon Red and Blue evolutions of the starters, Charizard, Venusaur and Blastoise. Check out their Facebook page and you’ll find many others, but this has to be our favorite. It sort of makes us wish that Nintendo would take a cue from this idea and run with a robotics-inspired Pokémon title.
Blastoise is reimagined here with two gigantic water cannons and huge, metal barrels for arms that could crush a Jigglypuff in its bare hands, while Venusaur’s flower looks more like a formidable anti-aircraft weapon, complete with two fiendish tentacles. Charizard is simply the coolest robotic dragon around, with scaly plates of armor across his chest, and fearsome razors for claws. It looks like he’s charging up a deadly lazor attack from his mouth, as well.
9 Mewtwo Evolution
Mewtwo is simply one of the coolest, most intriguing ideas for a Pokémon there’s ever been. The original Mew was a powerful yet quite docile species, containing the DNA for every other Pokémon, meaning that it was able to learn most of their attacks. Of course, this makes it so powerful that it runs the risk of being banned from Pokémon tournaments. Mewtwo was an enhanced clone of Mew, a biological experiment extracted from the DNA of Mew’s eyelash.
As such, the Mew is the rare Pokémon in the game that can’t actually evolve, instead the two are separate Pokémon, part of the Mew duo. The Mew story formed the basis for the first Pokémon movie, which still totally rules, by the way.
The Mewtwo, however, is able to evolve into two different iterations, the Mega Mewtwo X and Mega Mewtwo Y. The X appears much like its original form, a bipedal, cat-like Pokémon, though with a sweet new armor upgrade. The Y is a lot more alien, with a long, snaky tail emerging from its head. This realistic art depicts the biological experiments essentially as abominations to nature, which would make for a much darker version of the game.
Popularised after his appearance in the anime as Ash Ketchum’s most trusted Poké sidekick, Pikachu and the species has been a staple since its debut along with this first Generation back in 1996. It was recently revealed that, after Raichu, the Pikachu was originally intended to have a third evolution, Gorochu, that was unfortunately scrapped.
Pikachu is practically the mascot for Pokémon. You can probably find a bunch of them hanging out in the claw machine in your local arcade.
Pikachu has become so popular that the first ever live action film based on the Pokémon series will focus entirely on this character, with Detective Pikachu slated for release next year, starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular sleuth. It co-stars Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe. To its credit, it is based on an equally popular series of spin-off games, but we wish Hollywood would take a chance on an actual live action Pokémon adaptation.
This artwork imagines a small, frightened Pikachu ready to be found by a friendly Trainer, hiding in the undergrowth of an Alice in Wonderland-esque landscape. Although Pokémon certainly gets surreal sometimes – it is Japanese, after all – the environments have never looked quite this strange or dreamy.
7 Pokémon Red
This artist perfectly captures the nostalgia of playing a Pokémon game from your youth. Though Sun and Moon are revolutionary games from the series, there’s nothing quite like going back to the old favorites you would have played as a kid. Depending on how old our readers are, you may have spent most of your pre-teens hunting Pokémon on Ruby and Sapphire, Diamond and Peal or even X and Y and, if you’re reading this, there’s every chance you’ve got a game of Sun and Moon on the go as well.
This nostalgic piece captures a slice of a young Pokémon Trainer’s life, rendered with beautiful watercolors that show off the summer light poking through the tree tops. He has amassed a collection of cuddly Pokémon to keep him safe, including a Pikachu and a Poliwhirl.
The artist has said he wanted to capture the feeling he felt playing Pokémon Red as a young kid. It imagines a moment that we’re sure every Pokémon player has gone through, in which you’re forced to consult the handbook before you proceed. Unfortunately, when this happens, in real life we’re not able to free our Pokémon to keep us company when we have to take a reading break.
6 Blue, Yellow & Red
When Pokémon Go made players choose between three different teams, they had no idea of the chaos that was about to be unleashed onto the Pokémon fandom. The teams, Mystic, Instinct and Valor are represented by their own Team Leader, Blanche, Spark and Candela, respectively. When Pokémon players decided that Instinct’s leader, Spark, was a little too goofy for their liking, most people choose between Red and Blue. However, Spark quickly became the subject of countless affectionate memes.
This piece reimagines the Team logos with a sleek new design that removes any possibility to make fun of the Team Leaders. Rendering the Legendary Bird Pokémon with a realistic new style, it heightens their elemental powers, removing the childish, playful side of Pokémon Go for a game that now looks like a serious competitive tournament.
These teams aren’t here to run around the park making new friends, they’re here to collect the best of the best Pokémon and take over as many gyms as possible. Pokémon Go is serious business, and deserves the logos to prove it. Somehow, this piece of fan art has even made Team Instinct look like a viable option, rather than just your group of friends’ longest running joke.
5 Ride From a Talonflame
If Pokémon were real, the first thing most of us would surely do is evolve one that could fly and take it for an awesome ride around the city. Bird Pokémon would quickly replace cars as the number one form of transport, and no one would have to dish out extraordinary sums of money for an expensive flight to their holiday destination.
Some Pokémon, despite their impressive design, aren’t quite big enough to support the weight of a human on their backs. However, and we’d recommend not trying this out with a Talonflame. A Generation 6 Pokémon introduced in X and Y, the Talonflame is the final form of Fletchling. Before reaching its final form, the Fletching evolves into a Fletchinder.
Fletching is an adorable, Robin-like Pokémon that only seems to get angrier as it evolves.
This piece of art, which was incredibly a speedpainting, imagines a scenario in which an irate Talonflame is carrying a hapless young Pokémon trainer around the city, presumably because she tried to hop on its back and go for a ride. Onlookers are staring out of the windows, and it looks like her companion is about to leap from a high ledge in hopes of saving her. Maybe not the best idea.
4 Smash Bros
Being one of Nintendo’s most popular brands, alongside the Mario and Legend of Zelda franchises, the Pokémon are not restricted to simply appearing in their own games. The series has crossed over with the Mystery Dungeon franchise, which proved so popular that it spawned multiple sequels and the name ‘Mystery Dungeon’ is now practically inseparable from Pokémon.
They also make frequent appearances in Nintendo’s answer to The Avengers (although this started first), Super Smash Bros, which brings together characters from several Nintendo games for an all-for-nothing multiplayer brawl. This piece includes Link delivering an uppercut to a bemused Charizard, as well as Samus duking it out with Little Mac (Punch Out).
The games have also included the characters Mario and Luigi, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog and Snake. Basically, all your Nintendo favorites, with a few surprises.
Although many games feature a single Pokémon that players can choose to play as, including Pikachu or Greninja. Since Brawl for the Wii was released, gamers can play as the Pokémon trainer, essentially meaning that you can switch between three different Pokémon to play as mid-fight. This excellent fan art depicts an epic Smash Bros battle, with a gigantic Charizard dominating the playing field.
3 Team Rocket Plays Pokémon Go
Team Rocket are perhaps the most incompetent antagonists in anime history. Led by Jessie and James, and accompanied by a talking Meowth and a simple Wabafett, they hold a grudge against Ash Ketchum for their defeat at the hands of his Pikachu. They now follow him around wherever he goes, in hopes of stealing the Pikachu for their own nefarious purposes, yet are frequently foiled.
In the game, they have been a staple since the beginning, and the organisation’s motives are far more evil. While they mostly wish to steal and sell Pokémon for profit, they have been known to conduct painful experiments on Pokémon, and some would even pass away in the process. Although the duo make occasional appearances in the games, they’re an absolute staple for the series, appearing in practically every episode to make life a nuisance for Ash, Brock and Misty.
Here, they’ve ditched their stuffy uniforms for a cooler look that wouldn’t go amiss in California during the summer. This piece imagines Jessie and James of the anime’s Team Rocket, playing Pokémon Go around the city and characteristically, proving useless at it. James especially is looking very annoyed, though at least there’s no risk of them blasting off into space again.
2 Trainer With No Name
The majority of Pokémon trainers, in order to more widely appeal to Nintendo’s primary audience, are usually depicted as young kids. However, this artist has decided to depict one of the franchise’s most famous characters as an old, bearded man, a rugged survivor in a terrible post-apocalyptic future. His arms are bandaged, his faced lined with old age and he wears a dusty brown cape to protect him from the elements.
Though the short poem at the side claims this Trainer has no name, there’s no secret as to who this is actually supposed to be to fans of the series.
Although he’s much older, and bearded, his iconic red cap, blue jacket and green, fingerless gloves give him away instantly. Sadly, there’s no sign of Brock and Misty, or his faithful Pikachu companion.
Loosely based on Red, the first ever Pokémon trainer in Pokémon Red, Ash Ketchum has been the protagonist of the Pokémon anime since its inception, and has become almost as popular and well-known around the world as his companion, Pikachu. His surname is an obvious pun (‘Catch ‘Em All’), and his first name is also derived from his original Japanese name, Satoshi. He’s the ultimate trainer, and a hero for Pokémon fans everywhere.
Realistically rendering Pokémon is one of the most popular and impressive forms of fan art there is, and you can bet that a cursory Google search will wield absolutely heaps of results on the subject. Unfortunately a lot of them remove the cute factor once they get detailed with crazy realistic textures and patterns, but there are a few that retain their original adorable design with a more lifelike style.
This is one example, taking the final evolution of Bulbasaur, an original starter Pokémon, Venusaur, and using insane art skills and technological know-how to reimagine it as it might look in the real world (or a particularly amazing next-gen video game). While it’s a fearsome final evolution, complete with sinister eyes and a set of deadly fangs, it still hasn’t lost the charm of the original design.
The artist has done many more of these designs, but this has to be one of our favorites. The Venusaur has leathery skin and the leaves on its back look so real, and the realistic environment makes the piece look like Pokémon could naturally be found roaming the wilderness. Check out the rest of the artist’s redesigns, though, as they’re all equally awesome.
Which of these did you like most? Let us know in the comments!