Worst artwork for every Pokemon artist? Analysis of artists fails

Your edits definitely improved both cards but I feel like the mewtwo is just too far gone. That card is way too messy to be enjoyable art for me.

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Love Arita, but his 227/S-P ‘girl looking back’ doesn’t look like she’s looking back. It looks like she’s walking forwards with Pikachu on her back. Original painting on the right is much more obvious she is looking back over her shoulder.


I cann see what you are saying. I think it is also due to her lower body not being in the frame so you don’t get to see the orientation of the body, which the original benefits from. However, her hands are just in an awkward position which makes it look like she is just twisting it painfully.


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Perhaps the far shoulder could have been slightly higher?

I think from a non Japanese perspective we may not be used to the way a kimono sits on someone. And to a Japanese person, the bow at the back would make this more obvious

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You’re absolutely right about the legs. I overlaid the card over the original and having legs makes a huge difference to perspective:


Just read through this whole thread…a very good read. Some opinions I don’t agree with (Lugia V for instance) but lots of artist low points that I do agree with, including some that are new to me but just shocking (the Starly and the Machamp for example).

But I can’t believe this card hasn’t been suggested yet:

I know there is some perspective and angles at play here but even so, this just looks all wrong to me. The head and the neck look massively oversized, the angle of the head is very awkward, and the bottom of the neck has a line where it looks like it is bolted to the body as an afterthought. In general, it just looks like multiple, non-matched body parts joined together.

I have this card in NM raw condition, and paid a few hundred pounds for the privilege several years ago, so I’ve often taken it out to look at it and get my money’s worth, trying to understand what the hell is going on and how this was such a missed opportunity. If only Ryo Ueda or Hikaru Koike had illustrated this card as with MOST exs of the era, I’m sure it would have been beastly. As it is, the Blastoise in FRLG (a Koike artwork) simply outclasses it. I can only conclude that Charizard is worth so much for what it IS as opposed to the artwork itself.

No disrespect to Sugiyama but I’ve always found it odd than an artist with a handful of cards to their name (mostly CG Trainers) was given the top card in the set. I had to go and look up their card art history to remember what they had done, and the notable cards were Cool Porygon and Expedition Charizard (another of my least favourite 'zards…).

But the biggest irony (given their sparse artwork back catalogue) is that Sugiyama is also responsible for one of my all-time FAVOURITE arts…


I’m trying so hard to justify the Lugia V but I can’t. I’m trying to understand what was going on inside the artist’s mind. If you don’t mind, can you explain why you disagree? Like I’ve looked at several photos of Lugia and just don’t understand the way he’s drawn Lugia’s lower half of body.

To me, I look at the card and believe it was conceived with the boat guy and his perspective as the focal point. Lugia is flying low across the water through a storm, probably of its own making, and looking down/back at this comparatively tiny human in a boat that it’s noticed as it’s heading to wherever its going.

It’s flying at an angle towards the distance which I suppose does lend for some awkward perspective. Anatomically, you would see where the belly/torso/body flows into the “root” of the tail if the leg wasn’t there so it makes sense from how I’m looking at it. I mean, I believe that’s how Lugia is supposed to look with the body and tail as one piece. Here we see that with the foremost leg obviously just in the way, and the inside of the other leg on the other side of the torso in the background.

I think you also have to include a small allowance for Kawayoo’s style which has a raw, slightly exaggerated look.

One thing that doesn’t help is the dark shadow section on the tail because of the sharp angle cut into it which doesn’t do many favours.

The rest is probably perspective based. It looks like a very ambitious art in my opinion, and we are supposed to be viewing from a low angle where Lugia is flying over/away and heading towards the background at a diagonal. It is probably drawn this way with the boat and sailor in the foreground to convey a sense of power/awe and scale.

I apologise if the above doesn’t really help but that’s just my opinion. I have looked at this art every time I have seen it (and the anatomy) discussed in various topics and I - personally - can’t see anything wrong with it other than the aforementioned tail shadow which I can’t unsee.

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I appreciate the detailed response! And I agree with what you say about the shadow on the tail. Intuitively it doesn’t make sense to me. I’d expect light to cause a smooth and curved shadow effect instead of the abrupt effect kawayoo has done. It’s definitely these unintuitive things that are preventing me from completely enjoying the art. Otherwise the rest of the artwork imo is absolutely phenomenal. One of my favourite artworks minus the ass and shadow effect on its tail.

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I don’t know who here’s an artist besides @Versy but would probably be interesting results to see how artists vs non-artists think how light and angles work.

Pokemon are also not real creatures and the artists don’t have access to their models to see how the body structure should function (though they do get a lot of notes).

It’s kind of like how movies depict guns, coding etc. For anyone who has used a gun or programmed etc. what is happening on screen is unrealistic.

I can’t tell whether the light should or should not be hitting certain areas and can only comment on whether or not it looks like something’s off - and even then sometimes, that’s how it could actually look like/approximated in real life.

Good points. I would also add that most Pokemon have no official art to show them from different angles, especially from behind so an artist has to improvise, use imagination, and work it out for themselves.

Like, I had no idea Sharpedo was completely flat-backed until recently and there’s no official art to specifically show that. Also, I didn’t know that Zapdos was almost completely black on its back until one of the sprites showed it.

The artist would have to have access to original concept work from when these Pokemon were originally designed 20+ years ago and, knowing Japanese companies, there’s a good chance it was all binned back in the day (it has been documented that this happened all the time with early Japanese videogame development and concept work in the 80s/90s as they didn’t envision any of it having future significance or value).

KEIICHIRO ITO is consistently one of the artists who’s cards i find myself impressed with.


Their artworks are always extremely vibrant and dynamic while also perfectly capturing the proportions of the Pokemon

But unfortunately, even they weren’t able to do the concept of a VMAX special art justice. If you look at the Umbreon alongside their other two textured special arts, you can see how awkward it is in comparison to the “majestic” portrayal of Iron Treads and my favorite SV special art so far, Ting-Lu.

Having to zoom out so much to show the scale of the giant form of the Pokemon makes it feel forced. Like they had an idea in mind and just did whatever they could to bring that idea to a card, no matter the cost.

For example, look at the Ting-Lu. It is even smaller on the card, and yet everything feels tied together as one scene. It doesn’t look like a collage of images like the Umbreon does.

The only thing that saves the Umbreon from being one of the worst SwSh VMAX SAs is the background. I maintain the opinion that the only thing that propels the Umbreon into it’s widespread popularity is ITO’s colors.

It allows people to cope that the artwork is top tier when actually they just want it because it is a popular pokemon and they saw other people say they wanted it. The Iron Treads for example has literally the same sky palette, a more dynamic perspective, and feels like a genuine captured moment, and yet it is still one of the cheapest SV special arts.

In conclusion:
If people actually thought Umbreon was good because of the artwork, Iron Treads would be one of the most popular SV SARs. This is “proof” in my opinion that the card is propped up by a mixture of FOMO and it being a popular pokemon - DESPITE the artwork.


Iron Treads is also one of my favourite SARs but you should know by now that the majority of people in the hobby do not care for most Pokemon or the artwork.

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