On this page, we will be discussing Sugimori's Style...s! That's right! there's several styles, Three in fact! One is hardly known of though.
There's technically five, if you factor in trainers, which are drawn a lot differently from the pokemon themselves... And then there's a lot more if you factor in other things, like all of the spinoffs' artstyles, as well as three different PMD styles (to date)! tl;dr wow pokemon has lots of styles.
Here's an index of this page, if you wish to jump to anything.
- Sugimori Style
- "Ye Olde" Style
- Dreamworld Style
- Sugimori style Fakemons
Now let's move on!
Before we continue with the article itself, I want you to keep in mind that by no means is this exhaustive or end be all.
It is just my observations and so-forth. Don't take this as an Bible; instead, please use it as a way to learn. If you notice, or see, anything you would like me to add or change, like maybe some kind of thing I forgot, please feel free to Send it in to me!
I may add other styles later (such as PMD style and the anime style), but PMD's style tends to overlap with whatever style is "big" at the time. It is only Super PMD that has had a new style for it lately, and I haven't analyzed it very throughly yet, at the time of reading this.
All of the art here is sourced from Here, unless otherwise stated (and if otherwise stated, generally immediately following said image that was linked.)
Ah, yes. Here is the forefather of why this article exists. Most people think of this, and not the RBY style (entitled "Ye Olde" on this page), when they think of "Sugimori".
We will be using Pikachu's art as the most main examples, since it is very iconic for Pokemon, but there may be other examples called to from time to time to help show other things in this style.
Here is Pikachu's Sugimori art, from FRLG - and, immediately, following it...
...Some SuMo-era art. You can already tell that there are differences!
However, a few things are always consistent across both of these "styles" (And there's a third "style" of this, as well as a third).
For example, they have mostly-straight lineart - but at the same time, it's a little shaky, giving it some nice texturing. A lot of people have difficulty getting an brush that mimics it very well; you can check the resources section for some that may do the job.
The coloring is what is called "soft cel-shading", which is cel-shading itself, with soft blurs applied around the edges of iti n some way (like an glow brush with the main color applied over the dark edges to soften it, or an blur, or many other methods. Most people i know of use blending brushes and blend it manually.).
It can be an difficult style to get right, since it's very deceptively simple. It doesn't mesh well with most people's workflow, since it requires you be very methodical about where to shade to match up with sugimori art very well. I may be wrong, and almost certainly are, but hat's the issue I've had with it in my own style; I need to be more patient.
The Sumo style is a lot softer and smoother in lineart than the FRLG style, since the style was still transtitioning from RBY style very well (which you can see signs of in Hoenn art as well as even as early as GSC art, which is a lot calmer color-wise than RBY art).
Here's some Hoenn art to show what I mean by it's slowly been shifting over! It's largely the same as current Sugimori art, but Hoenn/FRLG art tends to have a bit of a holdover from RBY, using what I called "washed out colors" - colors a lot gentler and softer than you would see in current Sugimori art.
Here's Sceptile's Mega from SuMo (Sceptile's only other up to date Sugimori art from what I have been able to find), to help punctuate what I mean by washed out colors.
Here is some B/W art to show the slight way it derivates, of Snivy from Black/White. The lineart, and shading, are very similiar to current Sugimori art -- the biggest difference are some places are just straight shading (look at the tail) and eye shinies are even more pronounced, with an glow effect applied rather than just being color.
Here is Charmander's FRLG (which is the same era and style as Hoenn art!) art to show what I mean by the eye shine being an glow.
There are specific ways of doing features in any style of Sugimori style due to how they draw features overall, but it'd be much too exhaustive to go over each single one.
Instead, go to The "Atlas" to pore over pictures of Sugimori art to see what might work for your fakemon, repose, or so-forth, in terms of drawing style. Think about kinds of pokemon that similiarly resemble that-- "fox" being Fennekin, Vulpix, and so-forth.
Think of how Sugimori would draw this or that (like paws, for example), and see if you can't find something similiar among the literal over-thousands of Sugimori art pieces out there that might help lend some extra stylizing to your art of your fakemon or repose, or even just fanart but in pokemon style.
However - there is one very big thing to keep in mind for Sugimori styles in general (Two, actually!):
They are for showing off the design. So they are generally in 3/4 view, and symmetrical. For Aysmmetrical, they show the side that is most important, and show the face in full profile (Think of Seviper, think of Zangoose, think of any other aysmmetrical pokemon).
This is for clarity of designs; if you assume it's symmetrical, then you can, even with just the half of it shown (and each leg!), it's very easy to infer what the other side looks like and as such, draw it without any real reference needed for that other side.
Really! How many Sugimori art can you think of that doesn't have 3/4 profile view (like Houndoom or Mightyena), or both sides in view (like Charmander)? Hard, right?
However, ken has also... broken this rule before (pictured below is Mega Houndoom's official art. Very, uh, hard to figure out what it should look like from the side or back.)
Don't be afraid to have fun and derivate from the "rules" - these "rules" just help keep it even closer to Sugimori style and clarity, which is what usually sugimori style tries for: Clarity.
It's also worth noting that sometimes (not a lot, or always, but definitely notable in some), the lineart inside the "borders" of the outside art is lighter than the "border" lineart is. Like... an arm that's not directly cut off but still needs to go into the torso, for example, will have an softer line.
Additionally, there are examples where all of the lineart, or a large part of it, is colored. See below!
Here's my personal favorite style, and one that is even harder to do than Sugimori style.
Ye Olde Style! Here is Pikachu in here, and there are more examples following here, but you can see how "unrefined" a lot of it is. They were also unafraid to try more dynamic poses, at the cost of sacrificing clearness of features.
There is nowhere close to as many pictures as there are of this style as any other style, since it was very quickly faded out of, even beginning in GSC. It is very specific about the watercolors and textures, yet the shading is very haphazard.
Here is Charmander to show what I mean by it's haphzard - there is an light source, but otherwise, it is a lot of colors painted all over, and it feels very watercolor-y. It's very hard to mimic, especially in any program that doesn't have watercolors, due to the nature of how the shading works. Colors in this style also tend to be very vibrant. For the following point, this one is RB.
It's not even very consistent among itself-- there are "RB" and "RG" styles. RG tends to be less exciting to look at, and very "stock photo" posed. This charmander here is RG. You should take a look around at Bulbapedia's archives (linked at the top of this article) and look at the pictures tagged RB and RG (usually at the top of each pokemon's category) to see what I mean!
"RG" color tends to mimick the color of what it actually is closer, along with watercolors. "RB" takes more artistic liberty with colors, and it can create an fun effect.
"Wow! There's even styles among the very old art?!" YES!
There's still one more "Ye Olde" style I've still to touch upon-- the one that I've come to call Johto style.
This Chikorita here is directly from Gold and Silver (and Crystal). You can tell that the lines are a lot smoother, and the coloring is very much smoother, too -- but still holds artifacts of the watercoloring that are very clear, as well as the "washed out" colors mentioned previously in Sugimori.
Think of this style as sort of a "halfway" point between Sugimori and ye Olde style!
This Typhlosion, in contrast, feels a lot closer to the "old" style of RBY, indicating some of them were mixed. But by Hoenn, most of them had shifted to an style closer to FRLG and what would become "sugimori" style colloquially and so-forth.
Dream World is a little niche, as it's mostly in an old style that's not used anywhere anymore (it was for, iirc, some kind of DS minigame you could download free for B/W. That time's since sailed now.)
However, it's the most free of these styles, so if you want to mimick an pokemon style, but are a little intimidated by Sugimori and Ye Olde, you could try this style.
For example, see this? It's very simple. There is very minimal cel-shading, and it is all digital, with an fixed-height lineart (very thick lines).
Some things have more shading, like Nidoking (pictured below).
And fire is relatively easy to do, too!
However, it's not really all that well-known, and I've only seen one or two people mimick it so far. But it's a nice "beginner style" if you want to mimick some kind of official pokemon art.
As an bonus, here's one of the more complicated (and shiny pokemon) in this style: Groudon.
Trainers Unfortunately, I haven't studied Trainers as closely since people mostly prefer doing the Pokemon, or Fakemon, rather than Trainers, but here's an compilation of some trainers from different eras:
RSE (and FRLG).
I've taken the liberty of including some images with effects (but keep in mind that a lot of pokemon art does not have effects (like attacks and stuff), so if you want to make something look official, keep it out of your art for it if it's meant to be an image to represent that pokemon... Like for "Reposes" or fakemon.
This one is from ORAS (i.e. XY/Sumo era).
This one is from RBY era.
This one is, again, from ORAS (i.e. XY/sumo era once again).
This one is from Sumo.
As you can tell, the effects are largely only in XY Era (XY/Sumo/ORAS) pictures,) as well as RBY - perhaps because they tend to distract from being able to see that pokemon very well. The places you'll see moves and such is in special, little-known things like rarely stickers, promo art that you might be able to find on bulbapedia...
And, in one big place: the TCG. The TCG isn't here, however, because it's literally made up of lots of pictures from lots of different artists... Not just one style.
Here's what a lot of fire in these look like!
RSE (and FRLG)
These are an less-known kind of art that people use Sugimori style for. But suprisingly, a lot of them get mistaken for official art and put onto an wiki! One of my friends mistaking one of these for official art was actually what prompted me to make this article, because I felt it may be fun and interesting.
This is the source of this art (which is not official!). This is the fake that my friend confused. It is by theangryaron on deviantart.
...And here Delphox's official art, for comparsion.
It's a very good fake! But there are problems too; it is a lot shakier in lineart and not as refined, like the person drawing it was a little nervous. But that's zoomed up on it in full (at 100%) - resized, like an thumb, or, as may be the case, even here on this page, it looks very real and that's just astounding to me!
Reposes are a fun way to copy the original RBY values of "actiony poses but sitll showing off most of the pokemon," and I enjoy seeing these reposes. I call them repose, because they're of already-existing pokemon (not fakes!) that already have official art, but perhaps that people wanted to see.
If you have problem with your art being here (with credit and directly linked to it on deviantart if it is hosted on deviantart), Contact me.
This is a pretty big subject, and not one I can cover very exhaustively here as this article is already getting incredibly long, but people oftentimes try and draw Fakemon in an style very close to Sugimori-- which, incidentally... is very much the cause of a lot of "leaks" being believeable, because they drew them very well in accordance to that style.
In fact, I've even heard cases of people trying to pass off fakemon as actual leaks, having stolen that art in the process. Ugh! Don't do this!
I can't say too much, as mentioned before, because Fakemon are a huge subject on their own, and that subject mostly involves "Looking into how close it is to the sugimori style of drawing things"... So, that'll be another article, but know that a lot of Fakemon on deviantart and so-forth are very close to the sugimori style and it's astounding.
The Pokemon Watercolor Style brushes here are a nice resource for doing Ye Olde style.
Most brushes are for sai, but that by no means you should use sai; use whatever program you want. It should be a lot easier to find an brush that mimicks the Sugimori ones in CSP, too; csp is very versatile, and a lot of the brushes tend to be slightly rounded and textured like Sugimori art, for CSP.
Sugimori Stylers, a group on deviantart dedicated to the sugimori styles and more. Head here to look around and find if an art you think may be real or faked is here... Like the delphox from earlier in this article.
Galleries of Artwork to inspect
Tutorials dedicated to the subject
See above, in the "brushes" section, for the guide by my friend.
Here's some of my favorites here.
And here's a list of artists who do wonderful art in various mediums and forms. Note that most of them do it in the Sugimori style (or some kind of varation of it) unless otherwise mentioned. Also, Pre-evolutions and evolutions of already-existing pokemon fall under "fakemon" but "forms" and "megas" don't, so they have their own "category".LIST WAS TOO BIG, made a page for them and so i could organize it better. Go here!
If anybody knows of any more nice resources (particularly brush types or tutorials on getting the brushes set up in different programs), please Contact me.Back to Top