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Weekly Article – The Two Styles of Realistic Pokémon Fan Art

Roggenrola, Boldore & Gigalith
(Who are those Pokémon? Image by Ultyzarus)

When it comes to fan art, some fans would prefer to illustrate the Pokémon (the creatures) in a style that makes them more in-tune with the real world. This means that they will draw the Pokémon in a realistic artstyle, and from what I observe, there are two approaches in the realism: one approach is to imagine a Pokémon as a kind of animal as if they existed in real life, while the other approach is to keep the Pokémon in what they are now, only increasing the realness of their features.

If you are ready, let’s go on.

Real like an Animal

The first approach, which is to make them resemble an animal, is perhaps my favourite style of the two, mainly because it makes the Pokémon we know drawn in a more familiar look. Since we are used to seeing animals, it is, on the whole, a safer look. So for example, an already dinosaur Pokémon will look like a real dinosaur with that Pokémon’s known features, such as Venusaur. A dog Pokémon will take on a more dog-like stature and looks like a dog, making it look more like something you want to pet.

Perhaps the fun part of this style is the inorganic Pokémon. Usually, it is difficult to find out how inorganic Pokémon look like when they become organic. Can you imagine how Magnemite, Trubbish or even Gastly look like when they are “real”? This is something artists have to figure out before turning them real. Fortunately, there are some fascinating ideas out there, so it is indeed possible for them to come up with something, no matter how inorganic that Pokémon is. Here’s an example:

It's a Geodude!
(Can you guess what Pokémon that frog is based on? Image by arvalis)

The Pokémon drawn in this style tend to be unrecognisable at first glance, since they don’t share familiar traits with the original. Because it tends to look different from how they look like in the games, this style feels unusual from how we view the Pokémon. In fact, it makes it easier and more familiar to imagine how those Pokémon look like when it is together with us. In other words, it is both unfamiliar and familiar to us.

They look like Aliens!

The other approach is to make the Pokémon more real by making the individual details look more realistic. This essentially means that unlike one of the previous pictures where we see Gigalith as a kind of crustacean, it will be something like this:

Realistic Gardevoir
(Yes, that’s a Gardevoir. Image by V4m2c4)

The look of a realistic Pokémon in this way could be unsettling, since it gives them a rather uncanny look. It even intrudes our perception of how we view a certain Pokémon by exaggerating the details. Even then, there are some surprisingly cute ones. Though they look cute, it’s understandable that some might remain freaked out by their uncanny features. Essentially, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Realistic Gardevoir
(It’s quasi-realistic! Image by ematoma123)

Perhaps adding too much details to make a Pokémon realistic doesn’t sit well with people because they can’t be as easily identified as before. It’s also harder to appreciate the simpler details when everything is detailed, because the features of the original can’t be easily recognisable when everything is more detailed.

That doesn’t mean that everybody won’t appreciate it. There are people who like them portrayed this way, because it gives them a new perspective to the Pokémon as being monsters rather than animals, and monsters have their target audience. There are also people who are into freaky stuff, so they find this kind of portrayal fine. It’s definitely not for everyone.

The beauty of Pokémon is that they look simple and open to interpretation. Even when it comes to realistic versions of our favourites, there are different ways to portray them. Even if some of the more recent Pokémon have more complex designs, they are still as open to interpretation as the older ones. Personally, I find the ones that look like an animal more interesting because I am guarantee to enjoy the artist’s interpretation of a certain Pokémon. What about you? Do you like realistic Pokémon in the style of real creatures, or the more alien-like variety? I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it.

Thanks for reading.

Bonus Images (Check the artists’ galleries for more!):

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