My 25 Favorite Pokemon Illustration Cards

Here in this post, I’m going to introduce you to my 25 favorite Pokemon illustration cards. I’ve already told you about my love for old Pokemon card art, to my disbelief about the sheer variety of alternate art recently, and my adoration for the recent trend of illustration rares. This time, though, I want to dig even deeper. I’m going to show off my very favorite Pokemon illustration cards and express just what moves me so much about each one.

(They aren’t actually my Top 25; this isn’t actually a ranking thing. It’s just good clickbait to title the article like that! This is a much looser exploration of my love of art than a full-on ranking.)

As always, thank you to Pkmncards for the valuable resource, but also please add art tags! I can’t search for alternate art, or even filter out reprints/first-time prints. It’s hard to find these illustration cards because they’re sorted into stuff like Trainer Gallery Holo Rares, Trainer Gallery Holo ULTRA Rares, Illustration Secret Hyper Rares, etc.

Anyway, here’s 25 of my favorite Pokemon illustration cards. It was extremely difficult selecting just 25, but that’s the highest I was willing to let myself go. Now… Let’s begin.

20 Favorite Pokemon Illustration Cards

I think this is the most hilarious thing ever. There’s finally so many dinosaur Pokemon over the 30 years of this franchise that we can create a whole prehistoric Pokemon biome. I desperately want to visit the Poketaceous Era in some game, because this is wacky. Also, why did Aerodactyl go extinct but Tropius didn’t?

I particularly love that we can see such a high-up overview of this ancient world, thanks to our subject flying above it. It’s a point of view that gives us a much bigger glimpse than we ever could have gotten otherwise.

There’s a bunch of these VMAX illustration cards, and they’re all wonderful, but I picked this one as my favorite. The sheer size of these VMAX creatures is startling, but seeing them try to live a normal life despite that? Now that’s what gets me the most.

We get to see this Espeon, which probably accidentally became a gigantic kaiju, and doesn’t really understand what’s going on (or doesn’t care) so it just plops down on a tavern and takes a nap. The tiny (or rather normal) Wingulls fly around, mildly perturbed but mostly ignoring the fact that this giant monster is here. The town is quiet, which means this sadly is a common occurence around here.

I’ve never played Sword & Shield and never plan to, but I can’t imagine the games are able to do anything remotely as interesting with the Galar region as this.

And speaking of Wingulls…

Look at this LAD. The Wingulls, absolutely oblivious to anything going on at all, and the Swablu who absolutely understands that it doesn’t belong. But it still tries anyway.

It’s such a quiet, serene moment, fittingly taking place in the golden hour, along some tiny stream nobody much cares about. Humans will never notice a scene like this. But this Swablu is really trying to fit in here, and so we get to see its tiny adventure play out.

You COULD fit all of this in a normal card. Crop out the stream, angle it so the Swablu is more prominent. But then you miss out on all the pretty nature, on the crappy fence or the mountains in the background, and on the sheer number of mindless Wingulls sitting around our blue protagonist.

I don’t particularly care for sui’s art most of the time, but I adore this Mewtwo & Mew tag team card. Mewtwo, a famously brooding and serious character, is paired up with one of the cutest bundles of joy in the whole Pokeworld, cackling to itself about something funny it thought about. They couldn’t be further apart, even if they are basically clones of each other. The perfect buddy cop series.

Netflix, assuming Pokemon Concierge did really well, it’s time to commission the Mewtwo & Mew original series. I just would eat that up, 6 episodes of these two extremely powerful Pokemon trying to work together despite their differences.

Another golden hour knockout, and probably the most romantic image in the Pokemon card’s thousands of images. Which is sort of weird and potentially disturbing but I’m not here to debate the sapience of fictional monster aliens or the dicey history of Jynx as a Pokemon. I’m just here to say, this pic looks so nice.

Jynx is all kissy kissy lovey, and this masked person (are they a character in the games, or just some rando?) is totally accomodating, all done with a lovely color palette. The distance from our subjects somehow enhances the intimacy, like it’s a nice moment we happened to glimpse while walking down the road, not something we are meant to be a part of.

I was planning on mostly including one card per artist, but this Cleffa by HYOGONOSUKE was so good that I just had to include it too. It draws into the lore of Clefairy as a Pokemon from space, with this baby who’s never known anything of the Pokeworld, still going out at night, standing on an extremely clear and extremely shallow pool of water, and singing up at the stars. Making a wish on a shooting star that very may well contain other Cleffas and Clefairies and Clefables traveling to distant worlds.

The most celestial Pokemon card, in my opinion.

On a completely different side of things, Arita Mitsuhiro has given us a fantastic and interestingly human-focused card. I have no idea what an Eternatus is, but I can tell from this guy’s pose, from the shimmering central light, from the lightning shocks emanating throughout, that these two mean business. Probably some evil business. Slap a Marvel logo at the top-left and I’d call this a Marvel NOW! comic cover without any hesitation.

On a completely different tonal note, future Pokemon Card Art Spotlight subject Aoki Toshinao has crafted a positively wonderful scene here. It’s a sketchy, bright color palette that shows a city street somewhere hot, maybe near the ocean, but definitely somewhere I wanna go.

And Slowpoke is smiling, ready to set off on a nice day of errands and walking in the summer breeze. Problem is, it’s clearly been inching towards leaving for the past several hours, and it’s already well into the afternoon. There’s no people around because everyone is at work or school. If this is a resort town, it’s clearly the off-season. A single lonely bike is the only sign of life. Come on Slowpoke, you can do it!

This whole scene is majestic. An underwater utopia where everyone is happy and healthy and very curious to meet you. Usually, the most adorable cards to me have more cartoonish art styles, but the realism really makes this one pop.

Gloom, that lovely lady we always forget about, wanders a vast, dark, colorful jungle without a care in its mind. Gloom itself takes up, what, ten percent of the card space? The rest is dedicated to a smorgasboard of plants and a couple socializing Weedles.

This is what Viridian Forest felt like when I was 5. I’m just glad it’s finally depicted in such gorgeous artwork.

Scizor is tied for my favorite Pokemon ever, because I am a very basic person who latches onto every cute weak little guy and every edgy cool broodmaster. Two Scizors in a duel to the death in a punishing dark red environment? Samurai style slashing? Just badass.

Plus, I don’t know the Pokemon metagame or anything, but this looks genuinely extremely viable as a brutal attacker. One energy for, realistically, 160 or 210 damage with all those VMAX GX C-Star dudes around? If only its retreat cost were free!

A natural habitat. One of the more forgettable Pokemon, but that’s sort of the point. They lumber around quietly, blending into the rocks, hiding in the cracks exposing deep caverns.

The muted colors but highly cartoony artstyle really blend together well, and the extra vertical space gives us even more room to find hidden Crustles all over the card.

It’s a weird pick for one of my favorite Pokemon illustration cards, but I’m sticking with it.

A legendary red dragon taking a peaceful nap in one of the most exciting environments ever. A giant sinkhole with a waterfall pouring down and a jungle surrounding it, and Koraidon’s just perched up high overlooking it all. I want to explore this place.

Absolutely unforgettably irresistably adorable. I already loved Snorunt, but just giving us a scene of it playing alone and enjoying itself makes my heart melt a dozen times over.

The berries are a nice touch. Rolling around in the snow, this Snorut probably bashed into a tree by accident. Doesn’t matter; it’s still playing anyway.

Potentially made in MS Paint, it’s just such a bizarre little card. So abstract and flat and yet so strongly evoking the essence of Pidgey. It’s that Pokemon you’ll encounter on Route 1. Then encounter again. And again. And again… You’ll almost certainly keep it around in your party… But which one? Because there’s a billion of them, all beckoning you.

There’s two more cards in this series for Pidgeotto and Pidgeot ex, charting this Pokemon’s journey from nice part of your team all the way to becoming an HM slave with good outside-of-battle uses and not much else.

I’m in love with this card. Is Vanillish helping this lady promote the ice cream shop? Or gravitating towards the ice cream shop in hopes of scoring some for itself? Maybe a mix of both. The art style is wonderful and it reminds me that the cutesy comfy Pokemon Aime side of the franchise is so underdeveloped.

I want a Pokemon game where you run an ice cream shop! Or a card game variant where you do Pokemon Contests, somehow. Something other than battling and fighting all the time.


Garbador is so me.

I don’t know why there’s a white giant hair Zoroark in one of the new games, but I can tell you I absolutely dig its style. The card is so overdramatic, so bombastic with wavy dark energy, with a flowing mane of hair, with its cocky glare offscreen. I was gonna say this reminds me of the awesome Mystic Remora Secret Lair card from Magic: The Gathering, but actually this Zoroark is way cooler.

Pokemon in daily life… Pokemon in daily life!!! I love this stuff so much. Pokemon interacting with the human world and everyone working together. Just lovely, amazing, wonderful.

And best of all, the huge space that a full art illustration gives us allows the artist to make this Steelix super tall. The scale is so much bigger when you have so much card to work with.

Newcomer artist Kayama Tetsu dazzles with a flat, picture book-esque view of a Machoke moving truck bringing a load of boxes into a comically tiny little townhouse. Bonus points for the little Meowth hanging out on the roof, but points off for the attack being “Mountain Ramming,” which has nothing at all to do with this very lovely art.

Side note, I love how female Machokes exist and there’s no controversy at all about it in the real world. Let these shirtless muscle ladies do their thing!

Even a Mad God gets bored sometimes. This is probably the best way it can be spending its time instead of further terrorizing the populace and stealing their treasures.

Doesn’t Scarlet & Violet take place in, like, England or something? I never played the newer games so I have no idea. But that’s a Japanese-as-hell supermarket right there, from the soy sauce to the shape of the giant water bottle.

Also…. AWWWWWWWWW SO CUTE. Wait no Fuecoco don’t eat the apple yet! You have to pay for that!!

Okay, maybe I need to play the new games, because why in Arceus’s name is there a robot Delibird named Iron Bundle? And why is it rocketing up an ice bridge?

Just like with Gloom a bunch of cards back, taking a distant view of the subject is a really nice way to show us a much bigger setting. This tundra environment looks pretty hospitable in that Death Stranding kind of way, but never fear, because Robot Delibird is on the job.

Kusube Aya is very soon to be a Pokemon Card Spotlight member, but I have to say this is one of very absolute best already. One of my absolute favorite Pokemon illustration cards for sure.

It’s sketchy like an Indiana Jones poster, showing this legendary Pokemon pulling an entire landmass across the ocean without a thought behind it. Its sacred duty as a force of nature bringing the Pokeworld together.

I wonder what it did with all that country-sized rope after it finished?

And last, but absolutely not least, is a hand-knitted diorama of Altaria. Ito Asako is a pretty new artist with not too many cards so far, but the knitted Pokemon thing is one of my favorite things ever.

Imagine being a felt human and coming home to your cotton ball Pokemon, putting on your wool slippers, and laying down to cuddle and watch some yarn TV. That’s paradise.

And… That’s the end of things. 25 of my favorite Pokemon illustration cards. I spent an absurdly long time on this article and its two predecessors, so, I ask of you: What’s YOUR favorite full art illustration cards in all of Pokemon? Let me know in the comments; I barely ever get any so you can be rest assured I will reply and gush over all your favorites too.

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