The Art of the Team Up

February 20, 2019

The Art of the Team Up

Behold the beautiful illustrations that make collecting the latest Pokémon TCG expansion, Sun & Moon—Team Up, a joy.

The latest Pokémon TCG expansion, Sun & Moon—Team Up, is here, and with it comes a chance to admire the amazing artwork to be found on each card in the set. These beautiful pieces inject the game with loads of personality, giving fans a new perspective on the world of Pokémon. Whether you’re a collector or a hard-core competitive player, you’re bound to appreciate these wonderful pieces.

Setting the Mood

When you want to leave an impression on the viewer, a little dramatic lighting can make all the difference. Just look at little Litten here—see how the moonlight shines down through the night sky, casting a cool blue glow on its black-and-red fur. The contrasting colors, along with the warm light coming from inside the house, set a tone that is comforting, but also a bit mysterious—perfect for this mischievous little Pokémon. Emolga is another tiny ’n’ cute Pokémon that benefits from dramatic lighting. The shine of its electric attack reflecting off its body sets a serious scene, letting the viewer know that even though this Pokémon is adorable, it’s also not to be trifled with.

Mood lighting works wonders for larger, tougher Pokémon as well. Check out Pangoro, who is clearly in the middle of a raging battle beneath the full moon. It’s certainly a threatening sight on its own, but the way the bright yellow highlights Pangoro’s dark fur makes the incoming attack look all the more dramatic and imposing. Even Pokémon Trainers know that a solid pose under proper lighting adds to one’s “cool factor.” In Brock’s Grit, the Pewter City Gym Leader looks especially confident as he stands in the glare of his Gym’s lighting. (Although anyone who has gone up against Brock in the Pokémon video games knows that his poise might get washed away the moment his team has to face off against a Water type.)

Just Happy to Be Here

What Pokémon wouldn’t want to be featured on a Pokémon TCG card? Just look at the delighted expressions on the faces of these chosen few who have made the cut. They couldn’t be happier about their appearance! Psyduck seems to be off in its own world celebrating. Check out its thousand-yard stare and gaping, open-mouthed grin. This Water-type Pokémon is so delighted, all it can do is splash and splash and splash! Meowth, likewise, has a wide smile, but we’re trying to figure out what it’s doing among its backdrop of multicolored spheres. Is it dancing? Dramatically posing? It doesn’t matter, really—it’s having fun!

Alolan Pokémon are feeling good, too! Alolan Grimer’s gaping maw leads to a very exaggerated smile that we can’t help but return. Although its looming pose and focused gaze are somewhat worrying. Is it trying to take command of a leafy army for some nefarious purpose? Between its sweeping dance and the sheer joy on its face (er, faces), there’s no mistaking Alolan Exeggutor’s mood. This towering Pokémon feels the need to dance and swing its lengthy neck to and fro. We love its enthusiasm, but we wouldn’t want to be in the path of that flailing jubilee.


With each expansion, it’s always fun to look at the individual artists who illustrate the new cards. Often, one artist will give us their interpretations of multiple Pokémon, providing a nice display of that creator’s style. This time around, we’re looking at the artist known as HYOGONOSUKE.

HYOGONOSUKE’s Pokémon tend to be comprised of bright, bold colors with a somewhat cartoonish look that is accentuated by the lack of defined outlines around the subjects. Check out Squirtle, who looks especially playful as it bounds through an open field. You might think the large sections of solid colors that define Squirtle’s limbs would make the artwork seem flat, but the variety of colors used to suggest shadow provides a surprising amount of depth. Jynx is similarly outstanding in its field, surrounded by radiant flowers and striking mountains.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, HYOGONOSUKE’s Spiritomb resides in a far gloomier environment, but the vibrant colors remain. The Pokémon’s purple color and especially its glowing green highlights really stand out amid the grays and blues that comprise the background. Jirachi is also hanging out in darkness (although admittedly in a less creepy setting). Here, HYOGONOSUKE is clearly trying to earn the Wish Pokémon a place in our “Setting the Mood” category as well, judging by the soft reflections of the moonlight on Jirachi’s body.

Living in Abstraction

Although we love to see Pokémon TCG cards with lush illustrations filled with small details, it’s also nice when cards put the focus on the Pokémon subjects. In these cases, abstract backgrounds do a wonderful job of highlighting the stars of the show while also creating a piece that’s interesting to look at. Take Shaymin Prism Star, for example. The soft background may look like a smear of green, but it sets a clear scene—Shaymin is in some sort of forest setting, and the blurred texture behind it creates the illusion of speed and action. This Pokémon is definitely ready for battle! Magikarp’s background is also somewhat vague in its depiction, but the many shades of blue combined with blobs of white tell us that it’s in its natural watery environment. The bits of green suggest underwater plants, even if they aren’t perfectly defined.

Sometimes, abstract backgrounds are used to simply drawn the viewer’s eye straight to the Pokémon. The multicolored spots on Vulpix’s card are not meant to depict any sort of real place, but the colors are pleasing to the eye and form a sharp contrast to the Pokémon, allowing it to stand out. Alternatively, abstract backgrounds can also be used to show intense action. Yveltal flies among a cacophony of warm and cool colors that paint a picture of a fierce battle filled with crackling energy and burning power.

These are just a few of the fantastic pieces of artwork in the Sun & Moon—Team Up expansion. As you’re opening your booster packs and adding to your collection, take a moment to appreciate the intricate artwork on display here. You may even discover a new favorite artist!

Sun & Moon—Team Up
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Sun & Moon—Team Up
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