Ken Sugimori, best known as the character designer and art director of Pokémon, has been around since the inception of the franchise. In a translation provided by Siliconera recently, the talented artist discussed how Pokémon designs had to be memorable - with cool designs often failing to achieve this.
I often tell members in charge of design to “take away from designs that are too cool,” but that is probably a sentiment that is difficult to grasp. What’s cool and what’s not is all subjective in the end. To put it extremely, my job is to get something that would look cooler if it didn’t have this or that on it, then put it in on purpose. [laughs] Basically, if it looks too cool then it takes away from what makes it memorable for the players.
It simply ends at “that’s cool.” After all, as Pokémon that are being sent out to the world, we want them to always remain memorable; however, I feel that in order to do so you have to add a touch to it.
Sugimori believes it’s about finding the right balance - again making reference to designs that might look too cool. He’ll often find this balance by adding “something uncool” to a Pokémon that is too cool or might add a cheerful feature to a Pokémon with a more serious tone.
Look at Oshawott’s cheeks. It has three freckles, and if you take them away Oshawott becomes cuter. However, taking them away makes its face less memorable. Actually, a lot of people told me “I want you to get rid of the freckles,” but I strongly insisted “It is better to have them.” Going by my standards, this is the correct way to design Pokémon.
Are you a fan of Ken’s work? Would you prefer extremely cool or cute Pokémon? Tell us below.