With full art Pokemon cards, you have to just stop and admire the work – and these are the best ones.
Throughout the Pokemon TCG’s history, there have been many talented illustrators that have used their skills to depict the Pokemon series’ hundreds of Pokemon. Full art cards, a type of card where the artwork takes up the whole card, allow these illustrators to make the most of their creative abilities, giving them more space to work with.
The use of color, the composition of the Pokemon, and the background of the illustration all help to make a card stand out from the rest, culminating in a new interpretation of the Pokemon. While these full art cards might run on the expensive side if you want a specific one, the distinctive artwork makes them worth seeking out.
Updated on May 2, 2023 by Casey Foot: With the launch of a new Pokemon TCG set, there are even more full art cards to collect, all drawn by the TCG’s talented illustrators. While many full art cards capture the essence of their respective Pokemon by showing their power, others shine a light on a piece of everyday life in the Pokemon universe. The Scarlet & Violet sets offer even more full art cards to admire, allowing the personalities of new Paldean Pokemon to shine.
19 King Of The Sea: Dondozo (Scarlet & Violet #207)
In the Dondozo full art card, Akira Egawa showcases the titanic size and majesty of this catfish Pokemon. This card shows Dondozo leaping out of the ocean, causing a gigantic wave of water to swirl around it.
Dondozo’s Tatsugiri followers surround it, with one in the bottom left-hand corner looking at Dondozo with awe. Egawa’s use of color is masterful, as Dondozo is encompassed by hues of blue, pink, yellow, and green, reflecting the light of the sunset. This full art card perfectly depicts how colossal Dondozo is, which is difficult to grasp in the Pokemon Scarlet & Violet games.
18 New Wave Legendary: Miraidon (Scarlet & Violet Promos #013)
Akira Komayama did an excellent job of depicting Pokemon Violet’s legendary Pokemon, Miraidon, by highlighting its futuristic nature through well-chosen colors and effective framing. In this full art card, Miraidon is shown outside of an apartment window with an enormous pink moon behind it bathing it in a white glow.
Komayama’s illustration is reminiscent of new wave aesthetics, which use a similar color palette, and this works perfectly with Miraidon’s robotic appearance. The cityscape backdrop only elevates this modern and vibrant atmosphere, showcasing Miraidon’s Paradox origins.
17 Adoughrable: Fidough (Scarlet & Violet #213)
The Puppy Pokemon Fidough has an adorably doughy appearance, which is something that Tika Matsuno decided to highlight in this endearing illustration. In this card, Fidough stands on its hind legs to peer into a bakery window, looking at the delicious pastries inside.
Matsuno’s full art card shows Fidough’s curious expression in the reflection of the bakery window, making it one of the cutest cards of the Scarlet & Violet set. Perhaps Fidough is thinking about which pastry it wants to eat or why they look so familiar…
16 Under The Sea: Wiglett (Scarlet & Violet #206)
In their full art card of Wiglett, You Iribi showcases the liveliness of the Pokemon world’s seas. Although Wiglett is the primary focus of the illustration, this card also depicts many other aquatic Pokemon species, as though it’s presenting a microcosm of the Pokemon world’s underwater biomes.
Iribi’s use of color helps to highlight the wide array of life thriving beneath the surface of the sea – Luvdisc swims past Wiglett and through coral, Psyduck dives towards the seabed, and Mareanie relaxes on a rock. It’s a colorful scene that shows Pokemon living in their natural habitat.
15 Creative Soul: Smeargle (Silver Tempest #TG10)
This card, illustrated by Kiyotaka Oshiyama, shows Smeargle tapping into its artistic abilities, as it’s painting a canvas with bright colors. This artwork might be an abstract rendition of the artist trainer NPC opposite Smeargle, as he has a similar wild expression. At the same time, the artist carves Smeargle’s likeness out of wood.
Both Smeargle and the artist seem to be having fun, though, as the entire studio is filled with paint splatters and wood carvings. Oshiyama did an excellent job of capturing the frenetic energy of the scene depicted, as the artist has a wide grin on his face as he chips away at the sculpture while Smeargle uses its tail as a paintbrush, leaping off the floor to reach its canvas.
14 Detailed Distortion: Giratina V (Lost Origin #186)
Rather than choosing to showcase Giratina in a straightforward manner, Shinji Kanda used their signature intricate art style to show Giratina’s otherworldly aura. The incredibly detailed background on this card makes it appear as though Giratina is floating among jewels, foliage, and indistinguishable items.
It’s difficult to focus on any of the ornamental pieces, which creates a sense of uncanniness as the patterns are unlike anything else in the TCG. It’s a perfect representation of the Distortion World – Kanda captured this strangeness in a way that’s both alluring and unsettling. Despite the card having such a detailed background, it doesn’t distract from Girantina, as the colors used throughout the card make a cohesive whole.
13 A Moment’s Reprieve: Hoothoot (Astral Radiance #TG12)
This full art card by Hyogonosuke depicts a Sage trainer NPC meditating on top of a tall rock formation alongside his Pokemon partner, Hoothoot. Hyogonosuke’s soft art style captures the tranquility of the environment, as they are completely alone, surrounded by nothing but nature.
To convey how high up Hoothoot and its trainer are, Hyogonosuke used misty clouds, with the peaks of mountains shown in the distance. In contrast to other action-oriented cards, Hyogonosuke chose to showcase a quiet moment between trainer and Pokemon, using the landscape to emphasize the peacefulness.
12 Into The Eye Of The Storm: Lugia V (Silver Tempest #186)
In multiple of Lugia’s Pokedex entries, it says that Lugia is “rumored to have been seen on the night of a storm,” a concept realized by Kawayoo in this full art card. Lugia looks intimidating in this illustration, as it is seen looming above the storm as a sailor gazes up at it in awe, or perhaps fear.
Kawayoo successfully captured Lugia’s immense power over the ocean by using huge, crashing waves and crackles of lightning around the Pokemon. In comparison to the sailor and the ship, Lugia appears gigantic, highlighting the sheer magnitude of this legendary Pokemon. An excellent touch is the coloring of Lugia’s eye, which immediately draws your own eye to it, emphasizing that it’s looking directly at the sailor.
11 Optical Illusion: Origin Forme Palkia V (Astral Radiance #167)
This Pokemon card by Oswaldo Kato shows Palkia in a distorted location, creating an optical illusion through the strange architecture. In fact, Kato chose to reference MC Escher in this full art card, an artist known for his work inspired by mathematics. It specifically takes inspiration from the lithograph Relativity, a piece that bends the rules of gravity. The staircases are a prominent feature in the work, and they can also be seen in this Palkia card.
Palkia is known as the Spatial Pokemon and has “the ability to distort space” according to various Pokedex entries, and the environment Kato created in this card clearly depicts Palkia’s power by placing it in the center of this structural distortion.
10 Love Is In The Air: Latias & Latios-GX (Team Up #170)
The legendary Dragon and Psychic Pokemon, Latios and Latias are difficult to separate from one another because of their close connection to each other in the legends of the Hoenn region. Sanosuke Sakuma pays homage to this strong bond, as Latios and Latias are depicted wing to wing, with the space between them forming a heart shape.
The illustrator chose to depict a tender moment between these two Pokemon as they stare into each other’s eyes, both with a small smile lighting up their expressions. The inclusion of a sunset in the background cements the card’s tender atmosphere.
9 Forest Spirit: Celebi V (Fusion Strike #245)
This full art card, illustrated by Teeziro, depicts the Grass and Psychic Pokemon Celebi, using its powers to welcome the coming spring. In the illustration, Celebi flies through the environment, spreading its magic to make the leafless trees sprout green foliage.
What makes this depiction of Celebi so enchanting is how Teeziro is able to capture the charm of such a moment, using a trail of sparkling lights to symbolize Celebi’s life-giving abilities, similar to fairy dust. As Celebi is known as the “Voice of the Forest”, it’s not surprising to imagine it rejuvenating the forest after a harsh winter.
8 Flames Of Friendship: Flareon (Brilliant Stars #TG01)
The illustrators of the Pokemon TCG always do a great job of capturing snapshots of normal life in the Pokemon universe, and this card is no exception. Illustrated by You Iribi, this full art card shows the close relationship between Blue and his Flareon partner, and is one of three cards where Blue is shown with an Eeveelution.
You Iribi’s use of soft colors makes the illustration on this card stand out as it perfectly captures a peaceful moment between Pokemon and trainer. The happy expression on Blue’s face as he pets Flareon’s mane also adds to this card’s cuteness as it shows that Blue cares a lot for his Pokemon, despite his competitive nature.
7 Best Of Friends: Silvally-GX (Cosmic Eclipse #227)
In Pokemon Sun and Moon, Gladion leaves the Aether Foundation alongside a Type: Null that he stole from the lab, in the hopes of stopping his mother Lusamine and freeing the Type: Nulls from the Foundation’s control. Gladion is eventually able to evolve his Type: Null into Silvally, successfully liberating it through high friendship, which this Pokemon card shows.
Megumi Mizutani has chosen to show Gladion and Silvally in a serene moment, sitting in the grass together as Silvally nuzzles Gladion’s head. The illustrator perfectly captures their close bond through the happy expressions on both of their faces.
6 Elemental Trio: Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX (Sun & Moon Promos #SM210)
Hyogonosuke took a different approach when illustrating the three legendary birds of the Kanto region, taking inspiration from stained-glass windows that are often used to depict important religious figures. The bright colors and stained-glass effect help to elevate these Pokemon, establishing them as legendary symbols.
You can imagine the artwork of this card on display in the Pokemon world, in a place where people can show their respects for Kanto’s legendary Pokemon. The card stands out from other full art cards thanks to Hyogonosuke’s distinctive approach to these elemental birds.
5 Hero And Legends: Reshiram & Zekrom-GX (Cosmic Eclipse #222)
Illustrated by Naoki Saito, this card depicts N (the king of Team Plasma and an antagonist in Pokemon Black and White) standing in front of Reshiram and Zekrom, the legendary Pokemon of Generation Five. This card encapsulates the special connection between N, Reshiram, and Zekrom through Naoki Saito’s vibrant artwork.
The composition of this Pokemon card centralizes N as the focal piece without sacrificing the details on Reshiram and Zekrom. The use of blue and orange, two complementary colors helps to make the card striking and only serves to enhance the overall effect.
4 Moonlit Night: Umbreon VMAX (Evolving Skies #215)
This Umbreon card, illustrated by Keiichiro Ito, features Dynamax Umbreon curled around a spire, reaching its paws out towards the full moon. The moon glows brightly in the green-blue sky scattered with stars, reflecting in the calm waters beneath.
The card pays homage to Umbreon’s Pokedex category, where it’s known as the Moonlight Pokemon, focusing on its connection to the moon. The card has a lot of detail, not only on Umbreon itself, but also in its backdrop of a seaside city at night, where the glowing lights of the buildings match Umbreon’s yellow rings.
3 The God Of All: Arceus V (Brilliant Stars #166)
Considered the god of the Pokemon universe, according to the legends of the Sinnoh region, the mythical Pokemon Arceus is thought to be the creator of all things, as it says in its Pokedex entry in Pokemon Legends: Arceus.
Kawayoo’s illustration captures this awe-inspiring reputation as they’ve chosen to show Arceus rising above the land of Sinnoh with light seemingly shining from its very being. It captures the essence of Arceus, placing it above all living things where it watches over the world that it has created.
2 Birth Of A Legend: Mewtwo-GX (Shining Legends #78)
Illustrated by Mitsuhiro Arita, this full art Pokemon card focuses on the artificial creation of the legendary Pokemon Mewtwo. It shows Mewtwo trapped within the confines of a glass tube while scientists test its DNA. Mewtwo’s treatment at the hands of the scientists that created it was appalling, as they sought to make a powerful Pokemon using Mew’s DNA, regardless of that Pokemon’s feelings.
Mitsuhiro Arita’s attention to detail in their illustration effectively conveys Mewtwo’s horrific beginnings as it floats in its tube, hunched over and surrounded by various pieces of lab equipment. The only sign that Mewtwo is aware of its surroundings is its slightly opened eyes – a great touch that suggests Mewtwo is soon to break free.
1 Force Of Love: Enamorus V (Lost Origin #TG18)
Introduced in Pokemon Legends: Arceus, Cogita is a mysterious character who appears to know a lot about Hisui’s ancient past, including knowledge of the legendary Pokemon. Illustrated by Akira Egawa, this full art card captures Cogita alongside Enamorus, the fourth member of the Forces of Nature.
The card represents the majesty of this Pokemon, as the dynamic pose and vibrant color palette help to convey its legendary status. The use of light pink flowers in this illustration is also an excellent touch, symbolizing Enamorus’ Incarnate Forme, whose love is said to cause “the budding of fresh life across Hisui.”
Next: Pokemon Cards That Tell A Story