Approved artists

Art by Bummer

It goes without saying that the content put forth onto Smogon's website, and anything else that's seen by thousands of people, needs to be of good quality and be able to make a good impression. To achieve this, essentially all contributors need to prove themselves capable to handle certain tasks. Authors can write samples of a topic they're intending to write, HTMLers must pass an evaluation test, and naturally, artists are no exception. At the same time, art is also very subjective, where each illustration can be done in myriads of ways in just as many styles. However, because the artwork created for articles and other written content needs to complement the material, the artist doesn't have unlimited freedom with what they can draw, and if it's a sloppy or poorly drawn image, it will also reflect badly on the author and the article itself.

Why was this set in place to begin with?

In the past, quality control for art was only required when staff for The Smog, Smogon's official webzine (now discontinued), needed to evaluate artists before giving them access to their workshop that was hidden from public view. As time went on, more and more areas around Smogon began asking for quality artwork as well, which meant that artists had to contact several section leaders and get evaluated multiple times before they could contribute their art to all the sections. Thus, the Art leaders on Smogon decided that they could handle the evaluation process instead, so that artists only needed to be evaluated once before being approved to contribute to all the more demanding areas.

So, how do you get approved?

If you want to offer your art skills to Smogon, feel free to make a new thread in the Artist Approvals subforum, where you include at least three images that adequately shows your current art progress. You can also write a small introduction about yourself, or a link to your art thread in Smeargle's Studio if you have one. If you've uploaded your art to other sites as well, such as Tumblr and DeviantArt, feel free to include links to those pages as well. If you're a skilled illustrator, then you'll get the green light right away, but if not, you'll get some advice on how to improve your art and suggestions on what to work on next. Even if you don't feel you've got what it takes to become approved, feel free to drop an application anyway, as we'll still take the opportunity to give feedback on your progress!

Of course, Art leaders can also approve artists right away if they find their artwork to be well above the required skill level, such as when new artists open up their own art thread in Smeargle's Studio, or if they contribute a cool image to a contest. Point is, don't be too surprised if you become approved out of the blue, as we're always looking for talented artists who can help out!

Alright, I'm an approved artist. What now?

First off, being approved does not mean that you are required to contribute art on a regular basis. Being an approved artist is a position, and not an obligation. If you want to contribute art to some of our more demanding areas of the site, you're now free to do so, but, as we're all doing this for free, we simply cannot expect anyone to do this against their will. But we appreciate any help we can get, as we're pretty much always running short on art!

If you want to know which areas you now can contribute to, see our Contributing Art to Smogon page.

If I contribute with artwork, will Smogon then own that artwork?

No. There are very rare cases where images are unadvised from being used elsewhere if it ends up being used for a particular purpose (only current example is winning CAP designs, as it cannot be used in other fanmade Pokemon projects), but since our artists aren't paid for their valuable services, they're free to put their contributions to other uses if they so wish, commercial or not. If you have concerns about how re-using artwork for another purpose may affect the original purpose of the artwork, feel free to message the Art Leaders on Smogon.

I'm not an approved artist, what will you be looking for in an application?

As mentioned in the beginning, art is a very subjective topic, so there's no specific style or techniques that each applying artist must have mastered in order to become approved. However, there are certain things that any artwork and illustration can benefit from, as well as common pitfalls any artist can learn to avoid, so we'll try to name a few.

Coherent lineart

Pokémon lineart are, through an art perspective, fairly simple. There are no unnecessary gaps in the outlines, no wobbly lines or signs of an unstable grip, and just overall an appropriate amount of emphasis given to both large features and miniscule details alike. Knowing how to adequately trim the brush strokes can also greatly improve the lineart. For instance, if pointy tips, like fur and claws, are too blunt, it can send the impression that the lineart is sloppy and not as refined as it could be.

Adequate coloring

One common mistake when it comes to coloring artwork is having the colors leak outside the lineart (aka "bleeding"), which for understandable reasons doesn't make for a great impression. Color contrast also needs to be in proper balance. Having too many colors that don't fit too well together, especially if they're bright, can be very straining on the eyes. On the other hand, letting the colors be too dull can make an image seem much more boring than what it really is (be wary of sampling colors directly from official Pokémon artwork).

Sensible shading

Shading an image is not always a requirement, but when it's included, make sure that the shadows are consistent with where the assumed light source is located. Light moves linearly, so while it can reflect faintly on certain surfaces, shadows and lighting in a drawing should clearly correspond to a specific direction where most of the light is coming from. If multiple light sources are in the image, the artist needs to demonstrate that they can handle that as well. Small highlights can also make a drawing seem much more alive, just don't overdo them.

Lively poses

Even if you have kickass lineart and dynamic colors, you can only go so far if the poses are stale and don't deviate far from official artwork. Being unable to draw Pokémon and humans in poses or angles they've chosen themselves could be a sign that an artist is struggling with body anatomy and perspectives, and is something they should treat as a serious area to improve upon, as there isn't always references available for that particular pose they're planning to draw. Granted, we're not expecting jawdropping choreography with each image, just enough to show that the artist has a good understanding of proper anatomy and natural stances.

Vivid backgrounds

Knowing how to draw backgrounds are not a requirement to become approved, I can tell you that much. However, it should be obvious to anyone that a well executed background can certainly take an image to new heights, even if they're not complex. If you do struggle with backgrounds, don't push yourself by adding it to illustrations for the sake of it, as a poorly made background can actually make the image worse as a result. A good background is just like it says, something in the back of an image that supplies context or immersion to the foreground (where the real focus is).


This is arguably the number one reason most artists are rejected. Even a novice artist can be able to produce a stunning image, but unless their artwork has a consistent level of quality, then the Art leaders will prefer to postpone the approval until the artist has shown that they know what works and what doesn't. If your application is rejected for this reason, you may still be able to contribute to certain areas normally reserved for approved artists, on the condition that your illustrations are inspected before it's released to the public so that the Art leaders can confirm that it's up to the expectations.

All that said, an artist does not need to excel in all of the above categories. Excellently drawn lineart can compensate for a lack of shading, and being particularly skilled with manipulating colors and lighting can cover up shortcomings in other areas. Sometimes, it all comes down to what impressions your artwork is giving off. Regardless of the outcome, we encourage everyone in Smeargle's Studio to improve upon their craft, so if you want direct feedback on your art, feel free to shoot us an application!