Growing up as a 90’s kid, me and my two brothers were crazy about all things Pokemon. We played all the video games, and watched the movie “Mewtwo Strikes Back” more times than our parents could handle. The three of us don’t live nearby each other now, one lives in the south, another in Chile and I in the Northern Rockies. When Pokemon Go came out, we would play together when we were able to be together. This game became a symbol of our travels together.
I wanted to create a set of icons that would symbolize the lines in the theme song:
“I will travel across the land,
Searching far and wide.
Each Pokemon to understand
The power that’s inside!”
I decided to do this by creating a mix of famous buildings around the world and Pokemon.
There was a good amount of brainstorming to think of both famous places and which Pokemon could work for what. I really wanted to stay true to what the essence of the Pokemon and the famous locations they would be portraying. I wanted to display them is such a way it would be clear they were famous destinations.
Showcasing Ivysaur’s pink flower between two leaves made the Taj Mahal the perfect fit for this Pokemon. I decided to use his spots as the windows and his vines as the iconic pillars that stand around the building.
I took Arbok’s flashy design and put it on one of the Pyramids of Egypt. I thought this was fitting as cobras, the animal in which Arbok is based, can be found in Egypt. In thought this was an easy design, however, I found it difficult to get the design of Arbok to look as though it was on the same plain as the pyramid. I received critique that the shapes weren’t lining up well so I went in and pulled them in and smoothed that odd gap.
With his curved pincers, Pinsir was distended to be used as the Burj Al Arab. When I first created this icon, it didn’t have the black and white mouth area of the Pokemon. I didn’t think much of it, but it was my least favorite of the icons. Finally, I went back and decided that I should add the mouth of Pinsir in. I made the mistake of starting with pointy teeth and not only did it look bad, it was spooky. After looking at more reference photos, I changed the pointed teeth to be squared at the ends.
Looking at the Sydney Opera House, the unique dome like structure reminded me of a either a shell or a fish. The debate began, Magicarp or Squirtle. I originally had the entire top structure the brown of Squirtle’s shell. This didn’t look right, so I switched out a few for the blue of his body making it look like his head and tail. I had gotten critique that the light blue line that separated the top structures from the bottom yellow building was too close to some points, creating tangents. I enlarged that shape to relieve that tangent.
For being one of the most simple icons, this was the problem child. The one of the most iconic parts of Notre-Dame is the giant round stained glass window. One of the most iconic parts of Pikachu is his red circle checks. They did not work together. I played around for a long time seeing if I could have just a big circle or just two red circles, but either we lost the essence of Pikachu or Notre-Dame. After much consulting reference photos and trying different things, I found that flattening the top of the circle and exaggerating the bottom of it I could make the stained glass look like a smile like that of Pikachu.
The basic shape of the Eiffel Tower made for an odd portrayal of Bellsprout due to the large gap that normally occupies the middle section of the building. I found that adding a rectangle in this gap made the essence of Bellsprout shine through while still showing that the Eiffel Tower was the building. I had gotten critique that the lips were a tangent to the head, so I enlarged them, making them more noticeable and removing that tangent.
Originally I had six Digletts to create the Stonehenge. This made the the icon feel cramped and, even though I thought more would make it easier to tell the location, it was too noisy to tell it was. I had received a lot of critique on this subject and eliminated three of the Digletts. This freed space and allowed me to make more of the white space. Some other critique I got was that the rock on top wasn’t placed well and created tangents. I lowered the rock to make it appear as it was more on their heads to fix this problem.
Poliwag’s unique belly created the perfect clock face for Big Ben. I decided to leave the spiral unperfect. This was a hard thing to do as I wanted it to look smooth, but was more characteristic for Poliwag. I had a lot of shadowing and highlights that created too much noise. I got critiqued for this as well so I simplified.
Parasect is a lesser known of the Pokemon, so I debated putting it as the Forbidden City, but it worked out too well to not use. One of my biggest points of conflict when creating this icon was how many spots to use on the roofs. I tried to simplify, but it gave too much white space for comfort. I added lots, but it made the roof too noisy. I tried to find the medium after this and found it difficult to get the spacing just right, but am happy with how it looks now.
I’m not sure how Snorlax worked so well to go with the Capital building, but I’m happy it did. There is a column on the top of his head that doesn’t normally go on a Snorlax. Without it the icon isn’t recognizable as the Capital building. For this icon, I built the building’s structure with squares and a circle for the domed roof. I kept going back and forth on if I wanted the blue of his body to start more in the middle, but felt that it was best to keep it where it was to avoid tangents.
I really wanted to do the Empire State Building, but realized that the roof of the Chrysler Building was a better fit for Charmander and his fiery tail. My idea for the roof was to alternate between the soft orange and yellow of his body as well as a soft red. Looking at fire references, I found that it would be better to gradually move from yellow to orange to red.
With his four strong arms, Machamp reminds me of the windmills in Kinderdijk, Netherlands. I decided to leave his legs out of the design and build from the bottom up. I started with the dark gray pants and big gold belt he wears. His arms were tricky to get to a size that didn’t overwhelm the white space above the building as well as the building. I added shadows under his arms to help define them as the body is the same color.
Above is a shot of my progress about halfway through. Notice the six Digletts, small mouth on Bellsprout, he circle window in Pikachu, coloring of Parasect, and more that has been changed.
Each location was carefully selected as it was a famous landmark spread all over the world. Combining the location with the Pokemon gives character to traveling across the land to find the power inside each Pokemon.