Close look at the art of Pokémon TCG: Crown Zenith – the final Sword & Shield expansion

Close look at the art of Pokémon TCG: Crown Zenith – the final Sword & Shield expansion

The Pokémon Trading Card Game consistently features incredible illustrations by artists at the top of their game. Their zenith, one might say. As such, it’s only fitting that we delve into the latest Pokémon TCG expansion, Crown Zenith, to take a closer look at some of its amazing art. We’re bound to see plenty of Pokémon and unique cards bearing the signatures of popular Pokémon Trainers. Let’s begin by shining a spotlight on artist KIYOTAKA OSHIYAMA.

As an animator, KIYOTAKA OSHIYAMA has worked on a host of popular anime series and movies—now he brings his abundant talents to the Pokémon TCG. Given his background and experience, it’s no surprise that the cards he illustrated feel especially action-packed. Take Yanmega, who’s zooming towards the viewer at an incredible speed. The dynamic angle, the slightly elongated trees, and the speed lines that depict the air rushing past the Pokémon create an almost palpable energy. Combine that with the shockwaves left in Yanmega’s wake as it zips over the water’s surface, and you can truly feel its power on display. Wailord may not appear to be fast, but it sure is intimidating. It certainly dwarfs the school of Wishiwashi through which it’s swimming, and its monstrous gaping maw seems like it could cause the smaller Pokémon plenty of problems. How do you make Ditto seem lively? It’s all in the presentation! The Transform Pokémon’s enthusiastic, open stance combined with the colorful burst of lines and lens flare in the background create a humorous contrast between the sense of motion and, well, an adorable little blob of a Pokémon.

It’s always been hard not to get attached to some of the Trainers who inhabit the world of Pokémon. Whether they’re friends, rivals, Gym Leaders, or Champions, these characters have fun designs and are loaded with personality. Now, you can feel even closer to these Trainers with autographed Pokémon TCG cards! In Crown Zenith, you’ll find cards that have been printed with the Trainer’s signature, making them extra collectible. Bede appears to be admiring his Gym Leader uniform on his card. Are we seeing the moment when he first takes over as the Gym Leader of Ballonlea Stadium? Nessa is looking cool and casual as she sits at an outdoor café. She’s certainly not prepared for a Pokémon battle, but judging by the glimpse of billboard that we see in the background, Hulbury’s Gym Leader is constantly in the public eye. When Galar region Champion Leon isn’t winning competitions, he likes to bond with his younger brother, Hop, as we see on his card. These aren’t the only autographed cards to be found in this expansion, so keep an eye out to see who else you can find!




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We’re used to seeing Pokémon in the heat of battle, but what about that time in between scraps? Sometimes a Pokémon just wants to relax at home with its Trainer, and let’s face it—there are few things cuter than a Pokémon exploring an environment made for humans. Just look how adorable Shinx is! The little Pokémon has hopped up on a table to play with a book that its Trainer has left out. Although we suspect that its Trainer might get a tad upset if Shinx loses their place in the book, it would be difficult to stay upset after taking in the sheer joy the little Pokémon is radiating as it frolics.

That adorableness doesn’t fade when Shinx evolves into Luxio. The Spark Pokémon may not be as rambunctious, but it’s undeniably charming as it settles in for a nap while curled up on a cushion and clutching a plush Greedent. Purrloin is exhibiting some behavior that’s highly reminiscent of real-world cats. What cat owner hasn’t had their pet hop up on their desk and sprawl out on their computer keyboard? You’re sweet, Purrloin, but we’re trying to get some work done here!

There are plenty of Pokémon TCG cards featuring Pokémon out in the wilderness, but we couldn’t help but notice that the Crown Zenith expansion has multiple Pokémon interacting with logs and tree stumps. “Wood” you kindly join us as we admire this cheerful Kricketot that’s strutting across a fallen log? Although now that we think about it, given Kricketot’s relatively small size—just 1 foot in height—that’s a tiny log. Be careful not to fall off, Kricketot! Speaking of precarious positions, these Exeggcute have certainly found themselves in a bit of a pickle. They certainly look worried as they inch their way across fallen log that’s bridging the top of a raging waterfall. Between Exeggcute’s round shape and the undoubtedly wet and slippery log, we’re worried that these Pokémon might end up with a few new cracks on their shells. Bidoof isn’t taking any chances with treacherous trails—it’s content to plop down next to a stump and gnaw away at the wooden goodness. It is, after all, a great way to maintain good dental health (if you’re a Bidoof, that is!).

Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries (or Berries), even for a Pokémon. It’s good to occasionally chill out and get lost in your own thoughts to recenter yourself. From the look of things, Zeraora has mastered this concept. Look at this Pokémon! All stretched out in a grassy field, soaking up the sun. That grin on its face speaks volumes to its state of mind. Greedent V finds comfort in the company of its Berry stash. That Leppa Berry in particular seems to have attracted Greedent’s affection. Is this Pokémon thinking of eating this bountiful harvest, or will it be content to just lie among the Berries? Whatever it chooses, we’re sure Greedent’s happiness will not waver. Then there’s Wooloo! Sweet, floofy, roly-poly Wooloo. This Pokémon and its friend are enjoying playing in a meadow. Its subtle smile and wide-eyed stare let us know that Wooloo is relishing this moment of bliss.

These are just a few of the over 160 cards that can be found in the Pokémon TCG: Crown Zenith expansion—and there are 70 more to be discovered in the expansion’s Galarian Gallery subset. Have fun exploring their fantastic artwork!

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