Top 10 Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon

All that glitters isn't gold, but some of it is.
An official TCG promotional image featuring numerous shiny Pokémon, including Dark Tera type Charizard, Sqwakabilly, Scizor, Pawmi, Gardevoir, Alakazam, Mimikyu, and Skeledirge.
Image via Pokémon TCG

Shiny Pokémon have been making TCG appearances since the Neo Destiny set. Here are our top 10 TCG illustrations featuring shiny Pokémon in some way.

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Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon Honorary Mention: Rowlet (Hidden Fates)

The shiny Pokémon cards in sets like Hidden Fates and Shining Fates generally feature very nice art. They also give collectors more unique cards to chase and can add a fun touch of bling to any deck. Still, it’s typically boring, from an artistic composition perspective, to just have a Pokémon posing in a nebulous space. Seeing Pokémon existing within an actual environment is part of what makes the TCG art feel so special.

There is an exception, however, and that’s Rowlet from Hidden Fates. Illustrator sui’s beautiful coloring perfectly accentuates Rowlet’s softness. It sits on its rump instead of on its feet, exaggerating its rotundness and adding an extra dose of cuteness to an already incredibly cute bird. If we mortals trapped in the real world could simply give this jovial Rowlet a hug, world peace would no doubt become not only feasible, but a reality.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon Honorary Mention: M-Gardevoir-EX (Generations)

Pokémon-ex, -EX (yes, they’re different… kind of), GX, V, and any other letter combinations tend to fall into a cookie-cutter visual style: the lone Pokémon, generally as a not-so-glamorous 3D model, does some sort of basic pose with no discernible background. This is exacerbated in their rarer alternate art variants, which place those sterile 3D models onto a white background and surrounds them with a thick outline, as if there was anything else on the card to possibly look at and take our attention away from the Pokémon itself.

Similar to Hidden Fates’s Rowlet, there is an exception to this. M-Gardevoir-EX from the Generations set features both a regular and shiny Mega Gardevoir in Megumi Mizutani’s gorgeous art style. While Mega Gardevoir’s design and Mizutani’s art style carry this card art, it doesn’t make it any less adorable.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon Honorary Mention: Cynthia (Hidden Fates)

The full art Cynthia card from Hidden Fates has fantastic Yusuke Ohmura art, but it feels like it could have pushed the envelope a bit more. Cynthia has plenty of cards depicting her in action, either preparing for a battle or deep in research. This card only showcases Cynthia standing with her Pokémon behind her, though. A dynamic pose indicating that she is about to battle with them could have given more visual interest to the art. It’s also slightly disappointing that it isn’t clear if Garchomp is meant to be shiny or not, although that’s an unfortunate downside that can’t be avoided unless the Garchomp in question has Mega Evolved. Still, this card is a great collectible, giving Cynthia access to at least one shiny version of her team’s Pokémon.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon #10: Ponyta (Arceus)

The best part about the shiny Ponyta card from the Arceus set isn’t Kanako Eo’s adorable art style with thick outlines and blocky cel-shading. It isn’t even the forest background with cute flowers all around. It’s that the card forms a pair with another Ponyta card from the same set! Pokémon cards that either tell a sequential story or go together as part of a combined larger piece are always beloved by fans, and this shiny Ponyta shouldn’t be an exception. Do not separate these two.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon #9: Radiant Greninja (Astral Radiance)

Shiny Greninja meditating atop a rock formation surrounded by water as the sun slowly sets is truly a serene scene. The sky and water are rendered beautifully and even reflect onto Greninja in subtle ways, most notably on its hands and head. Astral Radiance’s Radiant Greninja is a beautiful piece of artwork on its own, elevated by the appeal of shiny Greninja over its regular coloration.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon #8: Shining Ho-oh (SM Era Promo)

I love a good painted cloud, and the Shining Ho-oh promo card has certainly got them. While a sky with clouds may come across as more abstract than properly environmental, it really fits for Ho-oh. The sun rising from behind it also plays a big part in the art’s appeal: it gives Ho-oh a unique light source for its shading, while the clouds are draped in pinks making their way up to blues further away. Shining Ho-oh isn’t the most extravagant shiny Pokémon card, but its rendering makes it mesmerizing all the same.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon #7: Shining Magikarp (Neo Revelation)

Over-the-shoulder shots aren’t unheard of in Pokémon TCG art, but they’re generally reserved for actions that are considered dynamic. Even the Shining Charizard card from Neo Destiny features Charizard actively flying. Neo Revelation’s Shining Magikarp is a bit different, however. It showcases the shiny Magikarp in question effortlessly swimming along underwater. Seeing the Magikarp from behind in this instance gives the illustration a feeling of candidness, like the viewer is watching a natural scene unfold rather than an arranged glamor shot.

What’s even more magical about this card is the school of regular Magikarp the shiny one is swimming with. It isn’t just the details of the seafloor that place Shining Magikarp into an environment. The regular Magikarp also help contribute to the world this card depicts. You would absolutely see schools of Magikarp swimming around in the world’s waters, and because of their rarity, only one would be shiny, if that. Shining Magikarp’s art depicts a scene that is both mundane and exceedingly rare, combing the typical, unexciting behavior of a common fish and elevating it to something truly spectacular.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon #6: Shining Genesect (Shining Legends)

Genesect may be a man-made Pokémon, but it’s been depicted across cities and nature alike in the TCG. Shining Genesect from Shining Legends uses an analogous color scheme, with the reds and oranges of the sky matching the Pokémon’s own colors, and the brown of the mountain beneath being close to those color families. This gives the composition a harmonious feel, but it also runs the risk of the Pokémon almost camouflaging into the background, such as with the Arceus set’s cute but low-contrast Shinx. 

Shining Genesect’s art avoids this problem with its composition. The rising sun behind Genesect is perfectly framed by the tip of its face and its left talon. This gives the illustration a graphic look while the bright white sun allows Genesect to stand out from the background. With a dynamic pose, clever composition, and a beautiful color palette, Shining Genesect is eye-catching in all the right ways.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon #5: Mimikyu (Currently unreleased)

This Mimikyu card will likely be a part of the upcoming Paldean Fates set, and if it is, it’s definitely going to be one of the set’s most sought-after cards. The monochrome shiny Mimikyu is bundled up with a rainbow quilt made by the elderly woman who continues to diligently sew more blankets. This touching, down-to-earth scene is enhanced by environmental details, including the woman’s sewing materials kept in a nearby basket, the potted plants on the windowsill, and the hint of a garden outside. The sunlight streaming into the house passes through orange curtains, casting everything in a warm, cozy glow. This gentle look at a Pokémon that is generally considered frightening is what makes TCG art unique, and while the yarn this illustration spins is mundane, it’s no less memorable.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon #4: Gardevoir-ex (Currently unreleased)

Gardevoir-ex is another card likely to make its appearance in the upcoming Paldean Fates set, and it’s another clear winner in the illustration department. This magical blue forest is filled with details, from individually rendered ivy leaves to a group of peacefully sleeping Pachirisu. This card is nothing short of gorgeous, with only one inescapable drawback. While illustrator Kuroimori cleverly positioned the more noteworthy details to be visible, it’s still a shame that the card’s text must cover up parts of the outstandingly detailed art. This is one illustration that would be phenomenal as a textless card sleeve or even a poster.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon #3: Bagon (Arceus)

I’m just as surprised as you are to see this seemingly simple card so high on this top 10 list. But there’s so many things this illustration does right that make it truly phenomenal. Illustrator Naoyo Kimura’s use of texture is perfect for the environment’s rock formations, and it gives Bagon itself a professional colored pencil appearance. Within this fitting mountain setting and beautiful art style is a simple yet appropriate gesture: Bagon is looking upwards. It’s most likely that Bagon is looking at the sky, in reference to how it wants to be able to fly someday. 

But since the sky isn’t depicted in this illustration at all, even in the background, viewers have some leeway to interpret what Bagon sees. Maybe there’s a Trainer just off-panel who can help Bagon become a shiny Salamence and fulfill its dreams of flight. Bagon dreams of possibilities, and similarly, the sky is the limit when it comes to interpreting the art of this Bagon card from the Arceus set. Much like Bagon’s upward-locked eyes, it’s hard to look away from this simple yet beautiful art. 

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon #2: Palafin (Paldean Fates)

Full disclosure: I’ve never been a huge Palafin fan, and its sleek black shiny coloration wasn’t enough to sway me. The upcoming Paldean Fates illustration rare Palafin also isn’t likely to sway my opinion, but it may certainly strong-arm it. This isn’t depicting the typical “My Adventures with Superman Palafin,” this is “The Boys Palafin.” The bubbles rising in the foreground and pod of Finizen swimming upwards in the back give the illustration a sense of movement even while Palafin just stands there, menacingly. 

The setting is similarly ominous thanks to how darkened it is, with Palafin’s glowing blue eyes adding a pop of color. Palafin’s glare would strike fear into the heart of anyone unfortunate to cross it, and since it glowers directly at the audience, I think we can all guess who will be at the receiving end of its next “Justice” Kick.

The Pokémon TCG is fantastic for how it gives Pokémon a chance to display personalities they wouldn’t—or couldn’t—normally show in the games. Paldean Fates’s Palafin takes things a step further by giving a Pokémon a personality specifically to match its shiny color scheme. I now consider myself a steadfast Pala-fan, if only for my own safety.

Best TCG Art Featuring Shiny Pokémon #1: Shining Gyarados (Neo Revelation)

Sometimes the classics have more than just nostalgia going in their favor, and that is absolutely the case for Shining Gyarados from Neo Revelation. This card depicts an unfortunate fisher on a stormy night, faced with a menacing shiny Gyarados as it erupts from the raging waters. This artwork doesn’t feature the Pokémon of the hour smack dab in the middle of the card but instead uses the rule of thirds to place Gyarados off-center to the right. The fisherman similarly sits near the bottom left of the panel. Together, they “frame” the composition on the bottom and right edges. Waves provide a similar effect on part of the left edge, leaving some openness in the top left of the image. This isn’t a compositional “escape,” however, as powerful swirling winds move from left to right, dragging the viewer’s attention back into the image and onto Gyarados, the picture’s shining star.

The fisherman’s gaze also leads the audience to look up at Gyarados, streaks of water still running down its scales. It towers over him, giving the illustration a helpful, and dreadful, sense of scale. Standalone artwork is meant to capture a single moment, and this card’s “moment” flawlessly encapsulates the sense of danger, fear, menace, and even awe that comes with encountering one of the most dangerous Pokémon around—and as a shiny, no less. In addition to its fantastic composition, Shining Gyarados depicts the fascinating scene of how anyone can run into an elusive shiny Pokémon… but that doesn’t mean they’ll always be ready for it.

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Niki Fakhoori
Niki’s love for video games encompasses a wide range of genres, but she is especially fond of RPGs, adventure games, visual novels, simulation games, and fighting games. Her favorite video game-related pastime is asking her unwieldy backlog why she doesn’t have any new games to play. When she isn’t playing or writing about video games, she’s playing with cats, journaling, painting, or obsessing over the latest news in the world of stationery and planners.