Design Through Time
Before I start, I just want to go on record to say that the information here is very, very trival and is probably most interesting to artists or people who like to see how character designs change in time, a comparision of sorts. Right. So while I was looking for official Nido art to turn into Photoshop brushes, I had recalled the Nidoran art from the old Pokemon Red and Blue strategy guide, as that had more interesting poses for the creatures (and was before the time that Nidoran Male got stuck in his infamous side glance shot). The artwork is kind of hard to come by now, but I found some, but before I began to use them, I took a good look at them...
If you grew up within the time of the first two generations, you've probably seen this art before, and if you were like me at the time, you didn't really give them anything more than a passing glance. And whenever you did recall it, in your mind, they look just like you thought they always have, which is to say what you're used to today. But has anyone ever actually stopped to seriously look them over? No, really, LOOK AT THESE, and tell me you can't find something wrong with all of them!
I admit I may be overstating it a bit, the changes aren't huge, but they're different no less. But, this shouldn't come as a surprise, this is the artwork for Pokemon Red and Green before the anime showed up, which I assume is the earliest public release. And a lot of this art induces the "but I swear Nido[suffix] had a..." problem, and a lot of inconsistancies make more sense, now. But the main problem I see is that Sugimori or Satoshi didn't know what the heck they wanted to do with the spines, and I get a feeling that any earlier conceptual art probably had them with super generic bristles all over. And when I think of that, I think of the early Sonic, Mr. Hedgehog a.k.a Mr. Needlemouse (picture courtesy of Sonic Retro).
Sonic's design didn't change significantly between Mr. Needlemouse and the first game, but he's not quite there yet. And that's what I'm seeing (and imagining any earlier Nido works would look like). But none of this should come as any surprise. That happens to character design all the time, especially when used for animation (of any kind, even in a video game). Characters become more streamlined and simplified to allow for greater consistancy and easier animation. This is common in characters with some kind of spikes in their design (images/video framegrabs from No Homers Club, Simpson Crazy, and Last Exit to Springfield respectively).
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