As an artist, I really enjoy looking relaxing pictures from time to time. I sometimes even have them as my desktop background! Here, let me share some of my favorite desktop backgrounds with you.

Ahhhhh… I just love the sweeping hills of the one right there… better than the hills used as the Windows XP … Ecks-Pee background! OH! And that beach view! Sooo relaxing looking, it almost feels like I’m there, feeling the cool sea breeze blowing across my face. And who doesn’t find that green-blue-yellow splotchy painting calming?? Yes… such beautiful pictures…

…but wait a second…

I dunno about you… but something about these look familiar. A little TOO familiar, if you get my drift. …!!! WAIT A FLIPPIN’ SECOND!


Card images sourced from pkmncards.com

OH MY GOODNESS, they’re the background artwork for many Pokémon TCG cards! You’ve just been bamboozled!

Hahah, ok ok, jokes aside… yes, that’s what’s going on here. Turns out a recent Twitter post which was brought to my attention by CinnamonBiscuits (who also told me about the bootleg cards I talked about recently) had discovered the source of many of the backgrounds on the earliest cards. Then coincidentally, Alveinhero on the PA! Discord Server posted a link to a Flickr account with a TON of related background. Between those two sources, I decided to look into this further and share the conclusion of my investigations with you. Huzzah!

First off though, the Twitter post in question:

So these backgrounds come from a digital stock photo and artwork collection called Datacraft Sozaijiten, or sometimes simply Sozaijiten. The name “Sozaijiten” (素材辞典) clearly spells out its purpose, as it translates to “material dictionary”: specifically, it’s a Japanese-produced collection of stock pictures produced by Image navi corporation, broken up into over 245 various volumes of shared concepts released on CD-ROM format. For example, Volume 1 is “Stone Textures”, Volume 10 is “Flowers”, Volume 20 is “Wild Flowers and Cherry Blossoms”, and so forth. Furthermore, it seems as if new volumes are constantly being produced every now and then, as in 2008 there was only 207, but in 2013 it was up to 235. Given this it’s most likely that the original artists working on the Japanese release of Base Set back in 1996 only had access to the earliest Sozaijiten releases, as most of the backgrounds seem to pull from the first 30 or 40 volumes.

Nifty, huh? Well, what’s just as nifty is seeing which Pokémon TCG cards used what Datacraft Sozaijiten backgrounds. And that’s what this page aims to do: if a card used a background image pulled from a Datacraft Sozaijiten volume, it will be listed here along with an raw example of that background, just so you can see what you’ve been missing after all these years. Move aside, Ponyta! Take two steps to your left, Wartortle! We’re here for the background images!

 


 

List of Cards using DS Backgrounds

To keep this list simple, we’ll just be focusing on basic card data—name, set and collector number, with a link to Bulbapedia for more info—along with a cropped picture of the card’s image and a low-res copy of the original Datacraft Sozaijiten image, so as to not overstep copyright.

That said, I want to make just a couple quick points:

  • Use of Datacraft Sozaijiten images are included on this page under Fair Use principles, specifically for the case of news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
  • Card images are usually sourced from pkmncards.com and from Bulbapedia, if I didn’t scan them myself. It may even link to a Bulbapedia article if the original source is somewhat obscure and/or was never released in English.
  • This list is very incomplete. And not in a “well we got 99% of them but I’m sure one or two are left” way, but in a “we’ve only barely started; there’s still like 500 backgrounds still left to add!” way. (If you find any, let us know!)

Without further ado:

SET Name Card Art Original DS Image DS Source Notes
(multiple) (multiple) Trainer Cards Vol 003 – Metal and Rust Textures

Pic #003

I’m convinced that this was used to create the Trainer Card background. Does this mean OTHER card backgrounds were built from DS images?
Base Set 3/102 Chansey Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #077

I realize that this might look like a bit of a stretch, but after playing around with a bunch of filters in Photoshop, as well as comparing other pictures in Vol 9, I’m 90% certain that this is the background used.
Base Set 20/102 Electabuzz Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #088

Similar to the background used in the background for Promo Pikachu #4, but it’s actually a different shot of the same bolt and thus two different pictures.
Base Set 22/102 Pidgeotto Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #031

Base Set 23/102 Arcanine Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #029

Base Set 26/102 Dratini Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #074

Base Set 27/102 Farfetch’d Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #191

Base Set 28/102 Growlithe Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #033

Base Set 31/102 Jynx Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #004

Base Set 32/102 Kadabra Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #108

Background image is flipped vertically relative to the original stock photo; the stock photo shown here was similarly flipped for comparison.
Base Set 36/102 Magmar Vol 004 – Flames Sparks & Waters

Pic #070

The background used in Magmar’s picture was flipped vertically. The example DS image therefore is likewise flipped vertically for ease of comparison, but note that that’s not how it normally looks.
Base Set 38/102 Poliwhirl Vol 004 – Flames Sparks & Waters

Pic #157

Base Set 40/102 Raticate Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #063

Base Set 41/102 Seel Vol 004 – Flames Sparks & Waters

Pic #145

Base Set 42/102 Wartortle Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #018

Base Set 45/102 Caterpie Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #109

Base Set 49/102 Drowsee Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #043

The background was modified with Twirl filter of about 226%. Yes, we checked.
Base Set 55/102 Nidoran ♂ Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #107

This background would later be used again on GB Marowak (see entry towards the bottom of the page)
Base Set 56/102 Onix Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #167

Base Set 57/102 Pidgey Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #006

Aside from the use of Photoshop filters, a bright spot was added in the upper-left corner.
Base Set 60/102 Ponyta Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #082

Base Set 62/102 Sandshrew Vol 008 – Walls & Soils

Pic #176

Base Set 68/102 Vulpix Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #009

Also seen on Neo Genesis Pichu (see below)
Base Set 73/102 Impostor Professor Oak Vol 008 – Walls & Soils

Pic #070

Base Set 75/102 Lass Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #194

Some kind of extra sprinkle filter was added to the background, but I can’t ascertain what it is.
Base Set 76/102 Pokémon Breeder Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #095

The background image was squished vertically so it could fit within the narrower art frame of Trainer cards.
Base Set 77/102 Pokémon Trader Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #067

Base Set 88/102 Professor Oak Vol 008 – Walls & Soils

Pic #151

Anyone else extremely satisfied knowing that they chose picture number 151 for Professor Oak? No, just me then? OK….
Base Set 91/102 Bill Vol 008 – Walls & Soils

Pic #004

The top 2 and bottom 4 rows of bricks were cropped to fix within the art frame of the Trainer card.
Jungle 6/64 & 22/64 Mr. Mime Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #087

Jungle 7/64 & 23/64 Nidoqueen Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #101

Jungle 10/64 & 26/64 Scyther Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #078

Jungle 11/64 & 27/64 Snorlax Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #085

Jungle 13/64 & 29/64 Venomoth Vol 020 – Wild Flowers and Cherry Blossoms

Pic #034

Jungle 41/64 Parasect Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #092

Fossil (Tropical Mega Battle Phone Card) 2/62 Articuno Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #104

Technically this card is a unique version of Fossil Articuno, printed on a phone card as part of the Tropical Mega Battle. The card itself is based on the Fossil version of Articuno, but uses different artwork.
Fossil (Tropical Mega Battle Phone Card) 12/62 Moltres Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #197

Technically this card is a unique version of Fossil Articuno, printed on a phone card as part of the Tropical Mega Battle. The card itself is based on the Fossil version of Articuno, but uses different artwork.
Fossil 22/62 Hitmonlee Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #161

Another mix.
Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #115

Fossil 24/62 Kabutops Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #162

The top picture was flipped vertically when used as Kabutops’ background, so the example image was similarly flipped for comparison.

The other picture, on the other hand… is a complete mystery! Like, clearly it looks like it’s part of the Volume 9 “Pains and Pastels” collection… but if you look at the entire collection, you’ll notice that it’s not there! If you happen to spot it elsewhere, let us know!

Unknown! (read description)
Fossil (Tropical Mega Battle Phone Card) 30/62 Zapdos Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #034

Technically this card is a unique version of Fossil Zapdos, printed on a phone card as part of the Tropical Mega Battle. The card itself is based on the Fossil version of Zapdos, but uses different artwork.

The artwork was also rotated 180 degrees relative to its original stock photograph; I’ve likewise rotated it for comparison purposes.

Fossil 31/62 Arbok Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #046

Team Rocket 1/82 & 18/82 Dark Alakazam Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #031

Team Rocket 56/82 Ekans Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #052

Team Rocket 59/82 Machop Vol 004 – Flames Sparks & Waters

Pic #074

This one mixed BOTH images together into one. That said, it’s hard to tell how exactly they merged the two. I THINK the used a Lighten filter on one of them in order to merge the two, but, I’m maybe 70% sure on that.
Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #010

Team Rocket 82/82 Potion Energy Vol 013 – Leaves and Leaf Veins

Pic #186

The leaf graphic is used both in the potion container depicted, as well as in the dark, faded background which you can only barely see the lead veins.
Gym Heroes 11/132 Rocket’s Hitmonchan Vol 004 – Flames Sparks & Waters

Pic #081

For some reason the English version turned the black bits into brown, but otherwise it’s the same picture.
Gym Heroes 24/132 Brock’s Zubat Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #171

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Gym Heroes 28/132 Lt. Surge’s Raichu Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #90

This is another mixed picture.
Vol 003 – Metal and Rust Textures

Pic #034

Gym Heroes 31/132 Misty’s Poliwrath Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #111

Gym Heroes 40/132 Brock’s Graveler Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #170

Gym Heroes 41/132 Erika’s Ivysaur Vol 020 – Wild Flowers and Cherry Blossoms

Pic #085

Ivysaur’s background is zoomed in from the original; it is placed in the large empty (green) patch in the bottom-right corner of the original picture.
Gym Heroes 42/132 Erika’s Dratini Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #011

The original stock picture was rotated 180 degrees for use on Erika’s Dratini; the example image was similarly rotated for comparison purposes.
Gym Heroes 45/132 Erika’s Gloom Vol 003 – Metal and Rust Textures

Pic #118

Gym Heroes 46/132 Erika’s Gloom Vol 008 – Walls & Soils

Pic #063

Gym Heroes 55/132 Misty’s Seaking Vol 004 – Flames Sparks & Waters

Pic #156

Gym Heroes 60/132 Sabrina’s Slowbro Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #126

Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #078

Gym Heroes 73/132 Brock’s Vulpix Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #172

Gym Heroes 78/132 Erika’s Oddish Vol 026 – Forests and Grove

Pic #110

Gym Heroes 79/132 Erika’s Tangela Vol 026 – Forests and Grove

Pic #101

Gym Challenge 39/132 Erika’s Bulbasaur Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #029

Previously used on Base Set Arcanine (see above)

“We’ve run out of backgrounds to use… so just use a posterize filter on a background we’ve already used; no one will notice!” … And y’know what? For nearly 20 years, they were right: no one did notice.

Gym Challenge 67/132 Brock’s Diglett Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #044

Gym Challenge 91/132 Misty’s Seel Vol 004 – Flames Sparks & Waters

Pic #155

Gym Challenge 93/132 Sabrina’s Abra Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #185

Gym Challenge 98/132 Sabrina’s Porygon Vol 033 – Computers and Technology

Pic #057

Picture #057 is only BARELY visible relative to picture #058, but I assure you they are BOTH visible.
Vol 033 – Computers and Technology

Pic #058

Gym Challenge 118/132 Misty’s Tears (Japan-only version)
Vol 004 – Flames Sparks & Waters

Pic #145

This one only applies to the original Japanese version, as it was changed for the International (eg. non-Japanese) release. It used a slightly naughty picture of Misty, which I’ve hidden behind a spoiler box in case that’s not your thing.

Anyways, this was previously seen on Base Set Seel.

Neo Genesis 12/111 Pichu Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #165

Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #009

Neo Genesis 13/111 Skarmory Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #021

I suspect that there might have been an overlay image used on top of Vol 7 Pic 21, but I’m not sure what it could be.
Neo Genesis 23/111 Magby Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #116

Unknown flame effect added to BG
Neo Genesis 41/111 Miltank Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #093

XY Evolutions 84/108 Professor Oak’s Hint Vol 008 – Walls & Soils

Pic #063

This is interesting; for the “update” to Base Set in the form of “XY Evolutions“, they created a new card to replace the original Professor Oak card called “Professor Oak’s Hint”… but they went with a totally new background instead of reusing Picture #151. That said, they still chose one from the same DS collection: picture #63.
Vending (n/a) Mew Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #148

Game Boy (Laboratory) D23 Magnemite Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #141

This card—like all Game Boy cards—never got an actual physical release, and therefore only existed in Game Boy form. However, images of the Game Boy-only cards appeared in a Japanese Pokémon Card price guide; presumably the Game Boy artwork was based on these pictures.
Game Boy (Evolution) B33 Marowak Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #107

This background was previously originally used on Base Set Nidoran ♂. I suspect that the artists simply forgot that that background was previously used before.
Game Boy (Promotional) P02 Moltres Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #025

CD Promo (Japan-only) (n/a) Charizard Vol 006 – Seasons and Nature

Pic #161

Y’know, I realized just now that my previous numbering for Vol 006 was wrong; I will be using the CORRECT numbering here. Every other Volume’s numbering is fine, however.
Black Star Promo 2 Electabuzz (First Movie Promo) Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #010

The card was given a red filter for the background, but otherwise it stayed the same.
Black Star Promo 4 Pikachu (First Movie Promo) Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #089

Similar to the background used in the background for Base Set Electabuzz, but it’s actually a different shot of the same bolt and thus two different pictures.

The background was also color shifted to blue.

Black Star Promo 8 & 9 Mew Vol 009 – Paints and Pastels

Pic #190

Black Star Promo 17 Dark Persian Vol 007 – Lights & Crystals

Pic #034

Background flipped vertically, so the example is similarly flipped. Base picture also used on Fossil Zapdos (Tropical Mega Battle Phone Card version)

Giovanni’s eyes were mixed in, but, alas, it’s not part of the Datacraft Sozaijiten collection.

Use of Datacraft Sozaijiten backgrounds petered out after Neo Destiny, especially as other artists came in to draw Pokémon artwork as well as create their own backgrounds using computer programs like Bryce and other landscape generation tools. But despite those changes, use of DS photos in Pokémon TCG card artwork absolutely continued on. This page therefore will continue to document every use of Datacraft Sozaijiten photos for card art, even if it only was used once in a particular set.

Finally, thanks once again to CinnamonBiscuits on Twitter and Alveinhero on the PA! Discord Server for originally bringing this to my attention and continually helping to add to the list, as well as to cvramen , GC| Linkinboss 70HP and his friend, and Gamez n’ Gainz for further updates to the list too!