Cel shading, also known as toon shading, is a technique used to create striking but non-photorealistic graphics in video games and animation. One of the key elements of cel shading is the use of black outlines on character models and objects in the environment to make them stand out against the backgrounds. It has been used to great effect in Pokemon Sword and Shield, which are the second-best selling Pokemon games of all time.
Redditor DemiuM recently shared a post titled "Pokemon Legends: Arceus look much better with cell shading. You can't change my mind. (I made it in 10 minutes of Photoshop)." The post features three screenshots that have been edited to include the striking black outlines characteristic of cel shading. Although the outlines were removed in the visually memorable Gen 6 games, it can't be denied that they make it much easier to see what's going on in Pokemon Legends: Arceus.
The first screenshot shows Adaman and Irida of the Diamond and Pearl Clans, respectively standing in a snow-covered and icy landscape. In the unedited version, it can be difficult to make out where the character models end and the snow begins. The edited version doesn't just make it easier to see both characters, it also adds lines to distinguish the ice formations and mountains in the background from the skybox. The second screenshot uses outlines to add some depth to Cyllene's office as well as making her outfit easier to take in.
In the third screenshot, DemiuM shows what cel shading could add to Pokemon Legends: Arceus's gameplay by editing a screenshot taken mid-battle. The image focuses on a battle between the player's level 20 Pikachu and a wild level 21 Luxio. Pokemon Legends: Arceus' unique battle mechanics are on display, but the real attraction is the way that cel shading makes Pikachu, Luxio, and the player character pop out. Although the outlines are noticeably thicker on Pikachu and Luxio, probably because of the short time spent editing, gamers may have trouble arguing with the results.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus is available now for Nintendo Switch.