Ken Sugimori (杉森 建, Sugimori Ken) (born January 27, 1966 in Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese video game designer, illustrator, manga artist, and director. He is most famous as the character designer and art director for the Pokémon franchise. Sugimori is also credited with the art direction for other titles, including Pulseman. Sugimori drew and finalized all of the original 151 Pokémon. He has worked on the various Pokémon movies, trading cards, and other games like the Super Smash Bros. series.
From early 1981 until 1986, Sugimori illustrated a gaming fanzine called Game Freak, which had been started by Satoshi Tajiri. Sugimori discovered the magazine in a dōjinshi shop, and decided to get involved. Eventually, the two decided to pitch an arcade game design idea to Namco; they reworked Game Freak into a development company and produced Mendel Palace. Sugimori is most famous as the character designer and art director for the Pokémon franchise and designed the first 151 Pokémon with Atsuko Nishida, Motofumi Fujiwara, and Shigeki Morimoto. He has worked on the various Pokémon movies, trading cards, and other games.
For Pokémon Black and White, Sugimori directed a team of 17 people in designing new characters for the games, though he always drew the final designs. He drew much of his inspiration from observing animals in aquariums and zoos. Sugimori has also written and illustrated original manga, including one which was distributed with pre-orders of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness. When he begins a new character, his process normally involves making a rough sketch, then tracing it onto film paper while polishing it and making the illustration more professional looking. After that, he draws the character many times, changing its proportions until he is satisfied.