Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

I worked with the following team:
Chris Kitisakkul – Lead Graphic Designer
Dominic Sikking – Graphic Designer
Gemma Kingsley – Set Dec. Graphics & Design

Nigel Phelps – Production Designer
Set Decorator – Lisa Chugg

The film was released in May 2019 in the US.

Header image courtesy Shira Hockman.

Project

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Client

Warner Brothers & The Pokémon Company

What We Did

Graphic design and production of livery throughout the film (signage, book covers, magazine covers, newspapers, paperwork, transport logos & car vinyl graphics, posters, etc.)

The story begins when Tim Goodman receives a letter with some sad news, and travels to Ryme City

I designed 8 logo options, and then further refined the chosen option, which was picked as the Ryme City Rail logo.

He arrives at his father’s apartment, deep in the heart of Ryme City.

The apartment exterior is right opposite Hi-Hat Cafe, which I was tasked with making look like a real Ryme-City alley, with posters, stickers and window cover ups.

Exterior of Tim Goodman's father's apartment in Ryme City

Chris designed the neon Noctowl, and I worked on the posters to go outside – transforming Shoreditch into Ryme City. It was put up after 5pm and we were wallpapering in the dark right outside Cargo, in London. The best part of putting these up were the comments from curious passers by – two men thought we were putting up real club posters and asked us where the club was and what the event was about! 

There were loads of window cover ups (to lift the colour of the Location to Ryme City Standards as well as to prevent the ‘real’ world office interiors from spoiling the view of a busy market street). I went through a few different iterations, until the final colour scheme & design was chosen. I also got to design the tow-truck graphics, for the vehicle which was to be parked outside.

At the apartment, he encounters a fuzzy, yellow Pikachu

We were given the ‘film noir’ theme – and I was asked to design a series of Detective novels (visible on the bookshelf in the top right corner of the image above).

At first I started with the idea of a ‘homage’ to classic crime-novels and guidebooks real detectives would have used – Robert Resslers’ Whomever Fights Monsters and Ray Chandlers’ classic The Big Sleep were two I chose to do spoofs of.

However these did not pass the lawyers! So I went back to the drawing board, drawing inspiration from old pulp covers (many of which were now out of print), without any clearance issues. I also got to design some of the publishing house logos – named after Pokémon characters.

There was a lot of ‘bumf’ in the apartment. Gemma did most of the paperwork, but I did get to design a few broadsheets for the flat, which was really fun to do because I got to write the headlines and make up the stories.

And then there was the Map of Ryme City! This was the prop used to create the classic detective’s ‘evidence wall’, except in this case it was more like an ‘evidence floor’ due to the height of the fuzzy yellow one. We did a few versions of the map, which was seen again in Lucy’s ‘office/stationery cupboard’ and the Police Station.

The two also share a few coffees at the Hi-Hat Café.

I designed the packaging for some of the products in the Cafe & Vending machine.

I also designed a lot of the stall-graphics for the food market – these are very briefly seen in the scene as there’s a lot of action – so I’ve featured the few that I could pick out.

Next they adventure through the city, passing the food market, on their way to the to an underground Pokémon battle arena.

Ryme City Signage
Ryme City Signage

Image Copyright & Property of Warner Brothers.

Ryme City Signage

I spent a few days designing a lot of different types of signage for Ryme City.
A lot of it the designs changed during the production process, but about 8 signs were used on Charlotte Street, in London (the food market set). Below are some images which were shared online while filming was in progress..

The following images were taken on set:

Film still from Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

Image Copyright & Property of Warner Brothers.

The following images were taken on set:

Film still from Pokemon: Detective Pikachu. Image Copyright & Property of Warner Brothers.

Tim, Lucy and Pikachu eventually end up breaking into Clifford Labs, and the action continues…

The PCL Labs logo was designed by Chris, but I did get to design some accessories, like the fire extinguishers, as well as lots of machinery labels which can be seen all over the labs, on the pipes etc…

After they escape the labs by running through the incredible Torterra garden, Pikachu comes across the scene of the car crash and finds evidence of who was responsible for his transformation. They return to Ryme City, where a huge parade is taking place. After a plot twist (it’s twisty) pandemonium ensues, and Pikachu, Tim & Lucy fight various obstacles to save Ryme City and it’s inhabitants.

The parade

The vehicle vinyl graphics for the News Vans were incredibly fun to work on, possibly the largest graphics I’ve worked on to-date. They were part of the Parade, which was an incredible location set, spanning the entire length of Leadenhall Street. It was great to experience the filmmaking firsthand (while doing my bit and stencilling some Police barriers).

Images taken on set courtesy Dominic Sikking. Copyright – Warner Brothers.

Now go watch Pokémon Detective Pikachu!