How to find and catch Smeargle in Pokémon GO

Smeargle is a Gen 2 Pokémon available in Pokémon GO, but like Ditto before it, there is a special way to catch Smeargle, and it has special abilities once you do. We are going to break down everything we know about Smeargle and how we can help you catch as many of them as possible.

What is a Smeargle, and why do you want it?

Smeargle is a normal type Pokémon from the 2nd generation and has a beagle-like appearance. Its tail is in the shape of a paintbrush. In fact, paint drips from the tip of it, and it uses that paintbrush to fight other Pokémon.

Initially seen in Pokémon Gold and Silver, Smeargle uses its paintbrush to communicate to its trainers, as well as to attack.

In Pokémon GO, Smeargle's paintbrush ability, called sketch, translates into the power to take almost any move set from the Pokémon it photobombs in the new Snapshot AR mode.

This means it can take on a powerful Pokémon's moves and use them in battle. I have been trying to get it to take on my Vaporeon's Hydro Pump, but so far, it hasn't photobombed that Pokémon.

More: How to use the new AR Snapshot feature

How do you catch Smeargle?

You can't catch Smeargle in the standard way in Pokémon GO. Instead, you have to catch it photobombing your Snapshots in the AR Snapshot feature. You can use the feature regularly, and in the course of play, you will eventually see Smeargle and can catch it, or you can follow our step-by-step to maximize your potential sightings.

  1. Open up your Pokémon GO app.
  2. Tap the Pokéball in the center to open the menu.
  3. Tap the Item icon to open your item bag.
  4. Select the camera from your item bag to access Snapshot Mode.
  5. Choose the Pokémon that has the abilities you want Smeargle to steal.

  1. Smeargle will only appear in the first photo you take.
  2. Tap the thumbnail when you see Smeargle and look at the picture it is in.
  3. Exit out into the map screen on your Pokémon GO app.
  4. You will see Smeargle in the wild ready to be caught, just tap on Smeargle to start the throwing animation.
  5. Catch Smeargle in the normal manner.

As you can see, once you have caught Smeargle, it will have the same move set of the Pokémon it was in the Snapshot with.

What Move set can Smeargle take?

So far, Smeargle has been able to copy all the move sets put in front of it except Ditto's Transform, which, according to The Silph Road over on Reddit, turns into Struggle instead. Suffice to say, there are some variances on the powers each Smeargle can get, and it will depend on the Pokémon it is taking the moves from.

We do know that Community day moves transfer to Smeargle and that the third move some Pokémon have won't transfer. In other words, Smeargle won't learn a third move right now.

What about Shinies and special moves?

So far, no sign of Smeargle shinies, and if it photobombs a shiny Pokémon, nothing happens. It seems likely that shinies will appear, but maybe further down the road.

For the time being, Smeargle cannot copy a second charged move, nor is there the option to buy a second charged move with Stardust and Candy. That having been said, it's stats are pretty low so there wouldn't be much of a benefit to adding another charged move.

Is this a timed event?

No! Thankfully Smeargle is now part of the general rotation. At the moment, the only way to catch it is by using the Snapshot feature, but they may change that in the future, and it could just become another Pokémon out in the wild.

I hope they don't, though. Pokémon like this make the game much more varied and interesting. Just like field research, this kind of new way to find Pokémon in the game keeps me coming back for more.

Will you see when Smeargle arrives?

There are a few little tips to help you see when Smeargle appears to photobomb your AR pic. Keep an eye on the thumbnail in the bottom corner. It will blink white three times when Smeargle bombs you instead of just once.

The latest numbers are in from Reddit, and we now know Smeargle will only appear in your first photo. So if you don't see those three white pulses on the first photo, simply exit out and head back in again. You don't even have to change your Pokémon, go straight back into Snapshot mode, and try again.

Can Smeargle run away?

Don't be complacent! Like any other Pokémon, Smeargle will try to flee occasionally. Make sure you are using berries, and the right Pokéball to catch it the first time. If Smeargle does flee, you will have to catch it in a photobomb to get it back. It doesn't just reappear on the world map, unfortunately.

Does a change of target, location, or camera help?

While you want Smeargle to photobomb the right Pokemon — after all, you want it to learn good abilities — you can't just keep snapping photos and hoping it will appear. I have been alternating between several different Pokémon I want Smeargle to learn powers from, just in case and Reddit seems to agree.

Changing location hasn't seemed to help either, although I have only tried it in a 500-meter radius of my house using different photos and even switching to landscape to see if that helped. So far, there is no evidence that changing location makes a difference.

Several people have reported success in switching from accessing the camera from the item menu to instead selecting the Pokemon you want to snap and then tapping the camera from its summary page. I have tried this also, and it hasn't worked for me yet, but we can hope.

These things might not do anything, but it makes the monotony of trying to cheat random number generators more bearable. After all, a Smeargle photobomb is, as far as we know, a completely random occurrence, and while it is fun to try and beat that randomness, I have to warn you, we most likely never will.

Can Smeargle photobomb itself?

Source: shinycaterpie

Smeargle-ception can happen! There are images on Silph Road that show a Redditor with Smeargle photobombing Smeargle so it absolutely can happen. Smeargle still takes the move set of the other Smeargle, and it will be whatever that Smeargle stole the first time around.

This also answers the question, "Can you catch more than one Smeargle?" You certainly can catch more than one, and I am jealous of anyone who has managed that feat. According to Reddit you may only be able to catch one a day, as many Redditors have tried to catch more but it only works once per day.

What happens when you use a TM on a Smeargle?

Unlike a normal Pokémon, Smeargle doesn't have its own move set. It takes the moves from the Pokémon it photobombs. This means a normal Technical Machine (TM) won't work the way it normally does. Instead, it will give your Smeargle a completely random attack power from any of the other Pokémon in the game.

It seems to me that the best way to get the Move set you want is to make sure the Pokémon you want Smeargle to photobomb has those powers already available. That way, you don't have to worry about the randomness that Smeargle seems to inherently bring to the table.

What happens if Smeargle doesn't spawn in the wild?

Some users, including our very own managing editor, Lory Gil, has had an issue where Smeargle bugs out after he photobombs. In this case, the photobomb worked, but Smeargle didn't spawn into the wild for you to catch it. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like anything can be done about it, you just lose your chance to catch it this time around and will have to try again.

What is the Cameraman medal?

The Cameraman medal is new and specially made for catching Smeargles. You are awarded the bronze medal when you get 10 or more photobombs from Smeargle, 50 times for the silver, and finally, a whopping 200 to get the gold medal. So, if you're a completionist, it's best to take Snapshots every day to increase your chances. Given that Smeargle can generally only photobomb you once a day, and even that isn't a guarantee, you may be working on that medal for the better part of a year.

There appear to be some glitches in the medal so far, we had an issue where it didn't populate into the medal list for 24 hours. I'm sure this is just server load issues and will resolve itself, so don't be afraid if you don't see it immediately.

Is Smeargle worth all the effort?

While most players will want at least one Smeargle to complete their Pokédex, and the method for capture is a lot of fun, ultimately, Smeargle's stats are pretty low. It's max CP is below 500, so you're unlikely to use it for Battles or much else. Still, eventually, a shiny version will be available, and for some, the Cameraman Medal is worth the effort. It's also good practice for the occasional Snapshot contests that Niantic hosts. Either way, this isn't a Pokémon to stress over catching.

Do you have any new information?

Smeargle is one of the most fun Pokémon to catch in recent times. The idea that it can appear randomly inside another activity is brilliant, and I really hope we see more of that in the future.

But what about you? Have you seen other sure-fire ways to catch it? Or maybe you have information we don't? Let us know in the comments, and we will update as we go!

James Bricknell

James is a lover of all things new and shiny. From 3D printing to Nintendo he stays current with all the technology that will lead us into the future.