Sigbog is an avid Level 40 "Pokémon GO" player and raider with lots of knowledge and experience to draw from.
What Is a Smeargle?
Smeargle is a unique Pokémon from the 2nd generation that's known for painting with its tail. It's also unique in that it can copy and learn almost any move in various Pokémon games. However, it is a bit different in Pokémon GO.
Smeargle was introduced along with the addition of the AR Photo mode in February, 2019. It features a very unique method of acquisition.
How to Get a Smeargle
In order to get Smeargle, you'll need to use the Camera to enable AR Photo mode. To do so, following these steps:
- Open the main Pokéball menu
- Go to your Items
- Select the item labeled "Camera"
- Select a Pokémon you wish to take an AR Photo of
- Use your phone's camera and pan around over a flat location
- You'll begin to see sparkles as your device starts to identify a flat spot where you can spawn a Pokémon. It may take some time for this to occur, be patient with it
- Eventually, you'll get little yellow footsteps to spawn
- Tap the yellow footsteps to spawn your Pokémon fixed to that location so that you can take a picture of that Pokémon. (You can move around and take the picture from different angles. Tap the Pokémon to get it to face you again)
- You can take several photos in a session
- When you are done, tap the icon in the top left (it looks like an arrow and a door) to leave the session
- You will be presented with all the photos you took
- If you see a Smeargle photobomb your picture, a Smeargle will then spawn right next to you
- Simply encounter and catch Smeargle!
There are a handful of other things that are very important to note about Smeargle!
- Smeargle will only remain spawned for an hour unlike Research Pokémon.
- It can also flee so be careful when catching it
- You can only spawn a maximum of one per day
- The spawn is a normal wild encounter spawn, with a standard variance in levels and individual values. This means you are very unlikely to spawn a high IV Smeargle.
- Smeargle only comes with a green tail in Pokémon GO, unlike in the show where the tail could be various colors.
Advanced Spawn Information
TLDR: The exact mechanic controlling Smeargle's spawn rate is unclear, but it does appear to be more driven by sessions than total number of pictures taken. It is likely best to take 1–10 pictures, check for Smeargle, and repeat.
Smeargle's spawn rate is currently a debated question as a few things are unclear:
- Does Smeargle only appear in the first picture slot? If so, does it matter if you take multiple pictures or is the first one the only one that matters?
I tried several different strategies (1 picture, 10 pictures, and hundreds per session) to see if I could notice a trend. After 5 Smeargle spawns and thousands of pictures taken, I can fairly confidently say that taking hundreds in a session is not significantly, if at all, better than just taking a few.
While there are reports of Smeargle spawning in pictures after the 1st slot, including spawning past the first 10 meaning you will not see Smeargle spawn at all, I personally have only experienced Smeargle in the 1st slot. I would expect Smeargle spawning later to be a misreport, or an unintended bug, given the way Niantic treats the encounter.
However, even if Smeargle only spawns in the 1st picture slot, it is still possible that multiple pictures influence its drop rate. Although given you cannot view any pictures you take past the first 10, and after taking hundreds in a single session, I can tell you that it is likely not useful. It will probably just take up space on your phone and that's all. Between taking 1 and up to 10, I can't be sure yet and will need to keep testing.
Smeargle can learn any moveset in Pokémon GO. It will simply copy the moves of the Pokémon you took a photo of when it photobombed.
Furthermore, you can use Fast and Charge TMs on Smeargle to teach it a ton of various moves. The cost of unlocking a second move set for Smeargle is set to 9999999 candy, so you should probably give up on the idea.
However, given that Smeargle is a very weak Pokémon with a max combat power of about 400 at level 40, there isn't really any combination of moves that make it worth the effort.
Smeargle is simply a neat addition to Pokémon GO, and really does not serve much of a purpose other than that. It is completely useless for combat, but if it weren't, it's ability to copy movesets would probably make the meta way worse. So I'm personally fine with that. The mechanics are interesting and I hope Niantic continues to release special Pokémon in unique ways such as this.