D&D 5E Art direction and 5th edition


While it is further down the line of importance than game mechanics, art design in tabletop gaming is immensely important. It helps set the visual groundwork for all of the locales and races, inspires DMs and players to create memorable settings and characters, and helps catch the eye of potential buyers. Oh, and it gives us something nice to look at if you flip through your books on the toilet (don't tell my players that.)

In my mind, there were some questionable art design choices in 4E. At enworld alone there must have been dozens of threads about gnome hair. For me personally, I was rather bothered that they changed halflings so much that they now no longer sport their characteristic hairy feet. To me, this is blasphemy.

5E is a fantastic chance to reset some things to how they were while also taking others in drastically new directions.

If there was but one thing I could change about 5E it would be this: No Wayne Reynolds.

I LOVE Wayne. A lot. He is perhaps my favorite D&D artist of all time. But it bothers me how D&D 4E and Pathfinder both utilize his art so heavily. There are some subtle differences in how he portrays things in each brand, elf ears for example, but overall it's just too similar.

I hate walking into a bookstore and seeing D&D and Pathfinder both with covers that look way too similar. I think WotC should cut their losses, let Paizo have him, and take a new direction. There are so many amazing artists in this world, why should these two products that are already so much alike also use the same artist for the majority of their major art pieces?

What are some of your thoughts on D&D 5e and its potential use or misuse of art?
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First Post
I agree, WAR is fantastic! I also agree that 4E looks and feels like they really really want me to like their game at the expense of me wanting to like it. We've been over this before, of course, but PHB reads like a brick and mortar catalogue with cartoony, yet awesome, art. Picked up the old PHB the other day and it has an evergreen quality to the layout, even though we can discuss every single image on it's own merit. In my eyes the artwork of Elmore and Easley was the pinnacle of D&D.


Either I'm just easy to please, or D&D has been really lucky, but I've never had a problem with the art in D&D, in any edition or any setting (or Pathfinder, for that matter). There have been a few bad pieces, but by and large it's been excellent. I especially like that each edition has had a broadly consistent look, while also being distinct from the other editions.

My personal favourite is the "ancient tomes" look of the 3e books, although I'm not so keen on the whole dungeonpunk thing. Even so, I'm certainly not advocating a return to that for 5e - they should go for something new.

Still, art direction is one area of 5e design that I have absolutely no worries about. I'm sure whatever they come up with will be fine.


First Post
I'd like to see a return to the AD&D art style. I like Wayne Reynolds, but let Pathfinder have him.

What I do NOT want to see is the Warcraftization of D&D. I've never been a big fan of the Warcraft style, and I'm even less so now that it's, frankly, ubiquitous.


First Post
Well, in the setting books, I would love to get away from all the character portraits and get to landscapes, cityscapes or anything that shows the world as it looks. Dark Sun 4E was terrible for this. There is almost no picture of the Athasian landscape in the entire book, but way too many pictures of people trying desperately to look cool.

I do not care much who actually produces the art.


I see William o Connor's art more iconic for 4e. WAR's art is quintessential Pathfinder/3e.

Imagine if Jon Hodgson does the art for 5e..


First Post
D&D art should not look like a Todd McFarlane action figure.

I'd like to see something closer to John Howe.

Eric Quigley has a great gaming style... slightly impressionistic so you can fill in the details yourself.


Unless you like the way Todd McFarlane action figures look...

I dont get this, I dont play 4E but I do have the 3 core rulebooks which have Wayne R. art on the covers and inside them. I DO play Pathfinder and have a metric butt load of their products as well which also have Wayne R. art on thier covers and inside them.

oddly enough I just peg him as a guy that does art for Fantasy RPG's not as a Pathfinder or 4E guy.

There are plenty of other artists that work freelance for WOTC and Paizo. When I see an Eva Widerman piece in a WOTC book I'm not going to myself "oh she's ruining or tarring the Paizo brand by doing work for WOTC!!" It's just another great piece by her done for WOTC.

Also more than likely for all the people who are griping about "dungeonPunk" (really guys?) maybe going some place new with the art isnt the best of ideas and it seems that some of the people complaining about this stuff dont like NEW.

Personally I'm not a huge fan of the art in AD&D 1st and 2nd. Aside from a few Willingham (?) and Jeff Dee pieces in a few of the older modules, I found alot of that art pretty weak and uninspiring, to me anyway. And that includes some of the more highly praised Elmore pieces.

Honestly, the things that got my imagination going, at least art wise were some of those older Dragon Magazine covers. There has been more than one time where I'd picked up a Dragon Mag based on the cover image alone. Alas, no more *Dragon Mag though so...

*yes I know it's online as a series of articles. Yes I'm a huge fan of PDF's and electronic aides. Still it's not the same as seeing a hardcopy on the shelf of your LGS. Kobold Quarterly is a pretty good replacement though.

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