D&D Art across the editions

Wiseblood

Adventurer
Thank you for this! There is one design conceit I would like to not see anymore in these. The dutch angle.

Okay so there are more but that one really grates on my nerves.
 

Catolias

Villager
I've posted the 3e/3.5 PHB art, which didn't technically fulfill the brief, but it is what it is!
I had a quick look and my thought is that each of the chapters in 3/3.5 are artwork too. It just so happens that the text overlays technical drawings that fade out behind the text and towards the bottom of the page.

Certainly, the full page artwork in 3/3.5 is not comparable to previous and subsequent editions. I have to say of the editions, side by side, 5e stands out and, thankfully, loses that leery, 1970s quality. It’s much easier to sell D&D to my girls.
 

dave2008

Legend
I had a quick look and my thought is that each of the chapters in 3/3.5 are artwork too. It just so happens that the text overlays technical drawings that fade out behind the text and towards the bottom of the page.

Certainly, the full page artwork in 3/3.5 is not comparable to previous and subsequent editions. I have to say of the editions, side by side, 5e stands out and, thankfully, loses that leery, 1970s quality. It’s much easier to sell D&D to my girls.
Yes, I thought about that as well, but i just didn't feel it met the brief of "full spread art" since it was half covered with text. Of course that was clearly to restrictive in 3e's case. I may go back and add those later.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Did I post the wrong printing of the 2e PHB?
no, you posted the right ones. Early 90s they did black cover reprints, and the interior art was god awful

Also which cover, the original or the Easley revised edition I posted?
. Easley. Best PHB cover of all editions IMO. Best quality, and it was all about the PC as the feature subject of what your PC could become
 

Hussar

Legend
The original 2e art is miles better than the 2e black cover reprint interior art. Seriously, that was garbage. Worst art in any D&D project IMO
I was going to say, I thought I had seen a few of those B&W images in other products. The Lanthorn of Daoud (sp) is from one of the S modules IIRC. Man, that's going WAY back. :D
 

Hussar

Legend
And, thanks again to @dave2008 for doing this. This is probably one of the best cross edition art comparisons I've ever seen. That looks like it took a ton of work.

Hrm. Wonder if you could do the same thing for the other two core books? Compare DMG's, and MM's. Obviously the MM's don't have a lot of full spread art, but, it does have a lot of art.

And, I think that when people think of Caldwell and whatnot in terms of 2e, I wonder if they're remembering the old Monster Manual's for 2e that came loose leaf and were meant to be put in a binder. Many of the packages came with chapter separators with full color art. And, to be honest, there are some bloody fantastic pieces in there.
 

Ulfgeir

Explorer
That's a vey interesting summary. And I must say that the 1e cover by Easley is probably his best one. There doesn't appear to be anything weird anatomically, and the character does not appear to be chaotic stupid or have rabies (which a lot of his 2e stuff has if memory serves me well)
 

Tazawa

Explorer
Man the 5e PHB is under appreciated.

The guy fighting atop a rock formation is one of my favorite dnd images. The final couple I never even saw before (I never read rpg books cover to cover), but I love the rainbow of lights (color spray?) and the webbed bruiser (ogre, maybe?)!
Despite what I said before, I agree with you that it is under appreciated. I just feel it could be better.
 

QuentinGeorge

Adventurer
That's a vey interesting summary. And I must say that the 1e cover by Easley is probably his best one. There doesn't appear to be anything weird anatomically, and the character does not appear to be chaotic stupid or have rabies (which a lot of his 2e stuff has if memory serves me well)
So you think the guy on the horse on the 2E PHB has rabies? Maybe. I assumed he was just doing the face beloved of lots of artists. "I'm on the toilet and wishing I had a fibre heavy diet."
 

Hussar

Legend
I think I finally got the difference with 4e and 5e art from earlier stuff.

The later stuff is illustrating things you can actually be and do in the game. They are fighting a black dragon. Those are recognizable dnd monsters.

In the 2e art, while its fantasy, it’s not actually related to the game. The fat wizard with the tiny woman with a tail? What is that? The wizard polymorphing a unicorn? Into what? Some sort of lizard?

Later art seems to be actual illustrations rather than just sort of random pictures.
 

Enrico Poli1

Explorer
1e: Gygaxian, gritty art.
2e: TSR fires Gygax. The company wants a more High Fantasy feeling, and wants to tell stories with adventures, settings and related art. Elmore, Caldwell, Easley and Parkinson are paid to produce such high quality work. Larger-then-life, over-the-top art, it was good to illustrate legends and epics and fables. Later in the edition, the settings were bound to the art of one or two artists: Mystara had Elmore and Caldwell, Dragonlance had Elmore, Dark Sun had Brom, Planescape had DiTerlizzi... Moreover, for the first time, the art preceded and inspired the world-building (see the case of Dark Sun: Brom draw, and then Timothy Brown translated the art into setting lore...)
3e: The change of edition implied a drastic change in art also. Covers looked as tomes now. The overall atmosphere was provided by Lockwood. From the stuff of myth to a more "realistic" fantasy, precise, efficient and codified (Lockwood Dragons).
4e: The art was video-gamey, colorful, full of action and dynamism.
5e: nostalgia for 2e and its fairytale atmosphere. Mike Mearls finally understands the importante of art (both in quality and quantity) to sell physical books.
 

dave2008

Legend
And, thanks again to @dave2008 for doing this. This is probably one of the best cross edition art comparisons I've ever seen. That looks like it took a ton of work.

Hrm. Wonder if you could do the same thing for the other two core books? Compare DMG's, and MM's. Obviously the MM's don't have a lot of full spread art, but, it does have a lot of art.

And, I think that when people think of Caldwell and whatnot in terms of 2e, I wonder if they're remembering the old Monster Manual's for 2e that came loose leaf and were meant to be put in a binder. Many of the packages came with chapter separators with full color art. And, to be honest, there are some bloody fantastic pieces in there.
I am thinking about adding the DMG and MM too. I see what the weekend brings.
 

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