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D&D 5E Dragon's-Eye View: Concepts in Art


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Sonny

Adventurer
I would actually like to see more of Ben Wootten in D&D Next. The ranger picture below is what I would prefer D&D Next's art to look like. Actual backgrounds, stylish, yet more realistic then a majority of D&D 3e-4e and Pathfinder's art. (The pic below is actually from 4e essentials)

I have nothing against a majority of the art in D&D and Pathfinder, but I am a bit tired of the exaggerated and somewhat comic book-ish art that has pervaded those systems in the last decade.

Gwenn.jpg
 

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
Nice pieces by Steve Prescott! I like most of the concept art except for the goblin's ears, which i find too large. The Trog is pretty badass...
 



Ratskinner

Adventurer
I would actually like to see more of Ben Wootten in D&D Next. The ranger picture below is what I would prefer D&D Next's art to look like. Actual backgrounds, stylish, yet more realistic then a majority of D&D 3e-4e and Pathfinder's art. (The pic below is actually from 4e essentials)

I have nothing against a majority of the art in D&D and Pathfinder, but I am a bit tired of the exaggerated and somewhat comic book-ish art that has pervaded those systems in the last decade.

Having just viewed his gallery, I must agree. Awesome artwork that takes me back. I'd be very happy to see the death of weapons-of-unusual-size and armor-of-unusual-thickness, fire optional.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
In terms of the column...it seems like we are just moving in circles...like we have seen (and read) all this before.

Legends and Lore was bad enough.
 

Pour

First Post
I don't really like any of it. Damn, I really don't think the art style is going to be for me this edition around. I'm for diversity of art approaches like was mentioned in the comments section of the article. Give everyone a little.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
The article seems a little rambly, but I get that this is kind of part of Jon's style. :)

As for the art itself: not into it. Pretty comic-book-y. And that yuan-ti pureblood is godawful. It's just begging to be hawkeye'd. The marilith is a bit better, but she's still all "I'm gonna hold all these weapons out here at my side, jut out my bosom and bottom, and appeal to the Male Gaze a bit!"

Steve Prescott isn't winning me over with cartoons and T&A.

I've got some concerns about that "IP Bible." Part of what I think lead to 4e's sacred steak buffet - and all the ill will it generated - was the desire to cleave to the brand image and generate a holistic view of what "D&D" was to the extent that it came off as stridently ignoring what the players wanted it to be. So it makes me nervous. He does a pretty good job assuaging my fears.

I wonder why they shouldn't do a separate "IP Bible" for each setting. In FR, goblins look like X. In Greyhawk, Y. In Dragonlance, Z. In Birthright, Q. They can concern themselves mostly with the big brands (like FR and Dragonlance) and they don't need to be artificially tethered to these visions when they go work on what a goblin would look like in a gothic horror setting for when they do Ravenloft. I guess it'd be a lot of work.

I guess I just feel like the art should reflect the message that this is a prop for you to use how you want, not a code to be adhered to. Which is probably naive of me.
 


S

Sunseeker

Guest
Personally, I would love to see Michael Komarck do much of the 5th Edition art. He strikes a wonderful balance between realistic arms and armor and impressive, fantastic-looking fare. For instance:

http://www.komarckart.com/new05.html

OR this:
http://www.komarckart.com/new06.html

Or any of his work, really.

Kormarck is a pretty awesome artist, but I still want to see diversity in D&D artists, but I certainly think they could take a note from their MTG artists for it.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Yes. Jot down another vote for "artist diversity."

I understand Mr. Schindehette's position that he, as art director, needs to establish a baseline appearance for things to be involved in marketing and third party product (like video games). But for my two coppers, that/those design concepts/looks should comprise no more than one third of the art in the actual books.

The other two thirds should be comprised of a team of, I'd say, 2 or 3 other artists with distinct styles...even a few of the "editorial cartoon"/line art styles of the 1e stuff.

Maybe one "historical/realistically accurate."

One shall we say "highly conceptualized" or "psychodelic [which obviously would not have the same appeal nowadays as Erol Otus' acid- or 'shroom-induced hallucination style did in the 70's -I'm not saying he actually did, no slander whatsoever intended! That's just what they looked like!] but something "off the wall" like that.

I'd probably like the third to be more line art/comic booky. I'm a big ole comic geek, so "comic-booky" or "super-heroy" images in a fantasy game really doesn't bother me at all. Something like Jeff Dee was (his newer stuff, I'm sorry to say, doesn't evoke the same feelings in me as his 70's 80's style). Similar but different to the "standard"/marketing/promo look.

...and then whoever's gonna do a coupla "ha ha" cartoons.

But his distinction, again, between "concept art" and "illustration" is understood, if repetitive and [I believe] somewhat arbitrary. But that's part of "art direction" fer ya. Like he said, it's his job to come up with this stuff, ultimately not for what WE want to see as "drawings in the books", but what will constitute a coherent look for the brand. The twain may/can [and probably should] meet, on occasion, but needn't imho be the only "look" presented in the printed materials. Ads, promo's, 3pp, sure. In the actual Manuals/Guides/Handbooks? I'd rather whatever final concepts are accepted/used are not the only art/style.
 

Klaus

First Post
A quick note: none of those pieces will make it to the final books. Those are concepts. The artists that make the final illustrations will work off from the looks established by the concepts, but in their own styles.

I told Jon on Facebook that those images look awesome ('cause I love me some Steve Prescott art), but gave a couple of ideas:

1 - try to give that kobold forward-facing horns and big ears, just to see how it went.
2 - use that "orc" image for the orog, and downplay the muscles and "Hulk Smash"-ness for the baseline orc.

Jon told me to try these ideas myself and send them in, so I did.
 

Dwimmerlied

First Post
And that yuan-ti pureblood is godawful. It's just begging to be hawkeye'd.

Awesome, I haven't seen this before. Got a good chuckle out of that!

The marilith is a bit better, but she's still all "I'm gonna hold all these weapons out here at my side, jut out my bosom and bottom, and appeal to the Male Gaze a bit!"

IMO only, I think this is a bit unfair. She's covered up and her "sexual attributes" are not being exaggerated or pointed out. I just found her menacing and writhing with energy.
 


Dwimmerlied

First Post
The kobold (less the crocodile head), troglodyte and yuan ti all do a reasonably good job of keeping the feel, I think. With the Troglodyte, I wish they would keep the kind of "amphibian/skink" look that was very well conceptualised and used throughout 3rd edition, but I certainly don't dislike this. I quite like the Marilith. But I very strongly dislike both the conceptualisations of the orc and the goblin.

Perhaps those pieces weren't anything to go on, but the goblins look like they are borrowing quite heavily from LOTR, especially with the busted up noses. I like the wide-mouthed little creatures with the disproportionately long arms from the 3rd edition monster manual (which, I think borrowed somewhat from older editions). They represented dirty little cowardly scavenging bottom-feeders with little to admire, but that image of them somehow had some kind of charm. They looked a little bit pathetic, and you couldnt help but fall in love with them just a little bit.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I wonder why they shouldn't do a separate "IP Bible" for each setting. In FR, goblins look like X. In Greyhawk, Y. In Dragonlance, Z. In Birthright, Q. They can concern themselves mostly with the big brands (like FR and Dragonlance) and they don't need to be artificially tethered to these visions when they go work on what a goblin would look like in a gothic horror setting for when they do Ravenloft. I guess it'd be a lot of work.

I think separating the IP and the lore for each setting would be best. Keep the core game as lore-free as possible. If absolutely necessary, ship the Basic Box with a fairly simple one. They crank out stuff like that for Magic on a yearly basis, I think they could do it for D&D. (Or heck, combine the two.

I guess I just feel like the art should reflect the message that this is a prop for you to use how you want, not a code to be adhered to. Which is probably naive of me.

Maybe naive, but I agree with the sentiment.
 

Klaus

First Post
What did you come up with?

I just did head studies for the kobold, taking the exact same head from the sketch (with no ears and backward-facing horns) and mix-and-matched it with ears and forward-facing horns. I was surprised to find that the simple change of horn direction made the kobold strongly resemble the 1e AD&D kobold, and the ears reinforced that. They also ended up looking a lot like the kobolds found in the 2e Complete Book of Gnomes and Halflings.
 

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