D&D 5E Glory of the Giants' AI-Enhanced Art

AI artist uses machine learning to enhance illustrations in Bigby.

The latest D&D sourcebook, Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants, comes out in a couple of weeks. However, those who pre-ordered it on D&D Beyond already have access, and many are speculating on the presence of possible AI art in the book.

One of the artists credited is Ilya Shkipin, who does traditional, digital, and AI art. In an interview with AI Art Weekly in December 2022, Shkipin talked at length about their AI art, including the workflow involved.

On Twitter, Shkipin talked more [edit--the tweet has since been deleted but the content is below] about the AI process used in Bigby, indicating that AI was used to enhance some of the art, showing an example of the work.

There is recent controversy on whether these illustrations I made were ai generated. AI was used in the process to generate certain details or polish and editing. To shine some light on the process I'm attaching earlier versions of the illustrations before ai had been applied to enhance details. As you can see a lot of painted elements were enhanced with ai rather than generated from ground up.

-Ilya Shkipin​



Discussions online look at more of the art in the book, speculating on the amount of AI involvement. There doesn't appear to be any evidence that any of the art is fully AI-generated.

AI art is controversial, with many TTRPG companies publicly stating that they will not use it. DriveThruRPG has recently added new policies regarding transparency around AI-generated content and a ban on 'standalone' AI art products, and Kickstarter has added similar transparency requirements, especially regarding disclosure of the data which is used to train the AI. Many artists have taken a strong stance against AI art, indicating that their art is being 'scraped' in order to produce the content.

UPDATE- Christian Hoffer reached out to WotC and received a response:

Have a statement from Wizards over the AI enhanced artwork in Glory of the Giants. To summarize, they were unaware of the use of AI until the story broke and the artwork was turned in over a year ago. They are updating their Artist guidelines in response to this.

Wizards makes things by humans for humans and that will be reflected in Artist Guidelines moving forward.

-Christian Hoffer​

The artist, Ilya Shkipin, has removed the initial tweet where the AI process is discussed, and has posted the following:

Deleted previous post as the future of today illustrations is being discussed.

Illustrations are going to be reworked.

-Ilya Shkipin​


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Li Shenron

I guess the first two images are swapped i.e. left one is "enhanced" and right one is the original sketch.

In these particular examples, I don't see where the problem is. The sketch is clearly VERY close to the final version, so the enhancement is literally just a technical refinement of the original art, not an art generated by AI. There have been plenty of digital tools for doing similar refinements that were not based on AI, whether the new tools have AI or not doesn't matter.

A very separate issue, is whether the AI tools have used proprietary art without permission, in order to be "trained".


Would this be a correct statement: in order to ‘enhance’ the artwork created by artist 1, an AI algorithm will collate art from as many artists as is fed into it (potentially artists 2 through infinity) and add line work and coloring to artist 1’s work. Artists 2 through infinity may have no knowledge their work was placed in the algorithm.


So what? You are no longer allowed to use features that Photoshop offers you? I mean we are basically at this level here, give it a year, if that
I was going to say something similar. Digital tools (like photoshop) have provided enhancement features (blur and bandaid to name two) for decades. I am not sure what is exactly going on or the complete process here, but it seems very similar to what digital artist do with photoshop typically. Would love to see a time lapse of the work process.

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