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

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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Between this and the hadozee thing, there’s got to be real questions about whether the entire D&D art direction unit is up to the job right now. They’ve overseen the creation of some gorgeous stuff, in Spelljammer and Radiant Citadel especially, but how many egregious stuff ups like this can you make?

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we’ll know in a year, but just because a bunch of people talk about it online for a handful of days does not mean it has any impact, so how many they make is pretty disconnected from how many they can afford

No one really xates to much in the real world. ENworlds not representative at all.

We're basically all older hard-core types comparatively.

In another site some members are screwing round with prompts.

Idk if I could pick this as AI but I like the image.


They're a corporation. They're evil/useless by default.

Beats me why people simp for corporations but they do.
It’s particularly odd when said corporation releases a statement saying that they are changing their terms to make it clear that AI art is not allowed in submissions.

If lobbyists gets someone to change their position the least they can do is be graceful about it.

At least one Wizards of the Coast artist on Bluesky (not linked because it's still invite-only and you need an account to view) stated they were upset and felt betrayed by Wizards of the Coast using "AI" to "enhance" their work.
WotC did not do this. WotC does not produce art in house. It is possible an artist they work with did something like this.
It's highly likely that this person's work, which was submitted likely back in the spring if not earlier before concerns of generative algorithms were as widespread and artists began adding clauses to their contracts to prevent its use, is now part of those databases without their knowledge or consent because the terms of service of almost every "AI" program on the market adds all work submitted to the database.
This is not likely what happened.
Meaning this person did work for Wizards of the Coast in good faith, and Wizards then provided it to someone else to "enhance" it who then handed the artwork over to some techbros to do with it as they pleased.
Again not likely what happened and goes against what they directly stated happened.
If this doesn't sound like a big deal to you because artwork done for Wizards of the Coast is almost exclusively work-for-hire so Wizards owns all the rights, allow me to explain a similar situation with SAG-AFTRA actors and why they're striking against the studios: Film studios and television production companies want the right to scan actors for their likeness and be allowed to use that scan in any way they see fit in any future project going forward without any further compensation or even making them aware of what they're doing with their image. And there are reports that Marvel Studios has already done this on the production of recent shows by scanning background actors without informing them of what they were doing or how the scans would be used.

That is essentially what has happened to artists who worked on Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. Their work was submitted to the database of a third-party company to be copied and reused without their permission or any compensation, damaging that artist's ability to get future work. Just like a work-for-hire contract with an artist costs more because the company is buying all rights for future use, this sort of exploitation of the artist's work should also have higher compensation and be disclosed as part of the process.
This is (likely) wrong again. You can choose not to believe them, but WotC claims they just found out about the AI now, and the art work was submitted a year ago. They have discussed the issue with the artist and are adjusting their policy.

Most of what you claim is likely false. What they claim (they hired an artist to do work, whom they have worked with since 2014, and that artist used Ai in the process of making their art) is likely true. Particularly since the artist admitted it. However, there may be more to the story.

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