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​


ilya.png


ilia2.png


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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mamba

Legend
Not necessarily, particularly Ilya's plan was to leverage this for future pieces.
that is different, it sounded like it was created just for this piece. If it was created for future use and this is the first piece it is being used on, that can save work in the long run.
 

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mamba

Legend
Indeed. Taking a 5 minute digital sketch and running it through a filter so it looks like someone spent 5 to 10 hours painting it is a very generous usage of the word "enhance."
it is also a generous interpretation of the differences between the two pieces
 

Let me start by saying that we have a mutual belief that Rob "Pouches Everywhere" Liefeld is so terrible at drawing feet, even Quentin Tarantino is like, "Naw, I'll pass."

That said, he was still a viable and famous commercial artist. Yes, there can be different points of failure, but I think you don't fully grasp how quickly the technology is improving, as well as how much better it is (generally) than what most people can do- including some artists.

When you add in the fact that it can quickly generate tons of images, which actual artists can choose to refine further ... well, I will reiterate my earlier point. Arguing the artistic merits of AI is likely to be a losing proposition.

I'm quite aware of how quick it's going. Trust me, I'm following it fairly closely. But at the same time, with great strides come setbacks, too. We were mocking AI for its problems with hands (and teeth, which was another big tell), but as it has gotten better at that it still has problems, even when just "enhancing" things. I would definitely agree that using the AI first and then having the human touch is probably the better workaround, but the inherent problem there is that getting the exact product you want is kind of a crapshoot with AI.

But really, I was just trying to point to the problems with just using straight-AI using Zardnaar's pictures as examples. Their flaws aren't really a style thing like you could say Liefeld's could maybe be taken as, but artifacting that becomes obvious when you take more than glance at it. It can still work in some ways, but as we've seen with the blowback from stuff like Secret Invasion's opening, it's still not there.

Whether it will be where it needs to be in a year, 5 years, and 10 years... well, we'll see. I do feel like we're only in the foothills of AI and the real climb of fine refinement has yet to begin. But again, that's my instinct. I could be wrong.

This is orthogonal to the issue of ethics and the legal issues, by the way. Just remember- it was, what, a little more than a year ago when we had a thread where people where posting their own nightmare images from an AI program (remember the Wombo threads?). Now, we are discussing the idea that they will displace human artists.


It's going that quickly.

Oh, I think we both agree on the ethical issues. No doubt there.

Based on my understanding of what is going on, I think you are incorrect, and I think that we are already seeing the transition with the newest models.


I think that a lot of people have a limited understanding of what is actually happening, and think that they are simply "regurgitating" what they are fed, or that these are just advanced auto-completes. Which is a useful way of thinking about how the iterative process, but also is a simplification that leads to incorrect views.

But that, and $5, will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. If you are right, we don't have to worry. So ... hopefully you're right!

I'm using "copy" as shorthand because saying that it's using algorithms to identify patterns it can use to complete the prompt because I think we're both on the level here and I already write long enough posts without having to get specific :p. And while it's moving fast, other AI areas are running into problems right now: I mentioned large language models because up until recently ChatGPT wasn't bad at doing math but with a lot of the recent algorithmic changes it is suddenly now having problems with it. There are a lot of big and little tweaks that can create whole new problems with how it inputs the data sets and patterns. So while it is advancing now, I think we're at the point where advancing is easiest and as the refining process goes on were going to see more problems. And honestly it would be really fascinating if some of the worst people out there weren't trying to capitalize on it for cash at the expense of others.

But yeah, I could also be totally wrong and we can bet a lunch on that. ;)
 

Just remember- it was, what, a little more than a year ago when we had a thread where people where posting their own nightmare images from an AI program (remember the Wombo threads?). Now, we are discussing the idea that they will displace human artists.

It's going that quickly.

First, they ignore you (july 2022)
1691520530175.png

Then, they laugh at you (December 2022)

gandhi2.png

Then, they fight you (now)
gandhi3.png

And then you win (six month down the line?)
ghandi4.png


I for one welcome our new AI overlords.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter


Parmandur

Book-Friend
i had the impression the concept artist thought Ilya use their concept art directly - which would be plagiarism. If not, it is just standard AI art issues.
April Prike made the concept art, which was given to WotC to give to another contractor to make final illustrations, Ilya. April was made aware of the situation via social media before Ilya came clean, so she was speculating initially with everyone else before Ilya started souvling down hard.
 

dave2008

Legend
April Prike made the concept art, which was given to WotC to give to another contractor to make final illustrations, Ilya. April was made aware of the situation via social media before Ilya came clean, so she was speculating initially with everyone else before Ilya started souvling down hard.
I don't think I am explaining myself well.

If Ilya just took the concept art, basically copied it (even if they redrew it themselves) and then used AI on it that would be an issue, IMO, whether AI was used or not. The concept art is supposed to inspire the final artist, not be copied. The fact that the concept artist seemed to think AI was simply directly applied to their work implies to me that the concept art and the final work were to close to one another. However, I have not seen the two pieces of art to make my own judgement. Also, it seems you may be saying the concept artist had not seen the final work when they noted their concerns, just that they had been informed of the work flow and AI use. In which case it may have been just a misunderstanding on their part as well.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I don't think I am explaining myself well.

If Ilya just took the concept art, basically copied it (even if they redrew it themselves) and then used AI on it that would be an issue, IMO, whether AI was used or not. The concept art is supposed to inspire the final artist, not be copied. The fact that the concept artist seemed to think AI was simply directly applied to their work implies to me that the concept art and the final work were to close to one another. However, I have not seen the two pieces of art to make my own judgement. Also, it seems you may be saying the concept artist had not seen the final work when they noted their concerns, just that they had been informed of the work flow and AI use. In which case it may have been just a misunderstanding on their part as well.
Misunderstanding all around seems to be the name of the game for these pieces: multiple layers of failed communication. Here's the concept art (top) and the final pieces in question, Ilya also put out his intermediate paintings out there (very rough):

F2s7HdnaoAAgQ2A.jpeg
638264236282201461.png
06-012.ceratops.png
638264236272990458.png
 

dave2008

Legend
Misunderstanding all around seems to be the name of the game for these pieces: multiple layers of failed communication. Here's the concept art (top) and the final pieces in question, Ilya also put out his intermediate paintings out there (very rough):

View attachment 292127View attachment 292128View attachment 292129View attachment 292130
Thanks! That is helpful and clearly, IMO, not the type of potential plagiarism I was worried about. Thank you for sharing!

I believe I have seen the finished art of the T-rex type dino to and it seems similar.
 

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