D&D 5E Good art and Really bad art in the 5e PHB


That is how they've been depicted, as small humans.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Halflings in Tolkien aren't just really short humans. They have a pretty distinctive look. 4e also gave them a pretty strong identity. Look at some of the 2e art and you'll see very distinctive Halflings.

It was 3e that decided that Halflings should be really small humans.

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I think overall I am not impressed with the artwork.

i also don't like how the book is full of exotic choices. It's a personal thing but I prefer my fantasy a little more cliched and old fashioned...choosing a Half Orc to represent the Paladin? It grates with me.

i like some the Part 1,2,3 full page stuff. I like the Gnome and Bard stuff. I like the druid with her Tiger.

My favourite piece is the Prismatic Spray spell page. It's good that.

Rather than inspire me I find the artwork actually puts me off what is a pretty good game system.

it's not a deal breaker by any stretch but could have been so much better....and why all the Tieflings? What's that obsession all about?

hopefully the MM and DMG art will win me over. I look at some other games and wonder why the new D&D feels weaker in regards to it's presentation. Look at Iron Kingdoms or DCC...awseome.


Edit: I forgot....I like the Web spell picture too. That's good.
Too many weak images take the edge off the cool ones for m and I am sick of Tieflings sneaking into all the pictures and parties lol!
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Will Doyle

I'm all over the art in this edition!

Overall, the choice of characters and costumes gives the game a flavour that's closer, in my mind, to Conan than Lord of the Rings. More Ancients, instead of Medieval Europe. I love that.

Stylistically, it's a mixed bag, but that doesn't bother me. I really like the use of incidental artwork (birds, flowers, trinkets) throughout the book. With the mottled paint-splash page backgrounds, it makes me think of Brian Froud's "Faeries" book, or the "Gnomes" books by Wil Huygen. I wasn't surprised to see Faeries cited in Appendix E!

Li Shenron

i also don't like how the book is full of exotic choices. It's a personal thing but I prefer my fantasy a little more cliched and old fashioned...choosing a Half Orc to represent the Paladin? It grates with me.

I don't have anything against the idea of a Half-Orc Paladin, it's pretty interesting, but I think you have a very good point!

Since 5e was supposed to go back a little bit into traditional territory, I was expecting more "iconic" depictions of traditional characters. But I can understand that this is more complicated... at WotC they must strike a balance between tradition and freedom of expression. D&D must make people both feel like there is a traditional starting point (Wizards in robes and pointy hats, Paladins in shiny shield & armor, gruff dwarves, graceful and mysterious elves...) but also an unbound freedom to challenge tradition.

There is also some political choices in there... WotC can't put too many weirdos (especially in the Races and Classes chapters which set the starting point of the game) or there's a risk of the game losing ties with original character concepts (even tho D&D is also heavily kitchen-sinked by tradition): both newcomers and old-school players need to feel there is some continuity in the 40-years game, at least some of it to strengthen the identity of D&D versus other RPGs. But at the same time, many other long-time players would certainly think "oh not another wizard in pointy hat...", so WotC has to throw some bones in both directions.

So I am myself a little bit confused about how to strike such balance. Personally I would have at least depicted the 4 traditional races and classes in more iconic forms. For example probably I would have chosen a picture of male dwarf with huge beard and heavy armor (even tho I like the current dwarf picture a lot) in the race section. I have also heard that Drizzt is chosen as the Elf picture in the Races chapter... I understand challenging tradition, but using a very famous character who has become the "iconic anti-anti-iconic" Elf (i.e. the most famous exception of an exception) does not feel like a good choice to me as a first exposure to Elves in the PHB.

Overall I am fairly positive with the PHB artwork previews so far, but I am much more impressed by the MM!


First Post
I'm not a fan of the PHB art on the whole. I just don't feel inspired by it. My 9 year son when he looked at the Pathfinder book said cool, I want to play that guy or that person. When he looked at the 5th ed. PHB, he went "eh". I just find a lot of it curious from a marketing standpoint.

To be specific: my main complaints are the halfling on pg. 26 (just hideous), the gnome (pg. 35), and the half-orc pg (40)- the proportions just seem all wrong. Then there are pictures that look like amateur pieces pulled directly from elfwood.com (see pg. 169), Sheena of the jungle (pg. 67), the tiefling on pg. 129, the bard on pg. 130 and the ranger. Half the elves look like ghosts (see pg. 10, 64, 184, 200), the warlock is just awful, and I wish they hadn't brought back the 4th ed. tiefling. And what is with the cheesy borders?

(Ok, glad to get all that off my chest). To be fair I like the cover, the dragon pg 171, the goblin battle on pg. 188, the wizard on pg. 199, the item pieces, and a few others. But I wished they had went old school and brought back black and white art. Even some of the humorous cartoons like in the AD&D DMG would have been cool. Maybe this would have helped reduce the price also - $50 just seems too expensive.


First Post
It's interesting. I fully suspect I will have no one to play this game with, and yet, I purchased the book specifically because of the artwork xD. For some reason 4e artwork never did anything for me but this version does.

To each his own :p

p.s. I also like that the PHB is small and concise; I much prefer simplified rules than the rule glut I felt from 3.5


I showed my PH to all of my gaming group, who did their first lookthrough purely on art.

With the exception of the halfling picture (we all agree its terrible)...they liked the new art.

That's good enough for me!

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