D&D 5E Monster Art Preview! Also, how important is art to you?

How much does the artwork impact your impression of a game?

  • The #1 impact to me

    Votes: 3 7.0%
  • very important

    Votes: 24 55.8%
  • important, but not a deal breaker

    Votes: 10 23.3%
  • somewhat important. I can ignore it easily

    Votes: 4 9.3%
  • Not important at all. Draw with a crayon if you want; won't bother me

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • other

    Votes: 2 4.7%

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
As more art is coming in, I wanted to share. Here are just some of the 200 monsters appearing in Twilight Fables, roughly to scale (5e Supplement focusing on darker historical lore rather than modern interpretations of mythology and folklore--Grimm vs Disney). When you pick up a book, how much does the art and/or professional look of the art sway your opinion?

I really wanted to spend the time and money for this project to make it as professional looking as possible (along with editors, etc). I've hired many great artists for this project, including but not limited to:

Eric Lofgren
Kamlakf
Ivan Dominguez
Christina Schneider
Simon Zhong
Black Moon Studio
Robert Ardy
Claudio Pozas
Francisco Javier Ruiz Nunez
Jenna Drummond
Ognjen Sporin

I like to think the art these folks have done is outstanding, but I'm biased ;) So I'm putting it to the public. How do you feel about the art (don't hold back) and how important is the art and presentation when impacting how you feel about the product?

monster lineup 1.jpg
 

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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I didn't want to say it's number 1, but it's 1b. ;)

If I were to publish my own stuff, I would spare no expense on the art.
Oh believe me, it's quite the expense ;) I am super blessed I have a good day job that allows me to do this. 10 years ago, no way I could do something like this. It was a rare treat to get a dedicated commission; most was stock art. Now that's flipped, and the majority of the art is direct commissioned. I am fully aware of my good fortune, and know from experience that there are some well-written products out there where the creator just doesn't have tens of thousands to drop on art.

The good news is that the stock art resources out there are way better than they were 10 years ago, and some of it is outstanding, like Dean Spencer, Forrest Immel, Bryan Syme, and Eric Lofgren.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
"Important, not a deal breaker"

For me, the art is most helpful for really new material for which I don't already have a good reference in my head. So I'm most likely to absorb it for things like brand new monsters (or really fresh takes on old monsters); and unusual or atypical cultural elements in settings (eg, clothing, architecture, striking landscapes, etc).

As for filler art in a rule book, I can take it or leave it. I don't really register stuff like "generic paladin fighting generic dragon" taking up a quarter page of the Equipment: Armor page or whatever. I don't mind such illustration, but straight rules context is typically not where I notice art.

As for the technical quality of the art, I try to be open-minded and keep budgetary constraints of small publishers in mind. Fact is, pretty much any illustration is vastly better than what I could do myself, so I genuinely appreciate artists-- new and established-- willing to put their work out there, and the publishers willing to give those artists a shot.
 

King Babar

God Learner
While it may sound shallow, high quality art is really important to me when buying a book. Great and evocative art (and art design) can really help sell a game or setting while bad or simply questionable art can be a real turn off.

I may be raked over the coals for saying this, but the art quality of Level Up is one of the reasons why I'm kind of ambivalent about having purchased it. The mechanical stuff is interesting, but the art is, and I apologize to the artists who worked on it, not that great

I know good art takes a lot of time and is a very expensive part of the process, but I think it's worth the investment. Take the somewhat recent Creatures book, the mechanical content is fine, mostly reprints of Basic Rules monsters with some good ideas thrown in, but the art really elevates it into something special.
 


Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
To me art is the main selling point. If the art is of low quality or changes to much in terms of style and general presentation, I wont be buying that book. White backgrounds with a floating character in it or character designed with a bad 3D rendering app are a deal breaker.

I dont know why I'm so demanding about this kinda thing....

OTOH, at least, art is generally what pushes me to buy a book, frex: the art on Jon Hodgson is what sold me on Beyond the Wall and AiME (and most of Cubicle 7 and Handiwork porfolio)
 

Stalker0

Legend
For me, its about the extremes.

Most of the time, art is a secondary concern for me, I would much rather have a quality book where the art is just so so.


However, if the art quality is really bad, its very noticable, and does diminish the product. Conversely if the art is AMAZING, it can sell the book on its own, but that is a rare thing for me. Example: Nixlord's MMIII I bought mechanics unseen just because of the art, probably the best selection of monster art in one book I've ever seen.

In terms of the preview you have shown us, I would put it decidedly in the "normal" category for me. The artwork is perfectly fine, it does not blow me away, and it doesn't detract. Aka your art would have no impact on my decision making for that product, I would only focus on the mechanics.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
For me, its about the extremes.

Most of the time, art is a secondary concern for me, I would much rather have a quality book where the art is just so so.


However, if the art quality is really bad, its very noticable, and does diminish the product. Conversely if the art is AMAZING, it can sell the book on its own, but that is a rare thing for me. Example: Nixlord's MMIII I bought mechanics unseen just because of the art, probably the best selection of monster art in one book I've ever seen.

In terms of the preview you have shown us, I would put it decidedly in the "normal" category for me. The artwork is perfectly fine, it does not blow me away, and it doesn't detract. Aka your art would have no impact on my decision making for that product, I would only focus on the mechanics.
No, I get it. For example, here's a piece from Ognjen. I really wanted to hire him for commissions, but I wasn't able to. He was wiling to license some of his art he did for himself in the past to me, however. And it's like you say. This particular image does just what you say, I find it amazingly evocative, fits the theme of the book well, and I can't wait to have this and his other work finalized in the book.

1639515529798.png
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I may be raked over the coals for saying this, but the art quality of Level Up is one of the reasons why I'm kind of ambivalent about having purchased it. The mechanical stuff is interesting, but the art is, and I apologize to the artists who worked on it, not that great
I don't think you'd be raked over the coals. A lot of it is subjective. For example, some of the art in Level Up I really really like. Some I don't. Frankly, it's exactly how I feel about 5e art. So if 5e is the standard, I think Level Up met that standard in the art dept.
 


It varies for me. I think there's a place for half- and full-page sweeping vistas that set your imagination soaring. But I also love some of the old amateurish art you see in early D&D products, especially the third party ones. Stuff that you can tell was done by a bunch of kids with more passion than skill.

But since we're on the subject of monsters, I'd rather have cruddy, near-outsider art depictions for each monster entry than, say just a few or even none. When describing a monster to your players, you really need to be able to picture it in your head first, and art is a key part of that.
 

Literally just yesterday I picked up a nice looking game book at the local book store.

1639517355230.png

But inside there was almost no art other than battle maps, and everything was in black and white. My enthusiasm dampened. I might still get it as a gift for a friend, but at the moment I put it back on the shelf and moved on to something that had more color and pizzazz.

In my own books that I've written, I've always lamented that I didn't spend more to get more illustrations. I'm not sure if it would have made more sales, but it would have made me feel warm and fuzzy.
 

Art is a large part of what draws me to a particular book. I sometimes also buy books without regard for the art, but then it's something I wanted to take a look at anyway (e.g. Whitehack 3e).

However, my preferences regarding art style are probably a bit different from what you listed. Some favourites from newer books are:
  • more or less everything from Martin Grip (Symbaroum, Coriolis, etc.)
  • a number of pieces by Peter Mullen (e.g. covers for the OSE Player's Tome or the new OSE Rules Tome printing as well as the cover for the teased monster book by Goodman Games)
  • the Simon Stalenhag illustrations for Tales from the Loop
  • some of the black&white by Nils Gulliksson in Forbidden Lands and more of it by Alvario Tapia for Bitter Reach
  • some of the black&white art by Mustafa Bekir in the Dodeca RPG (I think he might also have done a few pieces for Warlock! and Warpstar!)
  • some of the art by Johan Nohr (e.g. Mörk Borg, Death in Space)

If we include older things, I also really like Brom's Dark Sun covers and some Elmore pieces.

I'm impartial to the art of most D&D5 products including the Wizards books - it's certainly high quality, but its not very evocative. Tying into my appreciation of Martin Grip's art, I wish a concept art-type of illustrations was more widespread. Also, much of the fantasy art could be a little "gnarlier".
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Adventurer
Art can be important: I bought one game solely for its art. But for that kind of response it has to be really special art. A lot of times I'd be fine with having simple black-and-white line art: I do need to know how creatures and objects look directly because I find text descriptions too limited. But too often art in a product feels unsatisfying for one reason or another and I wish I could have bought the product sans art for a discount.
 


Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Art is a large part of what draws me to a particular book. I sometimes also buy books without regard for the art, but then it's something I wanted to take a look at anyway (e.g. Whitehack 3e).

However, my preferences regarding art style are probably a bit different from what you listed. Some favourites from newer books are:
  • more or less everything from Martin Grip (Symbaroum, Coriolis, etc.)
  • a number of pieces by Peter Mullen (e.g. covers for the OSE Player's Tome or the new OSE Rules Tome printing as well as the cover for the teased monster book by Goodman Games)
  • the Simon Stalenhag illustrations for Tales from the Loop
  • some of the black&white by Nils Gulliksson in Forbidden Lands and more of it by Alvario Tapia for Bitter Reach
  • some of the black&white art by Mustafa Bekir in the Dodeca RPG (I think he might also have done a few pieces for Warlock! and Warpstar!)
  • some of the art by Johan Nohr (e.g. Mörk Borg, Death in Space)

If we include older things, I also really like Brom's Dark Sun covers and some Elmore pieces.

I'm impartial to the art of most D&D5 products including the Wizards books - it's certainly high quality, but its not very evocative. Tying into my appreciation of Martin Grip's art, I wish a concept art-type of illustrations was more widespread. Also, much of the fantasy art could be a little "gnarlier".

You are a person of great taste!

:p
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

Art. As I always say... it's nutty.

I chose "Very Important". But that's in regards to MY preference for art, obviously. So "Very Important", then I see a book and flip through it, and say "Man, this is cool looking. It's got a nice feel to it..." ...and then the guy next to me says "What?! Really? You're kidding right? You're not? How in the heckfire can you like this? It's mostly words, no background for the pages, and absolutely zero colour art! None. Just all black and white sketches of random items, locations, and...look at this. It's a picture of a couple rats, I guess, around the base of a couple barrels with a sack of grain pouring out on top and onto the ground. Boring and pointless".

Then they hand me a book and I open it. Glossy pages, every page has a fancy marble/stone backdrop, fancy layout with filigreed "box text" on almost every page, and half-page "portraits" of the same 5 heroes, striking a pose as if they were doing a photoshoot...all with very little to no actual 'setting' for that pose (kinda just floating on the page with a vague outline of ground/cobblestone/flagstone/wood at their feet. "This is a beautiful book! Look at the art. It's ALL full colour on high quality paper, with a consistent art direction and recognizable characters throughout". ... ... To which I then reply "Uh...naaah. Not my thing. Colourful, sure, but...boring. It's repetitive and predictable, with no sense of wonder. It has no 'feel' unique to itself. It 'feels' like every other game put out in the last 20 years that all keep trying to do the same 'quality'. Ick".

So...yeah. "Very Important"; if I see non-glossy pages, no fancy background 'texture' for every page, simplistic boxed text, and each piece of art has me asking a question immediately... sign me up! But give me, for example, the 5e PHB or pretty much ANYTHING put out by Paizo...and my eyes glaze over and the feeling of "Oh..yeah...been there, seen that... blaaah..."

For me: Colour pic on the cover of the box (or books), b/w non-glossy paper throughout, and primarily "a random variety of b/w/greyscale sketches of interesting things, locations, critters, NPC's, etc", and I'm ALL IN! :)

Example:
Bad: Anything by Paizo, really.
Good: 1st edition box set of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorerers of Hyperborea

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

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