D&D 5E Toward a new D&D aesthetics

What is your feeling about the changes in aesthetics of D&D illustrations?

  • I really enjoy those changes. The illustrations resemble well my ideal setting!

  • I'm ok with those changes, even if my ideal setting has a different aesthetics.

  • I'm uncertain about those changes

  • I'm not ok with those changes because it impairs my immersion in the game.

  • I hate those changes, I do not recognize D&D anymore

  • The art doesn't really matter to me either way. I don't buy/play the game for the art.

  • Change in aesthetics? Where? What?


Results are only viewable after voting.
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nyvinter

Explorer
Tieflings are a good example of this, in that 5e tieflings are (in the phb and mtof) very "major key" devilish, whereas Diterlizzi's tieflings were more "minor key," if that makes any sense.
It's marketing. In one of Wizard's lore videos, Perkins admits that the tiefling homogenisation is due to marketing because something that looks like anything can't be trademarked. (But really, Wizards of the Coasts have never really gotten tieflings and has always been "they need to be more devil stereotypes" even as far back as 3e.)

And I will say I'm of the opposite opinion about Joy Ang's DM screen. I'd gladly have that on my wall and she should be hired to do character and creature design for a DnD animated tv show.
 

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Fifinjir

Explorer
While I don’t personally mind the blue/purple/pink theme as much that Scribe points out, I think it does show WoTC adhering pretty close to a “detault” palette for certain concepts. Just as blue, purple, and pinks are the unofficial colors of magic, fiends and the lower planes are overwhelmingly represented by reds and oranges.
 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
If the art style I've been decrying was relegated to a single product, I would have far less issue with it because at least then, it would like Planescape, and tied to a specific thing for better or worse.
^^ I certainly do agree with this. The dark and moody stuff of D&D hasn't received much official love lately, and that's a shame. I do either homebrew or "heavily edited" modules myself, so preserving those elements is easy enough for me, but I do worry that if it falls out of the official publications entirely, it'll also fall out of the buying public's (D&D-related) imagination. Well, I don't want it to.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
OK let me try again.
Thank you. This is some stuff I can engage with.
1. I think whatever you want to call it "Blue/Purple/Pink" everywhere, is over done, and I personally dont associate it with a 'Fantasy' palette, but perhaps a "Fantasy Sci-Fi" one. This is a personal issue, as a preference, I want more...pastoral tones?
Okay, fair enough. I do associate it with fantasy, but I also don't have as hard lines between fantasy subgenres, but I probably wouldn't like a Lord of The Rings book with the aesthetic of "bisexual lighting" in crystaline forms, and very magical oddball creatures like modrons (yes, all modrons), so again, fair enough.
2. I see the usage of that palette, in combination with an active push towards being 'safe' (no Bikini Chainmail, no brutal violence, no 'edgy'ness and instead pushing to be 'cute') as a way to be as broadly appealing as possible, not for any kind of artistic sake, but to literally be as corporately cynically 'cool', safe, and popular as possible, in a bluntly obvious desire to maximize profits.
This is the place where I differ with you the most. They are reflecting what the new audience likes in fantasy art and content. It's much more She-Ra reboot and Steven Universe than it is Conan. In fact, I think the new adventure pretty much looks like a place you might go in a game set in the She-Ra universe. There is probably some level of cynicism in the decision to go that route, but no moreso than the early-5e decision to appeal as much as possible to the old guard in order to bring lapsed players back into the fold.

I don't think that anything made for DnD since around the launch of 2e can reasonably be assumed to not have that motivation. DnD is a corporate product, and has been for multiple decades.

That being said, the designers have more freedom than ever, right now. They are the primary profit source for their parent company, and their old boss is taking over the head role of said parent company.

If anyting they've ever done in 5e is "for artistic reasons", it's the stuff happening now, not the stuff at the start of the edition.
3. Before anyone (not you @doctorbadwolf but in general) bleats at me that they (WotC) are a corporation that is either desiring to make money, or god forbid, mandated to make as much money as possible, my own view on corporate America is not, and never will be, one of tolerance or appreciation for their position, practices, or integrity, aka: I dont care.
I agree completely. I can't even express my views on the subject without sparking an immediate political debate and probable thread-lock, though, so I'll leave it at that.
4. Do I feel the art reflects a desire to have the broadest desire possible? Yes. Do I personally feel that detracts from the product? Yes.
So, if someone could prove that the aesthetic of Radiant Citadel was chosen by the writers and artists that worked on the book, with virtually no input or interference from "suits", would the aesthetic still detract from the product?
5. Look at the Planescape style from largely (competely?) DiTerlizzi. It may not be to everyone's liking, it may not be dark, or edgy, or violent, but its absolutely something which speaks to that time, and makes itself unique to that setting. I find the art from these other recent books all just bleeding together into...a Blue/Purple/Pink mass, just like the art I called out yesterday, and the DM screen I pointed out today. Heck, I could find the same style as these recent D&D works, in MTG probably with minimal effort, and you can certainly find it online.
It's very much an artistic aesthetic that fits the current time, and is what fantasy artists are often making, which has always been basically what dnd art is, just for different times. Like I said above, it looks like She-Ra and to a lesser extent Steven Universe, because that is the aesthetic that a huge swath of the gen z and younger gen y players are into.

Personally, I find a lot of the older art a giant mush of brown and brown adjacent shades of green and yellow, and most of the memorable bits either starkly contrast with that trend or stand out because of how bad they are.

Looking through recent books, there are definitely more images with one or more of those colors, mostly blue by far, but also a ton of warm-tone images. I think it's a case of not so much that aesthetic taking over, as it just used to not be prevalent and now it is one of the prevalent styles in the books.
 

You're joking, yes? I hope so. Seriously, read the first half of the post, which I've quoted above.

Then shoot on down to the bottom, and the list of pictures clearly calling back to the beginning of the post and responding to the challenge to show what is actually different in a way that suggests a trend.

Coming back to this, just to remind you of what you claimed. That is, that the post I replied to was only about the hiring of Leah Hoyer, which is very obviously false.
I genuinely have no idea what you are talking about. All this person said was: "A trend toward softer, gentler and more kid friendly art. That's all I was saying saying." You're somehow extrapolating I don't what from this. Can you be a bit more clear please?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I genuinely have no idea what you are talking about. All this person said was: "A trend toward softer, gentler and more kid friendly art. That's all I was saying saying." You're somehow extrapolating I don't what from this. Can you be a bit more clear please?
Why bother, you could just go back read the whole exchange. It's not especially opaque.

Here, you've gone from pretending that the post had no content other than implying that a recent hire (to a different studio!) who has worked at Disney, to whatever this is supposed to be.
 

If you cannot at least give folks enough slack to think that maybe they made a mistake, rather than accuse bad faith, there is no point in continuing to discuss the matter with you.
This is disingenuous. This poster is not 'debating in bad faith'. His detractors really are though. This post of yours includes you in the latter group.
 

Scribe

Hero
I feel we are mostly on the same page or at least are in understanding.

So, if someone could prove that the aesthetic of Radiant Citadel was chosen by the writers and artists that worked on the book, with virtually no input or interference from "suits", would the aesthetic still detract from the product?

If it was unique to this book, and let me expose myself for the old white north american man I am, but other cultures than mine, certainly ARE more colourful when I look at various cultural events, so no, if it was unique to this book it would actually make some sense to me! :D

Like I said above, it looks like She-Ra and to a lesser extent Steven Universe, because that is the aesthetic that a huge swath of the gen z and younger gen y players are into.

Right, but those are (I would think) wildly different settings. I know Steven Universe was watched in my house for quite a few seasons, so I recognize the look/style, but again it doesnt fit remotely to me with Fantasy, and least of all D&D Fantasy that I would prefer. It bleeds into a retro Sci-Fi Fantasy, very much so.

I think boiled down thats my issue here. The prevalence and genre melding of a particular style that in isolation I dont take issue with, but when applied as a generalization, doesnt fit with how I perceive of whatever we want to call 'generalized D&D'?
 

Why bother, you could just go back read the whole exchange. It's not especially opaque.

Here, you've gone from pretending that the post had no content other than implying that a recent hire (to a different studio!) who has worked at Disney, to whatever this is supposed to be.
I really don't know what you're talking about. It apparently is a bit opaque. I'm asking you a genuine question.
 

reelo

Hero
12th Century... Eberron? Fearun? Athas?

Some other fantasy world that isn't Earth?
Well, D&D mostly doesn't have firearms. When I see "modern" D&D art where everything (especially the clothing) looks vaguely Victorian, I can't help but wonder: "Why do these people bother with chain/plate, and with outdated weapons? Where's the muskets, the mortars, the cannons? Where are the star forts?"
The apparent anachronisms really grind my gears.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I feel we are mostly on the same page or at least are in understanding.
Close enough to actually discuss usefully, yeah.
If it was unique to this book, and let me expose myself for the old white north american man I am, but other cultures than mine, certainly ARE more colourful when I look at various cultural events, so no, if it was unique to this book it would actually make some sense to me! :D
White North American culture is decidedly not colorful, it's true. I think it's unambiguously good to expand dnd way beyond that.
Right, but those are (I would think) wildly different settings. I know Steven Universe was watched in my house for quite a few seasons, so I recognize the look/style, but again it doesnt fit remotely to me with Fantasy, and least of all D&D Fantasy that I would prefer. It bleeds into a retro Sci-Fi Fantasy, very much so.

I think boiled down thats my issue here. The prevalence and genre melding of a particular style that in isolation I dont take issue with, but when applied as a generalization, doesnt fit with how I perceive of whatever we want to call 'generalized D&D'?
But it's still just particular settings with a given tone. Strixhaven and Citadel don't look similar. They look about as much like eachothers as either looks similar to Theros, IMO. There is a shared aesthetic through-line, but it's very broad.

And we have actual generalized products that...only share that aesthetic in the alt covers.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I really don't know what you're talking about. It apparently is a bit opaque. I'm asking you a genuine question.
And I've made it clear that I don't care, nor care to continue the discussion. Beancounter decided to put me on ignore, and I don't especially feel motivated to engage on the topic with someone who interjected on my reply to them.
 

And I've made it clear that I don't care, nor care to continue the discussion. Beancounter decided to put me on ignore, and I don't especially feel motivated to engage on the topic with someone who interjected on my reply to them.
Fair enough. Your point really wasn't clear to me. I'm not trying to give you a hard time. It seems to me you're reading more into what I'm saying than I'm intending. I really do think you're also reading more into what this person is posting than what was intended. But yeah, I'm also kind of tired of this. Have a great weekend.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Well, D&D mostly doesn't have firearms. When I see "modern" D&D art where everything (especially the clothing) looks vaguely Victorian, I can't help but wonder: "Why do these people bother with chain/plate, and with outdated weapons? Where's the muskets, the mortars, the cannons? Where are the star forts?"
The apparent anachronisms really grind my gears.
OTOH, it would grind my gears something fierce if every fantasy world in DnD matched up to a historical moment with no "anachronisms", because that would be an anachronism". It is essentially impossible that a world other than our own would follow the same timeline of discovery as our own. When I see a fantasy world that maps "accurately" to some given century of Earth (nearly always only taking one region of Earth during that time into account), I feel like I'm watching people at Renne Faire. It can be fun, but it's not to be taken seriously in any way. Might as well come dressed up in a Starfleet uniform.
 

Scribe

Hero
White North American culture is decidedly not colorful, it's true.
lol very true.

But it's still just particular settings with a given tone. Strixhaven and Citadel don't look similar.
Again correct, I just wish the art style was even MORE distinct. Like, REALLY distinct. As you mention correctly, there is a style being lifted/leveraged across multiple unrelated sets of media. I really dont feel that is a bonus or feature. If the lore is distinct, the settings are distinct, lean in and make the art even more distinct.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Well, D&D mostly doesn't have firearms. When I see "modern" D&D art where everything (especially the clothing) looks vaguely Victorian, I can't help but wonder: "Why do these people bother with chain/plate, and with outdated weapons? Where's the muskets, the mortars, the cannons? Where are the star forts?"
The apparent anachronisms really grind my gears.
Yeah, but it's not Earth, so it's not an anachronism.

Unless the cravat and waistcoat were a direct defense against cannon fire
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
lol very true.


Again correct, I just wish the art style was even MORE distinct. Like, REALLY distinct. As you mention correctly, there is a style being lifted/leveraged across multiple unrelated sets of media. I really dont feel that is a bonus or feature. If the lore is distinct, the settings are distinct, lean in and make the art even more distinct.
I think that would actually work against the goal of unifying the DnD multiverse, however. I get what you mean, but IMO it is better to have fiends have their color palette and general style, and aberrations have theirs, and celestial stuff has it's aesthetic, and adventuring heroes have at least some general trends and throughlines, etc, rather than having everything look wildly different in Eberron vs in Faerun vs Sigil, when they're all part of one Multiverse.
 

Scribe

Hero
I think that would actually work against the goal of unifying the DnD multiverse, however. I get what you mean, but IMO it is better to have fiends have their color palette and general style, and aberrations have theirs, and celestial stuff has it's aesthetic, and adventuring heroes have at least some general trends and throughlines, etc, rather than having everything look wildly different in Eberron vs in Faerun vs Sigil, when they're all part of one Multiverse.
Yeah, I mean I'm super cold on the whole multiverse angle anyway, so its not like this is going to be a good thing in my eyes, but I can totally see what you mean.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
A lot of those garbs were derived from military uniforms. Everything is connected.
but those uniforms didn't exactly come about in direct response to firearms. Some of it became popular because of the reduction in armor usage, but not all of it, and magical protection could create the same fashion demands with or without firearms.

And a world with the same stimulus (firearms reducing armor use) could respond in a completely different way.
 

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