WotC WotC: 'Artists Must Refrain From Using AI Art Generation'

After it was revealed this week that one of the artists for Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants used artificial intelligence as part of their process when creating some of the book's images, Wizards of the Coast has made a short statement via the D&D Beyond Twitter (X?) account.

The statement is in image format, so I've transcribed it below.

Today we became aware that an artist used AI to create artwork for the upcoming book, Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. We have worked with this artist since 2014 and he's put years of work into book we all love. While we weren't aware of the artist's choice to use AI in the creation process for these commissioned pieces, we have discussed with him, and he will not use AI for Wizards' work moving forward. We are revising our process and updating our artist guidelines to make clear that artists must refrain from using AI art generation as part of their art creation process for developing D&D art.

-Wizards of the Coast​


Ilya Shkipin, the artist in question, talked about AI's part in his process during the week, but has since deleted those posts.

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 Shlipin​


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I suppose if you are uninterested or unaware of the ethical problems associated with AI art, then you could see this as a "witch hunt." Certainly plenty of people on these boards have been uninterested in racist caricature in the art of previous products, or the fact that wotc tried to put half of the indie gaming community out of business with the whole ogl fiasco, or that they sent the pinkertons to harass a youtuber. Maybe if you don't really care about the quality of their books and whether there is competent editorial oversight, because you are buying all the books anyway, then any criticism would seem like a "witch hunt."

Though, in this case you would have to also overlook a) the feelings of the concept artist wotc was working with, and b) perhaps more to the point, the murky legality around AI art and copyright issues, especially going forward.

See, now that is a bad look if I follow correctly. The concept art WAS actually further 'enhanced' for interior 'final' art use, by someone other than the concept artist?

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Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It depends on how the law proceeds. I think a corporation will still want to be able to copyright their art
Depends on how much it would cost. Anything with the name, or original characters, or anything else iconically theirs is probably already protected, and new art may not matter to them if it saves them tens of thousands in artists labor cost.

That's probavly not what they were referring to (based on context, they may be pro-AR Art). However, conflating all of those incidents with Ilya's shortcut taking here is ailly: nobody at WotC asked Ilya to do this, it seems, and he pulled one over on them. Different from those other things both in who did it, and why.
I don't think wotc was being intentional with this; for their part it speaks to their poor editorial oversight, which shows up in other ways too


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
WotC and 5e have been too successful. Now instead of being part of our scrappy underdog TTRPG community they're The Man. The Other. The Enemy. It doesn't matter than even while being part of Hasbro, WotC is more open and fair than TSR ever was. They're part of The Man now, and The Man can do no right.
Lol yeah it’s partly that (and we are deep in an “eat the rich” zeitgeist right now), but it’s also partly that people react to 5e and wizards like some music nerds do when Stairway to Heaven comes on the jukebox. Irrational rage that must equate them being tired of the thing with the thing being bad.

And of course run of the mill, bland, predictable, anti-popular-thing bias.


No, not entirely. Did you read the whole thread, because there was one artist's whose concept work was used as part of an AI drawing, and that's not the same as "enhanced". Further, I'm not sure we can say "enhanced" because we don't know where the information from Ilya's AI "enhancement" was gleaned. All those fill-ins have to come from somewhere. Did he scrap other D&D art to make it fit the style? We really don't know that. It's not as bad, but again, AI does not operate in a vacuum: it has to get the information from somewhere.

I was thinking more the bow; it melds into their hand, has not string and at the bottom end has a weird bend/flourish that doesn't make sense.
Yes, i read the article. But not only here but on different sites/ blogs etc. It’s not good to make an oppinion on only one source nowadays. But everyone has an oppinion.

WotC and 5e have been too successful. Now instead of being part of our scrappy underdog TTRPG community they're The Man. The Other. The Enemy. It doesn't matter than even while being part of Hasbro, WotC is more open and fair than TSR ever was. They're part of The Man now, and The Man can do no right.

I mean, alternatively they are the big dog in the arena and their actions have outsized effects elsewhere, especially after the whole OGL thing. After that they've continued to make mistakes, but now their pockets are empty of the goodwill that they had to spend because people just don't put the same sort of limited trust in them like before. This was something that was either a bad plan to include AI art or just poor oversight of a process they should be paying better attention to.

I don't think wotc was being intentional with this; for their part it speaks to their poor editorial oversight, which shows up in other ways too

When you say "intentional", do you mean like they were specifically seeking out an AI artist, or does that include the fact that they just might have been cool with an AI artist among their other artists? I still think that someone in there wanted to see if it could be a tool for them to use in the future. Not that they'd replace everyone with AI art, but I do think they wanted to see what they could get out of it.


The amount of non-artists preaching and pontificating on this issue is alarming, though I guess it shouldn't be surprising...

Looking at the pieces in question through an artist's eyes is more telling. The artist in question did a 5 minute sketch, ran it through an AI "enhancement" process (that's a very generous use of the word enhancement) and came up with a finished-looking piece. But you can see that there are several differences between the initial sketch and the final piece, in which the artist's hand is removed from the work and it becomes more generic. It means that he spent 5 minutes creating what would normally have taken him 5 to 10 hours of work, but in the process the artwork also became less original. So he only produced a sketch, which he then sold as a finished piece claiming that he created it himself.

The chilling factor comes in when you understand that Hasbro buys its art as "work for hire," meaning the artist loses all rights to the work they create and Hasbro owns its entirely. Which means that Hasbro can use these pieces to train their own AI art models. You may have seen what some of the more sophisticated AI art models can do -- things like transforming stick figures into photorealistic images. We're nearly at the stage where they can pretty much cut artists out of the equation entirely. Some CEO could doodle a monster on a cocktail napkin, run it through an AI model to generate 30 different monsters that look like they were painted by artists (because the rights to those artists' portfolios are owned by Hasbro).

Look at older D&D books; settings like Planescape were defined by the look of artists like Brom and Tony DiTerlizzi. Larry Elmore, Keith Parkinson, Jeff Easley, and Clyde Caldwell's art instantly takes you back to AD&D, Dragonlance and earlier settings. Folks like Erol Otus and Jeff Dee helped form the unique look of old D&D. 4e and Pathfinder got their unique looks from Wayne Reynolds. All of these "looks" are all due to the hard work by real artists. Running sketches and doodles through an AI generator removes those unique, defining qualities that make art great. If this is allowed, all art will look the same because it will be created by the same art scraping programs that blend all artists into the same bland soup. And I bet these same people singing AI's praises now will in 5 years be first in line with pitchforks and torches, whining that all fantasy artwork looks bland and identical, and doesn't have the soul of earlier editions.

It's amazing technology. It's horrifying technology.

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