I'm tired of the artistic direction ...

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I'm getting quite tired lately about the illustrations of the actual fantasy genres ... I know my opinion won't make any change, but I have to vent my frustrations anyway.

I'm tired of big swords ... big armors ... colossal shoulders ... glowing magic auras ... unrealistic female armors (and male).

I miss the old days (but not the old rules) when a fighter could look like this

Don't get me wrong, I like things like Dragonborns and stuff like that ... but it could look like that instead of that

Not to talk about those irrational female armors ... or their colossal **** hanging in there, it's not like athletes are busty, quite the contrary ... and it's for a reason, but artist seem not to care.

Of course I can tell my players about those details ... but I would like to show them monsters or enemies the way any master can do it ... opening the book and showing the drawing next to the name. 

I can only dream for the day trends will change, and armors will be made with logic (like LOTR movie makers did ... more or less), swords won't look like big chunks of metal weighting half a ton, and girls won't look like sluts in a barely covering full plate armor.

I feel so detached form the actual fantasy ... for me it looks more like sci-fi than something from an era where people still bashed their heads with swords.
-Ask me about Sketch Combat.
I think that you should play another fantasy game than D&D, preferably something low-fantasy . Perhaps something along this line:

021_FINALTRUDVANGx.jpg

Kthxbai.
Why? ... I like the rules, and powers ...

What I don't like is colossal armor shoulders, flesh showing paladins, and carnival looking weapons. Those aren't required to play D&D4e

And those are encountered on low-fantasy games.

It's a current trend in illustrations  for "fantasy"

And I can play in the image you post quite well using D&D4 
-Ask me about Sketch Combat.
In regards to depicting women, I would say things are no better or worse in 4E as in 1E and 2E days. They might even be better. Then again, I would say that is true for all art.
The predominant influence for that style of art is definitely the manga/anime market, just have a look at the various MMO's etc out there.

As for 1st/2nd, NO. The art was definitely different then. They tended more towards celtic etchings than cartoonish embellishment
As for 1st/2nd, NO. The art was definitely different then.


Except for the breasts. That has never been different.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
I like this page and I agree.  Given, I like big curvy boobs as much as the next hetero guy/infant, but it seems art has become too fantastic.  And when it comes to the men, more narrow sholdered men with a four or six pack will suffice for a hero.  The muscle bound behemoths, currently parading around as heroes aren't quiet as fun to play as.
As for 1st/2nd, NO. The art was definitely different then. They tended more towards celtic etchings than cartoonish embellishment



I have a hard time coming up with an artist that embodies the phrase "cartoonish embellishment" more than Erol Otus.
I bet you must love the look of World of Warcraft!  I think if all fantasy/RPG armours were somehow transferred into the real world as real matter, I suspect that Blizzard's armors would account for 99% of the shoulder pieces by mass.

They'd also have the largest selection of weapons that are larger and heavier than the wielder.

Obviously I'm not a fan of the exaggerated designs in fantasy arms and armour, but I don't find the 4e artwork to be too bad for this.  Maybe that's just because I'm comparing them to WoW, so any armour looks tame by comparison if it has less than 30 pounds of metal on the shoulders, or doesn't have giant axe blades on the shoulders that would slice open your head every time you sneeze or shrug.

4e does have some over-the-top art, but it also has a fair amount that's more reasonable, too.

Half-orcs look pretty sound.

This fighter from MP doesn't look too far-fetched, either.

Those are the first two images that come to mind, since they're the ones I've used as portraits for my 4e characters.
I tend to agree in that I prefer more "mundane" artwork, but...  More "mundane" artwork doesn't really fit the current stylings of D&D.  For instance, those more normal looking guys... they look like (to me) what a normal 1st level character should look like.  But by mid-paragon you are touting a veritable nuclear stock-pile of magic weapons, you can fall 100ft without breaking a sweat, and the Fighter's damage output dwarfs that of any 1st level character.  Having heroes like that wearing normal looking armour and havine regular looking proportions...  It simply wouldn't be representative of the game.

HOWEVER, back in 1e and 2e, that artwork was more representative.  Characters had fewer magic items, stats were less EXTREME!!! (tm), and damage output between a 1st level guy vs a 10th level guy was pretty similar.  So that artwork then was about right.  Not so much today.
Yeah, I always appreciated the less phantasmagorical artwork of the old days. I especially liked the more realistic looking figurines. Its pretty rare these days you can find a figurine that doesn't look preposterous. This whole thing has been a trend though since the late 80's. Eventually styles will shift back in the other direction though. In the meantime I just use all the 1000's of figures I bought back when they were styled the way I like
That is not dead which may eternal lie

Definitely with the OP on this one. What kills me even more are the oversized gauntlets/boots that are so common and (apparently) popular. Hates them, I does. But everybody else seems to have the opposite feeling.


Good to know I'm not alone in my loathing.

Resident jark. Resident Minister of Education and Misinformation.
rpwf3adventurer.jpg

Most of the characters I've seen would have looked more like this than either of the above styles...
I'm not particularly bothered by "unrealism" per se, but I'm less than enthusiastic about the influences for todays version of "fantastic"...the big shoulders, the ridiculously oversized weapons.  I'm not sure if it's more from the popularity of anime or Warhammer.  To me, whose visions of the fantastic lean more toward Conan or Excalibur, the idea of someone wielding a sword that could be used as a boat paddle, or with shoulder armor larger than their head... it's not what I'm interested in.

Also haven't been a fan of the move to comics style coloring and photo manipulation.  I think it's a long way down from the absolutely beautiful oils, pencils, and black and white ink drawings that used to populate our books.

Just to express my dissenting opinion, I find the examples of older artwork somewhat ugly.  There's plenty of modern fantasy art that doesn't have Huge Shoulders or weapons- most rogue related artwork for instance.  Female armor problem has been as old as Fantasy Novel covers, it's not going away.

4e does have some over-the-top art, but it also has a fair amount that's more reasonable, too.

Half-orcs look pretty sound.

This fighter from MP doesn't look too far-fetched, either.

Those are the first two images that come to mind, since they're the ones I've used as portraits for my 4e characters.


The first one it's not bad at all ... but the guy it is to futuristic, I could put it in a sci-fi campaign with a vibro-sword and a blaster and players won't notice.

The second one ... sorry, armors don't work like that ...

Also haven't been a fan of the move to comics style coloring and photo manipulation.  I think it's a long way down from the absolutely beautiful oils, pencils, and black and white ink drawings that used to populate our books.


True ...

-Ask me about Sketch Combat.
To add to my comment above...

I don't much care one way or the other about skin though.  The heroic nude is an artistic tradition going back at least to the Greeks.  Unrealisticly scanty armor, designed more to show the heroes mighty thews or the heroines heaving bosom is not really a problem for me. 

That being said, it's not a bad thing if some illustrations actually depict something that would protect an individual in combat.
The first one it's not bad at all ... but the guy it is to futuristic, I could put it in a sci-fi campaign with a vibro-sword and a blaster and players won't notice.


The half-orc wearing brown studded leather looks futuristic?  Ummmm.... okay?  Whatever you say.

The second one ... sorry, armors don't work like that ...


I'm not sure what you want, then.  You complained about characters with big armor, big swords, and colossal shoulders.  Yet, you also object to that image that doesn't have big armor, big swords, or colossal shoulders.  He's a dude in mundane chain mail, with the additional of a bit of plate on his shoulders and legs.  It's not a perfectly accurate depiction of armor, but it's well within the bounds of mild artistic license.
I'm not sure if this qualifies as a dissention or an abstention, but ... I really don't give a flying frog's butt about the artwork in a game book.  I scarcely even realize it's there; it's of no importance.  I'd be fine if Wizards stopped putting art in books, aside from charts, graphs, and maps if it meant either lower page counts (less cost to me) or more content (more value for the dollar).
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I'm not sure if this qualifies as a dissention or an abstention, but ... I really don't give a flying frog's butt about the artwork in a game book.  I scarcely even realize it's there; it's of no importance.  I'd be fine if Wizards stopped putting art in books, aside from charts, graphs, and maps if it meant either lower page counts (less cost to me) or more content (more value for the dollar).


I feel the same about some things, but when I'm DM'ing I like to have artwork to show players.  Things do tend to go better when players have some idea how to picture what they're fighting.  Not everyone knows what an ankheg looks like.

When I'm playing, I just want to be able to find decent enough artwork somewhere to use as a character portrait.  I don't care if it comes from a Wizards book or not.  Google image search is a wonderful tool.
Once again I'm reminded how glad I am that I know little enough about realistic weapons, armor, and combat that I can let it go and enjoy most of the artwork.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

The half-orc wearing brown studded leather looks futuristic?  Ummmm.... okay?  Whatever you say.



I have never seen a studded leather armor, crafted in the real world that seems like that ... at least it doesn't have big shoulders and stuff like that, but it seems a bit far from real.

I'm not sure what you want, then.  You complained about characters with big armor, big swords, and colossal shoulders.  Yet, you also object to that image that doesn't have big armor, big swords, or colossal shoulders.  He's a dude in mundane chain mail, with the additional of a bit of plate on his shoulders and legs.  It's not a perfectly accurate depiction of armor, but it's well within the bounds of mild artistic license.



That armor has 3 shoulders and 2 or 3 tight protectors ...

It's not only about big things, but impractical ones ... I like an armor I could believe
-Ask me about Sketch Combat.
I'm not a fan of the huge shoulders or weapons, although it doesn't really bother me either. I also don't find it unrealistic that a big ogre would have a bigger sword than a human or dwarf. I think it would be silly to think in a world where larger weapons exist, no other race would ever dare to use them. Granted, it would be rare. Big boobs? Been around forever, it won't change. Maybe I'm a pig, but no guys I know want to see flat chested women running around, and I frequently laugh at people that use minis that are hard to determine if they are male or female.  It is called fantasy for a reason lol.

Now, I've pretty much went paperless for 4E. I do everything on my laptop, and I keep up with my adventures and loot in the CB journal section. I keep my notes in the info section and I can use any photo I can find to show the table of what my character looks like. I wouldn't be opposed to finding pics of monsters if it really mattered that much to me, but I'd also try to describe them as best as I can.

Ive enjoyed most of the art in the newer books, although I certainly understand how some wouldn't. I agree with what someone said earlier about some of the "older"  art looking more like heroic tier characters, but my 12th lvl fighter can fall any amount of spaces and land with no damage and not be prone.....hell yeah he is bad ass and could rock big shoulder guards if he wanted to lol :P
The half-orc wearing brown studded leather looks futuristic?  Ummmm.... okay?  Whatever you say.



I have never seen a studded leather armor, crafted in the real world that seems like that ... at least it doesn't have big shoulders and stuff like that, but it seems a bit far from real.

I'm not sure what you want, then.  You complained about characters with big armor, big swords, and colossal shoulders.  Yet, you also object to that image that doesn't have big armor, big swords, or colossal shoulders.  He's a dude in mundane chain mail, with the additional of a bit of plate on his shoulders and legs.  It's not a perfectly accurate depiction of armor, but it's well within the bounds of mild artistic license.



That armor has 3 shoulders and 2 or 3 tight protectors ...

It's not only about big things, but impractical ones ... I like an armor I could believe





Hehehe, I can't resist....you've never seen leather studded armor like that...okay. Have you ever seen a half orc in real life? :P
Hehehe, I can't resist....you've never seen leather studded armor like that...okay. Have you ever seen a half orc in real life? :P



Of course ...

I once found a woman with a thin mustache and a deep voice who weighted quite a lot and was more manly than any other guy around. That must have been a half-orc surely ... 

I'm not expecting this, only more reasonable drawings ... well, in fact I'm am not expecting anything. I know for sure nothing will change ... I only had to vent some frustration to see if I was alone.
 
-Ask me about Sketch Combat.
Once again I'm reminded how glad I am that I know little enough about realistic weapons, armor, and combat that I can let it go and enjoy most of the artwork.



This could be the reason ... when I'm travelling I try to approach any medieval museum it's near, it's fun to look how crude weapons/armors look. I don't know if you have a lot of medieval museums on that side of the sea ... but there are quiet a lot of them here (spain/europe). 

We even have some special celebrations called "mercat medieval" and ... well, I shut up, that doesn't go here. 
-Ask me about Sketch Combat.
Have you seen the second edition bard?

Nuff said.

Gimme the current art style anyday.
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It's not only about big things, but impractical ones ... I like an armor I could believe


One glance at that one and I was pretty sure my next shot was going to look like a softball pitch only with a mace in my hand.

Oh please, meet me on the field with those unprotected...

What, exactly, is that armor used for anyway? The unprotected groin screams horseback but the unprotected shoulder/armpit area screams "hit my chest with a lance or spear and I'm going down in a bad way".  That thing screams "axillary artery injury".

It almost seems like the male version of the chainmail bikini.
It's not only about big things, but impractical ones ... I like an armor I could believe


One glance at that one and I was pretty sure my next shot was going to look like a softball pitch only with a mace in my hand.

Oh please, meet me on the field with those unprotected...

What, exactly, is that armor used for anyway? The unprotected groin screams horseback but the unprotected shoulder/armpit area screams "hit my chest with a lance or spear and I'm going down in a bad way".  That thing screams "axillary artery injury".

It almost seems like the male version of the chainmail bikini.




Shield fighting. Or possibly two handed fighting. It looks like something either designed to be supplemented by a larger shield, or something made with a little more range of motion in mind.
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I'm not expecting this, only more reasonable drawings ... well, in fact I'm am not expecting anything. I know for sure nothing will change ... I only had to vent some frustration to see if I was alone.
 


Well, I am not sure comparing it to RL (religious) painting is that good an idea either. They are not particular known for representing the truth either. For example, church authorities might very downplay the fact that Jean d'Arc (at least I think that is who the painting represents) is a woman. It might make people wonder why woman cannot take on more manly roles in society ;)
The half-orc wearing brown studded leather looks futuristic?  Ummmm.... okay?  Whatever you say.



I have never seen a studded leather armor, crafted in the real world that seems like that ... at least it doesn't have big shoulders and stuff like that, but it seems a bit far from real.

 



259436-leather_armor_large.jpg
The one on the half orc has arm guards and slightly more ornate shoulder pads.

As far as plate goes, there are some pauldrons that are higher then they need to be, but is that enough to complain about?  I personally think that the art in 4th ed is far more believable than 3.5, and examples to boot:
PHB35_PG25_WEB.jpg

If you sincerely believe that this half orc is more believable than the 4th ed half orc, I don't know what to say.

If you are looking for all of the art to have the Heros wearing incredibly mundane versions of armor, then i think you'll be out of luck
Have you seen the second edition bard?

Nuff said.

Gimme the current art style anyday.




I don't recall there being a specific illustration for the bard in the 2e PHB. 

I don't think anybody would argue that there was no bad art in the way back when.

I think it would help, in discussing D&D art, to narrow things down into periods.

Periods:

1st Period: Early D&D art, Tramp, Erol Otus, et. al., was often amateurish, but has a vibrancy today that has grown on me over the years.

2nd Period: Early 80's reprints.  The Elmore Dragon Basic Set, the Easley reprints of the Advanced books.  Easley, Elmore & Parkinston (with a heaping helping of Beauvais) were routinely featured on the cover of Dragon.   I didn't care for the Easley AD&D covers, they might have been technical improvements over the originals, but aesthetically they lost much of the flavor. 

The BECMI books seemed to have the best art overall.  Both exterior and interior art was superb and tended toward a unified look, also, for armor nerds, they tended to be on the realistic scale for weapon and armor styles.

2.5 Period -1st printing 2nd Edition.  The worst period in my opinion  The Jeff Easley covers looked like they were done by a moderately talented high schooler, and most of the interior color panel art was done by 2nd raters, of no uniform tone.  And the blue & white printings were okay, but meh.  There was still a lot of great cover art in this period, in Dragon & the modules, but a lot of the interior art was that same uninspiring oatmeal that populated the rulebooks. 

One exception... I don't remember the artists name off-hand, but his monster illustrations for the MM were excellent.  He was a carry-over from the earlier period (as indeed, Easley was too).  He also did the art for Monster Manual 2 and many modules.  Really excellent ink-drawings.

I call this period 2.5 because it was many of the same artists as before, but it seemed there was an overall change in look in the new books...less unified, less informed by historical sources, and really, because the 2e Rulebooks were really bad.

3rd Period  Dark Sun/Planescape era.  Dark Sun had this young guy, Brom who was really good at creating an overall tone with a great amount of technical proficiency.  Planescape too had its own look, with the primary artists moving away from illustrator style realism into an impressionistic style that still informs fantasy art today...lots of broad brush strokes, a single, dominant color.

4th Period & 4.5 period 3rd Edition to today.  I don't really differentiate because the roots of everything going on today has its start in 3e.  Dungeon Punk has given way to World of Warcraft, the color pallette has broadened, with more splashes of bright reds and such, but overall, very similar.  The facial structure of many illustrations seems influenced by anime (more prevalent in Pathfinder in my opinion), the coloring influenced by comics.  And of course, there's more and more photo manipulation cropping up. 

From a structure and layout perspective, I'd say 4e is the least attractive of all the rulebooks except for the original 2nd edition books.  3rd edition is the most attractive, followed by BECMI , then the late run 2e books (around the time of Skills & Powers), then 1e AD&D, which wasn't put together well, but had a sort of rough magic that fired the imagination.

*Note: my opinion, and how I classify the various art periods of D&D.  Your mileage may vary, but I thought this would at least give us some unified points of agreement when we say what we like.  "Early D&D art" to some people means Otus, to some it means Elmore.
I never did like the simplistic art direction way back in the day.  The same can be said about magic cards.  The art now is fantasic.  The art at the begining of magic was simplistic.

Looking back at the art from a differnt time brings us back to that time.  When we were first learning the game and everything.  That is what I get from old artwork.
Personally, I like when my fantasy looks fantastic.  I like my heroes looking bigger than life.  That can be as simple as Conan in a loincloth or fantastical like some images that have their roots in manga.  At the end of the day I'll either like it or not.  I don't expect to like everything, but there is much that I do like about the current editions artwork.

People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. --George Orwell

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. --Howard Zinn

He who fights with monsters must take care lest he thereby become a monster. --Friedrich Nietzsche

Devil\'s Brigade

Personally, I like when my fantasy looks fantastic.  I like my heroes looking bigger than life.  That can be as simple as Conan in a loincloth or fantastical like some images that have their roots in manga.  At the end of the day I'll either like it or not.  I don't expect to like everything, but there is much that I do like about the current editions artwork.



I think this is the first time I have agreed with you :P lol
1st Period: Early D&D art, Tramp, Erol Otus, et. al., was often amateurish, but has a vibrancy today that has grown on me over the years.

2nd Period: Early 80's reprints.  The Elmore Dragon Basic Set, the Easley reprints of the Advanced books.  Easley, Elmore & Parkinston (with a heaping helping of Beauvais) were routinely featured on the cover of Dragon.   I didn't care for the Easley AD&D covers, they might have been technical improvements over the originals, but aesthetically they lost much of the flavor. 


I am not sure where he falls in, but one of the early artists that I enjoyed was Jeff Dee.

People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. --George Orwell

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. --Howard Zinn

He who fights with monsters must take care lest he thereby become a monster. --Friedrich Nietzsche

Devil\'s Brigade

I think this is the first time I have agreed with you :P lol


If I can agree with something Max says, anything is possible.

People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. --George Orwell

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. --Howard Zinn

He who fights with monsters must take care lest he thereby become a monster. --Friedrich Nietzsche

Devil\'s Brigade

1st Period: Early D&D art, Tramp, Erol Otus, et. al., was often amateurish, but has a vibrancy today that has grown on me over the years.

2nd Period: Early 80's reprints.  The Elmore Dragon Basic Set, the Easley reprints of the Advanced books.  Easley, Elmore & Parkinston (with a heaping helping of Beauvais) were routinely featured on the cover of Dragon.   I didn't care for the Easley AD&D covers, they might have been technical improvements over the originals, but aesthetically they lost much of the flavor. 


I am not sure where he falls in, but one of the early artists that I enjoyed was Jeff Dee.




I too have much love for Jeff Dee.  I had forgotten his name though, or I would have included him in the roll call above (for early D&D art).  He was just fun.

Just to express my dissenting opinion, I find the examples of older artwork somewhat ugly.



I concur.



There's plenty of modern fantasy art that doesn't have Huge Shoulders or weapons- most rogue related artwork for instance.  Female armor problem has been as old as Fantasy Novel covers, it's not going away.




And again with the concuring.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
To me, whose visions of the fantastic lean more toward Conan or Excalibur, the idea of someone wielding a sword that could be used as a boat paddle, or with shoulder armor larger than their head... it's not what I'm interested in.


This one perplexes me.  Excalibur is the film that sold me on shoulder armor larger than one's head.

Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
The armor in Excalibur does have some pretty hefty pauldrons, but they're small compared to a lot of fantasy artwork and almost microscopic compared to WoW armor.