Dragon's-Eye View: Essence

Dragon's-Eye View
Essence

By Jon Schindehette

When you think about D&D, what do you think its essence is? Jon goes over what he and his colleagues at Wizards have discussed, plus brings you into the discussion.
 
Talk about this column here.

Creatures at Gen Con 2012

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I can't help but notice that each of the chosen pictures in the articles are then-contemporary representations of great stories from the distant past.


For me, D&D has always allowed great stories set in the past to be told in a relatively contemporary way and in that way their choices resonate with me.

This embodies D&D to me:  (and much more, but i didnt have time to hook more up...)
 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I'm a huge fan of William Blake and his flair for the dramatic:


Here's more of my fave:

[sblock]






















Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I'm not going to repost all the images I put in the comments section of Jon's article, but here is my absolute favorite D&D illustration of all time.

Winter of the Witch

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

This is a really awesome article! Here are my picks:





Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Best article yet from Schindehette.  I really admire his willingness to take a step back and reexamine the direction the game has been taking.  This paragraph...
Contrast these types of visual narratives with our contemporary fantasy images, and we see a stark difference. The point of view is often now one that puts the viewer right in the center of the action. Often we feel as if the villains are actually after us—we are playing the role of the hero . . . or victim. All the action and movement is amped up and over the top—fantasy that has had way too many energy drinks! Oversized weapons. Undersized armor. Essentially modern fantasy art showcases all the ills and gripes that I've heard many of you express over the years.


...just nails how I feel about most of the later 3E and 4E art.  And it's not just D&D, of course; this energy-drink aesthetic is everywhere.  Pathfinder is even worse than 4E.  Video games like WoW and Kingdoms of Amalur and every JRPG ever are rife with it once you leave the very earliest levels.  I'm not sure whether D&D has led this contemporary fantasy trend or is just following it, but it's high time for D&D to lead a new trend.  And Jon Schindehette sounds like he's got the ideas to get it done.  He gets a big thumbs-up from me.
This is a really awesome article! Here are my picks:


I really like that first one, but, going off what The CosmicKid just wrote, wouldn't that picture be even more evocative if we panned back a bit and got more of the background and milieu.  This is a portrait and a great portrait of an interesting character, but the background is faded, as if seen through a vaseline-covered lens.  

It's got an old-school character-driven purpose plastered into the energy-drink aesthetic that Schindehette discusses.  I'd love to see what the artist could do with that portrait if he added a more full and expressive backdrop to it.
I really like that first one, but, going off what The CosmicKid just wrote, wouldn't that picture be even more evocative if we panned back a bit and got more of the background and milieu.  This is a portrait and a great portrait of an interesting character, but the background is faded, as if seen through a vaseline-covered lens. 
It's got an old-school character-driven purpose plastered into the energy-drink aesthetic that Schindehette discusses.  I'd love to see what the artist could do with that portrait if he added a more full and expressive backdrop to it.

Actually, the nondescript background is part of what I like about it. I think that having too detailed of a backdrop often distracts from the focus of the scene: the characters and what they're doing. Putting too much in the background has the very real risk of making a piece too busy, exaggerating this "energy drink" feel that people keep talking about (and that I can already see is going to become a new buzzword that I hate alongside "anime"). Not every last detail of a piece should need to be expressive on its own; some parts of a piece are just there to serve the other parts.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
And it's not just D&D, of course; this energy-drink aesthetic is everywhere.



Agreed.  Every piece of fantasy art seems to be stuck on "extreme close-up"

Let's compare one of Greenwood's first novels:
 
with his more recent one.
 
We start with a set piece with the heroes in the bottom of the image.  Even the draconic skeleton gives way to releal the forest backgrounds.

In Elmister Enraged, it's all Elminster.  It's a complete close-up of the wizard obscuring almost everything that might be in the background.  There is only a slight hint that he is underground, with some rough texture over his right shoulder, and a small stalagmite under his sword hand. 

Here's a cover from the Hobbit, first edition

Here's a cover from a 2001 reprint


But, in the spirit of optimism, here's the most recent cover, which combines a protagonist's centering with plenty of landscape to offer a glimpse at the greater world.
 
That's something I can get behind.  
 
Seriously, let's not get carried away with this "energy drink" thing.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Cyde Cadwell...true classics. 


...and about music..

This song is perfect

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx6JdhGBMtc

(Dungeons & Dragons, Spanish soundtrack)

Lyrics:

Llegamos a un mundo fantástico,
lleno de seres extraños,
el amo del calabozo,
nos dió poderes a todos,
tú el bárbaro, tú el arquero,
acrobata, mago y el caballero.

Dragones y mazmorras,
un mundo infernal
se oculta entre las sombras
la fuerza del mal.

Translation:

We arrived to a fantastic world,
full of strange beings,
the Dungeon Master,
he gave power to full us
you the barbarian, you the archer
arcobat, wizard and the knight

Dragons and Dungeons,
a infernal world
it hide among shadow
the evil force 




Or the TV spot of the red box.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1j4MZerR7Q

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

Once again I must agree with wrecan.  (I know, it's getting to be a scary habit!)  One of the things Jon and Mike have been talking about with regard to art is the way the detail of older D&D illustrations sucked you in, and made your imagination go wild.  I remember pouring over the illustration of Emirkol the Chaotic for hours and hours.  It inspired me to create scenes like that in my stories and to expand upon what might have led up to that moment, or what came after.  The minotaur above though nicely executed gives me no inspiration beyond admiration of the work itself.

Emirikol the Chaotic

That said, I think spot illustrations have their place.  I love Paizo's prominent use of spot illustrations for NPCs and items in their adventures.  Spot illustrations make it easy to use or manipulate the image as a portrait, or to combine with other images to create scenes that you want to see.  I do this all the time in my games for visual aids.

Ezren

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Really nice article, but I think I would have a hard time picking one picture to sum up the essence of D&D. No doubt that Elmore and Caldwell had a big impact on my view of what kind of fantasy D&D was, but I've been impressed by Brom and DiTerlizzi showing off how different Dark Sun and Planescape could be. So in many ways I hope they will not go looking for one art style to rule them all, but instead use the illustrations to show how varied fantasy can be. I also have to say I really dislike the concept of the iconic characters. Because as much as RPGs are about the player characters, they are explicitly not about some limited cast of iconic characters, but about coming up with your very own.
A great article that has nothing to do with the maths! 

I would like to see an artist rendition of the Caves of Chaos done triptych style.

gardenofearthlydelights

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

And yes, I completely agree with Wrecan on the points he makes about close-ups. I want to see the world at least as much as I want to see a character.
Seriously, let's not get carried away with this "energy drink" thing.


I agree that would be an unfortunate name to label the aesthetic with.  However, I do think that between the 1980's and the modern day there has been a trend in the artwork to downplay backgrop and immersive atmosphere in exchange for close-ups on individual characters who exist almost out of place or time.  There are, of course exceptions in every genre.  But I think it has been a clear trend in the genre.  

The 1970's and 1980's were perhaps too committed to diminished characters in favor of backdropand mood.  Fantasy was only just getting mainstreamed, so it was necessary to introduce the reader to the emotion of the world in which they would immerse themselves.

By the late 1990's and 2000's fantasy was sufficiently mainstream, thanks in large part of videogames, that we came to a medium pre-immersed.  So now what artists were asked to do was to get people to inhabit specific characters.  So protagonists generally took center stage and backdrops got dimished.  

As I said, it's a trend, not a law.   And some people like the character-driven portaits.  Others like the expansive immersive backdrops.  I like to see interesting characters against an immersive backdrop.

It may be that so many people continue to like Elmore and Clude Caldwell because they were drawing just as the aesthetic was tipping over from primary backgrop to primary portrait.  So it exists in this weird equipoise between the two.  And if it weren't for those godawful 1980's hair-dos in those paintings I might agree! 
....And it's not just D&D, of course; this energy-drink aesthetic is everywhere....

Butt, in the spirit of optimism, here's the most recent cover, which combines a protagonist's centering with plenty of landscape to offer a glimpse at the greater world.
 
That's something I can get behind.  
 



False advertising?...Laughing

The Hobbit is now 3 Major Motion Pictures complete with interesting characters that may or may not be found in the book.

Evidence of the energy drink generation is found in all sorts of media.

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

I agree that would be an unfortunate name to label the aesthetic with.  However, I do think that between the 1980's and the modern day there has been a trend in the artwork to downplay backgrop and immersive atmosphere in exchange for close-ups on individual characters who exist almost out of place or time.  There are, of course exceptions in every genre.  But I think it has been a clear trend in the genre.

My problem with it is that it seems clear a lot of people are trying to use it in an unnecessarily derogatory way when it doesn't even have any concrete definition. Plus, a lot of us actually like this style. I get that there's a desire by some to see more immersive backdrops, but let's not get carried away and say there's only one right way to do the art and apply some unnecessarily derogatory label to everything else. There will be pieces for which a subdued backdrop is more appropriate to highlight a central focus, there will be pieces for which the backdrop is the focus with the foreground only providing some perspective, there will be pieces for which detail in the foreground and background will be best, and there will be pieces for which no highlighting at all will be appropriate. Agree that maybe we should reconsider the frequencies at which we use these different approaches in relation to one another, but I'm not okay with getting some hip new derogatory phrase to describe one style that's just gotten a lot of play.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
My problem with it is that it seems clear a lot of people are trying to use it in an unnecessarily derogatory way when it doesn't even have any concrete definition.


But I didn't, so stop painting me with that brush (pun intended)

Plus, a lot of us actually like this style.


Which I said.

but I'm not okay with getting some hip new derogatory phrase to describe one style that's just gotten a lot of play.


Which is why I said, as you quoted, "I agree that would be an unfortunate name to label the aesthetic with"

I really wish you would stop quoting me when it's clear that you have absolutely no intention of responding to (or reading) that which you're quoting. 
But I didn't, so stop painting me with that brush...

I wasn't trying to. I was just explaining the way that I felt. No need to be so defensive.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Energy Drink Aesthetic = Random inclusion of elements for the sake of coolness and catoring to the demand of the pop art culture.

?

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

Here's more of my fave:





+1 for AD&D DragonLance art

Interesting that so many of us, when asked “what art defines the FEEL of D&D to you?”, go immediately to D&D art.  Not everyone, but most of what’s been posted thus far is either module covers, inside art, or “I heart Caldwell/Frazetta/Dragonlance/etc art.”  Not bad, just interesting, because the art that the design team picked was NOT D&D art.


I’ll admit myself, the first thing I thought of was DiTerlizzi’s Planescape and 2e MM art.  His work, both then and non-D&D now, has always defined the sheer breadth of possibility that I associate/feel with D&D.  Whether portraits or larger scenes, his work is a wonderful combination of imagination, detail, and whimsy that tells me “in your world, ANYthing is possible.”  His Dragon mag covers have always been very evocative, particularly issues 262, 270, and my personal fave 251.  Sorry, I don’t have the images uploaded anywhere to insert, but his gallery including them can be found here.

An fun exercise will be to find NON-modern art that evokes the same feelings, fantasy or not.  I could invoke other contemporary artists like James Christensen or James Gurney (Dinotopia) that float my boat, but let's see if we can go further afield than that.  Challenge accepted, John! 

I pretty much agree with wrecan's opinions on the art styles. I prefer the older style more than the newer style.

I want a variety, though. 



  • I like art focused on a central image for character portrait and item descrition styles; or even just the central image, without a background.

  • I like art that details the background, more than the foreground, for story-based style; such as book covers or chapter intros.

  • I like both foreground and background detail for scenic art; such as in adventure modules or magaizines.



 
Anything from Order of the Stick or 8-Bit Theatre gets the "essence" about right. 

The silly cartoons in the AD&D DMG are dead on perfect.
My problem with it is that it seems clear a lot of people are trying to use it in an unnecessarily derogatory way when it doesn't even have any concrete definition.


I wouldn't say I'm using it in an unnecessarily derogatory way, and I think it has a concrete definition (or as close to a concrete definition as you can get for an aesthetic).  It is the aesthetic of exaggerations and extremes.  Hyperkinetic poses, hypermasculine men, hypersexualized women, hypertrophied equipment:  everything is hyper.  So as a term of opprobrium I think "energy-drink aesthetic" is entirely appropriate.  If we just called it "the new suckitude aesthetic" or whatever, that would be unnecessary, because it wouldn't put a pointer on what exactly about the aesthetic we don't like.
I'm not going to repost all the images I put in the comments section of Jon's article, but here is my absolute favorite D&D illustration of all time.

Winter of the Witch



Wow!  That's a great one.  I can totally see Mab of the Dresden Files looking like that from time to time.

Interesting that so many of us, when asked “what art defines the FEEL of D&D to you?”, go immediately to D&D art.  Not everyone, but most of what’s been posted thus far is either module covers, inside art, or “I heart Caldwell/Frazetta/Dragonlance/etc art.”  Not bad, just interesting, because the art that the design team picked was NOT D&D art.


I also thought of D&D (and Magic) art first and foremost. I think that's because most fantasy style art I'm familiar with falls into one of a few categories:

1) D&D art of some kind, either old-school B&W line art or modern stylized action art.
2) Art from classic masters (or in the style of them) depicting scenes from mythology.
3) Awful fantasy novel covers.


From the descrption, it's pretty clear I consider #3 awful. I also, contrary to the article, consider #2 to be a relatively poor representation of D&D at all, much less a good summary of it's essence. I'd love to pretend like D&D is about something deep and profound and summarizable as a pastoral image from mythology painted by a master, but that's just super wrong. D&D is about adventuring heroes going on adventures. The images in the article do a very poor job of capturing either the text or the mood of D&D. (The second of the three is at least in the right time zone, but I wouldn't pick it in a million years if I had to pick just one image.) To whatever extent it's possible for an opinion (especially about something so subjective) to be just wrong, I think that the article is wrong. It's just hollow pretension. I'm not saying that the image that captures the essence of D&D is some dude in massive spiky black and red armor cleaving through ten monsters at once while their blood splatters onto a chainmail bikini and then he drinks a Red Bull out of a skull, but any image that conveys zero sense of adventure whatsoever feels like just a big miss to me. Isn't it possible to be pointlessly pretentious without missing the mark so completely that it's utterly transparent that that's what you're doing?


TL:DR: D&D is an adventure game. Scenes that do not convey some sense of adventure are bad representations of D&D's essence.

Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
So as a term of opprobrium I think "energy-drink aesthetic" is entirely appropriate. 

See also: every Old Spice tv ad from the past half decade or so.
www.youtube.com/user/OldSpice

So as a term of opprobrium I think "energy-drink aesthetic" is entirely appropriate. 

See also: every Old Spice tv ad from the past half decade or so.
www.youtube.com/user/OldSpice



The strong shot of irony gives that drink an entirely different flavor.

Though I don't think that flavor would be a good accompaniment for D&D either.  The taste of irony tends to overpower everything else in a meal.
The strong shot of irony gives that drink an entirely different flavor.

The Old Spice ads work exactly because they openly acknowledge and embrace the ludicrous ridiculousness of "EXTREME AWESOME IN-YOUR-FACE!!!"

Those hyperbole and humor of those ads overtly point out the silliness in attempting to take the approach seriously, much like how Monty Python leveraged absurdity to point out the silliness in pretty much everything.
The Old Spice ads work exactly because they openly acknowledge and embrace the ludicrous ridiculousness of "EXTREME AWESOME IN-YOUR-FACE!!!"

Those hyperbole and humor of those ads overtly point out the silliness in attempting to take the approach seriously, much like how Monty Python leveraged absurdity to point out the silliness in pretty much everything.


Exactly.  That is a wildly different effect from what is achieved by presenting the aesthetic earnestly, as D&D and Pathfinder do.

It's like the difference between Bill O'Reilly and Stephen Colbert.  You watch them for completely different reasons and come away with completely different experiences.
In my early days of AD&D, many of the classic album covers of groups I enjoyed spoke the game to me. Here are some examples of some great cover artists that I would love to see do some D&D work.

Roger Dean
www.rogerdean.com/paintings/
 

Derek Riggs
derek.server311.com/
 

Felipe Machado Franco
finalfrontier.thunderblast.net/

just a few so far.
   

Just roll some dice.

 

RADIO FREE BORDERLANDS:

Explore the new D&D podcast that is a celebration of all eras of the game! Discussing the loves, challenges, topics, ideas, and news of this great hobby in both a contemporary and historical view.

http://radiofreeborderlands.libsyn.com/

Tony  DiTerlizzi
diterlizzi.com/home/

Clyde Caldwell (At least for the Ravenloft art...  Don't care for the chainmail bikini nonsense)

Baxa and Brom's work on Dark Sun

Recent stuff like from HoF

Crazed undead horror posing as a noble and heroic forum poster!

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
Tony  DiTerlizzi
diterlizzi.com/home/

Clyde Caldwell (At least for the Ravenloft art...  Don't care for the chainmail bikini nonsense)

Baxa and Brom's work on Dark Sun

Recent stuff like from HoF



I liked a lot of Caldwell's art, but it did get way to cheesecake at times.

I had forgotten about Tony DiTerlizzi until recent posts here, and I checked out some of the art from the 2e books; I would like him to come back to the game! 

Just roll some dice.

 

RADIO FREE BORDERLANDS:

Explore the new D&D podcast that is a celebration of all eras of the game! Discussing the loves, challenges, topics, ideas, and news of this great hobby in both a contemporary and historical view.

http://radiofreeborderlands.libsyn.com/

I'm not going to repost all the images I put in the comments section of Jon's article, but here is my absolute favorite D&D illustration of all time.

Winter of the Witch



Wow!  That's a great one.  I can totally see Mab of the Dresden Files looking like that from time to time.


Mab's blonde, and she doesn't have dark shadows around her eyes like unless she's decided to go overboard on makeup. I'm also pretty sure she's got less legs and more curves. [/nitpick]

As for me, when I think DnD, I think things like Conan, John Carter of Mars, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, and similar pulp adventurers.

I also think of Berserk, because Berserk is awesome and Guts is an amazing example of a badass Fighter.

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/a4e3n.jpg)
View image in a seperate window to see it at full size.
Here's more of my fave:





+1 for AD&D DragonLance art




+1 Elmore old stuff is amazing. The image with the cleric performing a cure spell in the snow with the giant in the background from complete Priests Handbook, is one of the best pieces of D&D ever.

Tony  DiTerlizzi
diterlizzi.com/home/

Clyde Caldwell (At least for the Ravenloft art...  Don't care for the chainmail bikini nonsense)

Baxa and Brom's work on Dark Sun

Recent stuff like from HoF



+1 to Tonny Diterlizzi and Brom those guys are incredible, and currently working.
I love the artwork for 3.5, particularly that in the Monster Manual. That said, here's some more traditional artwork:



















Edit: Given that it's my icon, I may as well also show the picture of the Mystic Theurge from 3.5.