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WotC under fire for AI generated images in new Dungeons & Dragons product

Artists and fans criticize Wizards of the Coast for using AI generated art in their new D&D product, Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants.

Artists and fans criticize Wizards of the Coast for using AI generated art in their new D&D product, Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. (Images: Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro)

Wizards of the Coast is taking heat from artists and fans for including AI generated images in their newest Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition supplement, Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants.

Dungeons & Dragons is the most popular and influential tabletop roleplaying game in the world. A significant factor to its appeal to fans are the beautiful and imaginative artwork found in their rulebooks, novels, video games, and other merchandise. Artists tapped by TSR and Wizards of the Coast over the decades include industry legends such as Keith Parkinson, Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell, Todd Lockwood, Jeff Easley, and many more. Plus, video games such as the smash hit Baldur’s Gate 3 highlight the talents of artists such as Larian Studios Lead Character Artist Alena Dubrovina.

On X (formerly known as Twitter), artists and fans have pointed out the suspiciously A.I. looking images in the new D&D product, Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants.

The AI generated pieces in the D&D supplement are from Ilya Shkipin. Shkipin responded to the criticisms with a tweet on their X feed (@i_shkipin) with attached images of their process in using AI with the production of the images for the Dungeons & Dragons supplement, stating:

There is a 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 the ground up.

The tweet has since been deleted, but respondents have screenshots that were shared on social media. On that note, Shkipin has since tweeted a vague statement that "the future of today’s illustrations is being discussed."

Discussions on social media regarding the use of AI in Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants artwork have been heated, with some defending it. However, most of the responses from artists and fans have been widely negative.

The discussions have been heated among D&D artists and other real artists who have worked with WotC. There are Reddit threads and forum posts on D&D Beyond. Karla Ortiz (@kortizart), who painted artwork for WotC’s other global brand Magic: The Gathering, expressed her own disappointment regarding the matter:

I genuinely don’t think this was intentional from Wizards, seems like a mistake, but if not it would utterly break my heart.
The person in question says the work will be reworked (with no ai?)? Regardless will be keeping an eye on this. Hope my initial instinct is correct.

Ortiz is one of the artists who filed a class action lawsuit against AI image generators and platforms that host these images such as Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, Deviantart, Artstation, and the like. Karla Ortiz has also been a keynote speaker in current U.S. Senate hearings regarding the ethics and dangers of unregulated use of artificial intelligence that exploits the works of artists, writers, designers, programmers, and other creators without consent or compensation.

As of the time of this writing, no official statement has been issued by Wizards of the Coast regarding the AI generated art or whether the product Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants will have modifications for later reissues or reprints.

Wizards of the Coast and parent company Hasbro has already seen multiple controversies in 2023 related to their biggest brands, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. The Open Gaming License (OGL) attempted revisions and the Pinkerton incident are two of the most notorious in recent months. With the negative public and professional views on the use of AI generated imagery, finding it in a D&D product is understandably a hot topic.

Dungeons & Dragons influenced generations of artists and fans thanks to the works of legends in the industry, such as Larry Elmore whose work graced the cover to the classic D&D Basic Red Book (pictured).

Meanwhile, Wizards of the Coast’s contemporaries in the tabletop roleplaying game industry such as Paizo (Pathfinder RPG), Chaosium (Call of Cthulhu), and others making policies that outright ban AI generated art from their products. Will WotC do the same?

UPDATE: Wizards of the Coast responded through D&D Beyond and their official social media channels such as X with the following statement:

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 work into books 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.

It should be noted that this implies that WotC's art directors and quality control were not aware (or not informed) that AI was used to generate the images. Plus, this confirms that WotC will continue to work with Ilya Shkipin in future Dungeons & Dragons products. On the other hand, WotC will soon be issuing an official policy on artwork for D&D.

Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants is available for preorder, including a digital plus physical bundle. Preorders will provide Early Access to the digital version via D&D Beyond. Priced at $59.99, the physical version begins shipping on August 15, 2023.

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  1. GOOD. Everyone needs to get angry at them over this. Make sure they know they are hurting artists and creative minds alike by using AI work. This is ridiculous.

    1. It was an artist using AI to modify his own art. Soooo?? Which artist was hurt by this exactly??

  2. Most people could not care less. But the ones who do will screech loudly about it all over social media so WotC make an announcement that will eventually just be forgotten and left behind.
    You can't stop the evolution of technology. Just like no one wants to waste their time talking to an operator every time they make a phone call, eventually, no one will want to waste their money on a piece of art that they could created themselves.

Geoff Borgonia

Geoff Borgonia // Articles: 626

Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep.
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