Art of New Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons has a big year ahead. The classic tabletop RPG is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the most significant event of that celebration is undoubtedly the revisions to the game’s core rules, including the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual. A complete back-and-forth of the game’s 5th edition, the new books are nonetheless a huge new step for the game, reflecting a decade of iteration and evolution as the game exploded in popularity.

Books are not far away. Players and Dungeon Masters alike can watch Pre-orders start from June 18; Each book is priced at $49.99. Each of the three new books comes in at a whopping 384 pages.

Characters from the classic D&D cartoon get a makeover in this interior art from the chapter opener in the New Player’s Handbook. Artist credit: Dmitry Barmak

We were lucky enough to visit Wizards of the Coast a few weeks ago to learn more from the artists and designers about what to expect in the revised game, and we have several exclusive details about this month’s revised D&D. Game Informer newspaper. The magazine article includes extensive insight from Wizards of the Coast designers, including Chris Perkins and Jeremy Crawford. Our conversations with designers give more depth on what to expect in each of the three major books on the way. We hope you’ll support D&D’s exclusive coverage with a subscription to GI for less than $2 an issue so you can check out the article for yourself.

In addition to all the fun new design insights discussed in our magazine article, we wanted to showcase some of the striking art that comes as part of the latest books. We’re including it here along with details of the art team working to create the look of the game.

We’re especially excited to reveal a closer look at the cover art for the new Player’s Handbook.

Front cover of the newly revised edition of the D&D Player’s Handbook. Artist credit: Tyler Jacobson

As the first planned release of three new core rulebooks, it’s the most important to a wide swath of D&D players; Its appearance in every previous version has helped define the tone of the game.

The new Player’s Handbook front cover embraces the game’s revival approach to pushing forward legendary characters from throughout the game’s history. We see Yolande the Elven Queen, Strongheart the Knight, Elkhorn the Dwarven Warrior, the Divine Mercian and the demon Molliver embark on an adventure together. These are statistics that hearken back to the early era of the game. Surrounding them is a benevolent golden dragon – a nod to the game’s “golden” 50th anniversary and an endearing reminder that the dragons in the game’s title can be allies as often as enemies.

The Gold Dragon joins a band of legendary heroes to face the Red Dragon and its kobold minions in full front cover art for the new Player’s Handbook. Artist credit: Tyler Jacobson

The new cover art comes from the experienced hands of freelance illustrator Tyler Jacobson. “I’ve worked on DND since 2009. And in the fifth edition I redid the covers,” says Jacobson. “I did the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide, as well as other covers that came after (titles) like Storm King’s Thunder and Volos.”

The direction of the cover art is more deliberate, intended to reflect the content inside. “With the cover art, we wanted to represent every experience,” says Jacobson. “How do we make the player’s handbook look like the player experience? And how do we feel about the Dungeon Master’s Guide as a Dungeon Master’s experience?”

The back cover of the Player’s Handbook features an unknown party of adventurers flying into danger on the back of a bronze dragon. Artist credit: Tyler Jacobson

A separate piece of artwork on the back of the player’s handbook goes in another direction from the legendary heroes depicted on the front, depicting a party of unknown heroes and a nod to players creating their own legends.

The new Player’s Handbook (and all rulebooks going forward into this new era of the game) features a red book spine that, in my mind, subtly nods to some classic visual cues from the 1980s, such as the classic red boxed set. But whether it’s intentional or not, the red hue will easily set the new books apart from any recent rulebooks on your shelf.

From sketch to finished art for the New Player’s Handbook. Artist credit: Tyler Jacobson

Early book printings will have a D&D 50th stamp on the back – a five-decade big anniversary recognition.

As fans can expect, you can also look forward to alternate book covers available at your local game store – the new Alternate Player’s Handbook depicts a gorgeous scene of elves and a sinuous gold dragon, all printed in a gold foil treatment.

Beyond the cover, there’s no shortage of art filling the books’ pages, as evidenced by the extensive visuals we’ve seen from the interior pages of the Player’s Handbook.

Artist Nestor Ossandon Leal shows the process from sketch to finished art. Artist credit: Nestor Ossandon Leal

“A lot of our chapter starters are famous heroes,” says studio art director Josh Harman. “Almost every chapter starter has a different hero or group of heroes in a different setting. So, you’ve got Dragonlance and others like Ravenloft; you’ve got a whole suite of them. But Dungeon Master’s Guide villains.” About. The cover is all about the villains and the kind of threats that the DM plays. You can see a lot of our famous villains in the opening. So, it’s like the flip side of the coin; we want to present all aspects of the game in a way that people can understand.

Completed art starting Fighter Class section in Player Handbook. Artist credit: Nestor Ossandon Leal

I was particularly impressed by the mix of characters and settings displayed in the revised books. While many of the previous official books seemed to default to the familiar Forgotten Realms setting (the main home of the Baldur’s Gate video games), these new core books embrace the multiclass nature of D&D, including countless worlds of characters and locations. “I think 10 years after (the release of 5th Edition), all these settings are out,” Herman says. “Like Spelljammer, Dragonlance, Planescape. That’s probably why there are so many differences; We want to showcase all the different ways players can play so that you can choose any type of character, and we want to create a wide range for you to choose from.

The Silver Dragon enjoys the city’s parade route. Artist credit: Campbell White

The main goal of the art in the new core books is to help further understanding of the game. Spells are often shown being cast. Art for character background shows where your hero might have come from. This also extends to the creature scenes in the Monster Manual. “There is a lot of caution about the mix; To accurately select the design of the monster for the stat block,” says art director Amy Tanzi. “If it’s a monster that deals damage or you want to make sure we see claws. And you want to make sure the art shows something like a stinger, but there’s nothing in the stat block — that’s weird, right?”

As I had the opportunity to explore the completed pages during my visit to Wizards of the Coast, I was impressed by the generosity of art that lays out the books and how the art is presented to serve as a visual tool for organization. “We worked with the design team to make sure each class started on the left-hand page,” Herman says. “Before in 2014, it was just kind of a running journal. Now what we want to do is, every class opens with full-page artwork on the left hand side with similar lead data on the right hand side, so that every time you go to a new class, you get a kind of immediate visual, we’re that class. We tried to theme it like a traditional version of what it is.

Concept art reveals a redesigned look for the Red Dragon. Artist credit: Alexander Ostrovsky

The revised books gave Wizards of the Coast’s art and design team the opportunity to return to some of its most iconic scenes and refine the approach, including the classic five metallic and five chromatic species of the titular dragons. “All the dragon stuff is really cool,” Herman says. We are trying to update the designs.

A new look for the Bronze Dragon and concepts for its breath weapon. Artist credit: Alexander Ostrovsky

As a long time D&D player, I came away looking at this new edition of D&D with great enthusiasm. The art we’re sharing here publicly is just a sample of what I’ve had the opportunity to see; New books have a coherent visual language that is captivating. And I love the way the game seems to embrace the long history of heroes, villains, and monsters with iconic names that have spawned over 50 years of gaming.

If the art displayed here excites you, I hope you don’t miss our in-depth tour of the design work expressed in the books themselves, as illustrated this month. Game Informer newspaper. Our eight-page article covers all three books in detail, including new character options, building player bastions, new apex-tier monsters on the way, and the surprising additions and additions to the oldest D&D campaign setting – Greyhawk. At a magazine primarily focused on video games, we’ve symbolically rolled the dice to offer this level of depth on a tabletop game like D&D in our issues, thanks to its incredible impact on gaming and its recent success and reach for newcomers. If you like that kind of coverage, we do Appreciate your support in reviewing the paper.

In the meantime, enjoy exploring the breadth of this all-new Dungeons and Dragons art! Click through the gallery below for full-size images of all the art included in this article, plus additional first-look pieces at the new books.

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