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Art Inspiration
Joining the Party
Tracy Hurley

For many of us, D&D certainly wouldn't be the same without its art. Whether through character portraits, landscapes of unknown lands, or a scene out of everyday life in one of the known realms, D&D's artwork immerses us in the world and inspires us to approach the game in new and interesting ways. In light of Senior Creative Director Jon Schindehette's new column and other recent discussions, let's tour some places where we can get our art fix!

Sources for Visual Inspiration

National Geographic

Our own world can be a pretty magical and mystical place at times, and one source to explore that is through the pages of National Geographic. Ranging from landscapes to weather, from people and culture, to adventure and exploration, the photo of the day feature can easily become a game in itself, using each picture to inspire something related to your D&D game.


A print magazine focusing on fantasy and sci-fi digital art, ImagineFX hosts a number of galleries on their website and provides space for artist portfolios. In addition, the site also offers a number of tutorials and interviews to help artists learn and improve their craft.


deviantArt (dA) is a social network for artists, founded in 2000. Many D&D and other fantasy artists have galleries there. In addition to being able to follow your favorite artists, fans can create groups around a topic and add pictures. Group watchers and members get updates when new items are added. Some groups I enjoy include: Avalon Community, Battle-Ready-Womyn, Fantastical-Fantasy, and Realm of Fantasy. As a side note, Daily Encounter recently highlighted some landscape images they also found inspirational.


If you're looking for a site like deviantArt but that focuses on fantasy and science-fiction art, Elfwood is your destination. The site started in 1996 to highlight fantasy art done by amateurs but has grown considerably since then.


Flickr is another place where people share their artwork and finds. As with deviantArt, people form groups and share art with one another, such as the fantasy group. A nice benefit of Flickr is the ability to search for art that the creators released under Creative Commons.


A newcomer to the field, Pinterest allows people to create digital pinboards to organize the pictures and videos they find appealing whether from around the internet or their own collections. It provides an easy-to-use browser pinning tool that allows users to add to their boards as they surf the web.

Google Image Search

Another common source for artful inspiration is Google Image Search. Unlike other sources where people need to actively add to the database, Google actively searches and adds content. A downside is that the algorithm often has to guess about the image from the surrounding text, so there might be a fair amount of noise to search through before finding a hidden jewel.

Wizards of the Coast Website

Wizards of the Coast makes the artwork from Dungeon, Dragon, and the print products available to DDI subscribers. These pieces can be found in the art gallery archives. They also have an archive of art from 3.5. In addition, artwork from Magic: the Gathering can provide inspiration, a topic often explored in the Magic Arcana column, especially the Wallpaper of the Week. If you have a favorite artists or topic, they even have a card search engine to help you find more.

If you're looking for somewhere to start, I suggest looking up some of the well-known D&D artists. On his Art Order website, Jon started a list of the top 20 illustrators. Some of them were also mentioned in Dungeon's Master articles (part 1, part 2), along with some biographical information. Once you find artists whose styles match your tastes, you can start searching for other artists who are similar to them, expanding your circle.

Do you have sources that I missed? Who are your favorite artists? Please add them below in the comments!

Tavern Tales

  • Join Steve Winter as he explores magic through the D&D editions along with other topics in his Howling Tower series on the Kobold Quarterly website.
  • Adventuring is a bit like business, where sometimes cash flow problems emerge and a little financing is needed. Moneylenders not only provide much needed capital, they can introduce interesting plot hooks and twists.
  • Romance was a common topic during the month of February. Troll in the Corner explored gaming as a couple while Geek's Dream Girl gave advice on adding romance to your game.
  • Experienced DMs often know how to modify rules to get the experience they want. By sharing those experiences, other DMs can explore the game in new ways. In Breaking the Rules – Tricks to Make Your RPG More Fun by Making Alternate Rules Calls on the Fly, GGG gives some example rules modifications he has made at the table and why.
  • D&D arts and crafts? Yes, please! Instructables has a tutorial for creating a stained glass d20.
  • has a number of random generation tools, including treasure parcels (D&D 3 and 3.5), town, and weather. For the town generation, it also creates a number of specialty characters, such as warriors, experts, wizards, etc, complete with name and characteristics.
  • On the Wizards of the Coast community site, community member Dargurd created a forum for parents interested in sharing tips and ideas for teaching D&D.
  • On Dungeon Mastering, Keith Baker (of Eberron fame) gives advice for dealing with player character death. G*M*S* Magazine also approaches the topic from the point of view of a player wanting a character to die.
  • Regardless of edition, sometimes parties can rest a little too often. Campaign Mastery has some DM tips for dealing with too many breaks.
  • For his Inception-inspired skill challenge, Mike Shea of Sly Flourish suggests having PCs take on roles. These roles naturally suggest certain actions, making skill challenges more organic. He also suggests incorporating fights into the challenge wherever appropriate.
  • Running D&D games against a backdrop of war can be difficult to accomplish. On Troll in the Corner, Vanhavoc provides questions to get you thinking and samples military objectives to throw at the PCs.
  • Some campaigns are run by multiple DMs in a shared setting. Quest cards provide continuity to player character stories in an easy-to-use and carry format.
  • On This is My Game, Randall Walker shares his discovery of a Monopoly game that has interlocking hex pieces and details how to modify them to produce a hex-shaped D&D exploration map (part 1, part 2).

D&D Next

Lots of community discussions continue about D&D Next! Here are just a few:

About the Author

Tracy Hurley is a D&D blogger, podcaster, and freelance game designer. On any given night, there is a 50% chance you will find her on Twitter as @SarahDarkmagic, a 10% chance you'll find her on the Tome Show, 4Geeks4e, or the DM Round Table, a 25% chance she's home plotting world domination with her husband, and a 15% chance she's planning a sneak attack. She is rarely surprised, never flat-footed, and uses Encounter powers as At-Wills.

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