Art Looks... Dated


General Discussion


And dated is me being polite. Yes I iknow its a playtest document but it looks around 10-15 years out of date.

Doomsday Dawn for example looks like an old Dungeon adventure from 2004 or so. Decent cover and some of it is nice but you have Drakus on page 16 that is erm not nice, statue of Pharasma is nice (pg 14), page 6 looks goofy.

The cover of Pathfinder Ii also looks erm dated but not out right bad as such. For comparison imagine this on the shelf beside the 5E PHb or Xanathars Guide or Mordenkainens Guide to the multiverse.

Yes I know WoTC has deep pockets BUT.

The world has also changed since 2004 as well even 3pp can have great covers.

https://www.amazon.com/Beasts-Wolfgang-Baur/dp/1936781565

Or even retroclones.

https://www.amazon.com/Adventurer-Conqueror-King-System-Companion/dp/098498 321X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1533272046&sr=1-2&keywo rds=adventurer+conqueror+king

It doesn't look great to put it mildly. I did not expect full art in the playtest Bestiary so thats fine I know its not a final product but it is kind of a shock to see now after being AFK from PF for a few years. Its a bit jarring.


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I haven't looked at DD or the Bestiary (trying to avoid the GM side while playtesting the Player rules) but from what I've seen of the Playtest doc, it's almost (with the exception of the maroon Iconic sketches) 100% recycled from older Paizo material.

Now, the reason for this is of course because this is a free playtest doc, and they wanted to focus on, you know, making the rules instead of ordering a ton of artwork. When we actually get the rulebook for PF2, I'm sure it'll be packed full of nice, pretty new artwork.


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I like the art. Art gets dated?

Of course, I still like the Elmore paintings and even the stuff that's older.

Picasso, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and other dated artists and their art.

What makes art dated for an RPG?

2004 was only 14 years ago, which is a very short time in regards to the timespan of art.

It may be that you are referring to the style rather than the a dated type look.

Wayne Reynolds was a major influence (in my opinion) on the look of 3e/3.5 and later Pathfinder.

The artwork today I feel is updated but still is trying to retain that type of look, one that now days is more specific to Pathfinder. In otherwords, even as some of the rules change, the product identity in art is still retained.


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The art in rulebook looks WayneReynoldsy which we do not like. Art in DD looks like standard mish-mash from APs which is ok for me.


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necromental wrote:
The art in rulebook looks WayneReynoldsy which we do not like. Art in DD looks like standard mish-mash from APs which is ok for me.

Honestly, I really enjoy Wayne's art in the rulebook - it's very distinctly Pathfinder, and despite being deliberately sketchy (apart from the cover and reused artwork), it really brings the rulebook together.

Conversely I'm not a massive fan of the DD artwork - I haven't looked through the full book yet admittedly, but to me, the book ends up feeling a lot less...cohesive, and a little more forgettable.

This is by no means intended to disrespect the actual artists behind it all though - Wayne Reynolds or not, individually the pieces look great and it's never bad to see a variety of illustrators, but personally I prefer the more uniform look of the rulebook.

Ultimately this is a highly subjective matter though, and I wouldn't say that either current-day or older Pathfinder stuff looks 'dated' - especially since it's not like art has an expiration date, and doesn't age the same way video game graphics or (especially 3D) animation might.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Not a fan of the Iconic sketches prefer there old looks (Seoni aside)


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RiverMesa wrote:
necromental wrote:
The art in rulebook looks WayneReynoldsy which we do not like. Art in DD looks like standard mish-mash from APs which is ok for me.

Honestly, I really enjoy Wayne's art in the rulebook - it's very distinctly Pathfinder, and despite being deliberately sketchy (apart from the cover and reused artwork), it really brings the rulebook together.

Conversely I'm not a massive fan of the DD artwork - I haven't looked through the full book yet admittedly, but to me, the book ends up feeling a lot less...cohesive, and a little more forgettable.

This is by no means intended to disrespect the actual artists behind it all though - Wayne Reynolds or not, individually the pieces look great and it's never bad to see a variety of illustrators, but personally I prefer the more uniform look of the rulebook.

Ultimately this is a highly subjective matter though, and I wouldn't say that either current-day or older Pathfinder stuff looks 'dated' - especially since it's not like art has an expiration date, and doesn't age the same way video game graphics or (especially 3D) animation might.

I really, really don't like Wayne Reynolds art in general (there are pieces I like, but solo characters or monsters are usually not it, action scenes are much better). Of course I don't mean that WAR is a bad artist (although his feet drawing could use improvement), it's just my subjective style preference. The problem with "cohesive" art as you put it mean if they use mostly just one artist for the rulebook, and I don't like him, rulebook is aesthetically ugly for me (as are all PF1 corebooks besides bestiaries). I preferred the 3.x where iconics were drawn by two people (although TBF, they were of a similar style) and other drawing through the book were done by several other artists (including WAR).


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I believe having sketch artwork in the playtest rulebook is appropriately thematic.

I love how Wayne Reynolds' art just identifies Pathfinder, and Im sure it will continue to do so when the final rulebooks are released – probably with "finished" artwork, not sketches.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Zardnaar wrote:
And dated is me being polite. Yes I iknow its a playtest document but it looks around 10-15 years out of date.

???????


Zaister wrote:

I believe having sketch artwork in the playtest rulebook is appropriately thematic.

I love how Wayne Reynolds' art just identifies Pathfinder, and Im sure it will continue to do so when the final rulebooks are released – probably with "finished" artwork, not sketches.

Yeah, that seemed like a nice touch to me too. It's a sketch of the rules, and early draft. So having art that matches works. I actually like Reynolds' artwork, so that helps. But as they say, beauty is in the eye of the WotC Product Identity. And really, his artwork defines the Pathfinder Look, so it makes sense for him to be artist for the playtest core book.

I also like that there seems to be a more concerted effort to define a particular Pathfinder Style. A lot of things are all over the map in terms of looks in PF1, hobgoblins being one. So I appreciate the way the gobliniods are now showing their shared heritage and you'll be able to say at a glance "Yep, that's a hob!" and not some other humanoid like a grey orc or something. They did some of this work in the beginning with his versions of goblins and ogres, but then it kind of petered out, so I'd love to see the job completed of defining just what things look like. And the defining of cultural styles is a nice touch too.

Doomsday Dawn is kind of a mixed bag for me. The cover is great. The individual character and creature images also look solid. But for some reason the larger scenes largely seem 'off' somehow. I'm not really sure what it is about them, but they seem like they were almost great but fell short. That's not knocking the art, it's fine, but there is something bugging me that I can't put my finger on.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

You can still carry around oodles of magic items. You just can't use all of them every day.


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Beast Weener wrote:
The Art in this thing is a lot better than 4th Edition and that was 10 years ago so, no, your opinion is objectively wrong. There is one thing with the art though-now that essence is a thing, isn't that in conflict with the house art style? I mean Pathfinder for me has always sort of been like what Rob Liefeld would have made if he'd ever learned to draw. It falls into two character archetypes: belts and belts and belts characters and Las Vegas dancer outfit characters. But now that Essence limits the amount of magic items you can wear, is the art even accurate. I mean, back in the day it made sense because the average pre gen character was toting around ~ 30 odd magic items.

4E did have some decent art the covers were not one of them though- and its WAR art there again And a lot of 4E PHB art was also underwhelming along with character art in general. Some nice landscapes.

I mean I don't like WAR generally, hes not bad as such and he can do some good art like his 4E Darksun cover.

To be fair I did not like WAR art in 3.0 Deities and Demigods either and that was 16 years ago its just to cartoony for me and to much of it is bad. The playtest adventure has a decent cover but some of that interior is erm bad being blunt IDK if its all WAR art or not though.

If you're not an established Pathfinder fan though and you see this sitting on the shelf next to some of the stuff I linked to above or even Numenera and other RPGs what are you going to think though?

I remember AD&D (2E) that often had great cover art and you get a bit disappointed when you look at the interior.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

If you think you can do it better, submit it to the art department.


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captain yesterday wrote:
If you think you can do it better, submit it to the art department.

I can't do better but I don't expect anyone to buy my stuff.

If you think I am bad my group is even worse towards the Pathfinder art lol. One in particular is very vocal about Pathfinders "animie" art style. WAR can do good art and art is a bit subjective but over the years a lot of ex players and even Pathfinder players IRL don't love the PF art.

Pretend you walk into a game store with the various RPGs books on the shelf. Are you going to like the 5E covers or the Pathfinder covers?
Or the various other RPG books with nice art. If you are a new player with no ball in the game so to speak do you see the problem?

Note the relative amount of success 5E has had the RPG market is about 4 times bigger now than what it was pre 5E and a lot of that is from new players. Has attendance at PFS gone up or down in your area (or died off?).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Yeah, I don't get any of that with their art.

I love their art, but to each their own.


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My group, which includes long time readers of sequential art, finds WAR art to be one of the highlights of Pathfinder.


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I am OK with them saving money (and time) by reusing art. This is a playtest document, and it is only valid for one year. The CRB will have all new art (which wasn't true in PF1), and it will benefit from the reusing of art in the playtest, since Paizo can focus their art department/resources on PF2 rather than the playtest.

On a side not, I do indeed prefer PF1 art to 5e art. Very much so.


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I don't know art, but I know what I like. I like WAR's art.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Zardnaar wrote:


Pretend you walk into a game store with the various RPGs books on the shelf. Are you going to like the 5E covers or the Pathfinder covers?
Or the various other RPG books with nice art. If you are a new player with no ball in the game so to speak do you see the problem?

Note the relative amount of success 5E has had the RPG market is about 4 times bigger now than what it was pre 5E and a lot of that is from new players. Has attendance at PFS gone up or down in your area (or died off?).

If I had to choose between Pathfinder and 5e based SOLELY on the art? Pathfinder wins, hands down. It's not even close.

That doesn't mean the art in 5e is bad, but I'm a comic book guy, and the kinetic energy Pathfinder books have draws my attention to the books, whereas 5e books doesn't have that.

As to why 5e is dominating the market, well, two reasons, one of which is probably the purpose of the Playtest ... 1)5e says "Dungeons and Dragons" on it, which in itself is a draw, and 2)It's easier to pick up for new players. The rules are simplified. Which is what PF2 is trying to accomplish ... eliminated the 10+ years of bloat and start afresh, and by doing so, attract players who might normally not even give it a try. It's the same reason why #1 issues in comics sell more than issue #567: it allows new readers to have a fresh start.

None of which has anything at all to do with the art. But to answer your question, in my humble opinion, the art is MUCH, MUCH better in PF than in 5e.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Zaister wrote:

I believe having sketch artwork in the playtest rulebook is appropriately thematic.

I love how Wayne Reynolds' art just identifies Pathfinder, and Im sure it will continue to do so when the final rulebooks are released – probably with "finished" artwork, not sketches.

These are literally sketches prepared for paintings that we've ordered for the finished product. (No guarantees that they will all end up there, of course...)


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5e isn't winning on art. Poor perspective, indistinct coloring and density of pattern or color leaves it looking really sloppy. The at is essentially painted sketches similar to Guildwars 2 splash art, without the coherent theme in what is left abstract and what isn't and without the intentional distortion that would maintain things like shape scale and perspective.

Pathfinder's art is irregularly dense, the inventory crowding is sort of weird, but its part of Pathfinder's style. The still shots tend to be too still due to the posed placement of inventory items breaking up lines of motion, and overall still poses, but that problem is gone in the action shots. Replacing still shots with more deliberately still high information shots, like anatomical drawings, would probably help make the still shots look distinct rather than simply worse versions of the action shots.

But it's art. It's worth talking about, but unless we're being specific there's not much to be said.


To me, most of the art looks like it is repurposed from older PF products, which might be why it gives that feeling. I think it is a mix of new art (mostly toward the front) and old (toward the back).

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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The sketches are all new, as is the cover. I think everything else in the Playtest Rulebook is repurposed. (If there are exceptions, there aren't many.)


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The sketches are cool, it's basically say "The playtest is a work in progress!".

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