A hot potato: Are people ever going to learn that most consumers really, really don't like AI-generated artwork? The latest example of this fact being ignored comes from a Dungeons and Dragons artist who used the technology to create some images in an upcoming book. Publisher Wizards of the Coast says it had no idea this was happening, though not everyone believes its claim of innocence.
The controversy involves the next Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook, called Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. D&D Beyond released an article on August 1 previewing three frost giants that would appear in the book, but some people spotted the tell-tale signs of AI-generated art in two of the three pieces.
Ilya Shkipin, a 14-year veteran D&D artist, later admitted that he had used AI to enhance his original images, generate some additional details, or for polishing and editing - as opposed to entire pieces being generated by a machine. He said in private messages that "overall it was painted digitally." You can see an example below, with the AI-enhanced version on the left.
Shkipin might have thought his admission that AI was only used sparingly would placate angry D&D fans, but no. He had to delete the tweet, lock his Twitter, and delete his ArtStation due to the harassment he received.
Wizards of the Coast then joined the controversy by tweeting that it was unaware Shkipin had used AI to help create images for the book, though not everyone thinks this is true. The company confirmed that no text in Glory of the Giants is AI-generated, and it will be updating its guidelines to restrict the use of the technology. It added that the images will be replaced with new ones that haven't been created with the help of an AI.
Replacing the images will be a difficult task given that the book releases on August 15, meaning there will likely be thousands already printed containing the AI art. So unless it gets delayed, the first run could look different from the rest.
Gamerant reports that April Prime, another artist who has worked on D&D campaigns, said she made concept art for the new book that was given to Shkipin, who then used AI to create the final versions (below).
It's not turning out to be the best year for Wizards of the Coast. The company faced massive backlash in January over a refresh of its old Open Game License (OGL) that severely restricted how Dungeons & Dragons-inspired tabletop roleplaying game creators and the community as a whole could adapt the base rules of D&D in their works. The anger saw Wizards of the Coast quickly decide that maybe the changes were a bad idea.
This is just the latest outcry over AI-generated/assisted art. We saw the same thing when it was confirmed Marvel show Secret Invasion's intro utilized the technology. And System Shock developer Prime Matter was blasted for using Midjourney to create a picture of antagonist Shodan and sharing it on social media.