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The Fan Art policy has been in place for several years now, and since then more images have been uploaded and displayed under it. However, it remains controversial among editors and some stances have since changed.

With the recent upload of File:Martisha Vinetalker Fan art.jpg, there's been renewed discussion both on my Talk page at User_talk:BadCatMan#Fan_art and behind the scenes, so it might be time to reconsider the policy. Please share your views below.

For reference, the earlier discussion that led to the existing policy is at Forgotten_Realms_Wiki_talk:Fan_Art.
BadCatMan (talk) 13:07, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

My opinion is that some professional grade fan art is ok, especially when art matches canon description... However, as a blanket rule, my vote would be against fan art altogether.
Artie (talk) 13:20, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

There's some pretty good fan art, but my vote would be largely against fan art, with what we do accept being reviewed for accuracy.
SilverTiger12 (talk) 13:26, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

I'm relatively new here but my opinion is that fan art should be allowed as long as it was made specifically for the Forgotten Realms setting, it is true to the official description, it is clearly marked as fan art and the author gives permission. I feel like some fan art is of the same quality as official art, sometimes even of higher quality. And some official content just doesn't have artwork at all. In my opinion, fan art can be beneficial to some articles in these cases. For example, Storm Lord's Wrath is an adventure with very little artwork. I found Jacob Johnston's blog with fan art of basically every NPC from the adventure, among other things, that he made publicly available. As far as I can tell, his artwork stays true to the official descriptions in the adventures. The artwork of Martisha Vinetalker that I uploaded is probably not the best example (as she looks relatively generic) but his artwork of more recognizable NPCs like the half-orc cook Cooragh Struckt or the Tabaxi captain Stands in Tar as well as of monsters like the Star spawn mangler or the Skull flier are really good in my opinion and official artwork for them just doesn't exist (at least as far as I know).
Malte Martin (talk) 14:24, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

The problem with this is art is subjective. One person might think a piece is gorgeous, while another might hate it and think it to be the worst. Removing fan art is simply to avoid conflicts and to adhere with canon policy already in place.
Artie (talk) 14:29, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

How about relegating all fan art to a sub-page called /Fan art gallery and put a link to it in the Gallery section of the appendix? Only official art would be used on the page itself. This keeps our pages as canon as possible while still acknowledging the talent, time, and effort that some folks have put into creating beautiful maps or portraits.
Moviesign (talk) 14:44, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

No. As with risque canon art, if we keep fan art, I'd rather treat it relatively normally rather than specifically drawing attention to it in such a manner. That said, two things: first, we should differentiate between fan-made maps and fan art, and second, we could establish some review process to go over fan art before using it (I take inspiration from WP:PALEOARTREVIEW)
SilverTiger12 (talk) 15:11, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

To begin with, let me state that I am of the opinion that fan art should be included in the infobox or bodies of articles. I do believe it should reviewed, voted upon, or otherwise approved by mods/admins of the wiki. I actually rather like the idea of a fan art section for approved upon depictions, for all the reasons Moviesign listed.
Ruf (talk) 16:25, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

As much as I adore art, fan art should be banned from this particular wiki. This is a canon wiki that uses official and officially licensed sources and so should only have canon content that is from official and officially licensed sources. Many of these comments have already been addressed via my proposal in the talk thread linked above. Please read the full thread, as it already addresses what is spoken of here. I list below the outline of a policy that defines what is fan art and what is not:


Definition of fan art / unofficial art:
Any image that is made from scratch, or an official image that has had its content modified (i.e., warped).
Content modification: unallowed:
Content modification applies to the descriptive aspect of art. Descriptive art portrays the description of something to the viewer: a sketch of a character, painting of a building etc.
If one takes an official sketch of a character and modifies its description, such as changing the color of the character's hair, this is classed as unofficial art, and not allowed. Filling in old black-and-white art, such as in regards to heraldry, that completely matches the canon description would be allowed, as it doesn't actually modify (warp) the content. Content modification can also apply to maps. If one takes a map, and explicitly changes the location of the landmarks, this is also not allowed, as the content is modified (warped).
Non-content modification: allowed:
Other types of modification are allowed, as long as the content is not changed. Maps, for example, can be modified without changing the content of the original art. Annotated maps are extremely useful for showing the locations of roads, city wards, etc. Imagemaps, cropping (changing dimensions), highlighting (a region, a road, etc), coloring an image to canon specifications, etc, are allowed. Any type of labelling, adding arrows, and adding physical locations, to maps or diagrams, are also allowed. Highlighting a section of a map would be allowed, as the content is not warped.
One wishes to describe where a series of portals connect across Faerûn. One then takes a section of an existing map, and draws the connections between the portals. This does not modify the content of the existing map, it has simply been modified to illustrate the connections; its content is not altered.
An image that doesn't modify the content must also:
  • be sourced: the original image needs to be sourced and the modified image must state who modified it.
  • be clear and justifiably correct: a modified map showing that Auckney is close to Luskan is correct, but showing it east of Luskan is not. Use official, canon sources and text to backup your claim.
  • have permission to be used: you must have the permission from those who modified the image.
  • not replicate something that already exists if it doesn't add anything extra.
  • be useful and relevant: a map of the Neverwinter region with an arrow pointing to Neverwinter stating "the location of the Neverwinter Nine" is not useful.
  • follow all other rules that apply to official images.


Fan art: Against in all forms that violate the above, including the gallery.

As per Movie's external gallery idea (where it is linked on the page but the images aren't actually shown)... I'd rather fan art be off the wiki in entirety, but I would be willing to accept this as a compromise if it helps moving this policy forward.

Possessed Priest (talk) 16:41, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

I don't see a purpose in fan art galleries. This is a wiki, not deviant art. Adding homebrew would only dilute what's canon and it would inevitably influence opinions of future authors/gamers doing research on the wiki. We already have bad 5e art that conflict canon as is, we really don't need more of that from outside sources.
Artie (talk) 14:29, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

I do strongly oppose the creation of fan art galleries, because that seems like something would practically invite people to upload fan art willy-nilly. I also agree with Ruf, that if we allow fan art we should allow its use in infoboxes and articles (though with lower priority than official art). I suggest some of the following criteria:


  • Fan art is any image that has been made from scratch that is not from an official source.
  • Fan-made maps are any maps made from scratch that are not from an official source, however heavily based on official sources they may be.

Criteria for Fan Art inclusion

  • Firstly, there should be a review process of some form, through which any fan art should go through before being used in an article. Images added that do not go through this process should be summarily removed without hesitation.
  • Permission from the artist to use the image is an absolute requirement. No fair use justification, period.
  • It must adhere to the source descriptive material (perhaps, even to the point of having the description, cited, on the file page).
  • It may not in any way be risque, unless the subject has been specifically described as risque, nor may it contain gore or other graphically disturbing imagery (Basically, SFW ONLY).
  • It may not be redundant: if the article already has ample, illustrative official images, then it does not need any fan art.
SilverTiger12 (talk) 17:11, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

I disagree with the assertion that moving fan art to a sub-page calls attention to it. If anything, it is the opposite. Most people don't even read down to the appendix where the link would be placed. To address one of Artie's points, the sub-page gallery could be generated by DPL, pulling images with the categories "Images of...." AND "Fan art". No one would be able to upload something into this gallery directly using one of the editors. And of course, we are within our rights to curate any and all images uploaded to the wiki.
Moviesign (talk) 18:04, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

The point i've made in chat earlier. I dont think fan art should be tagged with any cats apart from cat:fan art. When you are clicking on images of and see all images in category, fan art absolutely should not be mixed in with official.
Artie (talk) 14:29, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

It's not clear to me why quarantining fan art or removing all cats from it makes much sense beyond simply labeling things as 'fan art'. I don't think a compromise that ends with us stockpiling fan art away from where anyone would see it makes any sense: it just creates headaches at worst and kicks the can down the road at best.

Since this is a somewhat legendarily thorny subject, I'd like to try to shift this discussion towards one of the pros and cons of having fan art on the wiki, which I think is going to be a more productive way to crystalize everyone's thoughts on the issue. My thoughts are below, and I invite additions or challenges. My main framework here is to consider who benefits if we ban/keep/expand our use of fan art:

Reasons for banning fan art

  • I'm sympathetic to the argument that "this is a wiki for canon and therefore only official canon content is allowed". It's very clean, even if it is based on an almost moralistic way of thinking about the purpose of the wiki.
  • Limiting ourselves to official art allows us to focus on what I think is a great strength of the official art, which is as a time capsule for nostalgia relating to the FR brand (i.e., to preserve the media and to showcase how things have evolved across editions).

Challenges to banning fan art

  • There will always be edge cases, and there may be as much disagreement about them as about this policy overall. I appreciate the efforts of Priest and SilverTiger to lay out rules for what is/is not fan art and when something can/cannot be included on the wiki. A very clear set of guidelines with minimal points of reliance on subjectivity is a must not simply for a compromise, but for a blanket ban of fan art.

Reasons for keeping fan art

  • More art is better, full stop. This is for two central reasons, both of which stem from a supposition that the purpose of art on the wiki is not to be perfectly accurate (plenty of the official art is not, and we deal with it) but to engage the online DnD community:
    • Reason one: art is good for traffic, i.e., folks on social media are more likely to click on links with images and web pages with images are given more favorable rank in Google searches.
    • Reason two: art is good for our audience, especially DMs. More art gives them more to work with and more to engage their players with.
  • Having more fan art also potentially has benefits down the line should WotC decide to pull the plug on their Fan Policy on using their art. It is a bit of a hedge against the wiki being cast as just a repository for "stolen" Hasbro IP.

Challenges to keeping fan art

  • Quality, of course. We are not interested in the wiki becoming clogged with poor quality or low effort art, not only because it's ugly but because that would reduce the appeal and engagement of the site. We would need clearer guidelines on when a piece of fan art is unsightly or inappropriate.
  • We would need to monitor and make sure that fan art is not given priority over official art in infoboxes, etc. This becomes more complicated than policing a full ban because we will undoubtedly have to deal with more kinds of edge cases.

Reasons for expanding our use of fan art

  • Showcasing art from the community would complement our current efforts to grow a Twitter following and otherwise improve our footprint online. Presupposing that consent of the creators is mandatory, this could be a great way to increase visibility for ourselves vis a vis boosting online artists.

Challenges to expanding our use of fan art

  • There would be an even bigger emphasis on the above challenges of keeping fan art (i.e., concerns over quality and policing).
  • I doubt this would be an issue, but it would not be helpful to the wiki's reputation if we devolve into a platform on which artists engage in overt self-promotion.
Ultimately, I personally see the fan art debate as emblematic of us needing to decide what the goal of this wiki should be. It will continue to center canon, obviously, but beyond that is this a space for us to indulge our inner nerds in order to document increasingly niche corners of the Realms, or is this a website that seeks to grow, to embed itself deeper into the online DnD community, and to cater to that audience?
Arodp88 (talk) 19:55, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

Again. Fan art is not relevant to the wiki's scope. There are dozens of other resources to dig for "inspiration". The wiki is chronicling lore. Quarantining fan art would be done to differentiate it from canon - the wiki's purpose. Traffic less important to us as we do not receive monetary benefits of it. These points are silly.

I think it is pretty obvious that traffic is indeed something that several editors care quite a lot about. It gives our work here a sense of purpose and helps build community support for the idea that FR lore is valuable and should be preserved in the face of WotC's efforts to the contrary. Furthermore, it's flatly false to say that the only thing this wiki does is "chronical lore." What we actually do is "document media", and in doing so we are constantly making judgments, enforcing rules, and leaving notes about the canonicity of that media, especially with regards to art. We already treat being "official" art and being "canon" art as two different things! If canon were actually the only thing we cared about, we would also be discussing getting rid of official art that deviates from the written canon, and/or we would have no reservations about allowing for (as you said above) "professional grade fan art" that "matches canon description". If we decide that we only want to feature "art published by TSR, WotC, or its licensees", that's honestly fine with me, but it's not the same as saying we only feature "canon art". And again, I can see a great deal of benefit to the wiki in the long run from featuring fan art (and, admittedly, more work for us). Conversely, it's not clear to me who benefits from excluding it save the little gnomes in our heads who take pride in documenting things published exclusively by TSR and WotC.
Arodp88 (talk) 21:00, 8 March 2022 (UTC)

This is talking in circles. We should treat art the same way we treat lore -> Canon sources only. I'm against "professional grade" fan art on the wiki, my personal likes and dislikes of fan art stiles are irrelevant. As i've said before as art is subjective. There should be hard cut off on it. I completely agree with Priest's criteria. Including fan art is same as including a random person's home-brew character, of their home-campaign's lore.

Note: By fan art, I'm referring to illustrative portraits and scenes, etc., not official images with non-content modification for display purposes as Priest defines, which I'm all in favor of. I mean complete new artworks.

As it is, the fan art policy is a legacy policy, one formed to explain an existing issue, not to meet a desired goal. A stack of images were uploaded back in the wild west days of 4e, with some not related to D&D at all, and both with and without the artists' permissions. Some artists and readers contacted us about those non-D&D and non-permitted images and we took them down. Others were left up longer as we struggled to find a source or we found permissions and didn't want to offend anyone. Markustay's and HandsomeRob's maps seemed useful and had permissions (and their many small alterations and homebrew additions became apparent later). In the mean time, people uploaded fresh fan art, some who'd even commissioned and paid for it, and hey, there's precedent to point to. And so the fan art policy was basically built to handle the existing situation, and we kicked that can down the road while we focused on more intensive clean up.

Honestly, if we'd had no fan art on the wiki, or if I'd just quietly deleted it all while everyone was asleep several years ago, would anyone be asking for it now?

I don't think there's a need for more art in the form of fan art. At its core, this wiki covers novels and sourcebooks, both generally art-light mediums, for a game based on written and verbal description. They exist just fine without much art. A minor NPC like Martisha Vinetalker (and I'm just using her as an example because she's the most immediate, with no offense intended to Malte Martin) isn't important enough to need illustrating. An NPC like Alascartha Vyperwood is now too obscure; the purpose of her art was a single person's campaign. (Admission: I used fan art from the same collection in my campaign, but I found it through Candlekeep, not the wiki, and the piece wasn't uploaded to the wiki.) And major NPCs like Eilistraee gets plenty of official art without needing more pics of naked drow ladies. The official images are a bonus, the icing on the cake, but that cake doesn't need too much icing without getting sickly sweet.

And would the wiki really benefit from having more art in the form of fan art? I think not. We built its reputation and popularity on articles, on quality, well-sourced text. I monitor the social media for mentions and links to the wiki. When people quote or refer to the wiki, they always quote or refer to text. Images on the wiki are rarely mentioned, and when they are, they're official images on pages that have no lack of official images, and usually for memey reasons. Fan art doesn't get a mention at all. As for website traffic or a Twitter following, we've done fine with what we have. A few more hits or likes is meaningless; they don't add to the wiki and we don't get paid. Heck, I'd happily drop the Twitter account, and my small social media addiction, if I could go back to not worrying about it.

It's often been proposed that we could vote on proposed fan art and choose only high-quality, Realms-appropriate images. But we know that's subjective, and it's unreliable. What defines quality, or Realms-appropriateness, given the wide variety of the official art? None of us are art experts. What about artistic style, realistic or cartoony? Pixel art is popular currently, and we have a lot of old video game images, but who's going to accept more of it? How can an image properly reflect the Realms when we all have a different Realms in our heads, and a different Realms is depicted in each new edition, and art styles have evolved over the years. Our tendency is to be polite and nice, I hope. So, who of us can tell an artist "nope, sorry, we don't think your work is good enough"? What if we accept this artwork but not that artwork and have to explain the subjective difference? Every case is a potential argument. And the editor base evolves over the years; the editors of 2024 may approve a piece that editors of 2029 would reject, but now are saddled with. Or vice versa. Should they be reconsidered later? With all these factors, the scope of artwork expands, the perception of quality declines, and the wiki becomes a mess.

And what happens when someone feels cow-faced blue firbolgs aren't well represented and wants to upload a few?

To me, fan art is a form of homebrew. The FRW is a wiki for canon and licensed sources, refusing all homebrew and fanon lore, even side-projects and DMs Guild books from authors and designers who don't have 'Green' and 'wood' and 'Ed' in their names, and even some that do. (The arrogance!) As others have said, accepting and displaying homebrewed fan art is strange and antithetical to that stringent standard.

Finally, an image is not just a nice image to add color to a page and grab attention, it sets the whole tone and first impression for a reader. It may be subtle, but every image says something: the genre of fantasy in the artistic style, the apparent historical period and culture of the setting and clothing, the personality of an NPC from the facial expression and stance, and, more sensitively, their body shape and apparent ethnicity. A picture tells a thousand words, and shoves all that into a reader's mind in an instant, before they have a chance to decide otherwise for themselves. Given the common trends of fantasy art, an NPC who could've been fat becomes fit and one who could've been dark becomes light. This beauty-washing and white-washing has been common enough in the canon and licensed sources, and I don't think we should add to it with any more.

In summation, we don't need fan art, the official art is quite enough. Yes, the official and licensed art has its own problems of variable quality, tone, accuracy, coverage, and X-washing, but fan art carries all the same problems, but magnified tenfold and with a whole lot of other debates and issues to deal with, which we'll never agree on. The only standard we can all agree on is no.
BadCatMan (talk) 14:45, 9 March 2022 (UTC)

I'm not sure if this idea was brought up before (Silvertiger gave me the idea) but how about fan art is only allowed if it's kept to personal pages. The primary reason I see for keeping it is that it's inspiring and engaging with the broader community, so we can keep it on the wiki confined to our personal spaces. The pictures themselves (using the Corellon one for an example) can be tagged with the same "Illustrations of Corellon" tags that the canon ones have, and so that way if someone is searching for pictures of Corellon, canon or not, they can still find it. It would also be given a fan art tag to prevent confusion.
Vegepygmy (talk) 21:37, 9 March 2022 (UTC)

I think it's fine for fan art to be put on personal pages, just not in the wiki main space. However, it's not fine for them to be tagged with "Illustrations of X". Readers looking at categorised images on a canon wiki, which uses official and licensed sources, should only get those as a result. Otherwise, if I'm looking for canon images of say, Corellon, I cannot do this without unofficial fan art leaking in.
Possessed Priest (talk) 12:48, 10 March 2022 (UTC)

So if we were to vote, I'd be for removing all fan art (with allowances for user pages). I'm of the opinion that fan art should be an "all or nothing" thing, and the tradeoffs are such that it isn't worth having fan art if we're not leaning into it and encouraging it on the wiki (such as by making separate galleries as per Movie's suggestion). Since there really does not seem to be enough interest or energy among the editors to support a focus on fan art, and the current compromises of having some fan art scattered here and there doesn't do much more than create potential confusion among our readers, I'd vote to commit to official and licensed art only. Given BCM's history lesson on why the policy exists, I'd also argue that rather than bothering with a "Fan Art Policy", what we should have is an "Image Policy" that lays out what sources are allowed, what manipulation is allowed, what manipulation is required (i.e., removing text), and what other kinds of images (e.g., photographs) are allowed. Basically, we should merge and expand the Fan Art Policy and Uploading Images Policy.
Arodp88 (talk) 20:45, 10 March 2022 (UTC)

My opinion is that we should have zero tolerance for homebrew—including fan art.
Ir'revrykal (talk) 13:13, 21 March 2022 (UTC)

After quite a bit of deliberation, we have landed on the following:
  • Fan art is only permissible on user pages.
  • The existing fan art policy (which was never approved) will be archived. A note on fan art will be added to the canon policy…
  • …Until a new, comprehensive image policy is established, which will encompass everything from image modification (re: Possessed Priest's posts) to updated copyright guidelines.
  • Codifying image modification guidelines is well and good, but tangential to the matter at hand. Again, this will be revisited in the future.
Ir'revrykal (talk) 00:16, 8 April 2022 (UTC)