Official artwork, Fan Art or imagination? A Poll!

Question time:

Do you like to see Official Artwork of NPCs? Do you prefer seeing Fan Art? Or do you like to just keep your own image of them in your head?

  • I like Official Artwork - it’s nice to see how the author sees their characters.
  • I prefer to see Fanart- see how my fellow players see them.
  • Actually I prefer not to see artwork. - I’ve got my own impression in my head and that’s enough.

0 voters

Opinions on why you chose an option would be welcome.


My personal vote is for official artwork. I always like seeing how an author sees their characters and how it compares to my own impressions.

(To be honest I should have added a fourth “I like all three” - but I can’t edit the poll.)


I prefer to see official artwork, though it’s mostly 'cause I like comparing and contrasting how the character shaped out to be in my head versus how the author envisioned them. Often times, the descriptions of characters (physically, at least) are left vague enough that we, the players, usually have free reign on deciding how they look, but I enjoy having something to base my own mental visualization of a character off of. Otherwise, I tend to start playing 20 Questions trying to squeeze out details about a character’s appearance so that I may then follow up with fanart. :grin:

In my opinion professional artwork is best, since it’s usually consistent in style and quality, whereas fan art is subjective drawing by different people, and can be in different styles with some inconsistencies.
But I’d rather have no art than just fan art, depending upon the game and characters and stuff.

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I absolutely love looking over fan-art.

If it’s official art, well sometimes it jars with my own image of the characters which can be annoying.

I love that people can be so passionate about a game that they want to make art for it. I think that’s good regardless of skill level! Only by practicing can people get better, and fan-art is a great way to practice and show your art to others.

One of the most flattering things I ever got was when I used to write and someone asked if they could draw my characters. They’ve been my longest lasting friend for what almost 20 years now.

I do admittedly like it when people ask first though. But if I ever had anything published I wouldn’t expect them to ask.

I’m not a huge fan of fan-castings though.


Fanart. I like seeing characters and people’s interpretations, but I don’t want my own view to be invalidated by a canon portrait. I have respect for the creators, and usually the official images look good, but sometimes seeing an image that really doesn’t comply with your imagination can be disheartening. Fanart is all good because you know that it’s just someone’s interpretation and isn’t the canon appearance of a character.

Don’t know about other authors, but I don’t really mind what people imagine the specifics of my character to look like. The reader’s imagination is just as valid as my own.


As a writer I like to see the world of Unnatural as a place called the “Unnaturalverse” and like some universe concepts I get behind the multiverse premise.

You have the world I created when I first wrote it (Unnaturalverse One)
Then when a player first played the game they created (Unnaturalverse Two)
while the next player creates (Unnaturalverse Three)
and so on and so on.

So to me everytime you start a new game you’re just entering a parallel universe. It is how the MC can be any gender, characters can live or be dead in different playthroughs yet still be valid.

So any official artwork would be how that character looked in Unnaturalverse one where as fanart depicts how they look in that artist’s universe.

I like any artwork, especially since I can’t draw myself. The character artwork in the Demon Hunter series really made it stand out to me right from the first demo (I’m still bummed it’s not in development anymore). I suppose I like official artwork better since it’s usually more technically proficient, wish you could choose multiple options though.

I like all three but in order: For initial play sessions and those alternative paths I want to explore I prefer head cannon. Once I do “everything” I want, I love to see official artwork from the author - it is fun to match head cannon characters to the author’s intended characters. Then I like fan art to compare those two with what others have as their head cannon.

Totally agree on this.

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I generally refer to the image I have created of the person in my head when playing through the game, but at the same time I feel like having official artwork enhances the game as well.


I’m so torn on this, I didn’t vote on the poll. I can’t choose! :disappointed_relieved:

On one hand, I do enjoy “official” artwork, as canon can be a good basis for comparison. Although, sometimes (especially for best selling novels) the authors get very little input into what art goes into the published final product, so you might not even be getting the author’s exact vision.

I also adore fan art because I love that people enjoy a piece so much that they want to express their own mental images creatively! It is very also cool to see how many different people can interpret the exact same characters so uniquely. At the same time, if their version conflicts with what I saw in my own head, it is much easier to dismiss it as their own headcanon without it impacting mine, which is harder to do with official artwork (at least for me, I know that sounds weird).

Along those same lines, sometimes I actually dislike when illustrations are included with a story at all, especially if I have a very solid, vivid picture in my head and for whatever reason the style within the illustrations conflicts with that, it can be distracting. Same with books that have been made into movies…it makes me sad when I start to imagine actors or set pieces when I got back and reread the stories and my own original thoughts become less distinct. Sigh.

TL;DR: My own imagination FTW? :sweat_smile:

As a rough character artist I like sketching out my characters and I find more often than not it translates into my writing one way or another. Though sometimes it can backfire knowing what they look like and assumING your reader sees it that way to. Some folks are more visual and prefer to have something more substence to grab onto.

But on the other hand letting your imagination run wild woth characters allows the reader to create an ideal look. I mean if you ask ten people what their definition of attractive is you’ll get different answers , so describing a character in story as attractive might give a vastly different mental image from person to person.

Either way it is TOTALLY awesome to see the different variations when it comes to fan art. To see the many versions of one character is like seeing into alternate dimensions like the difference between comic book characters from different realities ei) justice League tale of two earth’s (or something like that lol)

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I like at least having a rough description of a character, even if there isn’t any official art. Describing someone’s height, hair color (or bald), eye color, etc.helps establish them in my mind. Not that all details have to be filled out…

That said, it’s pretty obvious I also like fanart, though I also note that things will change based on my headcanon, what the artist is capable of doing, the needs of the picture, etc.

And for those who don’t care for artwork, I can understand that. A good example are people who may not like manga/anime styled art…and this could be at odds with what someone has in their head.


My favorite is A + B, seeing the difference between what the author sees and how the players imagine the same character. I have a public cover image which is already very different than some of the fan art for Monsters of New Haven High. Which, it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to look at so much fan art before the official art has even been released… I’m keeping most of it under wraps for now, and am curious to see how the art will shift when more is available.


I had a thought recently regarding this question. I think another reason I prefer seeing official artwork, beyond what I’d mentioned previously, is because it helps prevent the whitewashing of characters. I honestly get a little bit uncomfortable whenever I see fanart of characters that are meant to be a POC as white, especially when it’s followed by something akin to “I know X is meant to be (insert race/ethnicity here), but I headcanon them as (insert contradictory race/ethnicity here)!” Does anyone remember the White Isabela/Dorian mods from Dragon Age? I sure do. Maybe I’m being a bit overzealous, but the way I see it is that if you wouldn’t deny a living person’s culture/heritage, you shouldn’t do it to a character.

If the character’s description is left purposely vague, as most times they are (much to my dismay :frowning:), then I’ve absolutely no problem with most of the fanart I see - go for it! Let me see your interpretation! I love seeing different versions of vaguely defined characters. It gives me ideas of what I should picture them as since I honestly suffer at visualizing characters without enough details. :sweat_smile: It’s only when fanart starts to skim on major defining features of the character that I start to get a li’l bothered.


As I said in the Witch Path thread - it is always good to know where the author is coming from for characters and locations in their story.

I also think headcannon that is different then the author is o.k. too and useful, especially in testing. Whether I see a character as a member of the Russian mob or a member of the Crips gang isn’t as important as knowing how the author sees the character.

In testing an author can get feedback on how her or his testers see a character and can work to improve or change the perceptions given by that character

I do believe you should be careful about accusing people of “whitwashing” though. In Dragon Age Inquisition, I hated Vivian for a few reasons, none of which were related to her being a person of color. Just because a person’s headcannon is different from the author’s, even if it is a different skin color in question that shouldn’t be reason to codem that person.

I agree that personal interpretations can help an author discover if they managed to convey a character’s appearance across, but I disagree with the latter. The Russian Mob is predominantly Caucasian. The Crips are predominately African-American. There’s a difference. If the character’s meant to be black, and you’re choosing to see them as white… there’s a bit of a problem there.

That’s not what whitewashing is though. You can dislike a character for their personality or actions regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Here’s a video.

And herein lies the problematic nature of headcanons themselves. :wink: Do we excuse problematic behavior simply because it’s a headcanon? And, yes, I would consider it problematic behavior to erase a character’s race/ethnicity in favor of another 'cause why not. Like I’d said before, this doesn’t really matter if it’s never been defined, but if a character has purposely and explicitly been stated as being Chinese, African-American, Egyptian, or any other non-white ethnicity, it’s likely been done for diversity and inclusivity. To negate that is honestly a really crummy thing to do and likely counter to what the author had been intending.


The differences in characters are more then their skin color though - that is why whether I see the villian as Russian mob or Crip does not matter as much as the author’s intent. The author’s intent is key for understanding the story and either accepting it or not. Not my interpretation,

I’ll give you another, more personal experience. In the recently released Book of Samurai there is a sadistic machoistic scene. Knowing my history, my Japanese culture and more about some things then I wish I knew, the scene is very much a sexual scene, one charged with more layers of intensity then I can describe without breaking the story down passage by passage.

Most in the thread disagreed with my interpretation - which on a impersonal level makes me feel better about my fellow community members but they were still wrong in their interpretation of the scene. But none of this matters until we get @MultipleChoice’s take on things because his intent and purpose is the most important thing here.

If the author’s intent is merely to provide a villain without actually giving them an identifier, then it would be totally valid to view them as either or! It’s perfectly acceptable to do so when the author purposely leaves a blank slate for the player to fill, but, again, I’m referring to instances where the author has explicitly provided a race/ethnicity for a character. That is when whitewashing becomes an issue.

(As an aside, I do agree with you about the scene in Samurai of Hyuga! That scene was totally sexual. I think the issue is that most people hear ‘sexual’ and assume penetration (or nudity at the bare minimum) has to be involved otherwise it can’t possible be. :joy:)


I think we actually agree on all levels; I just was not expressing it well. But the short of it is, this is why I believe art done by the author or author’s team is important.

@Fiogan provides art for her 1930’s setting and the clothing, hair-styles and evetything shown really helps her audience see the world she is building.

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