Finally found some acceptable desktop pictures.
As much as I love the actual game, one of my favorite moments in D&D was when I realized that the art had signatures on it. I went through all my books and I discovered that the same handful of guys had done most of the art. I became aware of the style of the pieces.
The art is one of my favorite things about the books. I love character art. I like drawing it, too, so having a lot to study is handy. The galleries on the D&D website are nice, but it doesn't quite compare to having the actual piece in a book in front of you. Resolution's better, for one thing.
And I've recently discovered that I really love pictures of magic items. One of my favorite things about the Magic Item Compendium (more on it soon) is the art, though I expect that to change once I actually get to use some of it in-game. The pictures convey a sense of possibility that the words don't really quite capture.
The pieces with a lot of magic items are particularly cool. Just the idea of having all these awesome things in one place--I never thought about just how interesting a magic item shop must be. (Or just how cool magic rings are.) Also: I want to make a store that sells only magic boots. And only magic boots.
Actually, I like any kind of art where a lot of things are lined up against each other. I don't know why, but those are often my favorite character pieces--those ones where they show all the races lined up against each other, or a bunch of different character options, all in the same picture. Like the pictures in Oriental Adventures of samurai and shugenja from all the different clans.
More miscellaneous favorites include depictions of an angel-killer weapon, from the BoVD, the mystery afraid of the dark, from the Tome of Magic, and "Faces of Evil" from Savage Species.
That last one, particularly, is much better when viewed on the page, because then you can read that the papers read "Plan A," "Plan B," "Plan C," and "Plan D," and that the book is titled "How to Pick Up Chicks." Which is particularly funny if you assume, as I do, that the character reading it is an incubus. The only other option that I can think of would be a half-demon, which isn't nearly as fun--and this was a 3.0 supplement, before they'd removed mention of incubi from the core game.
Entirely unrelated rant: Why'd they take out the line about succubi sometimes appearing as male in 3.5? Did they need to cut thirteen words that badly? It's not like you can't still use them that way (the stats are exactly the same, this no longer being 1973, *cough*) but it's no longer suggested. Maybe they figured it was self-evident. Maybe they got a lot of complaints.
It's all very mysterious.