With the advent of oil paintings, works in Northern Europe take on an incredibly life-like appearance during the fifteenth century, in what became known as the International Gothic style. Works were originally commissioned by nobility, but eventually wealthy merchants and members of the church sought these pieces as a way of elevating their status. Paintings created elsewhere in Europe, like Spain, for example, carry the same naturalism but tend to feature less vivid color palettes.
The introduction of the printing press brings with it a sharp increase in the supply of affordable books and, therefore, literacy. Woodcuts featured within these books offer a significantly cheaper way to provide for images within books, though they are certainly less detailed than their illuminated manuscript counterparts.