Terrible art is terrible art. It’s not “Classic”. It’s terrible.
I see a lot of RPG books come out with art that looks like old, classic D&D:
Now, when D&D first came out, they certainly couldn’t afford to hire the best artists for their art, so they made do. There wasn’t a lot of artists out there doing fantasy art, so they made do. Art (frankly) wasn’t that great at the time, so they made do.
Above is the result; something I could have drawn (and I’m not an artist).
So how is it you explain RPG books coming out nowadays with art of the same quality… or worse?
Now, I fully understand when someone is coming out with a small supplement, something that’s not meant to be a full-fledged print product. But how do you explain it when a small-press company comes out with a print core rulebook with art that looks like this piece of 1st edition art:
There is no excuse. There are plenty of fantastic artists waiting to be hired for your next RPG book: Brian Patterson, James Stowe, and a ton more. You want to make a clone of old-school D&D? Fine. Why can’t your book look like this?
Do I understand that not everyone can hire Tony DiTerlizzi? Absolutely. But why can’t you find an artist that’s at least somewhat comparable? You’ll never get new players into the game with art like the examples above. It looks like something someone drew in Junior High.
You want line art? Fine! Take a look at this:
That looks great! And it doesn’t look like the terrible art of Old D&D.
You’ve got to spend money to make money. If you want to make a retroclone, do it with style, and make some good-looking art for it.