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Author Topic: How much does it cost to pay a background artist?  (Read 4306 times)

Armageddon

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I'm just curious, how would you find and pay a background artist? Is it weekly wages, or per background? What's the going rate and such?

miguel

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Re: How much does it cost to pay a background artist?
« Reply #1 on: 14 Apr 2013, 12:43 »
Hi Armageddon,

My experience told me that it varies a lot.
I supply drawn B&W backgrounds to a artist, he then colors it and may correct some perspective issues as well.
I'm sure that a full original background will increase the price.
When I started gathering artists to my game, on various internet sites, I received really discrepant values.
I'm not telling you how much I pay now (it's not much, I'm just a working normal guy) but I can tell you that I had this guys wanting 400 dollars for coloring a background! On the other hand, there were people that would do it for free, for 5 bucks, 10, 20, etc...
So, it's clear that professionals and guys that have been doing it for a while will charge you a lot of money. Amateur artists will drop the price according to their own experience of market prices as well, or if they are just starting to be paid for work, etc...

One thing I am sure of is that free artists don't really work out well. For both ends of the deal. You can't really expect that your work will be done in a decent amount of time and they will eventually loose interest or give priority to paid work. You may also loose a good friend...
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Ilyich

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Re: How much does it cost to pay a background artist?
« Reply #2 on: 14 Apr 2013, 13:24 »
As someone on the other side of the question (in a very literal way :)), I have to add... No, I've got nothing much to add, really. :) It indeed varies a lot - depending on the artist's skills, personality, attitude towards his/her craft (hobbyist, amateur, professional - established or beginner), interest in this particular project/medium, where he/she lives etc.

The main thing that can help you estimate the costs of hiring an artist, in my opinion, is keeping in mind that being an artist is like every other job - at the end of the day you have to be able to pay the bills. So if you're hiring an artist to do a month's worth of work - be ready to pay a month's worth salary. Low salary for beginner artists and a hefty one for highly skilled professional.

Regarding the payment method - it would be 'per background' in most cases, given how it's very hard to keep an eye on whethter someone is doing their job or not over the internet, apart from seeing the results.
As for the rates - I can't safely say, but I think it would fall somewhere in the area of 50-150$ for a commercial-quality(for AGS devs) background.

Slasher

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Re: How much does it cost to pay a background artist?
« Reply #3 on: 14 Apr 2013, 15:04 »
No wonder some of the games here (mine included) look a bit drab, and paying out good money for no-returns must be about a labor of love, of course if it's good enough to sell maybe you will make a bit of a profit.

If you hire a professional than you should expect to pay his rates whatever the cost.

I'v always believed that programs like AGS should be about giving amateur people the chance to make games irrespective of graphic or other skills. It should be about sharing.

So, if you seek a pro then get out your wallet and spread the wad.

It is nice though to see well drawn and colored backgrounds in a game.

If only I had great graphic skills... £100 a background  (laugh)




Dave Gilbert

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Re: How much does it cost to pay a background artist?
« Reply #4 on: 14 Apr 2013, 20:41 »
This is such a broad question. It depends on the artist, the game, and the style you want. I've paid as much as $500 per background on a project, and as little as $25 per background on others. Determine what kind of budget you have, and how much of that you can allocate to backgrounds. Once you know that, it's just a matter of finding an artist who is willing to work within that budget.

David Ostman

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Re: How much does it cost to pay a background artist?
« Reply #5 on: 15 Apr 2013, 10:33 »
If only I had great graphic skills... £100 a background  (laugh)
People with talent so very often sell themselves short... If you had great graphic skills you'd be selling yourself very short cranking out backgrounds at $100 apiece, unless they were quick 2-3 hour things of course.

I'm often on the receiving end of quote queries where someone wants me to make a Gears of War quality game character for $50, seemingly not realizing it takes roughly 2 weeks of full time work at $40/hour.

Most people aren't used to dealing with professional freelance artists, and they don't realize that if you are dealing with a serious professional you have to expect to pay roughly twice as much for his/her time as you would a full-time employee. Why? Beacuse it works out best for both parties. After the artwork is done you don't have to keep paying him for dead time where he isn't working on anything (and don't have to lay him off), and as a freelancer you have to make twice as much as a full time employee to compensate for periods where there's less work, adding to your retirement fund every week, medical costs out of your own pocket, paying your accountant, sometimes your lawyer, etc, etc.

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Re: How much does it cost to pay a background artist?
« Reply #6 on: 19 Apr 2013, 07:35 »
Depends on.

1: Time
2: Skill Level
3: Difficulty
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Daniel Thomas

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Re: How much does it cost to pay a background artist?
« Reply #7 on: 19 Apr 2013, 23:20 »
I'm probably just echoing what others have said, but here it goes anyway:

How to find one:
I personally would contact and ask an artist whose work I like, know personally or have been recommended.
Otherwise I think you can make a "looking for help" post in any art forum/game development community like tigsource, indegamer, ca.org, gameartisans. Or just look in their portfolio sections and contact artist you like.

How to Pay:
This varies, some will invoice you and some will just ask you to send the money. Paypal and bank transfers are the only two options I have experience with. Some will ask(very few, I'm guessing)  for "hire for work" contract. Some will just discuss over email and make agreements that way.

How often:
This depends on the artist and the project. You will most likely need to ask the artist - I would suggest that you let him/her(I'll just use him for from this point) know what you would prefer and ask if this would be acceptable for him. So it could he hourly, per asset, per mile stone. It can be half money upfront (make sure you trust the artist) and rest on completion. It could be he shows the Final JPG or and send the high res PSD after payment received.
Make sure to ask how he deals with revisions - some might have a set number of revisions before he want to charge more (usually to avoid that the client isn't clear on what he wants or change his mind totally on something that was already agreed and decided in). Some might just use common sense and fix anything you are not happy with as long it's a sane amount of work.
I think VERY few will ask for a fixed weekly or monthly rate. I can't really think of any reason why it would be like this. Another thing would be if you guys agreed that he invoice you every month - but still only for the hours / assets he created.

How much does it cost:
Depends on
1 Time (based on 2 and 3)
2 Skill Level of the artist
3 Complexity
4 Rate (likely based on 2 and 5 )
5 Living/business cost (if doing it professionally)
If you find an hobbyist he are more likely have a lower rate, as he is not depending on his art to survive. Could be a generalization from my part though.
With that said not saying an hobbyist would behave less professional or that his skill level needs to be lower in any way.

Conclusion:
It depends. :)
I think you can just contact the artist/artists and ask them, they are not expecting that you know how they work.
Most of my client emails contain:
Introduction, project description, interested? available and rate. Some time with a asset list of what needs to be done and ask a time or cost estimation for the work.
Some will ask for a NDA to be signed before revealing detail, sending game design documents and such.
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