How much do you pay for graphics?

Discussion in 'Game Development (Technical)' started by dxgame, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. lowpoly

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    Good point, which puts us right back on topic again in terms of what do you pay for good art? For jobs I've freelanced (non-games) I prefer to charge a set project rate, but I find most people would rather do the hourly thing. I don't know if it's placebo, as if they believe they are getting maximum value for their money if time is quantified and accounted for, but clients seem to have less reservations that way.

    I just get the feeling that for non-art types, there is a general misunderstanding about what goes into any art piece. If it takes me 45 minutes to do something, I would argue it doesn't necessarily mean it's only worth exactly 3/4 of my hourly rate. I guess the problem is how do you relate to someone they are not just paying for the completion of the task but also the skill of the artist?

    It's not always as cut and dry as, 'make X amount of spaceship sprites and I will pay you $Y each'. Or at least, it shouldn't be...
     
  2. milo

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    That is equally true of programmers, writers, lawyers, and a lot of other people who sometimes charge by the hour. Perfect markets only exist in economics theory textbooks. In the real world, we approximate value as best we can, and charge what the market will bear.

    --milo
    http://www.starshatter.com
     
  3. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Surely it does mean it's worth exactly 3/4 of your hourly rate? In fact you could only charge less! If you've dragged your feet otherwise what's the point of an hourly rate?

    When you pay someone to do a task for you (no matter what it is) you're paying for the skill of that person - the skill is taken into account when deciding a price. An artist is no different. If an artists skill is worth more then they have a higher hourly rate or charge more for the piece. I would expect to pay more to an artist than someone who flipped burgers.
     
    #103 luggage, Aug 30, 2005
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2005
  4. soniCron

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  5. Huge

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    I've been programming for over 20 years, one way or another, and just decided to write a game about 3 months ago (part time). For me the programming side was very easy, and I've spent way more time on art. Mind you, most of that time was trying to lift myself slightly above "programmer art". So, as a programmer, I would say art is more important.


    Here is another intereresting way at looking at the components of programming. 1) the "game content" and the other bit 2) the actual code. One way to look at the code bit is to see how long it would take to port to another language. This bit is probably only about 1 week, the "game content" bit is actually the hard bit. If an artist could define the "game content" bit, he could outsource the programming quite easily.

    My main reason for doing the art myself is for the learning/expanding my mind. From a purely fincancial positions, for a single game, I'm sure a $1000 would be a good business decision. But maybe I will do more than 1 game (maybe I'll even finish 1 game).

    If I were to partner with an artist, I would think 50/50 split be benefit BOTH parties. Thus is the power of comparitive advantage.
     
  6. steve bisson

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    shop around

    i agree the art content is very important ( imagine a new graphic engine demoed with poor graphics ) it would probably not have a good response from the public until someone does something that looks good with it. But only good programming could make it look good.

    Its a ying-yang thing for me , the demos scene is a great exemple for that.

    as far as prices goes man ! 4 digits for a pacman game hehe , unless its a revolutionary pac man game with really fresh up to date graphics, i dont see how is price could be realistic.

    http://www.dakurv.com/lumixed/shot01.jpg
    http://www.dakurv.com/lumixed/shot02.jpg
    http://www.dakurv.com/lumixed/shot03.jpg

    i do complete level designs like those for a lot less than 4 digits ( those have fully animated multi-layer backgrounds with gameplay animations in the foreground ) I can handle the music and sounds too , it prevent employers from the problems related to dealing with a third or fourth person...

    But i only use freeware software like the gimp and audacity , maybe those guys have to pay for a whole bunch of softwares they bougth and for office space... i guess its heavily influenced by the artist's expenses and reputation.

    If hes a "star" in the business , it can probably justify is price.

    I say shop around.
     
    #106 steve bisson, Nov 7, 2005
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2005
  7. gpetersz

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    "You hand your typical programmer and artist a blank sheet of paper and a pencil and they can both give you 'art' (beauty is in the eye of the beholder)"

    Errrrr...... or eeeeekk ? ;)

    That's the programmer point of view. Art has its basics like colors, lights, forms, line-weights, composition what you have to LEARN. No programmer without any practice will produce anything acceptable. The programmer will give you exactly the same result as the artist with the PRINT "HELLO" GOTO 10... That programmer's-art will bring the same "complexity".

    I am a programmer AND an artist, so I guess I see both sides. (graduated as a programmer, and self-made artist...)

    In my opinion the 2 fields should work tightly together to produce the best outcome. There are royalty free model/texture/sprite packs but that won't give you that unique outcome as an artist. There might be softwares like GameMaker or other "4GL" game producing tools, but naturally they won't give you much freedom or that much freedom as a programmer. You can have acceptable result with "programmer-art" or "tool-sourced-code", but the best if a team works on the game in harmony.

    About the topic:
    What to charge? For example, I got $396 for the art I produced for
    two cellphone game. I worked a week on them. Some 100+ sprites, backgrounds and splashscreens. I got $80 for around 60 sprites, I made for a shareware game (main character all animations). I made logos for around $50-$100. Card art for $35-$50 (not to detailed).

    Now, if I would price for example Manic Miner : main character, limited animation, left-right run, jump, death, some extra between levels or while not moving (around 30 frames), monsters (30 monsters, 4-8 frames all, around 200 frames), tileset(s) around 100 tiles. Keys, and other elements (20-30 frames, smaller). Additional art (menu, hi-score, splash). I think it would take 2-3 weeks, I would price around $800-1000, maybe less.

    Note: I am not after work. :) Nowadays, I don't freelance, it simply doesn't worth it. You can make a living of it, but (contrary to some opinions here) I would like to have heavier influence on the projects with ideas and so.

    I hope that helped. :)
     
  8. Omega

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    A drawer is the same value as a programmer.

    But a Creative Director is the same value as a Producer/User Interface Design Engineer (whatever that is.)

    In other words, somebody who knows how to mix and match colors and and replicate WHATEVER they want on a canvas, be it a car, or a snowmobile or a bust of a president, is the same as a programmer who understands how to make classes and functions work together and design a system that can support whatever thing they want to. They are equivalent.

    But a Creative Director that not only can transform things into art but actually know and direct what the whole game experience should feel like, why you might want to make a zebra have red stripes in your candyland type game instead of black ones, but why not green ones, and how all of the things fit together, even if some thing are not perfectly realistic, to give a cohesive experience to the user that they SEE and HEAR...

    ............is the equivalent of a Producer of a game who can not only make object 1 go from point A to point B on a screen at 250 fps, but can make it seem to happen with a purpose and give the user the best user interface possible, with the best key-response that the game needs, with the best game mechanics, with explosions that are not too long or too short, with allowing the user to go to the options screen inside the game and change the resolution without having to restart the whole game, saving high scores and having multiple user profiles, all that stuff that makes the game easy to INTERACT with...

    then yes, both of those are also the same.

    But don't compare an artist to a producer nor a Creative Director to a programmer.
     
  9. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Thing is with the programmer's art there will be a game to play. It will, more than likely, look crap but there'll be something to play. Printing "HELLO" all over the screen isn't a game and there's a very very long way to go to get a game from there.

    Likewise with music and sfx, anyone can bash something out - it'll be crap but it will be there. But if you have NO knowledge of coding you can't even make a bad game.

    Obviously we aren't talking about making a 'quality' game here - for that you'll want people who are excellent at their jobs.
     
  10. gpetersz

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    Oh man... please!

    Declaration: "Yes, a programmer worths twice as much as an artist because he can make crappy looking games." (but what for???)
    And the debate is over. ;) (from my side)
     
  11. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Put it this way. If I had to pick one person to make a game all on their own and the choices were...

    a) a programmer
    b) an artist
    c) a musician

    I'd pick a programmer.
     
  12. gpetersz

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    Yes, I'd pick too. ;) May we move on now?
     
  13. soniCron

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    I think the fact that you don't need to be a programmer to make a board game speaks volumes about the issue...
     
  14. Evak

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    I have found that experience is the key to how much you make. The Range of salary depends greatly. I found an artist with 2 years experience will typicaly earn more than a programmer with the same ammount. But as the experience levels and expertise go up the programmers will climb higher faster.

    If you get the chance, best to get your foot in both doors and become a game designer that does both art and coding :)

    When I do look for work on commercial games, I usualy look for smaller developers that have a close knit family sprit. They often tend to be the least secure jobs because the future of the company often relies on one product. Nice thing is that you typicaly get more creative freedom and the whole team takes some part in the design and development. Of course the drawback is that the project ultimately lies in the hands of publishers and their marketing teams, who decide what will and won't work.

    Not sure what the last has to do with money, but I do feel some of the reward is how much enjoyment you get out of doing the work, and your working conditions.

    One place I worked at was fairly low pay, but NO overtime unless applied for and a regular hourly rate. At the time I didn't appreciate what this meant (being fresh out of college). However the next job that was sallaried and 3x higher pay showed me that quality of life was far more important.
     
  15. randyedmonds

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    Game designer with art and programming skills. It that an unheard of?
     
  16. KNau

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    I suppose the original poster for this thread was asking for it when he asked "what do you think of this comment?". That was a can of worms that didn't need opening.

    I personally would never pay an hourly rate on freelance work and I don't know anyone who does. You don't want to get stuck paying for time the artist spent surfing the web or reinstalling their Wacom drivers.

    The best way to get this done is to itemize your needs and have the artist bid on a price and timeline for completion. They can either offer a bid for the total project or on a per item basis, but it's up to them to figure out their time requirements and let you know up front.

    Also, get a paper route or something and pay cash only - don't ever offer royalties!

    To produce all of the artwork for even a simple game you would be in the 4 figures minimum. A good "round number" I often reference is $500 dollars a week to engage a professional artist. If you offer a project that you expect will take up 4 months of their time then start with the sum of $8,000 dollars and negotiate as much as you can.

    Splitting the project up between a handful of artists can bring the price down significantly since they tend to bid lower on small jobs. So when you tally 5 small jobs up, it becomes cheaper than contracting out 1 big job. Also, if you're willing to learn a bit about "cleaning up" artwork you can look outside the video game industry (cartoonists, painters, etc.) and you usually find more original work of better quality for cheaper, but it needs to be converted, resized and alpha'd in order to work in your game.

    Lastly, you can save a real bundle by buying game assets from dedicated sites. The downside is that other developers have access to the same objects but the upside is you get them incredibly cheap compared to custom work.

    If you are a hardcore programmer then I say create your art assets procedurally in the game engine. That'll show 'em!

    Incidentally, it's an industry-wide acceptance that it's easier to teach an artist to use a computer than it is to teach a tech-person how to draw. But then I do both, so I don't have to take crap from anybody :)
     
  17. LilGames

    LilGames New Member

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    Well then is the problem the pay structure or is the problem that in the above scenario, the artist is charging you for time that they shouldn't be?

    I do most of my work by the hour (though I establish estimates before starting projects). If I leave my house to grab lunch, I "punch out" so to speak. If someone calls me, interrupting my work and keeps me on the phone for 10 minutes, I deduct it off my timesheet.

    You just have to keep your workers honest.
     
  18. KNau

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    True. I just assume the worst from people, that way I'm never disappointed.
     
  19. Anthony Flack

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    Not at all. That's basically how I'd describe myself. But I had to figure out a way to cover the programming side because it was just impossible to find someone to do it for me.

    But you find a way. Programming isn't the great barrier that many programmers like to congratulate themselves into thinking it is. Ultimitely it's not what you know that's valuable, it's what you do.
     
  20. Reactor

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    I'm similar to Anthony, but I'm in the infancy stage of learning to program. Anyhow, I agree that it's what you do that counts more than what you know.
     

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