3rd Party Models/Media Chat / [ANNOUNCEMENT] How much to expect to pay for Custom Media.

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Posted: 25th Mar 2014 18:02 Edited at: 17th Mar 2015 15:13
The following is sourced from ErrantAI, who sourced it from indiegamer.com...

There are three levels of artists available for contract work:

- Amateur Artists
- Part-Time Freelancers
- Full-Time Freelancers

Amateur artists usually do not have to make a living off of their artwork so they can afford to charge much less. The downside is they produce a lower level of quality and lack experience. Every amateur artist wants to be a professional artist. The thing that has prevented him thus far is a lack of skill. These are the types who will work for cheap because they want to do some artwork in their spare time and are hoping to add a little bit of paid artwork to their portfolio in hopes of getting a "real job" someday. Amateur artists can be useful if you are working on a shoestring budget or a small project with a relaxed schedule.

Average Rate: $5 - $20/hr USPros: Dirt-cheap pricing

Cons: On large projects or projects with deadlines the amateur artist quickly finds himself out of his league. He does not realize when bidding that the project consists of just as much organization, communication and administration as it does art. He lacks prior experience with the game development process so is unable to anticipate setbacks and correct or avoid them.

Part-time Freelancers are usually either unemployed artists or artists with full-time day jobs who are moonlighting to supplement thier income. Part-timers will usually give you a better deal price-wise because they aren't really familiar with the long term consequences of working as a contractor as opposed to an employee, or they are desperately in need of income.

Average Rate: $20 - $40/hr

Pros: Reasonable pricing. Art experience.

Cons: Many times part time freelancers are unfamiliar with the bidding process and incapable of accurately estimating their own tasks, managing their own workflow, communicating remotely, etc. They are also usually only available for short periods of time and cannot be relied on for future projects or long-term work.

Full-time Freelancers are small business owners just as much as they artists. Their primary source of income is artwork and so they charge accordingly. There are many additional expenses involved with self-employment that an employee doesn't even know about. Most clients don't know about them either, which is why they are often so shocked when presented with rates exceeding those of an amateur or part-timer. Some of these expenses include hardware, software, self-employment taxes, advertising, administration, legal fees, accounting fees, business licenses, website maintanance, down-times, etc. The list goes on and on but in a nutshell it costs a minimum of 30% more to be in business for yourself than it does to work for someone else. Smart full-timers roll these costs into their fees. The others go out of business shortly.

Average Rate: $40 - $100/hr

Pros: Lots of experience. Ability to communicate remotely, estimate and bid accurately, self-manage, interpret client needs, and deliver consistently. Long-term availability.

Cons: Higher pricing.

Estimate Price for a 600 polygon 3d character model based off of provided concept art, UV mapped, textured using a 128x128 pixel texture map, rigged for animation, and given 5 short in-game animations. Exclusive Rights.

3d Model (4 hours)

UV Mapping (1 hour)

Texture (8 hours)

Rig & Skin (2 hours)

Animation (5 hours)

Total (20 hours)

Amateur: $100 - $400

Part-Timer: $400 - $800

Full-Timer: $800 - $2,000

Additional Considerations

Flat-rate vs Hourly. If working with an amateur I would highly recommend negotiating a flat-rate fee. This is because they are notoriously bad at estimating how long something will take to complete. It doesn't matter how low the quoted rate is, if you're paying hourly and it takes longer than expected that goes out the window. Amateurs, as a byproduct of inexperience, are also usually slower than professional artists, so though their hourly rate may be lower, the total number of hours to complete a job could be higher, counteracting the difference in price.

Revisions. Determine in advance whether revisions are included in the initial price, and if so how much work that entails. If not included, leave some extra in your budget for revisions if you think you might need them.

Exclusive/Non-Exclusive Rights. The price difference here will vary depending on how re-saleable the assets are. If you are doing a bunch of car models you might be able to get a discount for non-exclusive rights since the artist could package them up and resell them. If however you are doing some artwork that is totally unique, and that no-one but you would buy, then it won't do the artist any good to have rights to that - so you aren't likely to get much of a discount.

Location For my estimate above I have assumed that the artist is from the United States. If you dealing with an artist from India, Malaysia, or other countries with lower cost of living you can expect to pay less.
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