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Art options for new android dev of a card battle game

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I am working on an android game that will require me to have portraits of monsters similar to collectible/trading card games such as Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh. I'm trying to figure out my options that fit both my budget and abilities.

So what I would need is 50 - 100 square portraits for monsters such as skeletons, ogres, dragons, etc.

As far as I know now my options are:

1. Pay someone to create them for me
- How much would I expect to pay for something like this? $1, $5, $10 an image? I think it would cost way too much for me.
2. Find freely available images to start then use some of the money I make to fund proper artwork?
- I'm not even sure if there are stock images that would fit what I need.
3. Make it myself.

To address #3, I have Photoshop and Illustrator on my macbook, but I don't have any experience with those programs or art in general. Based upon my research, PS is for pixel art and Illustrator does vector images, right? And it seems like the vector stuff would be easier for someone new to art design, but it also looks almost too cartoonish for me. I really like the rich images found on the Magic cards. I know that I would probably need someone to do it for me to be like the Magic cards, but would it be reasonable to think that someone new like me could use PS to somewhat recreate the feel of those images?

So, do you have any suggestions or answers that would help me out? I think the biggest limiting factor to getting the game finished is the artwork and I want to do it right so that I can get people interested by the game idea and art then keep them in the game with the gameplay.

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Well depending on the quality of the portrait count on more then 100$ per image. Artist will have to make concepts and pick the best from it and refine that for at least 2 hours to come up with something nice. If they only need to be around 32*32 pixels you might get away with the prices you posted.

Why not use place holders? If your game won't be fun without artwork it's not going to be fun with either. Once you created most of your game you have several options.

1. If it's a really good game, you could loan the money and hire a artist to do the job. This is the simplest and quickest solution. Since the game is good it's probably going to sell well especially in combination with good art. Loan 5000$ to get most artwork in place release as a beta for 10$ and 500 sales should break you even.

2. Once you can prove you are dedicated and show lots of content you could post on kickstarter.com. At this website you can ask for donations in return for something when the game is finished. You will see things like donate 1$ to get listed in the credits, donate 10$ to get the game a week before release, Donate 100$ to get a card named after you, donate 1000$ for you company logo in the background, etc. You have to set a target amount and a date, once that target amount is reached you will have the money available. If you can show and interest people enough this can work very well. There are projects that get 100K$ in a day or two, but most of them already proven themselves very well in the past.

3. Once your game is very well on it's way to completion you could offer a contract to an artist offering him a percentage on sales, this is the most complicated way since you have to setup a contract. I can't give you good percentages so heres just 2 examples, 25% of all sales or 75% until 5K is reached. You could also combine this by paying them up front and when you release the game give them a share.

5. Free all the way, dwarf fortress made +- 40K$ a year on donation last 4 years. The community made, music, sound and art work as in tile sets for it. If you can grow a big enough dedicated community this could be profitable. Even open source could bring in a nice amount of donations and people are willing to donate content as well. Must be said that dwarf fortress is a exception as in the amount of donations it gets, but you can certainly get some good money from this.

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