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How much to pay artists?

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I am also planning to start working on a visual novel soon, but I suck completely at drawing art. Out of curiousity, how much did you pay the artists for all the art in your game ( assuming they were hired, and not friends helping you for free ) ?

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The amount to pay artists is relative to their skill level.

 

If you want your game to look like an indie game with simplistic cartoon graphics, you can probably get a novice artist and pay them $15-$20 a hour.

 

If you want a commercial looking game that is the next Final Fantasy, you need an expert artist and that could cost $40-$60/hour for that level of skill.

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I pay by the asset, not hourly. And we agree on scope and payment beforehand, by including a specific amount of "comment passes".

It makes things more predictable for me and for the contractors I hire. It also allows me to scale production easily.

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I pay by the asset, not hourly. And we agree on scope and payment beforehand, by including a specific amount of "comment passes".

It makes things more predictable for me and for the contractors I hire. It also allows me to scale production easily.

 

I too would do things this way. I just listed hourly figures because it wasn't specified how big the project they were making was for me to give them an estimate. So they might have to just do the math themselves.

 

But I will tell my own personal quotes for games. To have art custom made by a novice, it costs about $200 for 25 sprites with some of them being animated ones. This is almost the minimum for good art, I think. And many games use more than 25 sprites. Plus people may want them done in a higher quality, which will cost more.

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Thank you for the information. Apart from the sprites, do you have any idea how much the CG images for a visual novel would cost? They seem a lot more detailed and like they would require a lot more effort. I'm thinkning of something with a high level of detail, let's say something like this:

 

http://konachan.com/post/show/168688

http://konachan.com/post/show/166760

 

An overall price per asset would be nice.

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Different artists charge different rates.
The same artist may also charge different rates for different clients, which is why it's unlikely to find someone revealing their rates publicly.

With a rough estimate on those two pieces that you referenced, a professional artist charging an arbitrary amount of USD 40 per hour would take (spread throughout a couple or more days) about 10 hours to make the first one, and 12 hours for the second.
So you have the cost of USD 400 for the first and USD 480 for the second.

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A visual novel is a large work.

A visual novel is radically different from paying for a few texture sprite sheets.

You are linking to still images, but a visual novel is an interactive system with thousands, even tens of thousands, of beautifully rendered large images, with many of the images able to stand alone as fine art prints by themselves. You are talking in the levels of annual pay.

You probably are looking for an experienced, established, art studio. You could find a single artist to build your entire visual novel, but that will likely take a year or more for one person to complete. A visual novel is not usually crappy quickly made artwork, but a serious investment in time. I have worked with several artists who have drawn up single images like that; not in the specific style, but similar levels of quality. I assume the images are also going to be exclusive and custom made, you want something where the artist won't resell the artwork on their own website and make a fortune selling their own copies. Expect a high four-digit figure for a single large, detailed, quality work, exclusively licensed, from an experienced artist.

Instead of doing a visual novel on a per-asset basis, you will probably do it on a full project basis. As it involves thousands of quality images, probably at least one FTE work year, be prepared for a six-digit total cost.

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You're not going to find a rule of thumb. Its going to depend on the level of quality you are willing to accept, the number, size, and detail of the pieces, and schedule you need things to happen on. Costs are generally commensurate to your expectations, bounded at the top by what you can afford to pay, and bounded at the bottom by what any capable artist is willing to accept.

 

In general, its probably true that very experienced artists more than offset their additional costs by being able to produce high-quality work efficiently. You might be priced out of retaining artists of a certain skill level, but I would caution you against any thought that an artist charging less per time unit or work revision will save you money over one who charges more. With less experienced artists especially it is nearly impossible to vet how much value per dollar they will produce. I once tried out a novice artist, offering $15/hr for a trial period of 10 hours (with the stipulation that the resulting art had to be of usable quality). Two weeks later, a week late, this artist delivered 22 static, 32x32 tiles that were flat, boring, and generic, claiming to have burned 8 hours of their budget. In the meanwhile I really needed art to work with so I took 4 hours one afternoon to knock up some tiles. Being a somewhat competent tile-artist who would simply rather have liked to concentrate on the code, my tiles looked better none-the-less. Do your diligence before committing significant resources to any artist, but especially a novice one.

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Thank you all for your answers. I have gained some idea what to expect and will probably pace myself commissioning a few batches over a longer period of time, and try to go for mid-level artist.

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