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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 73 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Cover Art Questions  (Read 4626 times)
Amadeus
Member

Posts: 26


« on: April 06, 2004, 08:31:45 PM »

From what I've seen on here while digging through archives for a day, its seems that prices for art vary quite a bit.  I've seen quotes for full color covers from 100 USD dollars to 250-500 USD.

My point? I recently had an encounter with an artist in which I asked for artwork at 150-175 USD including only a front cover (less than 7x10'') and anything else he will spare.  He cold shouldered me which was quite annoying. This has lead me to believe that this may be somewhat incorrect or dated prices.

And so to the question:

How much have you spent on cover art for your game and how much should GOOD cover art cost?  Now I'm not talking WotC budget, but something one might see in the store, be drawn to by the art and say "hey that arts pretty good." and cause him or her to pick it up.  Granted, it will be accented by a hardcover (hopefully after i see costs etc) and spot gloss...
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2004, 08:56:15 PM »

How much have you spent on cover art for your game and how much should GOOD cover art cost?

There's nothing wrong with your $150-$175 range. You made him an honest business offer and he declined. That happens. And honestly, he did you a favor. The artist you want is the one who's excited about your project. He'll do his best work ever for you. Artists who accept because you've offered a hefty sum, or who grudgingly accept, but feel underpaid, might produce work that looks technically accomplished, but it will lack power. Instead of breaking the bank hiring an artist who's work excites you, find the best artist you can on your budget who's excited about your project.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Amadeus
Member

Posts: 26


« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2004, 09:07:51 PM »

Hmmm...

Thanks.  It is helpful to know that is not an unreasonable price, and your advice is close to that someone gave me about 10 seconds before I posted this - meaning maybe i should listen more to him =-).

Yeah, I was caught up in agetting a 'good' artist instead of one that actually cared.  The more it dwells in my head the more obvious it is how right you are.  I honestly don't want 'good art' in teh first place, i want eye catching art.  And i dont want art with no care put behind it - like someone just threw it down to get it over with and get his underpaid check.

Thanks for helping me see this,

-John
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daMoose_Neo
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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2004, 10:12:27 PM »

Prowl around places like Elfwood, even some 3D computer art sites. There are plenty of traditional artists there as well. Thats how I got artists for my CCG. I just made a post outlining the project, some links to material and said "I'm paying $40 flat rate on all artwork".
You wouldn't BELIEVE the responces I got, from some really good artists as well. Sadly, I couldn't use them all- I had like 10 pieces left at that point, which were quickly snatched up.
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
Amadeus
Member

Posts: 26


« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2004, 02:22:44 AM »

Ahh yeah I've been prowling around some sites, specifically gfxartist.com.  Never thought of that though.  Ive spent hours upon hours diffing throught heir art and never thought to let them bring it to me.  Would help weed out those that don't particularly care or want a better price or what not as it would be all there in black and white.  

Thanks, for your help and for everyones help.  This site has been such a great resource for such a newbie like me in realizing my dream of getting my game in print.
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Matt Machell
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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2004, 02:44:59 AM »

There's a bunch of enthusiastic artists who posted to the NPA art thread, they all have reasonable rates and are actively looking for work from Indie guys:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10148

Definitely worth contacting a few of them.

I've also had good experiences with Cliff Kurowski, http://webpages.charter.net/squirefang/ , again good work and reasonable rates.

-Matt
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Peter Hollinghurst
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2004, 05:30:14 AM »

From an artists perspective price also depends on the type of media they are using, which in turn affects the basic production cost in materials and time spent on the work. Covers done in oils tend to take longer than ones in acrylics for example, and thus are often priced higher to reflect the increased number of work hours involved. Style also has a part to play-artists that use a lot of visual complexity take longer over their work than ones that do not.
For many artists it thus becomes an issue of their working status-if they are a professional (trying to earn a living primarily from their artwork) they MUST charge for their time as well as materials. If your offered price does not cover this they will turn your offer down 9 times out of 10 (and if they dont they are doing you one hell of a favour!).
If they doing artwork as a hobby, or for occasional sales to supplement their 'real' job, then price is a reflection not of their time and materials but of your gratitude for their contribution and their desire to produce the art for you. It then becomes an issue of how much you both feel reflects this-and that can range from nothing at all upwards.
As a more personal example, when I was working in oils your suggested price range would not have got you much-quite simply I could not have afforded to do the work for you and would only have done it if I needed the publicity (and felt your peoject would get me other work) or if I really really loved what you were doing. Nowadays I work almost entirely with digital art (producing pretty much the same effect but at considerably lower cost and time input). An oil painting that would have taken me weeks or months to complete can have its equivalent produced in between four hours to a few days. This would mean that I would now take your price range more seriously, because it is more likely to reflect my own 'costs' as a professional artist.
When you approach artists to do work for you, it really helps to bear all this mind. Take a look at their style and the type of media they use, get an idea of what they are charging others and if they are creating art as a hobby or trying to make a living, and where possible offer to give them enough information about your project for them to see if it is something they would want to work on (because then you MIGHT get a lower price if they like it). Artists can be cranky, unpredictable and touchy about their work and its worth-but they can also be pragmatic business people, especially if you are approaching professional illustrators or designers.
Hope this all helps a bit!
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Storn
Member

Posts: 228


« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2004, 05:53:03 AM »

That price is low for a cover.  $400.00 is LOW for a cover.  A good  price for a cover STARTS around $600.00  for a professional quality cover.

A good cover can take 2 weeks... would you work for 2 weeks for $175.00?  

A good  digital cover can take a week, would you work for 1 week at $175.00?  That is barely above minimum wage.

You are talking about sketches, one approved from that, then pencils, with approval of that... before you even get to color medium.  That takes time.  It is just that simple.

In traditional paint, every figure you add in adds about 6 hours on  top  of what is usually a 20 or 30 hour  painting process.  So a battle scene for $300.00 is inadequate.

I  will not work  for less than  $400.00 a cover anymore.  They are too important to put anything less than my best each and every time.
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Storn
Member

Posts: 228


« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2004, 06:03:08 AM »

Quote
including only a front cover (less than 7x10'')


One more thing, size doesn't  really matter all that much.  Most artists with traditional paint methods will work several times up.  In fact, if it is 7x10, which is small, and you ask for a lot of detail work, the poor artist will be pulling hairs.  Frazetta's and Whelan's covers for PAPERBACKS are over 2 feet tall.

Digital, this isn't quite as much of a concern, but I still work x2 up if I can.  So, stating how small of a painting doesn't judge accurately how much work it will be.  And therefore, how much value gets assigned.

Quote
i want eye catching art. And i dont want art with no care put behind it - l


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but "eye catching" is what seperates the Pros from the Amateurs.  And to get a Pro, you have to treat them with respect and that means paying them a working wage.  "Eye catching" is NOT easy.  It is a craft.  Craft takes experience.  Experience costs.

What you are looking for is someone on the cusp of being a Pro, cares about your project and can settle for a little less money than a Pro.  They exist.  I was one for a time.  But it is hard, they are not easy to find.  Once they get some recognition, they move up to being a Pro.

Just to give you an indication HOW freakin'  cheap it is to get a cover in RPGs... a  paperback cover from TOR garners $1500 - $2000.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2004, 06:34:24 AM »

Hello,

Don't forget to check the Forge Resource Library for artists. Most of the people who've registered there have worked for publishers here, or have at least communicated with them, and so they understand the price range most Forge-ish authors are working from.

Also, I strongly suggest leasing the use of artwork, with no limitations whatsoever on the artist's control outside of your publication, rather than buying it.

Best,
Ron
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Luke
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Posts: 1359

Conventions Forum Moderator, First Thoughts Pest


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« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2004, 07:01:08 AM »

Quote from: Storn

I  will not work  for less than  $400.00 a cover anymore.  They are too important to put anything less than my best each and every time.


One look at Storn's web gallery tells you he is a professional, working artist. So it's definitely important to heed what he says.

However, this is the realm of the independent, from-my-own-pocket, tiny, small-press rpgs. $400 is often greater than the budget for the whole game. Hell, $175 is often more than we can afford to spend.

For the Burning Wheel front covers, I paid a whopping $30. $20 for the Wheel, and ~$10 for the graphics. Then I tweaked the images, used my design-o-sense, and voila, a cover. In fact, if I remember correctly, I was dead set against paying hundreds for a cover piece. I just couldn't afford it.

I get a pretty favorable reaction to those covers.

But, in the interest of full disclosure, I did pay $300 for the sticker/backcover art. It's a 12x12, full-color, guache-painted original. It's gorgeous and worth every penny I paid for it. I had it done two years before the game was in final draft stage, so I didn't have to pay for it along with all the other production costs.



There are tons of burdgeoning artists out there who will work for whatever you're prepared to pay. Sometimes I even have to insist on paying them! My best advice is to be fair. If you have the money to pay someone a decent rate, do it. If you don't have the money? Screw it. Find someone who'll do it for pizza, a copy of the game and $20. Be discerning and diligent, and it can be done.

-L
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greyorm
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Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2004, 07:43:05 AM »

I'll back up what Storn mentions about payment and quality. Pros will be more expensive than not, but it is worth it, and it is only reasonable.

That said, many of the artists here, including myself, are willing to work within an indie author's budget -- because we're indie, too, and we know exactly how much cash is flowing around the scene. I've done covers for everything from $50 to $500.

Also keep in mind, you get a level of non-flakiness with professionals you won't find with hobbyist artists...I can't tell you how many projects I've seen or worked on where the artist is the one who kept delaying publication by not finishing on time, or simply vanished without a trace days before their deadline. One project I watched stall waited six months for their artist to get on the ball and finish the projects he had taken on for it.

Even so, do check out art sites and post about your project, and be up front about payment and deadlines. You will find artists who are excited enough about your project to contribute quality on the cheap, reliably.

Finally, regarding digital art and speed...I work almost solely in the digital medium. I don't know that it increases my output speed THAT much. The cover for "Sorcerer" took me 80 hours, including pre-sketches and drafts attempts; normally, I figure a good 40 hours is average work-time for me for a decent painting.

So, that's something else I should mention: different artists work at different speeds. I'm a slow artist. But I know guys who can whip out incredible work in a couple hours (I envy). This is why it is important to mention deadlines, if you have them, so possible artists can judge whether they can deliver for you in the given time.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Storn
Member

Posts: 228


« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2004, 07:47:20 AM »

Ron has a very good suggestion.  For some reason, the RPG market is totally ver-klempt about leasing artwork...while the much more professional paperback and publishing industry does it ALL the time.  I think it has something to do with often RPG start up Publishers want "their" characters and ideas portrayed.  And the idea of letting them go and being used on a video game is scary.

But artwork is much cheaper if you let the artist keep the rights and you get 1st Time Publisher's right (I also put in a clause that allows for a free advertising, such as the cover in Dragon magazine is free...)

And it can backfire.  My good friends at Hero/DOJ had a devil of a time and STILL CANNOT do certain characters and reprints due to the fact certain character illustrations are held by a cranky artist(s)... I actually do NOT know names or how many artists...but I do know the problem exists.

My advice, when doing a liscence artwork project, is to make it generic enough that it can find another home, so the artist gets a chance to make some more money off the hard work.  Mking it likely that he/she will pick the project up.  AND so you, yourself is protected if the artwork is used elsewhere.. that some core concept is not being illustrated on lunch boxes (extreme example, but it could happen...)

If you see a new game product with Brom, Elmore or Parkinson... it is likely that was a paperback book cover, or a video game cover... and that is 2nd Use Publishing..  So young game company X can afford it.  Which ONLY works if the artist retains the rights to the work.
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quozl
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Posts: 534


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« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2004, 07:50:22 AM »

Storn,

About what price range can one expect if paying for 1st rights only or 2nd use from a professional artist?
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--- Jonathan N.
Currently playtesting Frankenstein's Monsters
Jack Aidley
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« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2004, 08:00:40 AM »

The Burning Wheel is, IMO, one of the best looking roleplaying games I own and that includes the non-indie stuff. It has what I would call 'cover design' rather than 'cover art' - there's a logo and a good choice of fonts producing a subdued but stylish and classy look. The fact it comes in such a funky format (two digest sized books) only adds to this.

I would suggest good cover 'design' is probably cheaper than good cover art.
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- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter
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