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Subject: The Art and Process of The Lounge: A Mafia Game rss

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Alex Gregory
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Hello!

My name is Alex, and I am the creator of The Lounge, a social deduction game that is a set for the popular games Mafia/Werewolf. I have seen a lot of different sets for Mafia and Werewolf, with a lot of different card and art styles. Some are very cartoonish, others are realistic. There are even the few that are almost straight out of a Picasso painting.
When I set out to create The Lounge, I wanted to have an art style that conveyed what the game was: fun. I wanted a really nice looking card that was very conducive towards playing the game (i.e. easy to read and understand;clear).

I have currently had 5 cards commissioned, out of 82 unique roles. They are presented below:



A year ago, I had no idea how to commission artwork for a game. I didn't have any ideas on the cost, licensing issues, time frames, etc. Totally in the dark (without a flashlight). Luckily, I came across this forum, and was able to do some light reading. And so I went through, and looked at the different artists in this forum posting their portfolios and other works. I browsed for a couple weeks, actually, favoriting any that fit what I had in mind. I was looking for something cartoony, and relativity smooth. If the artists profile was mostly hyper-realistic, or extremely gritty I would ignore their threads. Their stuff was sometimes beautiful, but it wasn't what I was looking for, for this project. After a while, I reached out to several of the artists with a bunch of questions. These were artists that I found in threads on this forum, much like this one here. When I wanted to contact one, I just sent them an email with my query, which you can see here:

Quote:
Hello!

My name is Alex, and I am currently working on a set of cards for the popular party game called Mafia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_%28party_game%29). My current plan is that I am hoping to do a Kickstarter for my game sometime next fall. I am trying to obtain some money for artwork currently. If it does not work, I will include the cost of the artwork as part of the Kickstarter; however, I feel that it would be much more successful if I had it beforehand.

Anyways, my game has 108 cards, with about 82 needing unique artwork. (I know, its a lot!). Additionally, I would want some artwork for the box cover, rulebook, and for the Kickstarter page, if I can commission it beforehand. I would love to get a quote, and a rough estimate on how much time a project like this would take.

Specifics:
--The cards are Poker sized. I have included some of the files from my second prototype, with artwork from yours truly. (I know, its bad.) The main thing that each card needs to have is:

1. The name of the Role. (ie. Citizen, Thug, Voodoo Lady)
2. Alignment. (That is the circle in the top left with either a T, M, or 3rd. Stands for Town, Mafia, 3r Party).
3. Rules Text. (This includes the win condition for the role. I have tried to include the longest and shortest to give you an idea of how much in length these could vary.)
4. Flavor Text (Usually just a short blurb that will make someone chuckle.

The rest is artwork and styling. I think that a Film Noir cartoony look would fit the game perfectly, however, i am open to suggestions.

--The Box. This would need full art, and would be about 4x7x1.5 (inches). The working title for the game is "The Lounge", and I like that.
--The rule book would be mostly text, and I would only really need styling for this, maybe a few small images. Most could be pilfered from the cards themselves.
--The Kickstarter page would need some art. Most, once again, could be pilfered from the card images, but I would need a bit more to make it look really nice, and attract donators.


Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future!


As you can see, I was really fishing for information, as well as expressing interest. The artist that I sent this to was Mr. Cuddington(David Forest and Lina Cossette), whom I eventually decided to work with. Their work was absolutely beautiful, and it fit the style that I wanted my cards to be.

So what happened next? What followed was a long series of emails determining specifications, pricing, order amounts, etc, that we finally turned into a contract. Once the contract was signed, the fun stuff began: creating the cards.

I gave them a simple description of what I thought the card should look like, as seen below, as well as all of the text that would appear on the cards, etc.

Quote:
Now, down to the cards themselves. All 5 cards will use the same basic graphic design, but each have their own individual artwork, as we agreed upon. Each card needs to have the following on it:

~The name of the Role. (ex: "Jester", " Citizen", "Mafioso", "Godfather", "Officer Blake") The longest name that will be on a card in the final game is: Reverse Voodoo Lady.

~ The alignment of the role. ("M", "T", "3rd") as an easy to read symbol.

~ The rules of the role. Should be separated from the rest of the card, and easily readable

~Flavor text. Small, but still fairly easy to read. Separate from the rules text. Could be laid over the picture.

~Artwork of the character. This should be a drawing of the character in a lounge. I think that a Film Noir type theme would be appropriate for the artwork. I do like the style you used for Naked Ten.

I'm still working on what I want for the other 4 cards, but for the Jester card, this is the direction I was thinking:

A man is laying down sideways in an armchair, in a pose similar to the one by the man in the picture: http://www.colourbox.com/preview/1537157-444019-frederic-cir...

With the arm closest to the back of the chair, he is hold up a rope which ends in a noose, which he is examining. In the other hand, which is draped down the side of the chair facing the viewer, he is holding a jesters cap.


I asked them about their process, and this is what they responded with:
Quote:
The first thing we always do is to search for references. In the case of The Lounge, we gathered a lot of photos of vintage lounge bars, film noir pictures, flourish patterns, etc. We also looked at many artists we liked for inspiration.

Once we had a good idea of where we wanted to go with the game, we started to sketch the first card: the Jester. We like to think of cards as a whole piece of art, and not just an illustration with a border and text around it. That's why we usually include some rough graphic design in our first sketch, to try to visualize how the final card might look like. In this case, we settled for a color palette composed of red, gold and black. It felt luxurious yet dangerous at the same time, which seemed fitting with the Mafia/Lounge theme.


With this simple description, they produced this sketch of the entire Jester card (frame, graphic design, art, etc)(Final Jester card on the right for comparison):



Notice a few things.
~First, the symbol in the top left corner changed during this process. I was going to originally have all of the 3rd party roles have a "3rd" to denote that they were third party, Mafia roles would get an "M", and town would get a "T". The artist and I discussed these symbols to great length over email. The changes spawned because I wasn't satisfied with the look of the "3rd". It just didn't mesh very well up there, and I thought that it could be improved. The artist came up with the idea for using symbols, and having each third party symbol be unique to that person. It turned out quite nice, and I really like how the symbols add just a bit of information for players while still feeling cohesive with the card.
~Additionally, notice how the text formatting changed. The sketch's text was actually pulled from my prototype cards, which I had formatted into rules and Win-conditions. While this format was fairly clear, the play-testers and myself found it to be really bulky. So, I went through and instead split the cards into two sections: "Needed Rules" and "Additional Rules". The "Needed rules" were simplified text that explained everything important about the role while getting rid of fluff or small case rules. The "Needed rules" would be put onto the actual cards. Clarifications, small flavor-based rules, etc went under the "Additional rules" heading, which would be nicely packaged up into the rulebook for reference.
~That nice red color. Funnily enough, I cannot claim credit for that, despite my companies moniker, "Crimson Games". As I said, the artist took several liberties (Almost all of which were fantastic), and this overtone color was one of them. I had originally planned for Mafia cards to be red, Town to be blue, and 3rd party would be purplish. I thought that the color distinction would be another redundancy for people to see which team they were on, kind of the like the Resistance cards. However, after I had seen this card, and the sketch for the Officer, I was convinced that the red tone was the way to go. It also helped that Mr. Cuddington sent me these reasons as to why the red would be the best:

Quote:
We were not necessarily sold on red but it was an idea we though could be fun exploring. We're absolutely fine with going with multiple colors for the different factions if you want to go that route. Here's a few reasons why you might want to stick with red, black and gold:

- It sets a classy, vintage feel for the Lounge and help sell the fact that all the characters are in the same place.

- It feels treacherous and fitting for a game about lying and lynching people.

- It will force us to play with lighting to give them all a unique touch, strengthening the film noir aspect.

- Since each player will only have one card in their hand at any given time, they won't necessarily feel the similarities. Actually, it might just make it harder for people to guess your card if they catch a glimpse of it by chance.


All of those were great points, so I made the decision to stick with it. The second card that was created was Officer Blake. For this one, I made a little format for giving the information and card text that I used for the rest of the cards. I did have a lot of fun coming up with flavor text for these cards, it was a nice creative splurge. For the Officer card, I knew that this was one of three officers that would be in the game. Because of this, I wanted each one to be different, and have a unique characterization. For this one, I thought that pulling from the stereotypes from comedic police movies would give it some nice flavor, as well as give people a little familiarity to the game by recognizing the character.

Quote:
Officer Blake: A heavy-set man, crammed into a foldout chair, writing furiously on a small notepad. Perhaps by his feet there could be a box of donuts, half eaten?
Rules Text: You may target one person to see if they are in the Mafia.
Flavor Text: "Officer Blake is said to have solved a murder in two hours. The victim? The doughnut boy."




The Officer card turned out very well in the sketch. It was very similar to the image I had in my head, and they did a great job with it. A few things to note though:
~This card was right in the middle of changing from "T", "M", and "3rd" to the symbols, and so he has no symbol or text in that upper left corner.
~When it came time to clean up all of the cards, I asked Mr. Cuddington to try and include some of the other characters in the backgrounds of these cards, to try and tie the world together a little bit, and to add some depth to the art. People can find these "Easter Eggs", and it gives them a reason to look through the art beyond the first glance. In this card, you can see the Cowboy lounging in the bar space behind the Officer. These characters pop up in several of the cards already created, and can be spotted in the backgrounds. For instance, the ninja's are discussing something sinister in the background of the next card.
~The gold swoopy thing at the bottom of the card has a small story with it. When I was showing the sketches around to my friends and play-testers, I asked for feedback, things they liked, things they didn't, etc. One of them said that they liked the "swoopy thing" at the bottom of the card, and I related this (among other things) to the artist. I do think that the final version looks very nice.

The next card that was created was the Cult Leader! This one was a lot of fun. I spent a bit of time with some friends brainstorming what a good Cult Leader would look like, and I think it turned out quite productive. I related this description to Mr. Cuddington as so:

Quote:
Cult Leader: A person in a cloak, with the hood down, getting some koolaid from a buffet table or something of that nature. they have an old book tucked under their arm.
Rules Text: You may convert one person into a cultist. If you die, all cultists die.
Flavor Text: "Something was always off about the cult's leader. Maybe it was the strange dark aura, or the smell of punch that followed him."




The only thing I can really say about the Cult Leader is that crazy straw was an amazing touch. I wish it was my idea.

The next card is the Citizen. This one was difficult, simply because as the most used role in the game, it had to look good, iconic, etc. At the same time, the Citizen is a vanilla role. They have no powers, no information, nothing really. The Citizen is a boring person (But not boring to play!). So I wanted to capture that. However, I could not come up with anything that would fit! I tried, and tried, but nothing would come to mind. Eventually, I simply explained to Mr. Cuddington the dilemma, and they came to the rescue. I simply gave them the text, and a couple words:

Quote:
Citizen: I don't have a specific pose for this one. I'd like just a generic looking person, middle aged-ish.
Rules Text: You are part of the town.
Flavor Text: I'm actually going to include 15 of these cards in the game. The only difference between them would be the flavor texts. For now, just put in "Mob Mentality is a very powerful tool."


And they came back a week later with this creation:



I'm sure you've seen the little decorations around the name on the Citizen and Jester cards. Those were another idea from the artist, to fill up that top bar. Just a small thing to make the cards more consistent, and to eliminate dead space that may or may not be unattractive.
Additionally, you can see another character in the background of the Citizen card. A tall, dark, and scary Vampire is making his way through the crowd in the background of the Citizen card! This one is fairly hard to catch, but his fangs are just barely visible. And, of course, who else would wear sunglasses indoors!

But, we come up to the next stop on this journey. The final card that I ordered was the Mafioso. I did have a special plan for this card though, in that I wanted to create a reward level that allowed people to submit a photo to become a Mafioso member. I asked Mr. Cuddington if they would be willing to do this, and they said it wouldn't be a problem. So, for the Mafioso card, I gave them one of my friends images(With permission) to base the character around. When I received the sketch back, the friend and I were very happy with how it turned out. The card looked like this person, and still fit the theme and style of the previous cards. The experiment was a success. Below you can see the Mafioso card:



And so, that ended the cards that I ordered in the contract. Once all five sketches had been approved by me, and I sent in my feedback, Mr. Cuddington went back, and started working on the clean versions of all the cards. First, he worked on the frame, as that was a separate item from the actual artwork, and would be consistent throughout the cards. The following is a small quote from the artist that gives their thought process when they were cleaning up the cards:

Quote:
Then the fun could begin! We started refining the contours, shape the character with better lighting and fine tune the facial expression.We also worked on the card's edge. We decided that the black parts should feel like a black board instead of a plain color. Flourishes were added for a vintage look, and we gave the title and corner icon a golden render.


This image below is the frame that they came back with to show me (Which you can see on the other cards as well.):



Once the template was approved, they knocked out the card art fairly quickly. It was a very exciting time, receiving new artwork each week. I'm pretty sure I checked my email at least once every few hours, seeing if the next piece had been completed.



So, that's the story of how the first five cards for The Lounge were completed. The final game will have 108 cards, with about 82 unique pieces of art, so there is still a lot more to go through! If you have any questions about the process I went through to get the cards, designing the game, the game itself, etc, please feel free to ask.

TL;DR: This post talks about the journey I went through from not knowing anything about ordering artwork for a game, to ordering and having an artist complete 5 pieces. The main lesson in all of this, is to find someone who fits your style, is good, and to let them run with it! So many good ideas for these cards came from the artists, not from me.
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Sebastián Koziner
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Honestly? Too long, didn't read.
But i was scrolling looking the pictures, and the art you have shown is beautiful, that's for sure!
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Nick Hayes
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Great write up.

As someone who lives with this process day in and day out, I forget sometimes that this is a huge new process if you've never dealt with it before. I think your article here is a great resource for those who are ready to commission artwork for the first time.
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Alex Gregory
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Black Canyon wrote:
Great write up.

As someone who lives with this process day in and day out, I forget sometimes that this is a huge new process if you've never dealt with it before. I think your article here is a great resource for those who are ready to commission artwork for the first time.


Thanks! I wanted to just give some insight for someone like me a year ago, and to just share my story to the forum. Plus, I get to brag about the cards, so that's always a plus.

SebasKO wrote:
Honestly? Too long, didn't read.
But i was scrolling looking the pictures, and the art you have shown is beautiful, that's for sure!


I knew I should have added a TL;DR. I just editted one in their for you. And thanks for the compliment, I really like what was able to be done with the ideas I gave the artist.
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Scott Nelson
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How much did 5 cards set you back. How much in total is the 82 cards going to cost. Did they give any estimates or prices?
 
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ropearoni4 wrote:
How much did 5 cards set you back. How much in total is the 82 cards going to cost. Did they give any estimates or prices?

I don't think it's appropriate to discuss an artist's rates in a public forum.
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Black Canyon wrote:
ropearoni4 wrote:
How much did 5 cards set you back. How much in total is the 82 cards going to cost. Did they give any estimates or prices?

I don't think it's appropriate to discuss an artist's rates in a public forum.


Unless they give discounts, it shouldn't change, and it might get them more business. This is the one piece of the puzzle no one will mention. It is the biggest hurdle usually knowing how much to figure into the estimates for making a game. Manufacturers will give you estimates, that are probably the same as elsewhere. Artists should have a similar range they all work in.
 
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ropearoni4 wrote:

Unless they give discounts, it shouldn't change, and it might get them more business.


I think the problem there is that an artist may vary their prices for any number of reasons, including but not limited to:

- Exactly what you're asking for
- How well they think their skillset matches what you want
- Whether they think you even know what you want
- What kind of rights you want over the artwork
- What kind of rights they get to keep over the artwork
- How soon you want it
- How much you want
- How big each piece is
- Whether they think they'll find it easy to work with you
- Whether they think you'll pay them quickly
- Whether they think they'll get any work out of you in the future
- Whether they like your project


If an artist says "oh yeah, I charged Steve $90 for each card illustration" then everyone else is going to expect them to charge $90 for their card illustration as well, but maybe Steve knew exactly what he wanted, didn't care how long it took, had a long history of paying up early, his cards were mostly text and didn't need a large illo and he doesn't care whether the artist sells prints and t-shirts of the artwork they do for him. Bob, who wants larger illustrations, needs two hundred of them by the end of next month and is a pain in the arse to work with, is going to get charged much more.



If you want to estimate how much your game is going to cost to produce, then contact an artist or two and get a quote!
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Thank you Jake for saying everything I wanted to say but didn't have the time to do so.

If you want to know how much an artist will cost, ask for a quote. It's that simple.
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Loved the post, it was informative and yet to the point! I'd like to one day also offer commissions, so it's nice to be able to read about the process and what expectations and experiences are on the other side (the commissioner).

(Italian pet-peeve: the 'Mafioso' card had to be the one with a woman on it! As it's a male-gendered noun, it feels a bit weird to see a girl on it.)
 
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What surprises me most is that it doesn't seem like there many (any?) major changes between the first concept and final version. Perhaps not the norm? But it seems like 1) you found the right artist for the job, 2) had a good method of communication with them, and 3) you were willing to give them some free range. All good things.

Note: There are hyphenated words on some of the flavor text that probably don't need to be hyphenated.
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spindrift wrote:
... A) you found the right artist for the job, 2) had a good method of communication with them, and 3) you were willing to give them some free range. All good things.


http://youtu.be/gVGbDEAnDyo
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I understand the whole bunch of ifs but there should still be a rough estimate that could clue someone into the expense needed to publish a game. 90$ a picture, if common, would be for 82 pictures 7500 dollars. That number would've been all I asked. Keeping 10k for 100 pictures in the back of the mind, would be good to know when asking around for artists so you don't get the shaft.

Not all artists are nice and friendly.
 
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No artist is going to quote you a ridiculous sum to try and rip you off - nice or otherwise. The artist will quote what they think they're worth and you have to decide whether you want their art in particular at that price. If the artist thinks they're worth $500 a picture it's far more likely that it's because they know other people think their art is worth that and will pay that (and you'll often see that kind of money bandied around for MtG cards, for example). Artists need to eat too, and if they put people off with expensive estimates then they won't get to, so it's in their own best interest to be realistic. However, due to varying skill levels, expertise, availability, demand and so on, different artists will still charge different amounts for a similar piece of work. In a similar way that two painters can paint a picture of a can of soup, and Steve Roberts will maybe sell his for $10 and Andy Warhol will sell his for much more.


If you want to know how much an artist would charge to illustrate your game then ask an artist. If you want to know the average price artists would charge to illustrate your game then ask more than one artist... but be aware that paying average prices will also get you average art. The price for one piece of art is different from the price for another piece of art because one artist is different from another artist.

My advice would be to find an artist or two that you like, write a request like the one shown in the first post where you tell them what you want and how much of it you need, and see what they say. Only you can determine whether or not you think it's worth the money, there's no pre-set commodity price because artwork isn't a commodity.
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Bichatse wrote:
Only you can determine whether or not you think it's worth the money, there's no pre-set commodity price because artwork isn't a commodity.


Here's the problem. I don't know what art is worth so how would I determine a good deal for artwork? I think it will take a lot of legwork to know what is a good deal for artwork, not just ask a couple of artists and go from there. I believe 10+ artists asked on the same piece of art would determine what would be considered a good deal. That being said, one style might be much better. I don't think you understand, it is hard to shop for art for someone who can't place a value on any art. A van gough is about the same value I'd place on many modern artists, because I wouldn't know why it is any better than any modern piece.
 
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ropearoni4 wrote:
Bichatse wrote:
Only you can determine whether or not you think it's worth the money, there's no pre-set commodity price because artwork isn't a commodity.


Here's the problem. I don't know what art is worth so how would I determine a good deal for artwork?


I think you're missing my point entirely: "art" is not "worth" any particular sum of money at all. It's not a fixed, quantifiable commodity that can be objectively analysed and assigned a per-pixel value; it's "worth" what you're willing to pay for it and it's "worth" what the artist is willing to do it for. If the two happen to be similar numbers, then you should hire that artist and be happy!

Try thinking of it this way: how much is a chicken breast worth? There's the obvious answer of "the wholesale price of a chicken breast", but no end consumer of chicken really ever pays that. If you get it from McDonalds in the form of a McNugget then you'll pay one price, if you get it from a local small-time café then it'll be prepared differently and they'll charge a different price, if you get it from a decent restaurant as a kiev or cordon bleu then it'll cost more still and if you get it from a famous gormet chef it'll be even more expensive still. If you catch a wild chicken (if such a thing exists) and do all the work yourself you can have it for no money at all! There is no single reference price that you should think of paying for a chicken breast - it's down to you to make a subjective, personal decision as to whether you think it's worth paying Heston Blumenthal X for a chicken breast in his restaurant or whether you can only bring yourself to pay Y for McNuggets.




If you want an absolute baseline then look around on people's DeviantArt profiles and see how long various pieces of art took them - they'll often mention it for some reason - and then multiply that by the minimum wage in your artist's area. That's your wholesale chicken breast price, so expect to pay at least significantly more than that. At the same time, two artists may take different lengths of time to produce similar results because one of them is more skilled and has spent more of their own time honing their abilities; as much as it's ridiculous to expect to pay less than the minimum wage it's also ridiculous to expect to pay less because you're working with a more-skilled artist!

What are you planning to do with the information when you find out that a card illustration is "worth" $100? Do you plan to refuse to pay more than that to any artist? Are you going to be OK with any number that's within an order of magnitude? Given that different artists will want different sums of money for that work anyway and give you very different results, what utility is there in knowing that random, basically-meaningless price?


EDIT: if you don't like Van Gogh's work any more than modern artist's (and that's fine) then the solution is to not buy a Van Gogh. However, if you don't feel that you have any artistic judgement whatsoever and what you're really worried about is paying a lot of money (whether it's objectively "worth it" or not) for artwork which the majority of people don't like or don't think fits your theme, then the solution is just to get someone else to do that part for you. If it's not your area of expertise, then you'll need to hire the talent in; your game will benefit from good art direction in the same way that it'll benefit from a good rules editor or a good game developer. Sometimes you can do those jobs yourself and sometimes you can't.
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I think my point is not getting across as well. I think I will have to take the advice near the bottom, and ask someone else to do it for me who knows about the art business...oh wait, I just did. I believe I will get the same answers from anyone else:

"Well, is it worth the cost?" I ask the patron of the arts.

Patron "It is subjective, do you think it is worth that sum of money?"

"That is what I just asked. Tell if I pay the guy X amount of money that I will not feel like I could've got much better art for the same price elsewhere."

Patron "Do you like the art? You are paying for art for your taste. You may think it is worth that. If so, then pay for it. If not look elsewhere."

Repeat


That is going. I'm never going to get a straight answer...because there isn't a straight answer. I feel like side-stepping issue-replying politicians are in charge. Is it really hard to say 100 bucks a picture is pretty normal for basic art. 150-200 for some intricate pieces. And sky's the limit for anyone who has a name for themselves in the art world. ??

 
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Jake Staines
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ropearoni4 wrote:
I think my point is not getting across as well. I think I will have to take the advice near the bottom, and ask someone else to do it for me who knows about the art business...oh wait, I just did.


No, you didn't. What that last part meant was "if you don't think that you have sufficient artistic taste to make a judgement call about whether you're willing to pay X amount for some artwork, then defer the entire negotiations, commissioning, decisions and so on to someone else. Hire an art director."

Do it now, or quit, since you obviously aren't taking any of this in. You don't seem to understand what it is that you're trying to buy, so you really shouldn't be spending any money on it.


ropearoni4 wrote:

I feel like side-stepping issue-replying politicians are in charge.


This, on the other hand, is nothing short of insulting.

ropearoni4 wrote:

Is it really hard to say 100 bucks a picture is pretty normal for basic art.


Yes, because you haven't said what you think "picture" means. And really, you haven't answered my question either: what are you going to do with this "knowledge" which is completely meaningless if I do or someone else does give you a number?
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Nick Hayes
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ropearoni4 wrote:
Is it really hard to say 100 bucks a picture is pretty normal for basic art. 150-200 for some intricate pieces. And sky's the limit for anyone who has a name for themselves in the art world. ??

Yes, this is it exactly. There is no hard number to go by, it's all based on the so many variables that Jake mentioned above (ie: artist's skill, turnaround time, etc.)

I think the best step is either to a) get quotes from a variety of artists whose style fits your game, or b) hire an art director (whose job is to deal with the artists so you don't have to deal with the headache).
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Scott Nelson
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The sidestepping comment was not directed at anyone but at the actual art world as there is no competition because an artist is as good as he is or she is.
 
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I think you'll find that there's plenty of competition, but art isn't like, say, food, so you can't apply the same kind of thinking you would to prices in supermarkets to art. And even then, there's only so low you can go when you decide to buy frozen Kievs before you start thinking you are eating cardboard rather than chicken! :P

I think you're approaching the topic with a biased opinion on artists already, given how you are fairly quick to imply that artists are out there to scam you - I'm thinking of the comments on not all artists being nice or them being like politicians that don't want to give you a hard number so that you can (I'm guessing?) say: OK, if anyone charges me more than so much, then they're overcharging! Apologies if I'm misunderstanding them, but that's how they came across to me.

I've been shopping around myself, to see what sort of price would be fair to charge for the kind of pictures I'm able to do, and what would be enough to give me a decent living - where by 'decent', before you think otherwise, I mean: pay the mortgage, food, food for my cat and ever now and then something not strictly necessary. Prices seem to vary a lot depending on a few factors, as mentioned before. Perhaps some of my findings could help you in at least deciding which artists to approach?

The kind of person who is a high-profile artist for Wizards Of The Coast can charge somewhere between $500 and $700 for a Magic card. I'll point out that it takes a lot of time to draw one of those. A common procedure with that sort of professional artist seems to be: once you agreed to the conditions, price and deadline they'll make you one or more sketches, at which point you can are allowed a limited number of bigger revisions (think: rotate the wolf's position or put them in an entirely different spot because you changed your mind, which requires a redraw of a fairly big part of the picture), then they give you a colour comp which looks a bit like the sketchy colour drawings in this thread and you're allowed a certain number of smaller revisions (think: I've now decided I like brunettes better, so swap the hair colour with a filter in Photoshop) and then they give you your complete image.
Obviously, I had to ask a few people, and they rarely go into detail mainly because clients don't like to have details exposed either - but this process might resemble that of a few artists, and it gives you an idea of how much time is spent even just communicating with the client and implementing their requests.

Also, some people apply a design fee if you don't provide any reference or description of what you want for your picture (I'm mostly talking about characters).

I'm more familiar with anime-style art, and the more well established artists who already worked out their prices tend to go between $20 for a quick sketch of a pretty girl's bust with no or minimal background to $150+ for a full figure with some background and vary depending on the level of detail (you could go over the $150 if you asked for an intricate armour, intricate jungle, intricate colouring and inking style). The price estimates for these anime-style images are generally only for private use images, commercial images would probably still be quoted privately - this is because the image is going to generate income to the commissioner, unlike something they're going to just use in a free game or for their role-play sessions.
To ground the reasons as to why with an analogy: if I rent a house over here the contract is going to state that I can't sub-rent the place to anyone. If I want to do so, I have to work out a different arrangement with the landlord which might end up being me paying more or taking over the responsibilities of paying for repairing things etc. On the other side, back to commissions: if you don't buy an exclusive license for the artwork the artist is still allowed to sell prints or include the image in their artbook - by selling you the exclusivity of the piece of art they are giving up on possible future income that you're going to get instead (because now you're the one who can sell arbooks or prints), so it makes sense for them to charge more in that case and offer a lower price to those who aren't bothered with exclusivity and still want to buy the same kind of art.

I'd expect a lot of card art illustrations to be somewhere in the middle of the anime illustrations prices above based on the fact that they won't necessarily need to be drawn to the same resolution and level of detail as those, which would cut down on time. Buying in bulk also usually gives you a discount, as you said, but then you go up again due to the images being under an exclusive license.

Some people have charts to help you work out how much you'll spend, but keep in mind that those who don't aren't out to rip you off, it does take time to work those figures based on trial and error (in the name of, you know, eating during the month :P) so, please be understanding for those who are just starting out! Also, those charts are just an indication, if you ask for something that isn't listed you're most likely going to incur in additional fees.

Yes, there are people who charge a lot less for pictures - just have a stroll over at the LemmaSoft forums and look for artists offering commissions to get an idea. Some people will do the "same" things for 3 times less than the more established artists (I saw someone offering bust figures sketches for $5, but the quality wasn't what would make me take a look at a card game, to be very diplomatic about it), but what I've heard time and time again from game devs in the circle is that the quality isn't all that great and it's really inconsistent; keeping deadlines is hard and they tend to be more unreliable and loads of them even disappear mid-project. Good luck chasing after SakuraPyon4533637363736 on deviantArt once their finals start and they figure out that they bit more than they could chew.



Lastly: the reason why I didn't straight out reply with a "between so and so" is because I get the distinct impression you and other people reading the tread need to be told this stuff, both for your and your future artists' sake as you're still at the very initial stage when you haven't got a clue of what making and buying art actually involves. I don't want you to go for the cheapest option simply because it's on the lowest side of the spectrum and end up having your artist disappear as much as I don't want your artist (provided you find a decent one) having to deal with unrealistic expectations of a fixed price or formula that should be followed for any picture regardless of varying levels of detail and different specs.
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It seems like there is a lot of talk about pricing going on. As someone who has only commissioned a few cards, and a box, I'll add my opinion!

Essentially, I don't feel super comfortable relating the artists specific prices for this game on a public forum, like someone said. I don't know what their stance on it would be, but as I don't have permission, I cannot feel right doing so. However, What I can say is that all of the artwork for the final game will run me somewhere in the ballpark of $8,000. This figure was posted on the Kickstarter campaign, which Mr. Cuddington approved.

Now, my recommendation, like may others, is to ask artists for rough quotes, etc. That's how I started. Was there a chance of being ripped off? Probably, but I was confident in my ability to judge what something was worth (to me), and to be careful when making transactions online. I chose Mr. Cuddington not only because of their fantastic quality and art style, but also because they seemed genuine, they were responsive, and they had a lot of experience, which made the process easier. And I am completely satisfied with how it turned out.

xRenx wrote:
(Italian pet-peeve: the 'Mafioso' card had to be the one with a woman on it! As it's a male-gendered noun, it feels a bit weird to see a girl on it.)

I'm glad you liked the post! THats what I was hoping to accomplish with it, just add my perspective, and give people something to think about. As for the pet peeve: Each Mafiso card (7 total) will have a different piece of art, most of which will be men. The Mafioso card refers to these Mafioso as a group, not as individuals. I think that works out. I hope it's not too cringe worthy.
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I was mostly joking about the Mafioso card, in case it didn't come across (I hope it did!).
I used to work in localisation, so that's the kind of thing that I tend to focus on, other than art - I do agree that it's really not a major thing!
 
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Hey guys,

I just wanted to let you know that the Kickstarter campaign for this game is now live. There is a print-n-play reward level for those who really like the artwork, but don't want to get the full game(Or just like printing out your own.)

This is the only time Ill mention the campaign. For more information, take a look at the Official Lounge Kickstarter thread!
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i want to thank everyone for chiming in on this thread concerning prices of art and artists. some havr gone far beyond what could be expected, but thoroughly appreciated. i will definitely look into art in a new light now.
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