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Artist Advice

This is a question to other artists as well as people who commission artwork.

Time and time again, I receive reference sheets that are difficult to read in some way or another. They're either screencaptures from SecondLife, shaded with unclear swatches, or just plain inconsistent. I tend to spend a lot more time on pieces like these, when I have to spend an unusually long time reading a reference sheet.

The question is, would it be fair of me to implement a "difficult reference sheet" charge to make up for the additional time spent on the piece? Clients, would this deter you from commissioning an artist, if they had that kind of fee?

I know there's fees out there for complicated characters, but this is slightly different. I've had characters that ended up being relatively simple, but still spend forever interpreting the reference sheet before seeing their simplicity.

Thanks to any thoughts regarding this topic!

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( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2014 06:15 pm (UTC)
I think it'd be fine and fair to include in your TOS that at your discretion, 'an additional fee may be levied if your reference is poor or difficult to interpret.'

Honestly I have that problem all the time as well. I don't want to extrapolate. I want to see what's there and then reinterpret it. People who have poor refs need to get it sorted out!
Jun. 20th, 2014 06:18 pm (UTC)
My only concern with that would be that some people might feel that they've been given the charge unfairly.

Example "So-and-so's references were way more complex than mine, and you didn't charge THEM!"

It's down to matter of opinion most of the time, but beyond that I see no problem with that and think that it's about the same as charging extra for more complicated characters!
Jun. 20th, 2014 06:24 pm (UTC)
I personally put in my ToS that references need to be clear and concise. This leads to my edit allowance and editing fees when it comes to having to do edits for something that was not clear or not explained prior to the start of the commission. Charging a fee for edits that are made due to a confusing reference/references is fine.

However if you are having problems with references before you start do you talk to your clients about it for clairity?
Jun. 20th, 2014 06:37 pm (UTC)
That's fair.

It's mostly issues with pieces that I take slots for and finish up quickly. They're meant to be really quick, and I have them fill out a form on googledocs to give me the information. I try to finish the sketches within a couple of hours, and it's inconvenient to ask for clarification and wait for a response when they're meant to be quick pieces.
(no subject) - adzuki - Jun. 20th, 2014 06:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxyfur - Jun. 20th, 2014 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - adzuki - Jun. 20th, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - armaina - Jun. 20th, 2014 08:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxyfur - Jun. 20th, 2014 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - armaina - Jun. 20th, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snobahr - Jun. 20th, 2014 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mistresswolf - Jun. 20th, 2014 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oceandezignz - Jun. 20th, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxyfur - Jun. 20th, 2014 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2014 06:28 pm (UTC)
I think there may be a problem with how you define 'hard to understand' ref sheets, it would be easy for someone to view that as a way to scam extra money with it. Usually it's best to budget extra time for stuff like emailing/communicating with client, file handling, time spent going over brief etc within your prices to cover all the stuff you need to do outside of the artwork itself.
Jun. 20th, 2014 06:32 pm (UTC)
I think the problem is that while you would certainly have the right to charge for extra time taken due to poor references, such an unheard of/unusual charge, despite making sense and being ethical, would freak people out just because it's different. I would definitely expect a loss of business.

I think going in the direction of filing it under charging for edits (because of the refsheet) as someone here mentioned would be wiser.

So.. yes, this is a thing you could do and it would make sense to me and I wouldn't complain if I were charged because I had a crappy ref sheet. But many would. And they would be offended by the mere idea, and leave. So it isn't about right or wrong so much as if you want to deal with that fallout.
Jun. 20th, 2014 06:44 pm (UTC)
i'd just add 'refsheets in difficult to read formats may incur a $$ fee' and then leave some examples like "ie, second life screenshots" or something
Jun. 20th, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC)
You have all left a lot of helpful advice. Thank you!

I think it serves to clarify that my main problem is with quick pieces that I don't offer edits or WIP shots on. I take multiple slots at a time, and have them fill out a form. I finish each sketch within 2 hours or so, so it would be disruptive of my creative process to have to stop and wait for clarification from the client.

I think what I'll be doing is flat out not accepting SL references at all, and then requesting to not have shaded reference sheets, and hope for the best.
Jun. 20th, 2014 08:27 pm (UTC)
Something that also might help in the future, is writing up an article/journal of what a 'clear reference' is to you, and tips that can help your commissioners know the best images to give you, so that you can just quickly link to it if any questions come up.

(I've actually seen some very good SL ref sheets, but that was only because they took photos in very clear lighting and did a full turn around shot against a solid background. Basically, you have to know what you're doing to make it clear.)

Edited at 2014-06-20 08:30 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - starcharmer - Jun. 20th, 2014 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - starcharmer - Jun. 24th, 2014 07:16 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2014 08:38 pm (UTC)
I think instead of charging a fee for the reference being unclear, just use the same amount of time you would on any other picture, and instead put the fee against any edits needed due to their unclear references.

"Any edits needed that are not the fault of the artist (i.e. because of an unclear reference, etc.) will have a fee charged."
Jun. 20th, 2014 08:53 pm (UTC)
Some people are unable to do a less than perfect job, even if it's not their fault the ref is hard to read. I personally would rather spend the extra time with the ref than have to do edits at the end and I'd rather take one payment than possibly have to invoice someone for $3-5. It would be way more convenient to charge up front.
Jun. 20th, 2014 08:45 pm (UTC)
I would recommend putting out there that if someone wishes to use SL screen caps for their reference that they take it nude at all angles and provide a separate area with a flat color palette.

This is what I use occasionally for my own refs for body shape purposes. My colors are always flat and too the side as I feel that is unfair on an artist to have to click around on a shaded 3d image to get the right color.
Jun. 20th, 2014 08:51 pm (UTC)
I don't think that would be unfair. I've been trying to encourage people with shaded refs to ask their reference artist for an unshaded version. I'm hopeful that it would be as easy as hiding a layer and it would make everything so much more read-able. Painted references are an issue, too. :/

I definitely don't blame you for not wanting to attempt to decipher a ref.
Jun. 21st, 2014 06:02 am (UTC)
I'm not an artist but I'd personally not accept screenshots if they are not properly laid out with front/back/side views of the character (which you can easily do in SL) with clean and clear color scheme box(es) somewhere away from main details on the character. I'd also ask about any tattoos, markings/scars, or anything remotely "different" about the character that they don't want missed.

As far as a fee, I agree with an edit fee but at the same time I agree with looking at the references beforehand too. If they're submitting a form through your googledocs make them submit the reference too and only accept those whose reference makes sense and is easy to follow for you so you can dish these out relatively fast. If they wonder why they weren't chosen or contacted back for payment explain to them (as well as on the initial journal) that these commissions are fast pace and complex or unclear references are not welcome but they are more than welcome to commission you for something else where your time is more spread out per piece.
Jun. 30th, 2014 01:59 am (UTC)
You might not be needing more advice, but thought I'd add something

I know of at least 9 people that will use shaded ref sheets, ones with unclear (or no) swatches, or SL avs as their ref sheets because they want the artist to take liberty with the piece instead of trying really hard to match it. You might want to ask the commissioner what they prefer, and maybe add in "fee will be charged if the ref sheet is unclear and needs too much clarification" or something, just to make sure that commissioners are more clear up front?
Jun. 30th, 2014 04:23 pm (UTC)
Augh I always have this problem too. I tend to get difficult to interpret refs and then it turns out the commissioner is picky and likes to change things. Things that could be avoided if they had a clear ref :/
Jul. 6th, 2014 01:57 am (UTC)
I use a commission application for my queue, that way I can screen the commission before accepting it.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )


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