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I was recently approached by a friend who wants me to create character portraits (2 expressions each for 13 knees-up characters, which - per my pricing would add up to $195 total) for a visual novel they're making. They've seen my work/style and seems happy with it, but they want like...a detailed sketch preview (basically sketches of all the characters that aren't general poses/gestures to get a feel for what they're looking for) before committing to the commission.

I'm not really sure what to do about this tbh, because I've got plenty of examples that are easy to access. I work in traditional art + am very broke, so I make it a policy not to commit to a sketch/commission unless it's been confirmed because my supplies NEED to be paid for/kept fresh. I don't ask for payment up front normally (what I do is confirm the commission and either take 50% up front and the other 50% after the sketching process is done or take the full amount after the sketch is confirmed), but this is a really big order and it WILL eat up a good chunk of my inks/markers, which will need replacing, as well as paper and pencil lead (both of which are thinning to the point of needing replacement soon).

One person has suggested I take a down payment - not necessarily 50%, but a fair percentage - before sketching anything so if they do choose to take the sketches and finish them themself or have someone else finish them, I'm not losing out on supplies and time, while another says I should just do the sketches and if they choose to take them and complete them a different way, that's their choice. But IDK I'm not terribly experienced with big commission projects like this so I really could use some advice. :(


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( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2016 12:27 am (UTC)
Another option: don't take it as a single huge commission. Take each sketch as a separate small commission and don't start a new one until the previous has been finished and paid for.
May. 22nd, 2016 12:50 am (UTC)
I would also suggest putting a big-ol watermark across the preview sketches, if you decide to do that, just on the off chance they're trying to pull a fast one on you.
May. 22nd, 2016 12:56 am (UTC)
Is there an easy way to make a watermark if I don't have access to anything digital? I might do that since I'm wary of having the sketches taken without payment.
May. 22nd, 2016 01:00 am (UTC)
How do you give a preview (or post here) without digital access?
Every device I'm aware of has some kind of free graphics program.
May. 22nd, 2016 01:05 am (UTC)
OH I'm sorry my bad, english isn't my first language. Sorry for upsetting you.

I meant like an editing program/tablet combo. Like I take pics with my phone of the art + then clean it up a bit/send the original to the commissioner so they can scan/use it for whatever. There's not much in the way of overlaying text onto an image for what I have available right now.
May. 22nd, 2016 01:07 am (UTC)
I use GIMP for all of my digital stuff--it's free to download/use and has a text tool you could use for that.
May. 22nd, 2016 01:09 am (UTC)
I'll give it a try! I used to have it when I had better access to a computer, so maybe I'll remember something about it. x__x Thanks!
May. 22nd, 2016 01:18 am (UTC)
I'm not upset, just confused.

If you can edit at all, then you can definitely put a watermark on it. If nothing else a copy-paste from a file with a watermark image should work. Most programs have a layer option to handle transparency.

SAI is a popular free download http://painttool-sai.en.softonic.com/
I don't know it, but a lot of artists I watch use it. I'm not sure how long the trial lasts.

GIMP http://www.gimp.us.com/ is older, but it was common for the OS it's for a few years ago.

DA will automatically put a watermark on the image if you upload it and click the box to watermark it. It doesn't need to be public. It will do so with a stash upload as well. You can then send a link to the client or download the watermarked version and send it how you usually do.

All that said, that's about the end of my spesific knowledge unless you use PSP 7. There are a lot of artists here though, so I'm sure one of them knows the device you use and can walk you through the steps to watermark with it. It might take a separate post to get their attention.
May. 22nd, 2016 01:50 am (UTC)
The English version of SAI does not yet have a text tool, but version 2 will have one.
It's also not a free program, though you can demo it for free. Edit: Of course then I re-read and see you mentioned the trial. -_- Sorry about that!

GIMP is super free, though.

Edited at 2016-05-22 01:51 am (UTC)
May. 22nd, 2016 06:24 am (UTC)
There's also Firealpaca which is free. :)
May. 22nd, 2016 04:24 am (UTC)
There's also MediBang, which has tablet and iOS/Android versions, and it does have a text tool. (It's meant for comic work, so lots of options for free.)
May. 22nd, 2016 08:37 am (UTC)
Someone mentioned medibang so here's a direct link. It's pretty light weight and more robust than fire alpaca (I think it was made by the same company)

There's also https://krita.org/
It's a really beefy program and can do a LOT of things and it's closer to a replacement for photoshop that is legitimately free
May. 22nd, 2016 03:16 pm (UTC)
If you don't have any luck with digital editing, you can try cutting a strip of tracing paper, writing on it and place it across the artwork when you photograph it :)
May. 23rd, 2016 02:58 pm (UTC)
This is a really great idea!
May. 22nd, 2016 10:54 pm (UTC)
Another 'Mostly Traditional' thing I do, is make a watermark image, cut it out, photograph it on a solid colored background, cut it out, and then slap it over the image with some transparency. It still takes some digital, just to cut out and then slap it on with a % transparency. But it's not 100% digital.
May. 22nd, 2016 12:57 am (UTC)
I think I might do that since it's not as daunting as working on everything at once, thanks!
May. 22nd, 2016 12:36 am (UTC)
The down payment idea is a good plan.

I feel like I should write more about it but really, that's the simple answer.

edit: Actually what gatekat said. That's the best option.

Edited at 2016-05-22 12:37 am (UTC)
May. 22nd, 2016 01:47 am (UTC)
I am going to mention that if I let someone look at something without a payment I put a big watermark on it first. Maybe you can take a picture with a phone or something and then slap something on top. This can let the person get a feel for what the end product might be, but they won't be able to just take and use it.
May. 22nd, 2016 01:48 am (UTC)
I wouldn't do it without some sort of down payment that would pay for detailed preview sketches. If they expect professional work from you, they need to behave in a professional manner too!

This is not even including the fact that they should pay you for rights as well if they're planning to use the artwork in a visual novel.
May. 22nd, 2016 01:59 am (UTC)
The rights needed would depend on just what the 'visual novel' is going to be and how the art is used. Rights are generally only needed if it's a commercial work. Nothing in the description says that. Most visual novels produced by an individual are of the free on the web variety.

There are only a handful of artists that insist that a commissioner never post the art to their DA or other free site. Most folks are fine with a commissioner posting the work with credit. So if the visual novel is posted to the usual free sites, no extra rights needed.

If this art is only the reference for their looks for another artist that will actually do the published drawings, no rights are needed for the use.
May. 22nd, 2016 03:01 am (UTC)
The drawings themselves will be used in the game, which I am told will be sold. Is it recommended I sell the rights to use it then?
May. 22nd, 2016 03:04 am (UTC)
Yes. You should be paid extra if it's going to be sold.
I'm not the one to talk to about how much though.
May. 22nd, 2016 03:38 am (UTC)
I'll have to look around then. :/ I know there are a good few posts on here about that. I'm totally unfamiliar with selling the rights to use my work.
May. 22nd, 2016 03:52 am (UTC)
You can sell the rights or you can license them, though selling is probably easier... But either way, yes, you should definitely be paid extra for that. I've never sold the rights to my work but I would think you should at the very least double the price. And possibly write out some sort of contract detailing what everything entails (especially if you'd like to be able to display your own work in a portfolio after the rights are sold).
May. 22nd, 2016 06:49 am (UTC)
I usually charge 50% extra for the rights if it's an independent publisher, but you can easily double the price. It's really up to you! It should be based on their projected profit, though. If they expect to make very little from it, it's nice to charge less for the rights [though not at all necessary]. If they expect to make millions, you should be paid for the part you played in making their product successful if that makes sense.

You can also lease the rights for a certain number of years and then re-negotiate the terms after the lease is up [like if their game ends up way more popular than they expected and you feel you deserve a bigger cut of their profits going forward]. That's a lot more work, though.
Another way to do it is to charge a flat fee [your normal fee or slightly higher] for the art and then ask for royalties [a percentage of every game sold], but that seems like a lot of work to me so I've never done it that way.

And I would definitely write a contract. You can usually find a free sample contract that you can edit for your own needs.

Baseline is: It's hard work, but don't let that discourage you! Charge a price you'll be happy with, even if you decide not to charge for the rights. As long as you are okay with them profiting off your designs, charge what you want to charge.
May. 22nd, 2016 03:10 pm (UTC)
I just had to comment..

Do NOT do this for free up front. Multiple, detailed images before he's willing to give money? No way. Don't do it.

The watermarks should go on everything, like others have said. If he pays partial, watermark everything to an annoying level. Make it look awful. Seriously. Otherwise he might try and edit out the mark and use the images.

Charge lots extra to sell the rights. Double, or triple, your fee. I'm serious.

Friends aren't friends when they try to take advantage of you. :(
May. 22nd, 2016 07:12 pm (UTC)
In my experiences, a rough sketch before payment is common and acceptable. A detailed sketch is asking too much.
May. 22nd, 2016 07:31 pm (UTC)
I think the person needs to understand that when they buy something from an artist, unless, they intend to buy the rights to the piece, they're paying for the time it took to create that piece. Once you start working on the sketches, you're using time and supplies, so the commissioner should have already commited to pay for your time.

In this case, I think I'd charge them for the preview sketches first, and if they like it, they can pay to have them finished. So, if they do not like the sketches and don't feel like committing to having them finished, they should just pay only for the time it took to create the sketches.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )


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