AuthorTopic: Pixel art production times and quotation  (Read 1751 times)

Offline hexcode

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Pixel art production times and quotation

on: August 01, 2017, 01:03:43 am
Hi guys,
I'm not so new to pixel art creation, but when working for clients, I'm struggling to ascertain the average production speed.

I know it is varies based on detail, design, size and experience. But what I am asking is; how can you judge yourself? How do you know when you are producing too slow, or doing too much, when less is required, or if you are getting yourself into a deep hole of work and little pay.

Are there exemplars in the industry who can give some guidance to us learning the trade? Some kind of mentoring or just quick chats about the work I (we as noobs) produce, the time it should of took, the price it should have cost.

How can I acquire or gain this kind of knowledge without trail and error alone. I know things takes years to learn, but you
 experienced guys out there, can you help an aspiring artist out with some recommendations with work-flows, production speed and quotation expectations/estimates?

Are there any old threads regarding this topic? I've seen the ones about prices per hour. Most clients hate per hour, they all want per frame or per asset. This kind of quotation is tricky to juggle.
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Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: Pixel art production times and quotation

Reply #1 on: August 01, 2017, 01:08:31 am
It's good to price by the hour or by effort. I do rough estimate quotes up front, with a note they may be subject to change if I have trouble with certain things.
It usually doesn't come up, but I usually do a quick tally of the time and effort taken to come to a quote.

It's kind of a feel-it-out thing sometimes, and I feel what you can charge depends on your skill level, speed, and references.
If you're fast and good but don't have anybody who can vouch for you it's hard to find work, if you're fast and reliable but not very good you're going to get a lot of low quality jobs, and if your good and have good references but you're slow as hell you might run into friction with the people you work with.

PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline hexcode

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Re: Pixel art production times and quotation

Reply #2 on: August 01, 2017, 01:16:15 am
Thanks MysteryMeat, thats really very helpful.
How do you know when your too slow? Is there I way I could converse with a experienced artist, show what I have created and ask about the speed it would have taken? Sometimes the work is under NDA, it would have to be a trusted friend in the industry, which I don't have.
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Offline eishiya

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Re: Pixel art production times and quotation

Reply #3 on: August 01, 2017, 01:19:12 am
Take this with a grain of salt as I'm only an occasional pixel art freelancer, it's far from my main source of income.

Before I take on a job doing something I don't already know my working time on, I do a practice run and measure how long it takes, and observe where I struggle and what's easy. Sometimes I do this as a personal thing that I don't show them, sometimes I do it as a free sample/art test for the commissioner/employer.

As for knowing whether I'm too slow, I try to look mostly at how much I struggle. If things come easily, then I'm probably working at a good pace. If I struggle, then I'm probably working too slowly. A little bit of struggle is normal, but struggling a lot is going to make both me and whoever is paying me miserable.

Offline hexcode

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Re: Pixel art production times and quotation

Reply #4 on: August 01, 2017, 01:27:18 am
Thanks Eishiya,
That's great to hear your process. I have done that in the past. What if your employer is very happy, but your struggling a lot and making close to no money on a job... I'd love to Skype or email someone, have a one-on-one, just to sanity check a few thinks in context. The material I want to contextualise cannot be shown on the internet. I guess, I'm looking for pixel buddy to bounce these kind of things with. A mentor, trusted friend, a fellow pixel craftsman.

Thanks both MysteryMeat and Eishiya for those comments, I understand everything you said. It's hard for me to measure "struggle" as I haven't got enough experience to know via comparisons.

I promise I'm not trying to be difficult!   :-[
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 01:29:00 am by hexcode »
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Offline eishiya

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Re: Pixel art production times and quotation

Reply #5 on: August 01, 2017, 01:41:01 am
Struggle isn't about comparisons, it's about how good and confident you feel while doing the work.

Offline hexcode

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Re: Pixel art production times and quotation

Reply #6 on: August 01, 2017, 01:53:29 am
PM Sent
I'm feeling confident and like I'm working quickly, yet days drag on.
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Offline Crow

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Re: Pixel art production times and quotation

Reply #7 on: August 01, 2017, 05:42:06 am
You may also want to read this wonderful thread: https://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=23286.0
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Offline hexcode

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Re: Pixel art production times and quotation

Reply #8 on: August 01, 2017, 06:05:02 am
Thanks Crow, that is such an amazing resource. I can ascertain that I am a professional working 40+ per week on pixel art. Dedicated office. Dedicated equipment and software. Able to support myself financially. Registered business. Actively study and work in pixels outside of work hours. Have produced a lot of work in the past. I would like to get a little closer to some other pixel artists and understand production speeds and (without using the pricing references by Cyangmou as I have never encountered any budgets that size) reasonable quotes for hobbyist/ indie developers. As so far, that is the only type of client I have found.
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Offline eishiya

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Re: Pixel art production times and quotation

Reply #9 on: August 01, 2017, 03:56:13 pm
Whether you're working for a big studio or for a hobby project, you should be charging approximately the same rates* and probably taking the same time per asset (or per-frame, in the case of animation). The difference is the amount of assets/frames, not per-asset prices. If a client has hobby budgets but wants to make an MMORPG or a full fighting game, then they probably won't know what they're doing or would be better off making it an open-source project.

*re: rate differences between types of projects: With non-hobby projects, you'll often have more fixed deadlines and more work to do, so it's fair to charge a higher rate since you'll probably be producing more in the time you have. With hobbyists, you'll probably want to lowball the rates in exchange for getting to work on your own name with more lax deadlines. If they have harsh deadlines, then charge them the same rates you'd charge a big company - you deserve it, and total working speed is a type of quality that should be compensated. Total working speed is a big contributor to why pros can charge more overall.


The project prices in Cyangmou's guide are meant as a guide for project managers to budget their entire project and to help them see how much the art in games they know might've cost, not for artists working on just one part of that. It's meant more as a tool to reign in their scope based on their budget. If someone has a $1000 budget, they can expect to have only about $250 of that for art, and that means they can probably only get about 5-15 person-hours worth of art done (depending on the artist's skill).

You can use that part of the guide as an artist yourself to look at games you're familiar with and see approximately how much they likely spent on the art and use that as an idea of what's "reasonable" to charge for that amount of work. Do keep in mind that a lot of non-indie games are (or at least were) made by full-time employees that usually get benefits on top of their pay though, benefits are not generally included in game budgets. If the rates seem low, benefits and inflation are the likely reasons for that.