AuthorTopic: A question to the pixel art veterans!  (Read 1325 times)

Offline Street

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A question to the pixel art veterans!

on: August 15, 2018, 01:14:07 am
Hello everyone! I'm super new to this forum(have been creeping around as a guest but decided that I should create an account because this forum is pretty good for pixel art) and I wanted to ask a question meant for people who worked as pixel artists and made money off of it. I know you can make a decent income in just about anything, but how hard is it making basic income creating pixel art? Do you have to be at the top of the food chain in order to succeed, or if you're pretty good you can get jobs here and there?

Offline Kiana

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #1 on: August 15, 2018, 02:44:19 am
Welcome! Glad you decided to join us, I was a lurker for a long time too. :)

In my experience, pixel art is a niche skill in relatively high demand for indie games and Letís Players. Sometimes higher profile clients (ex. Adult Swim) hire for TV or music videos. The job board on here is active, usually with new offers every 1-3 days, and the community on Twitter is active and decently sized. You should post your portfolio and/or contact some of those prospective clients.

In terms of ease in making basic income, Iíd say it depends on your cost of living. Freelancers must charge more hourly than employees because they donít get benefits and taxes are higher (at least in the US). If you live in a place with high rent like NY or LA, youíll probably have trouble unless youíre at the ďtop of the food chainĒ. I think people at this level tend to have other art/animation gigs or work in other fields concurrently, both to sustain themselves and because pixel art isnít their main skill, just another medium they dabble in (while I donít consider myself a top pixel artist, I am fairly experienced, and this is the case for me).

However, if you live in an area where cost of living is low, then itís possible to sustain yourself just through commissions/contract work, Patreon, and/or asset sales (Itch.io store). You donít have to be the most amazing pixel artist ever for this, you just need to be decent at asset creation (could be tilesets, animation, set pieces, character art, etc.). People tend to hire artists with nice-looking colors, nice sense of clusters, and good readability (you can easily tell what the artwork is depicting from a distance). There tend to be a lot of games in need for foliage, buildings, character animations, character portraits, tilesets for various biomes, weapons, inventory items, icons, vehicles, and the like, so if you are particularly good at some or all of these things, you have a good chance of finding work.

EDIT: Thereís also a market for pixel art thatís not for games, but rather for icons on social media or just for fun, if you just want to take small commissions for a bit of disposable income or financial padding.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2018, 02:47:35 am by Kiana »
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Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #2 on: August 15, 2018, 10:57:29 am
Honestly, in my opinion? It depends on how good a marketer you are, and how standout your style is.

Even with the rise of the internet and interest in art in general, the average layman doesn't know a whole lot about art. They just know what they think looks good, and that can range from the most amateur hour step-removed-from-a-jackson-pollock-"painting" to a leonardo da-vinci tier mastery of anatomy and form.

Ergo, even if you're kinda shit, you can sell your art to the right crowd.

HOWEVER! Understanding art theory and the fundamentals also helps you craft an more widely appealing style. Fundamental understanding of artistry basics is the difference between designing something that looks like samurai jack (good) or something that looks like that new thundercats reboot (absolutely not good)

In short: find a niche! Find what you enjoy doing, and find people looking for that! It'll be hard getting yourself out there if you don't think outside the box.

(And above all don't rely on it for your main source of income, the general public is also highly explotative of "luxury fields.")

Otherwise, Kiana's post covers the rest.
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline Street

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #3 on: August 15, 2018, 11:11:41 am
Welcome! Glad you decided to join us, I was a lurker for a long time too. :)

In my experience, pixel art is a niche skill in relatively high demand for indie games and Letís Players. Sometimes higher profile clients (ex. Adult Swim) hire for TV or music videos. The job board on here is active, usually with new offers every 1-3 days, and the community on Twitter is active and decently sized. You should post your portfolio and/or contact some of those prospective clients.

In terms of ease in making basic income, Iíd say it depends on your cost of living. Freelancers must charge more hourly than employees because they donít get benefits and taxes are higher (at least in the US). If you live in a place with high rent like NY or LA, youíll probably have trouble unless youíre at the ďtop of the food chainĒ. I think people at this level tend to have other art/animation gigs or work in other fields concurrently, both to sustain themselves and because pixel art isnít their main skill, just another medium they dabble in (while I donít consider myself a top pixel artist, I am fairly experienced, and this is the case for me).

However, if you live in an area where cost of living is low, then itís possible to sustain yourself just through commissions/contract work, Patreon, and/or asset sales (Itch.io store). You donít have to be the most amazing pixel artist ever for this, you just need to be decent at asset creation (could be tilesets, animation, set pieces, character art, etc.). People tend to hire artists with nice-looking colors, nice sense of clusters, and good readability (you can easily tell what the artwork is depicting from a distance). There tend to be a lot of games in need for foliage, buildings, character animations, character portraits, tilesets for various biomes, weapons, inventory items, icons, vehicles, and the like, so if you are particularly good at some or all of these things, you have a good chance of finding work.

EDIT: Thereís also a market for pixel art thatís not for games, but rather for icons on social media or just for fun, if you just want to take small commissions for a bit of disposable income or financial padding.

Thank you very much for the response! I actually live in Israel and I saw usually pixel artists make 20$-30$ an hours which is pretty above average here. I have only been drawing pixel art for a month now, and just drawing in general actually(always thought I couldn't draw no matter what, discovered otherwise) so I think I wont be making any money in the meantime lol. I'm super passionate about pixel art so I'm giving myself 6 months 3-4 hours a day to see if I'm capable of making neat pixel art.
Thank you for having me!  :)

Offline Street

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #4 on: August 15, 2018, 11:18:11 am
Honestly, in my opinion? It depends on how good a marketer you are, and how standout your style is.

Even with the rise of the internet and interest in art in general, the average layman doesn't know a whole lot about art. They just know what they think looks good, and that can range from the most amateur hour step-removed-from-a-jackson-pollock-"painting" to a leonardo da-vinci tier mastery of anatomy and form.

Ergo, even if you're kinda shit, you can sell your art to the right crowd.

HOWEVER! Understanding art theory and the fundamentals also helps you craft an more widely appealing style. Fundamental understanding of artistry basics is the difference between designing something that looks like samurai jack (good) or something that looks like that new thundercats reboot (absolutely not good)

In short: find a niche! Find what you enjoy doing, and find people looking for that! It'll be hard getting yourself out there if you don't think outside the box.

(And above all don't rely on it for your main source of income, the general public is also highly explotative of "luxury fields.")

Otherwise, Kiana's post covers the rest.

I truly appreciate the response. The "problem" is that pixel art is what seriously enjoy doing. I have been pretty down because I couldn't really tell what I enjoy doing and what I don't enjoy doing, untill I found pixel art and that my art skills didn't really suck like I thought it did(maybe because pixel art is really friendly on that end?). I do hope that from dabbling a lot with pixel art will produce me a really nice portfolio in which I could find work with it, and maybe get accepted to arts and animation school.

Offline Curly

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #5 on: August 15, 2018, 06:59:57 pm
Here's my experience in the most indie gamedev world:

I started making pixelart many years ago for fun, but not daily (not even close) and not with the idea of earning money with it until two years ago when I decided I was able to make stuff for games.

I've been working on games since then and I've rarely earned more than 300Ä in a month. And there are many months that I don't see a dollar because either I finished a project and can't find another in some time, (there are months with lots of new offers and months with barely any offer. And you don't get every job you apply to, or it's bigger than you can handle, or you're just not good enough for what they're looking for...) or because something happened and didn't have time to finish when I wanted...

Most of these games aren't even developed by studios or many people. It's just a programmer with a low budget from their dayjob and wants to make a game that most likely will never be finished or released ;)
And they usually pay per sprite and not by hour, which can be both better or worse. I've made lots of money in an hour some times and also less than I wanted other times.

I get burnout very easily so I usually don't spend more than 2 hours a day pixeling lately anyways. It's rough when you make stuff because they tell you and you don't really like it, at least for me. I'm a bit lazy too heh.
So I could earn more but not always, because as I said, there aren't too many offers that fit you every time.

Here's something from my first little job for reference
(click to zoom in, ctrl+click to zoom out)

And one of the latest


I guess that's where most of the people start so I hope it's informative. Anyways I'm not sure if you should be thinking too much about that stuff yet.

What a huge post :blind: Keep pixeling

Offline Street

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #6 on: August 15, 2018, 11:44:24 pm
Here's my experience in the most indie gamedev world:

I started making pixelart many years ago for fun, but not daily (not even close) and not with the idea of earning money with it until two years ago when I decided I was able to make stuff for games.

I've been working on games since then and I've rarely earned more than 300Ä in a month. And there are many months that I don't see a dollar because either I finished a project and can't find another in some time, (there are months with lots of new offers and months with barely any offer. And you don't get every job you apply to, or it's bigger than you can handle, or you're just not good enough for what they're looking for...) or because something happened and didn't have time to finish when I wanted...

Most of these games aren't even developed by studios or many people. It's just a programmer with a low budget from their dayjob and wants to make a game that most likely will never be finished or released ;)
And they usually pay per sprite and not by hour, which can be both better or worse. I've made lots of money in an hour some times and also less than I wanted other times.

I get burnout very easily so I usually don't spend more than 2 hours a day pixeling lately anyways. It's rough when you make stuff because they tell you and you don't really like it, at least for me. I'm a bit lazy too heh.
So I could earn more but not always, because as I said, there aren't too many offers that fit you every time.

Here's something from my first little job for reference
(click to zoom in, ctrl+click to zoom out)

And one of the latest


I guess that's where most of the people start so I hope it's informative. Anyways I'm not sure if you should be thinking too much about that stuff yet.

What a huge post :blind: Keep pixeling

Thank you for the informative comment! Your creations are beautiful! I get that it must be pretty hard to live that way, I hope I'll find some luck and maybe be really good at it. Either way pixel art has opened up my mind and I know that art and animation is something I really want to do for a living(turning 21 this december, hoping it's not too late for me).

Offline astraldata

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #7 on: August 16, 2018, 03:37:32 pm
or something that looks like that new thundercats reboot (absolutely not good)

Oh wow... wtf... I am completely behind the times on my "reboots" these days.

I had to google this because I thought the (anime-style) Thundercats reboot was actually pretty decent-looking (and I always wondered why it was cancelled!) So, after your comment, I had to understand why Samurai Jack looked "better" than the reboot I remembered. I know not everyone likes anime, but it was really well-drawn... Then that's precisely when I saw... "Thundercats 2019"... and... well......

Thanks, MysteryMeat, you just made me barf in my mouth after that one.


« Last Edit: August 16, 2018, 03:41:39 pm by astraldata »
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Offline astraldata

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #8 on: August 16, 2018, 04:12:47 pm
Lol, and back on topic --

Street, I definitely agree with everything said here so far about finances, etc.

As Kiana mentioned, professional pixel art is generally just one of many mediums of "art" many of the "veteran" pixel artists dabble in.

However, at the same time, I think it's important to mention that pixel art can also be a springboard into other forms of art that take you farther than the pixel medium can do alone. It was what got me more heavily into animation, digital painting and also into 3D modeling and design. I still use many of the concepts I learned in pixel art and animation when working in other mediums. It is a very robust and highly worthwhile skill to have when you take the time to get into the weeds of it and learn "the way of the pixel" -- Doing this will teach you how to "see" the process of making art in a way no other medium can offer, and in a way that will help you in some way with nearly any visual medium you'll ever pursue.

I hope this also helps you in some way and gives you some further insight on why pixel art is still meaningful to learn, even if it isn't very financially beneficial to you specifically.
I'm offering free pixel-art mentorship for promising pixel artists. For details, click here.

     http://mugenzero.userboard.net/

Offline Peltast

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #9 on: August 16, 2018, 05:58:41 pm
Either way pixel art has opened up my mind and I know that art and animation is something I really want to do for a living(turning 21 this december, hoping it's not too late for me).

I don't have experience as a professional artist so I can't add much there, but here's my general two cents: I think it's almost never "too late" to do what you want - lots of people make complete career changes much later in their life.  As an artist even if you're not making a living with your craft, you can still be learning and improving, making the transition easier, not harder, over time.  So, make sure you pace yourself.  Life is a marathon - don't burn yourself out thinking that you're running out of time.

Offline Street

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #10 on: August 16, 2018, 07:56:17 pm
Lol, and back on topic --

Street, I definitely agree with everything said here so far about finances, etc.

As Kiana mentioned, professional pixel art is generally just one of many mediums of "art" many of the "veteran" pixel artists dabble in.

However, at the same time, I think it's important to mention that pixel art can also be a springboard into other forms of art that take you farther than the pixel medium can do alone. It was what got me more heavily into animation, digital painting and also into 3D modeling and design. I still use many of the concepts I learned in pixel art and animation when working in other mediums. It is a very robust and highly worthwhile skill to have when you take the time to get into the weeds of it and learn "the way of the pixel" -- Doing this will teach you how to "see" the process of making art in a way no other medium can offer, and in a way that will help you in some way with nearly any visual medium you'll ever pursue.

I hope this also helps you in some way and gives you some further insight on why pixel art is still meaningful to learn, even if it isn't very financially beneficial to you specifically.

Thank you very much for the response! I do see pixel art as something that really sprung me up into art. Throughout my entire life I believed that I'm really bad at art with no talent whatsoever and I thought that art was the coolest thing I could never do, but pixel art showed me otherwise and that it takes practice like everything.
I do want to get accepted to a college here where I live where they teach 3d modeling and animation and for that I want to get really good at pixel art, get a nice portfolio and hopefully get accepted with it (they search people with talent for arts and animation, so they ask for a portfolio with any form of art).
Maybe a bit of a cliche', but pixel art has kindled a very LARGE bonfire of passion in my heart for art and animation.

Offline Street

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #11 on: August 16, 2018, 07:59:39 pm
Either way pixel art has opened up my mind and I know that art and animation is something I really want to do for a living(turning 21 this december, hoping it's not too late for me).

I don't have experience as a professional artist so I can't add much there, but here's my general two cents: I think it's almost never "too late" to do what you want - lots of people make complete career changes much later in their life.  As an artist even if you're not making a living with your craft, you can still be learning and improving, making the transition easier, not harder, over time.  So, make sure you pace yourself.  Life is a marathon - don't burn yourself out thinking that you're running out of time.

I think I exaggerated a bit by saying I hope it's not too late. I'm sure it's not, but thank you for clarifying that to me and I'll keep practicing like crazy!

Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: A question to the pixel art veterans!

Reply #12 on: August 19, 2018, 11:44:40 pm
Thanks, MysteryMeat, you just made me barf in my mouth after that one.

Haha, yeah, I forgot about the anime one too. Didn't catch a whole lot of it but I heard it was pretty good.

But god, CN needs to re-assess their talent pools a bit.
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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