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mearrin69
07-01-2010, 07:16 PM
Hi guys,
I'm talking to somebody about doing some cartography on commission. All I have so far is "11x17 inches full color" but have asked for more details. Can any of you pros clue me in to "standard rates" if there are such a thing...or reasonable ranges if not? I'd like to propose a reasonable fee but have zero idea of what the going rate for digital cartography work might be. Thanks a bunch!
M

Diamond
07-02-2010, 01:29 AM
I charge by overall pixel size and level of detail required. I'm working on a commission right now that's 1300x1600 pixels, with full geographic detail but no text, and I'm charging the client $45. Can't say if that's reasonable or not; this is only my fourth (paying) job, so maybe I'm waaaaay undercharging, I dunno. It seemed fair to me though, and the client had no problem with it, so I guess that's all that matters.

I don't like to gouge people, but I think the level of work you do requires an equal level of pay. It's just kind of hard to quantify what that rate should be; something that takes me an hour or two to do might take someone else two weeks. If the end product for both of us looks the same, who deserves more pay?

tilt
07-02-2010, 02:42 AM
who deserves more pay?

The better negotiator ;)

rate is always difficult - I wouldn't say that size matters (no pun intended :) ) more the amount of hours going into the project. You can make a huge map in 2 hours if the detail levels are low and you can work for a week on a small map when the detail levels are high ... so its difficult to base your prices on size.
HOWEVER - in some respects size does matter - cause the customer might feel he's getting more value for his money in a big map, so it has a psycological effect.

So I'd take these things into concideration:

Size of the map
Quality of the map
Pixel or vector map
Shall the client obtain the original files as well (normally not)
Exclusiveness of the map (may you sell it to other later - say after a set date)
Is it fantasy or real world - are there many rules to uphold (scale, placement of stuff)
then there is how much time you use talking to the client (with most clients not a problem, with some clients -big problem)
how many edits will you do without charging more
and the ... how much could the client pay factor .. ie you sometimes charge less to a small client or to a client who wouldn't use the map commercially

And later on ... the "how big an artist are you" pricesetting. The bigger the pricier.
For example a good friend of mine sells his art (paintings) for way more than the hours he would bill at a "normal job" - a small one about 40x50 cm costs 30-40.000 DKK (about 7-8000 dollar), then he just doubles his prices as he goes up in size... but he's good www.lindeneg.dk (http://www.lindeneg.dk) :)

so - its a difficult decision to make and always a question of appraising the client/job/etc ... but good luck and congrats on the commision :)

Gamerprinter
07-02-2010, 10:30 AM
I charge based on expected time to create - I know how long it takes me to design aspects to a map. Once given scale, dimensions and detail I quote a price based on $20 per hour modified by whom the customer is. Sometimes I charge less for non-publishers. The detail in the map is more an issue than the overall scale, as I do this in vector size is not really relavent as regards to the price. A small map with lots of detail may take longer to create than a less detailed 24 x 36, for example. The smaller map would cost more.

GP

torstan
07-02-2010, 10:52 AM
I do everything raster and I try to have a consistent level of detail between maps so I do charge by size. I've pm'ed you with a precise current quote for my work to give you something to use as a reference.

mearrin69
07-02-2010, 11:55 AM
Thanks everyone. I'm seeing quite a range. Now have details from the "client" on both the map and his desired budget. It's well below what I make in the professional world but I'm not really interested in the money at this point so it's acceptable. Not looking to make a living from this...just putting a toe into the water! Your comments are much appreciated - and thanks for the PM Torstan, very helpful.
M

Gamerprinter
07-02-2010, 12:25 PM
Until we can get commissions from someone like WotC, its unlikely any of us will see a map income that equates to our day jobs, which is one of the reasons I'm getting into publication. Not the only reason, of course, I like to create settings, mechanics, new classes, new spells and create storylines as much as I enjoy creating maps - I just have more talent with the latter than the former.

Since I can craft all my own maps for my own publications, I can do what hiring publishers cannot - afford many maps in a given publication, as most publishers generally can only afford 1 to 3 maps in most cases. My first adventure has 12 maps in it, mostly encounter scale for specific places in the storyline. This way, like a publisher, I am building my map cost into the overall product and it will be paid for with overall sales of the product rather than limited commission payment from a publisher. Note you are paid faster doing commissions than product sales however, but you can't make the kind of money on a commission that a successful product can earn. (It has to be a success though, or you might only break even.)

Although not getting me rich, my first adventure has earned about $600 in total so far, and it cost me about $175 to produce, so its paid for itself and provided some profit - and the sales aren't complete, but may go on as trickle income in perpetude. So I think I'm following the right course for my goals.

I still do commission work, but since I am currently involved in two publications and am now working on a second setting of mine, thus a third publication in the works, I have much less time to do third party commissions, and am not so concerned with that anymore.

Its fun that I get paid for doing what I love, but unfortunately it currently hasn't been able to replace my day job - a goal, that I like many, have.

GP

RecklessEnthusiasm
07-02-2010, 12:44 PM
Darn, I wish that PM from Torstan was public--I'd love to know what someone of his skill level can charge for his awesome artwork.

Gamerprinter
07-02-2010, 01:31 PM
Honestly, I charge on average $50 for a map, though some maps I've charged as much as $150. On the other hand, I've done bulk map jobs for $35 per map, that I'd normally charge $50, but was getting 5 or more maps for a single project. I am pretty sure, that Torstan doesn't charge any more than I do, in some cases less. We have competed for bids on the same job before, though only once. I've even shared my prices as above with Torstan privately when he was first doing commissions, so I'm pretty sure my prices are very close to his.

GP

torstan
07-02-2010, 02:17 PM
Edit: Ninja'd by GP. I should write shorter posts...

The best way to find out is to figure out what the client wants to charge and then decide whether you're willing to do the work for that rate. This will give you an idea of what the market will bear and then you can push up your rates as you get more commissions. There's a pain threshold above which private commissions will turn away and you'll not get as much work. The more work that comes your way, the more you can afford to turn down. It's a flexible business. The exception is when you're working for a larger company where they have a fixed budget. Then you have to decide whether you take what they're offering or not.

In reality there's a very wide range of prices around so anything you come up with is unlikely to be too far off.

mearrin69
07-02-2010, 03:53 PM
Heh. I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon...though it's nice to dream about doing something you *really* like all day. At my current real-world rates (and with my slow map-making speed) my Haibianr map would have cost several thousand bucks. I'm really proud of the map and all but even *I* don't think it's worth that much. :)
M

Jaxilon
07-02-2010, 04:06 PM
I have yet to do any paid commissions, right now I'm still working on getting what I desire out of the digital tools and learning my techniques. Eventually I hope to do some however. (So folks, when you see my stuff feel free to critique with that in mind, I will try to be strong :) ).

I do however currently own and operate my own business. I can tell you this, as you grow, if your prices are too low you will find yourself swamped with work until you burn out or your quality tanks at which point you will probably quit. More likely however, you will find that you are too busy to take on that next commission and it will become apparent that you need to start charging more just to keep the volume of business under control. It's basically supply and demand, you are the supply and there is a limit to how much you can produce. Of course, you don't want to enter the market too far out of the bubble or you will never get established.

I am sure I will be asking the same questions if and when I start doing commissions. There was a podcast about pricing for artwork on Ninja Mountain Scrolls (http://ninjamountain.blogspot.com/) somewhere but it was weeks ago. Seems artists always have a hard time knowing what to charge.

Before I finished school and went into Corporate America, I did sell a few art pieces I had done (I wasn't doing maps btw) and I had no idea what to charge. The problem for me is I want paid more for doing something I hate, say digging a trench, than for doing something i love. But just because you love doing something doesn't mean it isn't of value and you might be surprised by how much it really is worth.

There are reasons for the "starving artist" tag and it seems not knowing what to charge is one of them.

OldGuy
07-02-2010, 10:24 PM
I'm coming in a bit late but I'd just like to add that I don't think time required to create the map should come into play. Some of you can create awe-inspiring works of art in a few hours. It may take me weeks to create a barely passable simple map. Clearly, mine shouldn't be worth more simply because I'm slow, and yours shouldn't be worth less because you are skilled and efficient. It might be interesting to track time and figure out what your hourly rate was for the sale, but I wouldn't base the price on the estimated time. Maybe you could base an absolute minimum on an hourly rate. For instance, it may not be worth your while to do maps for a fee for less than $5-10 per hour. I wouldn't suggest that for a price but just as a way of setting a low end to a range.

Personally, I think $50 would be quite low and $500 would be a bit high. Level of detail and quality should dictate where in that range the exact price falls. But in the end, its whatever makes you both happy.

RecklessEnthusiasm
07-02-2010, 10:42 PM
I've really got to find where I can compete for more commissions. I've only done one paid commission so far, one which I picked up on the request forum here. It earned me $2 per placeable tile/encounter map object (I ended up making over 150 of them). The idea of making my my hobby into a lucrative one is extremely appealing... though I should probably focus on my style and technique for now.

Diamond
07-02-2010, 11:40 PM
I've really got to find where I can compete for more commissions.
If you don't already have one, start a Deviant Art page. The longer you're there, the more people will see your work, and even if you do absolutely no advertising at all, you'll probably still get requests. That's what happened with me, anyway.

Gamerprinter
07-02-2010, 11:47 PM
I'm coming in a bit late but I'd just like to add that I don't think time required to create the map should come into play. Some of you can create awe-inspiring works of art in a few hours. It may take me weeks to create a barely passable simple map. Clearly, mine shouldn't be worth more simply because I'm slow, and yours shouldn't be worth less because you are skilled and efficient. It might be interesting to track time and figure out what your hourly rate was for the sale, but I wouldn't base the price on the estimated time. Maybe you could base an absolute minimum on an hourly rate. For instance, it may not be worth your while to do maps for a fee for less than $5-10 per hour. I wouldn't suggest that for a price but just as a way of setting a low end to a range.

Personally, I think $50 would be quite low and $500 would be a bit high. Level of detail and quality should dictate where in that range the exact price falls. But in the end, its whatever makes you both happy.

While I agree for the most part. For me only, I know how fast I can map, (ask anybody - its very fast) so I can look at a prospective map project and accurately guess how long it should take me to accomplish it. Even when I started I tried to imagine how fast I would become and then applied that faster rate in my commission fee, though at the time I couldn't make that speed - now I can.

Secondly, while I agree that $50 is indeed low, its hard to find publisher/map commissioners willing to pay more. So until you can get commissions from companies like Paizo or WotC, you'll have to settle for the lower pay or not get work at all.

Thirdly, because I know what I can do, I have received commissions when there were multiple bidders, and I had the highest bid - once I communicate my unwilliness to budge on price, yet purvey the idea that I can make them a better or more appropriate map, I get the job anyway. I have wiggle room depending on who the commission is for, especially for private users for example, but I stay in my preferred range, or I don't take the commission.

@ Recklessenthusium - I did a commission for ProFantasy Software once, I created 287 map objects for their (I don't think its published yet) SS3 Modern Symbol Set and I charged twice what you did for map tiles... though it paid well, it was an utter pain in the butt and took longer than I had planned, but then 287 objects from helicopters to toilet seats was one long commission.

GP

tilt
07-03-2010, 02:32 AM
I think having a Deviant Art page is a fine idea... I haven't had mine long, but I do think that with all the art uploaded there you sort of drown - even a piece I asked Crititque on never got a single note. But its easy to show your portfolio there. I'm not sure its worth paying for though - don't really feel I got anything from those money... or maybe I just don't know how to use the page to its fullest - it does feel rather unorganized to me and lots of functions are just plain strange - incl lhamas (they are just plain stupid)