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Thread: Rates for cartography commissions?

  1. #1
      mearrin69 is offline
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    Default Rates for cartography commissions?

    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

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      Diamond is offline
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    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?
    "I like a look of agony, because I know it's true."

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      tilt is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond View Post
    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

    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
    regs tilt
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    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    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
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      torstan is offline
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    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.
    Fantasy Map Blog | My food illustration
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      mearrin69 is offline
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    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

  7. #7
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    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
    Last edited by Gamerprinter; 07-02-2010 at 12:29 PM.
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    Professional Artist RecklessEnthusiasm's Avatar
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    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.
    Last edited by RecklessEnthusiasm; 07-02-2010 at 12:55 PM.

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    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    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
    Gamer Printshop - We print RPG Maps for Game Masters!
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  10. #10
      torstan is offline
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    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.
    Last edited by torstan; 07-02-2010 at 02:48 PM.
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