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Thread: How does pricing for maps differ from other forms of art?

  1. #21
      Jalyha is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunning Cartographer View Post
    I too charge by the hour because right now this isn't my full time job, so every hour counts and I want to make sure I'm getting paid for it. The majority of my work right now is work I've made for myself for my own D&D group that I will then release to the public and self-publish (it does mean spending more time designing maps for my players as they need to be of a sellable quality afterwards). My style is hand drawn old-skool line drawing for battle maps (Mike Schley-esq) so they can take quite a while in comparison to say the digital stuff I used to do (but never sold). Knocking up digital work with pre-made items from the likes of RPGMapShare.com is really easy; drop shadow, blending and some lighting effects. The problem is that most people can do this to some degree using Dunjinni and such programs, so it's not really worth it for me, plus I want to establish my style and offer something different.

    I see. I've never used any premade stuff in my artwork (I'd be eaten alive). I can imagine that would affect both the time involved, and the pricing!

    As for Torstan's SOIAF maps, there was an offical atlas book released with maps from Westeros and beyond, The Official Map of Westeros with region and city maps. Pretty awesome (I'd like to look at them in more detail but I fear the spoilers!).
    I bought that book. Lands of Ice and Fire, right? It was one of the things that made me decide to start mapping my world. I guess I just didn't pay attention to know that someone here made it. I guess I assumed GRRM did it, at first, but now that I think about it I should have known better That's fabulous. (Omg those cities must have taken absolute AGES!)

    Okay I'm done fangirl-ing.


    So there's a lot of variation in how the pricing is done!

  2. #22
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    Yeah, I never use map objects or other map elements not created by me, in my work. Although I often reuse map objects I've created for other maps. I create everything except for the chosen font for labels (I am no fontographer). For photo-realistic maps I use image fills mostly from CGTextures.com, but other sources (some that no longer exist) as well. I absolutely detest painting - in traditional media, as well as digitally (I don't prefer image editors), so I use color mixes (mostly watercolor schemes) applicable in my chosen vector drawing application for color fills, when I'm not using photo textures. So aside from fonts and photo-textures, everything I create is done by me only.

    And of course, I do lots of hand-drawing. While I do have a drawing tablet - I still prefer to hand-draw with micropoint ink pen, and tend to only do traditional hand-drawing for my hand-drawn style, which I digitally scan with a large format scanner (from my daytime graphics shop), then import to my vector app to finish.

    While I use to agressively seek out publishers to get mapping commissions, my first 3 years that's what I did. Several great commissions fell out of the sky - the publishers found me, without me even know they were looking - including Paizo Publishing. My problem is that I am too creative. Once I start to generate a map, I get ideas of stuff I want or think should be included that the publisher never asked for. Although it often worked for the client, more and more, I did not want to limit my maps to what publisher's want in their maps. I wanted more of a free hand to do as I please, so I started game development and setting design using Pathfinder RPG (since it's currently very popular, and open to OGL 3PP creations) - so I could create my own products and create maps I wanted, as well as including more maps than most RPG publishers can afford. Now I have my tutorials guides project. I have plans for other map rich products in the future.

    So I am at the point that I no longer seek commission work, though I don't refuse if someone asks and if its a project interests me.

    While I think its really cool that Torstan (Jonathan Roberts) got the Fire and Ice gig, as well as an upcoming movie map (that is totally secret at this time...), I would never seek commission work like that, as that is not the direction I want to go (though I wouldn't turn it down). Again, I only really want to do work that I create - not just the map, but the rest of the publication as well.
    Last edited by Gamerprinter; 01-29-2014 at 11:58 AM.
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  3. #23
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    Yeah, I edited a picture that bogie had edited and I ASKED him if I could use it, and he said yes, and I credited him for it, and it looks way different and I feel guilty anyway I don't think I can do that without making my own


    How do you create "color mixes" ? Is that something I can do in free software? I'd love that. (And I didn't know fontography was a thing LOL)

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    In Xara, I'm using a fractal cloud filter for color mixing. In standard fractal cloud, one color is black the other white. I can change these colors to whatever I want, then rescale and rotate them. When the scale is too small, it has a repeating pattern effect, so I avoid that. I can also blur or increase contrast in the difference of colors. The end results look like a soft mixture of water color tones - very natural media looking. I know that many programs have a fractal cloud for transparency (as does Xara), but I haven't found that most software has fractal cloud color. So I don't really know what free software offers that option. You could have a layer in one color, then duplicate that layer, apply a different color then apply a fractal cloud transparency to basically get the same effect, though this means an extra step must be taken to accomplish it.

    I know that Inkscape can do a lot of what Xara does, since it too is a vector drawing application (and free like GIMP). But I am finding from doing research for my tutorials guides series, that Inkscape is missing lots of the capability that Xara has, so I don't consider Inkscape a good substitute for Xara. While Xara is inexpensive compared to Photoshop and lots of other software, it isn't free, however, many of its capabilities including diverse options for transparency and beveling, is better than any other program on the market. Hence why PC Pro Magazine gave Xara Designer Pro 9 the award for best software of the year 2013.

    For me 'free software' does nothing for me - I don't find it particularly attractive. I like to save money, yes, but I want capability, speed and ease of use more than no cost.
    Last edited by Gamerprinter; 01-29-2014 at 01:48 PM.
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    Ah, but I'm a starving artist, and I need "free" like fish need water.

    BUT! Hooraay! Thanks to your description, I was able to render some clouds in GIMP and colorize then "smudge" them enough to create something much closer to what I want than I would have ever been able to do otherwise So thanks.


    If someone ever offers to give me some software, for like, say, Christmas, though, I'll probably request your XARA thingy

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jalyha View Post
    I guess I assumed GRRM did it, at first, but now that I think about it I should have known better
    Well, he did try to take credit for it…



    I did some napkin-back calculations on a recent film project I worked on, and my efforts to roughly model most of the downtown and warehouse districts of New Orleans cost my client roughly $2400. It wasn't actually cartography, really, but the shot required a lot of the same kinds of skills and techniques. A few weeks earlier, I did a very bare-bones deckplan for a space station for $35.

    And for some slightly different perspective, since you're a landscape artist and might appreciate this, I had a matte painter* as one of my mentors during my internship. He said he was paid $40,000 by a feature film for a background that took him about two weeks to create.

    So yeah, a lot of variation.


    *For those who don't know the term, a matte painting is a background inserted into a shot in order to make it look as though the actors are somewhere they are not, or could never be. The foreground may be real, but it's not uncommon for everything from about twenty feet behind the principle action to be replaced by a painting. This used to be done on huge glass panels, but these days it's usually Photoshop work. For examples, here's a reel that illustrates it: Stargate Studios Virtual Backlot Reel 2012 on Vimeo
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  7. #27
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    Wow lol where do I sign up for that one? D:

    Yeahhhhh.... I've never gotten that well paid, unfortunately... probably a couple years salary there

    But I hadn't considered how much it could vary for the same artist... at this point my stuff mostly depends on the size of the painting, and not a lot else...


    So, really... it's like anything else... it can be very profitable, or not at all, depending on skill, talent and pure luck, eh?
    Have you "liked" a post today?

  8. #28
      Jaxilon is offline
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    Just to toss in 2 more cents worth..and to offer another point of view.

    Artwork does not provide my main income although I would love for it to do more than it is currently. Unfortunately for my Artist persona, I work as a software consultant. My time is billable hours and to take away from that pool for art means I bill fewer hours as a consultant. While I'm willing to loose out on some income to make the art I enjoy creating I can't forget what my time is worth. This makes it a bit challenging when it comes time to price out a comission. At the end of the day I have to realize that art doesn't pay as much for me as writing software....or do I?

    I think about how many software developers, managers, and people I see around me every day and how few can paint a picture or make a map and it seems unfair how poorly artists are paid (until they make it big or die of course). There just aren't that many folks around able to do it and still it is a notoriously poorly compensated career. ("Starving artist" and all that)

    I think part of this comes from artistic persons being sort of "born with the talent" (that's not to say some don't work hard to build awesome skills or just want it so badly they keep at it until they do) and the fact that most artists really love making art and are willing to sacrifice in order to do it. Additionally, it seems like a lot of artsists live in the portion of their brain that doesn't care much about business. From what I hear art schools don't do a fantastic job of preparing new artists for the world of big business either. This can make things tough for them on the way up. If they can stick with it and hone their craft things can turn out.

    While you don't want to price yourself out of the the market you should be fairly compensated. For me the answer was forced because right now in life, I need to turn in billable hours. If I'm going to do a commission, I have to make it worth my time. I figure out how many hours I think it's going to take and I charge my going rate, that's it. I wish I was running a charity but for now, I'm not.

    The flip side of this is I'm working to simplify my life in order to afford spending more time creating art, even if it doesn't turn out as lucritive. I like writing code so it's not horrible for me but I do want to spend more time drawing and painting. If you are skilled and continue doing what you love I think it is likely you will follow your art where it leads you and the money will follow...if you can hold out long enough
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