Request a Quotation or Cost Estimate for a Cartoon, Caricature or Illustration
Introduction - Overview
As a professional artist and illustrator with over 25 years of experience, it would be fair to say that I have prepared a lot of quotations and cost estimates. At times, this can be more challenging than the artwork itself. The situation is often made more difficult than it needs to be, because often the client provides only vague or incomplete information. One could be forgiven for believing that some clients have an expectation that all artists are magicians with considerable clairvoyant capabilities. (This is of course quite true, but it's meant to be a secret. :-)
This article will attempt to outline to clients the kind of information that an artist requires to prepare a cost estimate or quotation. Hopefully it will save all concerned both time and confusion.
Describing the job and subject matter to the artist:
Describing exactly what you want as an outcome to the artist concerned is a rather fundamental element of the initial communication. It can also be the point where things first begin to go pear-shaped.
Firstly, it is not always necessary for the artist to know everything about the subject matter (product or project) in question. Too much information, particularly when it is not directly associated with the work required, can at times prove counter-productive. There can be a fine balance between generating informed inspiration and information overload.
In other words, try to be concise when explaining the subject matter to the artist. Provide examples and/or reference material whenever possible. Don’t get carried away with emotive or overly flowery “artsy” speak. Most artists are actually practical and pragmatic people who speak in plain English (beware of those who don’t … they are probably pulling your chain … or the wool over your eyes).
Always begin with the basics
- What kind of art is required?
- Is it a cartoon, a caricature, an animation or some other form of illustration?
- Is the artwork required to be in colour or black-and-white (greyscale or line art)?
Specifying the artwork size - How large does the finished art need to be?
Ok, so now you're wondering what finished art is? Finished art is a Print Industry term that refers to artwork that is print ready. In other words, nothing more is required to be done except print the final hardcopy. This term has less significance in the digital age, since for example, digital artwork intended for a website may never need to be printed.
Which leads us to the question, what is the intended purpose of the artwork? … Is the artwork intended for publication (comic strip, book, magazine, greeting card, invitation, logo, merchandising), a website, a digital format like a Flash animation, for video output (broadcast or DVD) or as a work of art to hang on the wall? The answer will have a bearing on the artist's approach, the tools employed, the level of detail rendered in the completed work and the expected remuneration ... that is Payment!
There are generally two components used to specify the size of finished artwork intended to be printed. These include the required final physical dimensions (in either millimetres or inches) and the resolution at which the artwork is to be printed. Resolution is usually specified in either dpi (dots per inch) or pixels (particularly if the work is required only in digital form).
Note: General commercial quality printing requires a resolution of 300dpi. Though most commercial printers will accept files in RGB (PC and digital camera) format, some still specify that print ready files should be provided in CMYK format (this requirement will be less common in future).
Together these parameters (dimensions and resolution) will largely determine the amount of detail (and therefore effort) that the artist will need to incorporate into the finished work. This in turn will have considerable bearing on the overall time expended and therefore the anticipated cost.
A simple example might be: Artwork needs to be full colour, A4 size at 300dpi.
Animations and Video Work
If an animated work is required for a website, or for either broadcast (TV) or DVD, then a slightly more complex set of specifications will be required. These may include: the intended duration of the animation (usually specified in minutes and/or seconds), the screen format (4:3, widescreen, or specific pixel dimensions for a Web animation), the output format (Web, PAL or NTSC), output quality (standard or high-definition), and the colour depth (usually 16bit or 32bit).
A simple example might be: I need a 15 second Flash animation at 15 frames per second, at a size of 500 pixels wide by 300 pixels high.
Ordering Artwork or Illustrations in Batches
Creating a cartoon, caricature and/or other illustration is a process which will take a finite (but not necessarily predictable) time to complete. However, if more than one illustration is requested, and the illustrations required have similar properties or themes, approaching them as a group may save some valuable time (and therefore client expense), while also assisting in the overall creative process. Though this can only practically be determined on a case-by-case basis, it is worth bearing in mind.
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Wizard - Incept date: 17/10/2008 - Updated: 20/07/2009