How to price character design? | Smart Money Match

How to price character design?

Character design in digital art is a detailed process. So, how do you set the right price for it?

Let's look at the main factors that affect the cost.

process of working a 3d character designer.png

The basics of pricing in character design

Character design is more than just drawing. It's about making an idea real.

The cost can change based on:

Complexity of Design

A simple character will cost less than a detailed, multi-layered design.

Simple Designs are often minimalistic, using basic shapes and a limited number of colors. They may not have complex backgrounds or detailed clothing. Think of the figures or avatars seen in some mobile games or apps. Because they require less time and resources to create, they are usually more affordable.

There are also complex designs, detailed and often require a lot of time and skill. They might have detailed facial expressions, layered clothing, intricate tattoos, or jewelry. Such designs are common in high-end video games, movies, or graphic novels where the character's appearance adds depth to the story.

Think of characters from popular video games like "The Witcher" or "Final Fantasy". The characters have detailed armor, multiple expressions, and even scars or other unique features. Such designs require a lot of effort and higher price.

geralt from The witcher 2d character example.jpg

Another factors of high cost:

Experience of the Designer: Character design pricing often depends on the designer's experience. Like in many jobs, a more experienced designer usually charges more.

Designers with more experience have refined their skills over time. They often work faster and produce better results.

For example, a designer with 10 years of experience might create a game character quicker and with fewer changes than a beginner. This speed and quality can mean higher prices.

Purpose of the Character: Is it for a game, a cartoon, or advertising? This can change the price.

Game characters may require different poses and expressions than advertising characters. Experienced designers understand these differences. Game character needs to move and interact in the game, while an advertising character needs to show a specific emotion or message.

3d game characters sheet example.png

Duration of the Project: Projects that take longer or need many changes will cost more.

If a designer charges $50/hour and the project takes 20 hours, you'll pay $1000. But if changes and revisions extend the project to 30 hours, the cost rises to $1500.

Outsourcing game studios usually charge less for the work (the cost can be around $30-$40 per hour of work)

Revisions Add Up - Every time a design goes back to the drawing board, it consumes more time. While some designers offer a set number of revisions in their packages, additional changes might come at an extra cost.

A designer might include two revisions in their base price. But if you request a third or fourth revision, they might charge an additional fee for each.

It’s will be much better if you set boundaries from the start. Discuss the number of revisions included in the price upfront. If you think you'll need more, negotiate this at the beginning to avoid surprise costs later.

Factors That Shape Character Design Cost

fantasy woman 2d character example.jpg

When setting a price for character design, consider:

  • Research and Conceptualization: Before the actual design process begins, a lot of research goes into understanding the character's background, role, and personality.

    Before sketching even begins, designers invest time understanding the character. This involves researching the character's background, role, and personality to ensure the design aligns with the vision. This phase, while crucial, adds to the project's duration.

    For Example, If you want a character designed for a historical game set in Ancient Egypt, the designer might spend hours researching Egyptian clothing, culture, and artifacts to make the character authentic. Look at the game wall art from RetroStyle Games:

Egypt wallpaper for game example from RetroStyle Games.png

  • Sketching and Refinement: First, there are basic sketches. Then, they are changed based on feedback.

    Be specific with feedback. Instead of saying "I don't like the face of the character", explain why. This helps the designer understand and make effective changes.

  • Coloring and Detailing: After approving the design, color and other details are added.

  • Final Touches: This includes adding shadows, highlights, and other finishing touches to make the character stand out.

    Look at the character from different angles and lighting. Ensure it looks great in various scenarios, especially if it's for a game or animation.

fantasy 2d rpg character backside.jpg

Choosing the Right Company for Your Project

When selecting a company for your character design needs, consider their portfolio, client reviews, and communication skills.

It's important to find a game art company that gets your idea and can make it into a design that fits your needs. There are plenty of character design studios, for example RetroStyle Games. As an outsourcing game art studio, they have a wide variety of characters in their portfolio, from simple to detailed ones. Their pricing is clear and based on the belief that good quality comes at a price.

Look at one of their projects, 3D character art & animation for the mobile game Pet Haven.

3D characters sheet for mobile game Pet Haven example.png

When picking a design company, look at their past work, see what other clients say, and check how well they communicate. Spending on a good character design is like investing in your story or brand. By knowing what affects the price and what you want, you can work well with the designer and get a character that fits your needs.

Character design is a combination of art and strategy. While prices may vary, understanding the factors that influence cost will help you make an informed decision. Whether you're a company or an individual looking to create a unique design for your brand, it's important to find the right balance between quality and cost.

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