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printz

Can I pay people to make complete Doom sprites?

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Suppose I have a great monster idea, but I can't draw sprites. I can maybe draw the initial frame and set guidelines/crude sketches on how the monster should look. Then, can I give all this data to someone willing to complete the sprite for some money? All this hard sprite work, i.e. animation, shading, correct anatomy, is daunting to me.

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printz said:

Suppose I have a great monster idea, but I can't draw sprites. I can maybe draw the initial frame and set guidelines/crude sketches on how the monster should look. Then, can I give all this data to someone willing to complete the sprite for some money? All this hard sprite work, i.e. animation, shading, correct anatomy, is daunting to me.




Don't mind if I do...

one of my recent masterpieces:


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Does $80-$100 USD for a complete and high quality set sound reasonable to you? That is, for a complex monster (8 rotations, 20+ frames, large, etc), things of lesser complexity should obviously cost less than that)

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Sodaholic said:

Does $80-$100 USD for a complete and high quality set sound reasonable to you? That is, for a complex monster (8 rotations, 20+ frames, large, etc), things of lesser complexity should obviously cost less than that)

That sounds too low.

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You'll want a written agreement that can be e-signed for starters. This document should include the details and scope of the project and how many hours are being allotted for each leg of the project. It should also spell out the hourly rate of pay or total assigned project budget and how the contracted artist will ensure the project is being fulfilled in accordance with your vision. Finally, you will probably want a clause describing the process of grievance resolution and measures for remediation as needed.

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Yeah, I'd be interested in paying for sprite-drawing services too. $80 to $100 may be low, but I know I couldn't afford more, or even that at the moment. However, I've actually tried twice now, and it didn't work out, so, be careful - it's tough to find someone that's good, willing to stick with it, and willing to take criticism.

Then, there's the aspect of getting the wad done, then releasing it for free. Everyone else can just wait, and get the sprites for free.

I'd like to see a crowd-funded thing, where everyone could chip in, no one would have to pay a large amount, yet artists could get compensated (good luck making money doing sprites any other way these days), and we'd have new, cool sprites in the end.

Maybe, those that pay more have more say as to what gets made. The quality could be judged by those that chip in, and the work would have to pass a review to get paid.

I'd be willing to chip in, for sure.

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Sodaholic said:

Does $80-$100 USD for a complete and high quality set sound reasonable to you? That is, for a complex monster (8 rotations, 20+ frames, large, etc), things of lesser complexity should obviously cost less than that)

I think $800-$1000 would be a closer ballpark estimate for a truly "professional" monster sprite set.

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what is this about? i may be interested, thoug i dont know if the kind of stuff i do is what your looking for

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Linguica said:

I think $800-$1000 would be a closer ballpark estimate for a truly "professional" monster sprite set.

Ssshhh! Don't tell them that :)
No, seriously, you're absolutely right. And, for high-res stuff, it's even more valuable. Think about it: The archvile, with the mirrored frame hack, still has 145 images! Granted, that's just about the worst example. But even the imp has 53 frames. That's a lot of drawing. But, there's a lot to consider: $100 is a lot of money to some, and it's for a free game that will probably be released for free. That's why I mentioned the crowd-fund idea, which might generate a bit more revenue, and would also distribute the cost amongst interested parties.

raymoohawk said:

what is this about? i may be interested, thoug i dont know if the kind of stuff i do is what your looking for

I don't want to hijack Sodaholic's thread, but I will say that I've seen your work (it's excellent), and yes, I'd like to get you to draw me some monsters, for sure. PM me if you're seriously interested, and we can haggle :) But, again, I'm not quite ready, and Sodaholic has a need for your services, apparently.

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Are you able to get an artist excited about working on your idea?

Are you willing to pay a price that's not insultingly cheap for the work?

Soda's estimate/offer(?) sounds like a massive lowball to me, especially if you expect good work, decent turnaround time, and some measure of creative control. Being asked to do somebody's creative busywork for a small pittance can honestly feel more insulting than being asked to do it gratis. As soon as money is on the table all sorts of expectations pop up, even if that money isn't enough to cover the cost of the coffee you consumed while working on the project.

Of course you can find someone talented but inexperienced, with tons of free time to blow. Someone desperate to build their portfolio and sharpen their skills might do commission work for a price like that, as might someone who can churn out sprites really fast.

I'm not a graphic artist at anything more than a hobbyist level, and there's obviously going to be a lot of variance in speed between artists and the techniques used to make the sprites, so I can't speak for everybody. If you're a prodigy who can churn out a 3D model in a couple hours, rig, animate, and render it in another few hours, and then touch up the sprites in another couple of hours, those prices would make more sense to me. But I'm imagining sprites drawn more-or-less from scratch.

So lets assume a quick artist with a tight workflow can average one sprite per fifteen minutes; that's four frames per hour. So for 160 (20 frames @ 8 angles each) sprites, that's forty hours of labour alone. At $80-$100 for the full set, that means the artist is working for between $2.00-$2.50 per hour.

If the artist wants to make a meagre $7/hour minumum wage for their work, that's more like $280 for the full set. (Minimum wage is actually closer to $10/hour where I live, btw.)

So let's make the artist work even quicker, using every shortcut to recycle as many details and mirror as many frames as possible. If it works out to an average of 10 minutes spent per sprite, then that's 6/hour, and still ~27 hours of labour. So if the artist charges $80-$100 for the work, they're making $2.96-$3.70 per hour.


More realistically, I expect a half decent artist will actually spend 1-2 hours (more if you're extra picky) iterating through elaborations of your basic design until you're happy with it. Then another hour of fine-tuning the poses, so three hours of work before the real spriting even starts. Then for good-quality work, lets estimate an average of 30 minutes of labour spent per sprite (i.e. 2 per hour), including perfecting the animations, shading, palettizing, doing cleanup, and everything else. So, that's 83 hours altogether.

Imagine that the artist's life is already busy, and they have just enough self-respect to value their time at $10/hour. That'll be $830.00 for one full monster, not considering that they could easily charge you more depending on who retains how much copyright, their software overhead, etc.

TL;DR: If you want semi-professional results, you can expect to be paying more than minimum wage, or the artist better have time to kill and be really interested in working for you.

Edit:
Heh, I started typing this when there were only two replies in the thread...

Anyway, I also found an interesting page discussing the cost of sprites:
http://2dwillneverdie.com/blog/how-much-do-sprites-cost/

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kb1 said:

I don't want to hijack Sodaholic's thread [...] Sodaholic has a need for your services, apparently.

This isn't my thread, and I was actually offering services. The reason I was asking how reasonable the price was is because I wasn't sure if it was too low. I don't like to charge too much for anything.

Maybe I sell myself too short. I'm used to getting shit pay for hard work. If anyone's willing to pay more than that, that'd be excellent, but I figured most of my potential customers are likely to be as broke as me.

I am available, and prices are open to negotiation (from my end too, I don't want to bleed anyone dry, but want to be well compensated).

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to the OP and to anyone whos interested im available for commission (for monster spriting, since its the one thing i know how to do). if your interested feel free to pm me

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kb1 said:

However, I've actually tried twice now, and it didn't work out, so, be careful - it's tough to find someone that's good, willing to stick with it, and willing to take criticism.

It's actually fairly easy to find artists like that: there are countless websites and entire online communities full of them. The real tough part is valuing those qualities enough to pay them fairly for the work you want done. Especially if "willing to take criticism," means "willing to let me micromanage their creativity, and rework the design until it matches the hazy image that's only in my head."

I'm puzzled when people act surprised that an uninvested amateur doing skilled, repetitive work for dirt cheap will tend to flake out when the going gets tough. I sew and tailor clothing semi-professionally, and I clean up after this kind of nonsense more than I'd really care to. People bring me garments that are unfinished or poorly half-altered, because they paid their chucklehead neighbour ~$10 to do it. The neighbour half-assed the job for a couple hours until they got bored with it, then the clothes sat around unwearable for a month (or six) before they bring it to me and I fix it for $60 in one evening.

How eagerly can you expect anyone to dump their time, effort, and soul into something they're neither creatively nor financially invested in? Why wouldn't you walk away when you get bored or stressed with a job, when you can literally earn double by walking around the street collecting beer bottles, and in a lesser time span, to boot?

I think that for every fresh budding artist who'll throw their passion into a project for whatever small sum they're offered, there's a crowd of overambitious amateurs who'll unwittingly bite off more than they can chew and then lose interest as soon as they realize what they're in for.

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And to think that there were people who were willing to do hi-res sprite or model work for free. Most start (and end) their efforts with the Imp, some of the most skilled or driven may move on to Doomguy or even the zombies or at most the Pinky. but so far, nobody has produced a complete sprite or model set from scratch.

Applying a photoshop filter to all sprites automatically doesn't count.

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Maes said:

So far, nobody has produced a complete sprite or model set from scratch.


Ah, those sneaky, pesky words! ;-)

Reinchard said:


Well, one down, 8 to go, if we stick to Doom 1 ;-) (Zombie, Shotgun guy, Pinky, Cacodemon, Lost Soul, Baron of Hell, Cyberdemon, Spider Mastermind).

The total blows up to 18, if we add Doom II monsters as well (Arachnotron, Archvile, Chaingunner, Mancubus, Hell Knight, Pain Elemental, Revenant, SS Nazi, Commander Keen, Icon Of Sin) and to 19, if we add good ol' Doomguy.

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Yeah, I missed that one word :) Anyway, this is probably the first full hr sprite based on original Doom art.

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Give as much money as Adrian Carmack was given to make the sprites for the original doom, ask Adrian about his salary at the doom days.

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Maes said:

And to think that there were people who were willing to do hi-res sprite or model work for free. Most start (and end) their efforts with the Imp, some of the most skilled or driven may move on to Doomguy or even the zombies or at most the Pinky. but so far, nobody has produced a complete sprite or model set from scratch.

Applying a photoshop filter to all sprites automatically doesn't count.


freedoom has several complete sprite sets and eriance and vader have also created complete sprite sets from scratch

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raymoohawk said:

freedoom has several complete sprite sets and eriance and vader have also created complete sprite sets from scratch


Those sneaky, pesky words again ;-)

Maes said:

And to think that there were people who were willing to do hi-res sprite or model work for free.


Unless I lost several episodes, freedoom doesn't use either.

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Can I pay people to make complete Doom sprites?


Why yes you can pay them; doesn't really mean they will work faster on the sprites, or at all.

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Hang on. 800-1000$ is insane, in an actual mental hospital kind of way.

If you break things down into hourly pay, then sure you end up with a low wage.

However, neither the "contractor" nor the sprite artist is expected to work on their Doom project like a daily job.

The sprite artist already has spriting as his hobby, obviously, and so he is naturally going to be working on it like a hobby too, considering this is almost 20 years past 1992, and it's not even a commercial product.

In that respect, I'd say 50-100$ is reasonable for a sprite ranging in scope from the Imp to the Spider Mastermind.

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gemini09 said:

Hang on. 800-1000$ is insane, in an actual mental hospital kind of way.

If you break things down into hourly pay, then sure you end up with a low wage.

However, neither the "contractor" nor the sprite artist is expected to work on their Doom project like a daily job.

The sprite artist already has spriting as his hobby, obviously, and so he is naturally going to be working on it like a hobby too, considering this is almost 20 years past 1992, and it's not even a commercial product.

In that respect, I'd say 50-100$ is reasonable for a sprite ranging in scope from the Imp to the Spider Mastermind.

I don't think $50 to $100 would be enough to get many skilled artists excited about spending countless hours of their time working on a project they didn't have enough interest in to do for free.

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Hmm....when I was involved with modding a certain RTS game (Warlords Battlecry III), I remember someone in the know mentioned that each of the games' models took about that much to make, but now that I think about it, given just how many different units that game had (which were converted into sprites, with 16 rotations), that doesn't sound realistic. Maybe it was more like 400-500 for the really big and/or complex ones, while many of the simplest/smallest ones were obviously minor variations/edits.

I think in the end it boils down to the artists' hourly rate. Some might have been done on the cheap, others not as much. Not that any of them was of a particularly high quality.

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gemini09 said:

Hang on. 800-1000$ is insane, in an actual mental hospital kind of way.

If you break things down into hourly pay, then sure you end up with a low wage.

However, neither the "contractor" nor the sprite artist is expected to work on their Doom project like a daily job.


Of course not. If graphic/sprite art were their daily grind, they'd charge more like $15-$30/hour, rather than $7-$10/hour. You might expect to pay thousands, plural, for a complete set of sprites drawn professionally from scratch.

The sprite artist already has spriting as his hobby, obviously, and so he is naturally going to be working on it like a hobby too, considering this is almost 20 years past 1992, and it's not even a commercial product.


So if it's just some random person's noncommercial mod for a twenty year old game, why would a good sprite artist be particularly excited to work on that for peanuts? They could be working on a brand new indie game, or doing their own art, or catching up on sleep, rather than shortchanging themselves for somebody else's benefit.

It's one thing to draw as a hobby--by definition, you choose your own projects, work for your own satisfaction, and progress at your own schedule. If you need a break or get bored, you put it aside freely. When it's done, the end result is yours. It's another thing to take a job from somebody, let them undervalue your services, then slave to fulfill their expectations.

In that respect, I'd say 50-100$ is reasonable for a sprite ranging in scope from the Imp to the Spider Mastermind.


If it takes 80 hours to make a set of sprites (which is a low figure; that article estimates that a professional takes two hours per sprite on average--hobbyists will naturally take longer), and you get someone to do it in their spare time for as cheap as possible, it could be months before you see anything, if you see anything.

From the hobby artist's perspective, assume it's not work they really want to be doing (otherwise they'd be willing to do it for free). For a measly $50-$100, why would you take on a side project that consumes all of your free time for the next two or three months? If you take the job and then get fed up/bored with it after toiling away for weeks, is fifty bucks worth spending another month on it, when you have a dozen more valuable ways to spend your time?

How Much Do Sprites Cost said:
There’s an adage that says you can have your work done quickly, with high quality, or cheaply, but you can only pick two of those choices. And so it is here — you can hire someone to make a character by editing an existing character and have things done quickly with very little skill needed, you can get someone who’s decent and give them no deadline pressure for a reasonable cost (probably the number one formula for failure, though), or you can go out and officially hire someone skilled for a project with a deadline and expect to pay a bucketload. It rarely deviates from this.

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gemini09 said:

Hang on. 800-1000$ is insane, in an actual mental hospital kind of way.

If you break things down into hourly pay, then sure you end up with a low wage.

However, neither the "contractor" nor the sprite artist is expected to work on their Doom project like a daily job.

Yeah, treating it as if it were an actual job, what a weird way of thinking about it.

I estimated a full workweek for a high-quality, from-scratch Doom enemy sprite of 50ish frames (4 walking frames with 5 rotations each, 3 attacking frames, 1 pain frame, and then the death animation). Then I estimated $25/hour which is a not-unreasonable figure for a professional video game artist. That's $1000 right there.

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Linguica said:

Yeah, treating it as if it were an actual job, what a weird way of thinking about it.


It is, because the question was "Would anyone even wanna do this for cash?". To then suggest 1000$, is a bit of a ridiculous answer to that question.

I understand your POV, and I guess I agree that say making the Cyberdemon from scratch should warrant about 1000$ and upwards. But then it would have to mean that there's going to be revenue from that 1000$. By the sound of it from the original post, that wasn't the plan.

So if it's a hobby project then the bounty should be in that vicinity.

Personally I'd like to see more money circulating in the Doom community. We are spending all of our money on games outside the Doom community, "but always come back to Doom" yet spend no money here - doing that could create a bigger incentive for the community to make projects beyond a random collection of maps megawads, such as Batman Doom, Action Doom, Hellbound and Back To Saturn, which all have a new vision in their aim but also still play like the ol' Doom that we love. There have been a lot of arguments in favor of sprite artists here, so let's not forget the initiative that makes the demand for a sprite artist in the first place.

I'm not suggesting to start selling megawads, but rather to start a culture of offering to donate to wads that we've completed and so properly valued, and consequently, it should be good etiquette to pass some of the received donations on to the tools used also provided by the Doom community, such as map editors, source ports and utilities.

Sorry for going a little off topic, printz..

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