Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Typical Freelance Artist assignments

Ran across this post from Jon Hodson of Ninja Mountain giving examples of typical freelance fantasy artist type commissions. I haven't actually read it because I want to work through them as if it were an assignment, and I haven't had time to sit down and do that.

Something they talk about often on Ninja Mountain Podcasts is that you gotta bring teh awesome. I've been grabbing images off of for a while now and am starting to put together a list of things that seem to improve a pieces' chances for teh awesome, pretty obvious stuff, but thought I'd throw them down so I can have a checklist if I get to painting.

tilt the figure
tilt the camera
tilt the ground plane
dynamic poses
sense of movement
rhythm in composition
strong composition
use reference
believable anatomy
control the viewers eye
majority of piece in middle third of value range (at least don't make it ALL dark)
pool your darks together into larger simple shapes
rim light
consistent palette (don't bring in colors that don't fit)

*and for my 5th life if I ever wind up trying to be freelance artist, places to scare up the little jobs:
gametrade magazine (lists upcoming rpg game releases, and therefore also potential companies)
paizo seems to employ a lot of artists
the forge
of course artorder, conceptart, and deviantart are obvious

*and some price breakdowns on the comments of a Ninja Mounta Post:
Wizards of the coast (the top) pays:
$800 a page for internals
$2000 for Dungeon/Dragon covers
$3000 for print covers
$1200 chapter start (about a week's time) (half dozen of them per book)
$850-$1000 per Magic card (if your a consistently demanded artist up to $2500)

They publish, on average, a couple of supplements a month, plus the online Mags. Internal commissions can easily run to a couple of pages. Of course this doesn't include novel covers, miniature designs, any of their other game lines.

*and a post on this from Art Order

* and Dan Dos Santos in an interview says
Tor cover 3000-3500
Scholastic cover 4000
Fantasy Flight Card 150
Magic 850
(Dec. 2010)

and another artorder post w/ a list of art order examples 4/5/11

I received a request from a student recently. She was wondering if I could provide her with some real world art descriptions to use for your university assignments. I liked the idea and wanted to share the wealth. Here are a few to start out with....

This full-bleed cover features a dynamic FIGHT SCENE in some sort of
large dungeon chamber. The goal is to make the central heroic characters
look very cool and capable. It follows the 4E D&D cover trade

TWO HEROES (see below) are fighting off a squad of GOBLINS, HOBGOBLINS,
and BUGBEARS. The exact number of monsters is left to the artist,
although it should be clear that the heroes are slightly outnumbered
(but winning nonetheless). Not all of the monsters need to be fully
detailed; the illustrator is encouraged to find ways to give the
impression of greater numbers without crowding the scene with too many
characters. The emphasis needs to be on the HEROES.

The first hero is a FEMALE HALFLING ROGUE wearing form-fitted black
LEATHER ARMOR with scalloped leather pauldrons and blood spatters here
and there. She clutches a SHORT SWORD that’s dripping with the blood of
her enemies. Butchered goblins lie face down around her feet, and she
looks quite pleased with herself. These are actual descriptions from some past products, but I'm not going to tell you what they are :)

The second hero is a MALE HUMAN FIGHTER with Asian features. He wears
SCALE ARMOR and wields a LONGSWORD and SHIELD. His armor and shield are
asymmetrical. He’s plunging his sword through the torso of a hobgoblin.
His mouth is open as if screaming some sort of curse or battle cry. His
rugged and grungy, but handsome and obviously skilled.

Use the art references for GOBLINS, HOBGOBLINS, and BUGBEARS to
accurately portrayed these creatures. The goblins are wearing crude hide
armor and wielding short swords. The hobgoblins are wearing scale
armor, carrying shields, and wielding all sorts of martial weapons, from
swords to hand axes to spears. The bugbears wear chain armor and wield
two-handed greataxes.

The front cover illo is a dynamic forced-perspective piece:
The front cover depicts a bird's-eye view of a FEMALE SHADE KNIGHT
riding on the back of a SHADOW DRAGON IN FLIGHT. Both of them are made
of translucent shadow (i.e., you can see through them), and it's very
important that we find an artist capable of doing this sort of
transparent effect. The dragon is wearing a black bridle, and the shade
knight is wearing a cloak over her armor. She grips the bridle with one
hand and holds aloft a gleaming longsword in the other. They are racing
up toward us, and the dragon's jaws are agape.
Behind the shade knight and its mount, we see the TOP of the CITY OF
SHADE, as if we're high in the sky looking down at it. The city is
built atop a gigantic floating rock, suspended above a dark sea. The
city's dark towers angle toward us, but they should still be relegated
to the background; consequently, most of the city can be hazy or
half-hidden by clouds. Also, the city and clouds should be lit in some
color, like orange, because the creatures in the foreground are dark.

THis cover depicts an ancient WHITE DRAGON confronting us in an icy
cavern. Icy stalactites hang from the ceiling, and the floor is littered
with the frozen remains of fallen adventurers. In the background,
lodged at the back of the cave, is a wrecked galleon covered in ice and
frost. (Hidden inside the wreck are the white dragon’s eggs, which we
probably won’t be able to see in the illo.)This particular dragon should
be making eye contact with us, as though we are invading its lair, and
it should look unhappy, menacing and ready to blast us with its icy
breath weapon.

Specifications: 1/4 page - 3”w x 4.5”h

This illustration depicts a CRUMBLING TOWER made from WHITE STONE
BLOCKS. It’s MISSING the TOP HALF so the hollow interior should be
visible. The tower stands on a small bluff and is surrounded by rubble.
The scene should be night and the tower GLOWS. NO VINES GROW ON THE

Specifications: 1/2 H Opener - 7.125”w x 5.375”h

FEMALE SHADAR-KAI WARLOCK with tattoos and scarification on her
face, arms, and pretty much everywhere there is exposed skin. She’s
wearing black LEATHER armor with tiny silver studs all over.
She stands or sits precariously on a BALCONY overlooking the city of
SHADE ENCLAVE. An ancient, open BOOK dangles from one hand as if she is
not aware of it and might drop it at any moment. Her other hand holds a
dagger with which she traces shadowy magical symbols in the air. She
appears tensed, almost ready to spring, utterly engrossed in what she is
doing, yet in a scene that evokes a sense of ennui. Parts of her may
seem to be insubstantial, but that should only be implied, perhaps a
trick of the light.

Specifications: 1/3 H Color Opener 11.25”w x 3.5” h

A mul slave has turned against his captor. He is strangling a drider
with the chains of his manacles. Setting should be clearly in the
Underdark but not just a cavern; could be among slave pens for a drow
arena. Give the drider a whip or other implement to make it clear that
he is a slavelord. Note that THIS IS NOT A DARK SUN SETTING; the focus
of the article is on incorporating muls into non-Dark Sun campaigns.

Specifications: 1/3 V - 3” w X 6.75” h

Nighttime. A waifish, half-elf female assassin in catsuit-type
leather armor with additional studded-leather reinforcing. She is using a
rope harness to ascend the outside wall of a palatial building above a
balcony. Her victim, a richly-dressed dragonborn noble, is sprawled
across the balcony railing, with illumination coming from inside the

Here's a few more. I'm sure Claudio can tell you where they come from as well.

#1 MALE HALF-ELF SORCERER, in an active pose, facing the viewer. This CLASS ILLUSTRATION should use a format similar to those in the 4e PH.

Male half-elf sorcerer
Features: tanned skin, dark green-black hair.
Armor: Cloth armor, no shield.
Weapon: Holds an ornate brass orb.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer. The sorcerer should look like he’s in the center of a storm of swirling fire, elemental power that originates from him but is almost beyond his control. But very powerful and self-assured.

The SORCERER is an arcane controller who channels wild arcane energy into storms of deadly energy and blasts of fiery power.

#2 FEMALE HUMAN WARDEN, in an active pose, facing the viewer. This CLASS ILLUSTRATION should use a format similar to those in the 4e PH.

Female human warden
Features: East Asian ethnicity: tan skin, black hair.
Armor: Hide armor, heavy shield.
Weapon: Mace.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer.

The WARDEN is a primal defender who channels the power of earth and stone to protect herself and her allies. She can change her shape, retaining her basic humanoid form but taking on aspects of beasts or trees to attack and defend in different ways.

and two race descriptions

#1 SHIFTERS, MALE and FEMALE, in full figure active poses, facing the viewer. This RACE ILLUSTRATION should use a format similar to those in the 4e PH.

Shifters are depicted in the 4e Monster Manual (see reference) and on the cover of this book (reference #2). Longtooth shifters should have features, stance, and movement that suggests a wolf. Razorclaw shifters should have features, stance and movement that suggests a panther, or other great cat.

Male longtooth shifter cleric
Features: Brown skin, dark brown hair. Features should suggest a wolf.
Armor: Chainmail and light shield. Wears symbol of Melora around neck.
Weapon: Spear.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer.

Female razorclaw shifter druid
Features: Tan skin, sandy brown hair. Features should suggest a feline predator.
Armor: Hide armor, no shield.
Weapon: Spear.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer

#2 GOLIATH, MALE and FEMALE, in full figure active poses, facing the viewer. This RACE ILLUSTRATION should use a format similar to those in the 4e PH.

Male goliath barbarian
Features: Dark gray skin, mottled dark and light patches, no hair.
Armor: Hide armor, no shield.
Weapon: Big greataxe.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer.

Female goliath fighter
Features: Light gray skin, mottled dark and light patches, long, black hair in braids pulled into a ponytail.
Armor: Scale armor and shield.
Weapon: War pick.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer.

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