Help with Pricing Art Commission

Hello, again.

I have a commissioned cover art from a friend of mine for the game I am working on, but I do not know what the going rate is for cover art and I know that they will ask for much less than what would be fair.

For people who have commissioned art, what would be fair to offer them?

Edit: To be clear, I am paying a friend to do an art piece, not the other way round. I couldn’t draw a curtain lol.


More so coming from the perspective of an artist who has done commissioned work before: they should be, at the very least, charging for labour time. So that would minimally be the going price for minimum wage times the hours worked on a piece.

Here that would be 15.50$, and I typically finish works in 2-4 hours, so for example I’d at the very least charge 31 dollars.

I haven’t done commissions in awhile, (I stopped taking them on) but when I did, I normally charged anywhere from 30 to 80 CAD (which is weaker than the American dollar) and it would be for a headshot portrait. I’ve done work up to a 500$ price point, but most of my commissions fell within that listed range.

Complexity of the piece (details, headshot/bust/waist/full body, complex posing, complex background elements, pets or animals, number of characters) will influence the end price, as well as other factors like if there’s a short turn around time or rush order guarantee, or if the artist extensively performs revisions after client feedback later in the process.

ETA: I should mention that I primarily did digital art portraits of people’s loved ones, or their original characters for games like Dungeons and Dragons or other roleplay games, so I did not have to consider material costs the same way a traditional artist might have to.


Your price should reflect what the market will bear. Look around online and see what other artists charge for similar work. Obviously more established artists will command a higher price, but if you do a little research, you should get an idea of the median price.

Don’t undersell yourself. Your time and effort is valuable, and you should treat yourself with the respect you deserve. You’ll see a lot of artists selling their time for shockingly low prices, and you might be tempted to do that just to get a foot in the door. Don’t. But don’t price yourself as high as someone with a proven portfolio.

It will take a little time to get this right. When I started selling art, my prices veered wildly while I figured out what the market will bear. First I was too high, then too low, then just right, and after a while I raised them again and saw that I was still selling, and went from there. You’ll have to go through this process, too, and that’s normal.

Congrats on getting a commission!


If your getting professional quality art, just offer your friend a fair hourly rate and discuss how long they might take before you agree to it.

Money is relative. I think $15 an hour is a good starting point. $20 an hour is still a steal for very high quality work. If you’re really good friends, compensation is measured in beer.

If it’s something pretty involved, it could take around 10 - 12 hours to do. Something relatively quick will take about 3-4 hours, because art is never finished. :wink:

Edit: I read it as you commissioned art. Like, your friend is doing the art. The advice still stands though, just change seats. :wink:

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You read correctly — my friend is doing the art. Thanks for the advice. I want to make sure they get what they deserve. All my artist friends undersell themselves.

LOL. They don’t drink beer, but I’ll be sure to buy them a Jack Daniels.


Late to the conversation but I paid $100 for game cover art from an artist who was fairly new, and then $200 for the same artist a few years later as they had more experience and were charging more in general. I also paid a high school student at my high school I teach at $50 for cover art. Each work of art took between 5 and 10 hours I believe.


In Italy, when in front of a price/fee of favour, is much better (more so if is from a friend…) is usual offering a treat in an adequate restaurant. But is Italy, where food is top-notch, but the logic should be obvious: both honour are held, the giver of discount get no more of what has asked, and the receiver of the discount actually spend a sum equal (even slight above) to the regular price/fee.

Dunno if this applies to US… albeit I think that going to an actual Italian-cousine restaurant in US is perhaps too well above the differential. But the general idea applies. perhaps gifting something useful whose happen to equal said differential ? e.g. some brushes ?

(minor point, dunno in US, but here lawyers has always pride in a sizeable collection of ancient legal tomes, always show off in their study (now some ßtester gets where came the inspiration about a pair of locations :wink: ) and I happens to be a major bookworm with a sizeable set of friends in that liberal profession… whose cares to asking fees with a mindful eye to antique booksellers’s catalogues, if you get my drift…

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.


I normally make my own cover art, but I did commission the artwork for Alias ‘The Magpie’ and.The Magpie Takes the Train. The artist was a student at a Danish animation school I’d taught at and his style was perfect. I paid him £200 for the first one and £300 for the second.


As someone who commissions art, I (once) falsely assumed paying more would result in better quality and responsiveness. This is not true - some of the best artists undervalue themselves. I’ve paid $100+ for shit stuff I’m never going to use and insisted on paying more for artists which I know deserve it

If you are good, know what games need, and will reply responsively, you should be able to get commissions.

Some notes:

  • it’s really important to understand how your work will be used. Having to explain how assets will be used and the need for something like transparent backgrounds (eg overlay) or how parallax works get exhausting.
  • don’t try to outsource shit. I worked with this amazing inker for comic-book style works, but he insisted on his outsourced pal for color, and that artist didn’t use shading and made it look much worse. I’m currently now negotiating for just the inks because I thought color was also done by this guy and I’d frankly get better impact by using a splashy watercolor tool.
  • taking forever is rough. I need those assets to start building stuff. Quick turnaround is a great skill to build.
  • flexibility. I had an artist who made female characters too sexy with shadows highlighting their curves for sexual appeal. I didn’t want that, and the artist couldn’t adjust to make women treated the same artistically as the male characters.
  • bad spec sheets (or lack of). Show me what you can do and include prices. Anyone who makes it easy to see what you can do and the cost is more likely to get a commission. I’m dealing with dozens of responses. Make it easy for me. So few artists have these clear spec sheets, and they also convey competence and professionalism, so I’ll always go with one who has that. I don’t want to spend 30 minutes on discord chatting about rates, especially if I decide not to go with you - that’s a huge waste of time. These days, I assume anyone without a spec sheet is an amateur wasting my time. Bear in mind that every commission request these days comes with fluff and nonsense and fakery. Making yourself appear competent and highlighting how you handled past commissions will make me more likely to hire you.
  • bad commutation. On Reddit, for example, I used to use a 3rd party app and would mandate PM/DM only in communication. People would ignore this and try to start chats which I would never see. Or their only communication medium was discord instead of something easy like the platform they advertised on. Making me take extra work (and create an account?!) is a great way to hinder the commission pipeline. Every single time I’ve been like “well their art is so good, let me try anyways” when it comes to something like an inflexible single communication medium, it’s turned out that they simply aren’t professional all-around, so I see that lack of communication channel as a sign it won’t be pleasant to work with them

In one art-commissioning experience, I needed a series of character portraits from a pretty-well known artist online. We negotiated $20 for each portrait upon completion (shaded b/w, generic background, no color; in the artist’s primary style which was moderately detailed comic character art, not realism) for about 16 characters and then I requested a few more because I was so happy and satisfied with those so it ended up being 20 designs @$20 apiece. In almost every case each one was perfect and I only asked for slight alterations on one of them with the understanding that if a character portrait needed to be completely redesigned from the ground up (IE, I didn’t provide enough description of what I wanted in the first place) I’d have to pay for a completely new rendering again.

I was probably very fortunate in that I was acquainted with the artist and knew I could trust them - they weren’t a random person off the internet.

I also did commission art for robotsexpartymurder. In this case I needed four DAZ-3D full-body renderings from an unknown artist who was good with the program and had collected resources for it, and I offered $20 for each of these on completion. In this case it was a bit more wrangling because we had to work with what resources (skins, clothes, hairstyles) the artist had available or could purchase so it was several rounds of “what about this pose? this hair?” online and then they were fully rendered. There was one of the four I finally decided didn’t like the results, so I paid double ($40) to re-do it so the artist could also purchase some new skin and mesh resources to add to their collection to make it work for the look I wanted.

For Cursèd Pickle of Shireton, Marco did amazing pixel art but refused compensation, so I featured his name more prominently in the credits as a contributing creator.