How much should i charge ? - How much are you willing to pay


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  • Posts: 6
Hello !
I'm a bit new into freelancing, not new in game art creation mind you; but i was working for free before (for non commercial projects). However, since i'm now legally 'of' age to be paid, i decided to work for little commercial projects.

However, the problem is that i don't know how much should i charge per hour; i don't want to be too expensive, but i don't want to sell my self short neither (and art supplies and softwares are not exactly free ...). So i'm asking your help, artists and game developper, how much do you think i should charge / how much are you willing to pay for my services (supposing you need them).

So you can have more informations, here's some more details about me :

 - I'm very dynamic and i can work easily in groups.
 - I'm creative; if the client doesn't know what graphic style he wants for his game, i usually help him by creating various sketches in diffrents styles so he can choose. I even (and that happens a lot) create whole game concepts for some clients who only have a working prototype (like a fully working tower defense system) and need a concept to transform the prototype to a true game.
 - I work quite fast.
 - I work on any graphical details in the game, be it sprites, background, animation or UI design.
 - Here are some examples of my recent work :

CandyFall (A simple, fun and colorful match game) :

Invasion :

Iso Tileset :

Sprite (Tower defense, character concept by me) :

Character design (from sketch to the final character):

Concept ( I was given a tower defense prototype and asked for a concept, heres the sketches)

So what do you think ?

Max Finch

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  • Posts: 2186
You're a great artist. Usually when people ask me how much I charge for services I charge for what I feel is right. Normally it depends on how good your art is and what exactly the buyer is wanting. If someone wanted me to make a main character that was pretty basic but wanted a full set of animations (running, jumping, idleing, falling, picking something up, etc.) I'd probably charge anywhere from $25-$100. Keep in mind if the buyer is serious he/she would probably be willing to pay that knowing some other artist is most likely going to charge the same thing. That's what I know, I try to be as cheap as possible without cheating myself.

If you're truly committed at freelancing, you can add your software and computer costs as your tax return deductions (money you get back).  Seeing how you're self employed, these items are used for your business.

Rule of thumb for freelance designers with pricing is..
For a fun creative job, people usually charge less (you're more likely to get the job and you'll have fun doing, its a win win)

A job that's boring, uncreative and tedious you would charge more (the more money will drive you to finish the miserable task)

Or you can used a formula..

Hourly Rate = R * ( (p+c) / 2) )

P = Fun factor
1 = Very Fun!
1.25 = Ehhh its okay 
1.75 or 2 = Ughh, why am I doing this?

C = Clients financials
1 = Cool guy, but hes probably broke
2 = Client has released previous projects, he does have money
3 = Big Company

R = A basic fair hourly rate.  Usually 50 or 60$

If your basic rate is 50$ and you're doing a project for somebody who has released stuff before, and the job hes asking you do is doesnt sound that interesting...

Hourly Rate = 50 * ( (1.25 + 2) /2 )
Hourly Rate = 50 * (3.25 / 2 )
Hourly Rate = 50 * 1.625
Hourly Rate = 81.25

Note.  These numbers are just a reference, you can adjust them where you see fit.

Max Finch

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  • Posts: 2186
Not for all the art lol. I'd charge $25-$100 for a full set of animations for a character.


  • Posts: 11
"full set of animations" is an arbitrary unit, I believe. depending on style, the subject etc. the hours one put in might go from 10 hours to 60 hours.

you can charge by the hour and I'd say you can charge around $10 - $14 supposing you can produce one of those birds or lollipops under an hour with revisions.

as for the comment mentioning a $250 logo, that's on the low-end of things as far as I know. A decent logo from a locally known freelance designer would at least cost $3.000. recently at work, we had a rush job and outsourced 27 flat, vector illustrations. we paid around $3k for a days work, so he charged us around $200/h for 15 hours of work. he is a designer with 4-5 years of experience at a well-known agency.

I would say charge at least 50Bucks per hour, but it always depends on what job you are taking.
If it is for some big company or sth, charge more!

now, that's unethical  :D


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When you're doing freelance as a part time job, don't make it to complicated.
You should go for a fixed fee (hourly) and estimate the work for each client asking. If the client changes his mind, adds more work, you charge more. Keep it like this. If the client comes back, you don't want to argument a new fee, because this project might look different. That not true, you're always doing the same.

If you do professional freelance, easy spoken, you will have to sum up the income (and costs) for a year, divide it by 52 weeks (a common rate for larger projects) and then 40 hours (if you have to estimate on hourly base). MULTIPLY this by two, assuming that you aren't contracted for a full year.

40.000 USD ÷ 52 ÷ 40 × 2 = 38.46 USD a hour.
Sure, my games won't get better with all the new features of Stencyl.
But I do have more fun creating bad ones.

MayazCastle Keeper


  • Posts: 382
I'm not a fan of hourly rates, especially from Freelancers...  How efficient do I know this person is really working?  Not that I don't trust you, I don't trust no one when it comes to business negotiations haha.

Don't get me wrong, your art looks fantastic.  I have a bachelors in Graphic Design - and even within my colleagues, the efficiency / quality seems to vary a lot.

So I would try to maybe do it based on templates / sizes?  Like 100x100 image $10 (I have no idea).

It's definitely tough road - you make valid points about pricing too low or too high. 

I think Max Glocking has the right idea.. charge for templates, a set of animations, a set of graphics.  Know what exactly they want (how many images, size, etc).  Then try to work out a price - which I'm pretty clueless about sorry!  But in general, companies are cheap.. small indie developers probably even more so ;(

My 2 cents


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I'm not a fan of hourly rates, especially from Freelancers...
I agree on that, but you need something for a start.

I also do have my hourly rate, but, for example, I only do offer daily, weekly and monthly bookings (all in, that includes all expenses for traveling, accommodation, communication and so on) and offer a appropriate discount on that when it comes to larger bookings. This is - when it comes to IT related jobs in general - a very common practice.

You have to do an estimate on the work and then make an offer in time and thus your rate. You have to show your abilities, or your don't get booked or you have to go for a very small fee to get this job into your portfolio - with a risk for both sides that this might not be a success. 

When it comes to graphic design in general and game assets in special, the development companies  I know and work with tend do go for clip arts. These are usually very cheap or come for an reasonable price and are of a good quality. They only work together with artist if these are willing to contribute for free (and to build up their portfolio).

And this is true for game producers, user interface designers and developers also.

Sure, my games won't get better with all the new features of Stencyl.
But I do have more fun creating bad ones.

MayazCastle Keeper


  • Posts: 10

First of all, I'm totally new here on the Stencyl forums, but - being a graphic artist myself, and having faced the same problem - I felt the need to jump in and help you out with a few pointers.

I've read through the answers already here, and most of it is pretty accurate, and has a lot of valuable info on how you could/should generate your own rates. I'd even say, that with your level of experience and skillset, 50$/h would sound perfectly reasonable, IF you also have the intangibles of a professional - like meeting deadlines regularly, having good communication skills, availability, quick turnaround, etc. Your work looks really good, any small indie game studio could be happy to have you on board.

However, there's reasonable, and there's realistic.

Nowadays, there seem to be 3 different professional developer stereotypes -

  • 1. big studios for AAA stuff,
  • 2. small, but well funded teams creating - mostly - smartphone, XBLA, PSN, etc games, and finally,
  • 3. your typical 1-2-man operation, looking for the cheapest available solution to get a good looking, polished game out on any market.

The financial resources available for these "companies" vary greatly - obviously.

50$/h is a pretty good salary for graphic artists working for a big studio. (Think about it, even if you only work 150 hours/month, that would be 7.5K$, 90K$/year...) Most junior graphic artists (which you seem to be) earn significantly less, closer to 40-50K$/year, and there's enormous competition for these places, too, so the requirements are huge. (Plus, it also helps if you have personal contact.) Anyway, 35-40$/h is more than reasonable for someone with limited experience, even at this level.

Teams, like the second group on my list, can pay a similar amount, maybe even slightly higher for a qualified freelancer, 30-40$/h is not that uncommon. However, they usually ask for skills and experience in multiple different areas, 2D alone won't get you far. (For example, you need to be also good at UI/UX design, and have animation skills and experience, on top of your 2D skills. Graphic design xp probably helps, too, while 3D is the best bet, financially.) Once again, the competition is huge, so unless you actually get a permanent job at one of these studios, you're going to have a tough time early on, landing enough gigs to reach a reasonable salary level throughout an entire year.

And finally, there's the third group, the small indies - based on your portfolio, that seems to be the group that will most likely hire you. (Don't get me wrong, some of these are truly professional guys, but there's a really wide range of skillsets among these people.) I've seen pretty much everything in job offers from 1$/h up to 25, maybe even 30$/h , but the important thing is: there's a huge bulk of guys with sellable skills willing to work for around 10$/h or even less - hell, you've been a borderline pro, and have been working for free until now, right?

There's also a great number of devs who sustain their own companies, by reskinning games. No need for anything fancy, just churning out games as fast as possible - simply because all games earn at least some money, having 50 on the market will give you a very steady income, no matter what. (Ok, some polish is required, but any reasonable graphic artist can provide that level in 2-3 days - for the entire game.) So these devs tend to aim for more and more simple and minimalistic stuff.

This, unfortunately lead to a situation where indie devs were able to push the market prices for commercial quality graphics down to a ridiculously low level, and it keeps going down.

Anyway, I can give you a better perspective of the market, by telling you some numbers based on my own experience - (check my portfolio - link in my sig - to get a grasp of my skill level, but it's not that different to yours, so I think I'm a good comparison):

For 20$/h or above - I was unable to land any of the jobs I applied to at this level, but I did get some replies, had a few interviews, so It's probably not out of the question. My estimation is that I'd be able to land 1 job out of 7-8 second round interviews, out of a 100 applications - at this level. (Unfortunately, I usually only find about 5-10 relevant job offers willing to pay that much, so I actually only applied to about 25-30 jobs like that...) So once again, the numbers for me look like this: 1/8/100 - landed jobs/interviews/applications for 20$/h or higher.

For something around 10-15$: there's a significant growth in replies, at least 30-35 out of a 100 applications, while the ratio of jobs landed/interviews is actually quite similar, maybe slightly better, so: 5/30/100 would probably be a close estimate. (The number of available jobs in this category are also much higher - you can easily find 50 offers/month)

Anything under 10$/h - at my skill level, I could pretty much get a gig in not more than a week, anytime. Not that I want to, though, but starving ain't much fun, so I might be forced to if the market keeps going in the same direction...

All-in-all, if you want to find out your market worth, my advice is simple: find the highest number you dare to think of, for a month apply to anything and everything that fits your skillset using that figure, and see if you can get some interviews, or maybe even a job. If it's not working out, lower your number significantly, and try that for a month. Sooner or later you'll end up with an hourly rate/application efficiency ratio that will either make you happy (meaning: it keeps you alive), or you'll realize, that you need to support yourself by doing something else at least part-time, and you need to keep improving before you can move higher. (I hope you have some reserves to fall back on, you'll need them if you aim too high or too low.)

Oh, one more thing, as others mentioned, the people hiring freelancers usually don't like hourly rates, so you need to be able to estimate the amount of working hours needed to finish a certain job, so you're able to come up with a flat rate. Experience helps gauging this, but usually rookies in the business tend to underestimate the time needed - sometimes by a loooooot. That can put you in a bad spot when there's a deadline, plus the amount of money you get ends up significantly less, than what you actually shoud get. (For example, at the start of my career I accepted a job that I thought I could finish in 30 hours at the quality level I wanted, so the 350$ flat rate seemed acceptable - I ended up working over 100 hours on it, hardly had any sleep, working 14-15 hours daily to meet the deadline, and the final payment was less then what I could've earned by flipping burgers - in Hungary...)

I hope I wasn't painting the picture too dark for you - this all comes from a guy with very limited resources and no family help, living in a country with basically no game development at the moment. (Well, at least I'm a talented fella.) :)

And finally, don't give up, even if something doesn't work out early on - you have the talent to one day move it up into the big leagues, just keep turning that talent into skills and work experience, and you'll end up where you want to be. But expecting 50-80$/h regularly, at the start of your career as a freelancer, would be extremely unrealistic (borderline impossible), and I'm putting it mildly... You never know, of course... :)

Sorry for the length, I wanted to be thorough (kinda perfectionist here..)

Good luck!

« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 06:27:28 am by sharpbyte »
My graphic portfolio
My music portfolio
Drop me a pm, if you need HQ graphics or music for your game!


  • Posts: 382
In this market, economy - you are really pressing the limit to get a job as a freelance artist/graphic desiginer for more then $20-25 an hour - - especially if you don't have any prior professional experience, nature of the business.  I guess it could also depend on your efficiency, but if you love what you do - typically you spend more time then you estimate 

Good luck - and Sharp seems to be more realistic with what to expect.

« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 06:52:26 am by henson802 »


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I look at people's portfolios regularly with other senior art directors where I work. as henson802 said, in this economy, anything over $25/h for someone with <3 years of experience in the relevant industry is quite lucky.

here's something I found:
looks pretty realistic.

Mind you, the median average is around 50k. At entry level (<3 yrs.) you are looking at around 36k (for easy calculation divisible by 12). That's 3k a month. around $20/hr. That's someone with some formal training and/or a few months of (most likely unpaid) internship. 

Now, since you are a freelancer and do not have the reputation and portfolio of a studio or a design agency, you will most likely get smaller jobs with significantly smaller or no funding (dev is paying from his own pocket(s)). Then again, you expenses are much less than a audio so that's only reasonable :)

I hope I am not painting a dark picture for you. I started as a freelancer around 11 years ago doing graphic design and game art. Buddies who did the opposite, i.e. worked somewhere first for peanuts for a few years - built a huge portfolio (with big name clients you would never get as a freelancer), then started freelancing.

Hope I can be of help somehow.

ps: there'll be gigs, no matter what level you are as a designer that pay 500$/h (they need something unique you do and urgently) and gigs that pay $0/h (you need to get your name on that game i.e. unpaid internship at Rovio, working on Angry Birds 9), as long as you keep at it, you'll reach a point where you can live comfortably doing something you enjoy.


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  • Posts: 6
Wow  :o
Thank you very much for your answers guys, it really helps. I was not aiming for more than 20$ per hour (don't have the portfolio/experience for that, so i need some gigs before).
Your answers really helped me to fixe my rate (I guess i'll go with 10-15$ per hour for starter, go lower or higher after that depending on the responses i get).