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How to price sprite art


I've been working on some sprites for my project and I've come to the conclusion that while I can draw static sprites well enough and create the art style, I'm just not good at animating them. So, to keep moving forward, I want to hire an artist to do most of the sprite work for me. I just don't know what the going rate would be.

The aesthetic for the game would be NES inspired and use a limited palette. It's a custom palette that's less limited than the NES's actual palette, and each sprite can use up to seven colours plus transparency rather than three. The sprites would fit in a 24x24 px area (I used Mega Man as a base for the proportions, with heavy modifications). My character is asymmetrical so I'd want different left and right facing sprites.

I've seen some posts say $X per sprite, some have hourly values too. Using the information above, and that I need maybe about 65-70 sprites for the full range of actions, what would be a fair price to offer?


šŸ§ *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
A lot of people give bulk discounts if the sprites are of the same character (since that usually allows for a bunch of copy-pasting), but it's probably best to assume 65-70 * [price per sprite]. I'm paranoid, so I'd mistrust anyone charging hourly rates, but it's up to you - if the sprites will be fast to draw because of the simple artstyle, you'll get them cheaper that way... if the artist is honest. With "X per sprite" prices you know exactly what to pay.

3 color, 24x24 is a pretty nice limitation for pixel art, you can leave a lot up to imagination with NES palette and at sizes < 32x32. Even though 70 sprites is a lot (and asymmetric character design basically doubles the effort required for the same amount of detail, so I'd strongly recommend you to rethink that! Basically no retro game EVER did asymmetric designs), you could probably negotiate a deal that's 25% cheaper than "X sprites x Y dollars" since the artstyle is so forgiving. (At least if you're good at negotiating... also keep in mind that people that aren't comfortable with this style, or are really into it, probably will use their normal effort all the time instead of taking shortcuts abusing its forgiveness)
You might want to post this in the collaboration forum and people will give you their prices.

While Mega Man is 24 x 24, the game is still on a 16 x 16 grid. Keeping your colors low will keep to efficiency. I can also recommend asking for GameBoy colored and then you modify your sprite colors since NES is so basic. It's just a time and cost saver.

Most of the pro artists I've dealt with do an hourly budget. The price all depends on their economy and efficiency. Some economies like Russia and Brazil are dirt cheap. I have been quoted anywhere from $1 an hour to $80. I assume the $60 - $80 per hour are people who just don't want to work with me. Seems like the price I get most is $10 - $15 an hour, but many ask for $40 an hour.

I have also seen plenty ask for $1 per 32 x 32 and amazing work and others ask for $10 - $15 for pretty meh work with flat colors. Prices have a wild variety.

Then there are some people who once they're hired let you know they only do environments... or they only do animations... or they only do character art.


first ask the artist to do a test work to see how will he do it, then if you like it, to me personally, X$ per sprite is best. its clear and there is 0 chanse of lies, also it gives freedom to the artist and he is not payd for slacking. you can ask for discount only if there is alot of copy pasting involved. for 70 sprites with small size i think 100-200usd is reasonable.