Advice on "cartoonizing" a chihuahua for a client? Also, price advice?

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  1. #1
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    Advice on "cartoonizing" a chihuahua for a client? Also, price advice?

    Alright, so I don't normally do this kind of thing, but I'm working with a client (pretty much the first time in my life ive been able to use that word...lol), who has sent me 2 pictures of his dog, Bobo. He also has a large tabby cat, and he tells me that they are both very playful, Bobo "deceptive, sneaky, and charming". Heres the two pictures he sent me; I think I should ask for a few different angles, besides: http://img715.imageshack.us/img715/3638/bobo1.jpg
    http://img24.imageshack.us/img24/5451/bobo2.jpg

    He has scripts and ideas for short comics of his dog and his cat doing things dogs and cats don't normally do-- think Calvin and Hobbes. He tells me that he as an overactive imagination and he just needs an artist to draw out his ideas.

    I have always admired cartoonists but never done much of the sort of thing on my own; while I'm sure I could cook something decent up, I'd like it to be a really good caricature that captures what these animals look like. Does anyone know any general advice for this sort of thing? I hope this question isn't too general...

    Also, I would love it if someone could help me out on what I would possibly charge for this kind of service-- hes wanting comic panels, basically, so is there a specific formula some people in the business use to calculate this, or should professional prices not apply to me since I'm not a professional?
    I've agreed to send him some rough sketches to see how he likes the way I draw them so he can see if its a style that hes after. No payment for these, obviously.

    Thanks for any and all replies, lol

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  3. #2
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    Try not to do the spec work, where you send the rough sketches. What clients often do is get three or more artists/designers providing work on spec, and then they choose the one who's style and rate suits them best.

    This way instead of just paying an artist/designer to do some honest work, they end up getting a whole team of artists/designers working on the project and only paying one of them. This is great for them, but it can be a painful waste of time for you.

    Your portfolio should be the best demonstration of your abilities.

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    Thanks for your reply.

    I figured that might be the case. However, I can also understand a person not wanting to settle into a project with an artist and start paying them if they don't yet know if what they'll be getting is something that they're after.

    And in my case, I don't really have cartoon work in my portfolio to show people what cartoon work from me would be. I hope that I can get some good stuff to populate my portfolio with in the coming months from small projects like these. Then people can have a better idea before we start discussing it.

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    I think the work on your online portfolio demonstrates your not messing around, and are fully capable of producing quality work for this guy. There are several pieces in there that demonstrate you can cartoon and caricature.

    I would think about improving the website itself,though.

    For all you know this guy might be looking for a sketch of his dog to give to a tattoo artist "here do that on my arm"

    be careful is all, and good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ExiledRed View Post
    I think the work on your online portfolio demonstrates your not messing around, and are fully capable of producing quality work for this guy. There are several pieces in there that demonstrate you can cartoon and caricature.

    I would think about improving the website itself,though.

    For all you know this guy might be looking for a sketch of his dog to give to a tattoo artist "here do that on my arm"

    be careful is all, and good luck.
    That's true, I never thought of that. Thanks so much for the help and concern. I'm just getting into the "business" lol, if you can call this that (I would love to start doing actual projects before I get into school), and its obvious I'm sort of floundering. But, I really appreciate it.

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    It doesn't matter if you "understand" the person. Which, by the way, is almost never true. Choosing you from your online portfolio should be enough to demonstrate that you are the one they want (unless they are being asses and jerking you around).
    Why should you not be paid for your time in doing the sketches? It's time you're spending away from your other projects which could be making you money.
    HE doesn't know that you have no other projects, and that's the important part about business. You have to get into the mindset of distancing "yourself" from your work and your clients. Don't think about it from their perspective and looking at you, knowing you. Fact is, doesn't matter if you sympathize or not. As far as he should know, you are the busiest SoB ever, and he's lucky to be catching YOU at a time when you can do sketches of his dog. (Which, btw, is really creepy...>_>)

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    Well if you are looking for pricing advice...

    When I did graphic design i thought about how long the design would take me in hours then figured out how much i wanted per hour and used that as my initial estimate

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    "hes wanting comic panels, basically, so is there a specific formula some people in the business use to calculate this, or should professional prices not apply to me since I'm not a professional?"

    Comics can be a surprising amount of work, largely depending on how detailed he wants you to go, how practiced you are, whether he wants colour or not and so on. A very simple comic strip with basic greyscale colouring and characters I have drawn over and over for months takes me about 2 hours from rough concept to finish. If you have him doing the writing, it will likely take longer since you'll also need to factor in communication time. If you're going to work for this guy figure out how long he's going to need you for (does he just need a few comics or is he hoping this will be the next Calvin & Hobbes and he's planning to keep you doing this for 10 years?), what you think is a fair hourly rate, and then get a contract going so there's no question who owns what and who owes what to who.

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    Personally, when I do any work for a client, I ask for a $50 deposit before starting any sketches PERIOD. The reason for this is you can do some phenomenal sketches that the client, no matter how nice they may seem, can take to another artist and have them reproduce at a lower cost. It's sad but true.

    Also, pricing is challenging because its all about how long it takes you to do something. If you've already done something like this, you can take the hours it took you to do it, multiply that by what you think your work is worth hourly, and get at least a starting sense of what you might charge for the project.

    Also, it's good to have a basic contract that states that there will be additional charges for serious changes made after the fact. Meaning, if you client has OK'd your sketch of "the cat with the blue ears" and then 50 hours into the project says "oh, I meant orange ears." Then if you're going to make those changes, there need to be a charge to reflect the additional time; if you make all changes pro bono, the client will start to think that being inconsistent and unclear is OK.

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