I decided to create a thread here about contracts, and some basic things to include in them. Please feel free to add to what I have here.
#1 - The first part should look similar to the following:
The following shall constitute a contract of service made on June 27th, 2005,
Clients Name, representing the company Name, Mailing Address, City, State, Zip. Herein referred to as Client.
Your Name, Mailing Address, City, State, Zip.
Herein referred to as Artist
#2 - I usuallly put the payment information next. This of course will vary for each client, but I always put the amount and when it should be payed. You can also include any royalties or other such terms although I usually put them in a seperate section.
Here's an example:
Section 2: Compensation
The Client agrees to pay $400 USD for the artwork. Half of the full amount, $200 USD, will be due upon approval of the pencils, the remaining $200 USD will be paid within 30 days upon completion of the final artwork.
You can also include penalties for not paying. I don't remember specific ones off hand, but the Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook has more on that.
#3 - The next, and just as important as how much and when you get paid, is copyright and ownership. This can be something as simple as you own the copyright, or as complex as detailing how many prints or copies can be made of a certain piece.
Here's a very basic sample of a section I used for some concept art.
Section 3: Copyright, Ownership, and Usage
The Artist shall retain the copyright and ownership of the image, granting exclusive rights of usage to the Client for promotional, advertising, and reference purposes only. Any additional uses of the image for anything other than promotional, advertising, and reference purposes shall constitute a new usage fee of ________.
This is a pretty basic description, but it gets the job done. There are plenty of things that I skipped, but others can add more to this. For the most part I've found that simple contracts work well. You basically just have to remember to write something down to cover almost any situation. Again, one of the best places to get sample contracts is from the Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook.