I'm a beginning freelancer and I have a client that wants character concepts (napkin sketches) then finished card art. He also wants a 3D figure of the character to create playable tokens. So he will need an STL file for 3D printing.

My concern is with pricing. I am new at this and pricing is where I have no experience at all. I thought of charging $100 for the entire process of concept and finished card art including the revisions during the sketching part.

Then for the 3D character, I thought of giving an estimate based on the complexity of the character. I thought of $12 an hour for this.

Here are some samples of my artistic level so you can judge if the pricing is right or too high.

The client has a project he wants to launch on Kickstarter.com

I live in California and graduated two years ago with a bachelors in Game Art and Design.

If my estimates are wrong, can anyone give me a better idea of what I should be charging?

  • 3
    "$12/hour" and "live in California" are typically not compatible concepts.
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 20:28

4 Answers 4


The only advice I can give is what was given to me when I first started freelancing:

Start high. It's far easier to lower your rate on a project then it is to raise it.

As for what you're considering charging? It sounds far too low to me.

  • Thank you! You are right it is easier to lower a rate, than raise it later on. I'm just afraid to scare away a client. But I'll follow you advice.
    – zenrumi
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 7:25
  • 1
    @zenrumi Its very easy to undersell and then not get rid of the burden on time. A cheap contract can be interpreted as if your time is worth nothing. It always takes much more time to finish the job than a inexperienced person or new client would presume (for one thing you need to account for the time your client i busy not to do revision acceptance on time, and this is always your failing as far as the client is concerned). You need to do much more revisions on the art than you assume.
    – joojaa
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 10:18

THe best price is always "However much they are willing to pay."

Have you figured your overhead to calculate an hourly rate? It's doubtful that if you had, you'd come to $12/hr. See DA01's excellent answer here: What price should I charge for design services?

Once you know your hourly rate, figure out how much time it's going to take to create what is needed. Then, add at least an hour (trust me, it'll always be at least one hour more than you think, especially when starting out freelancing).

And I echo TunaMaxx's answer about bidding high. Always better to lower a bid than try and raise it.

Another thing to consider... I don't know if or where you are currently employed, but if you were a full time artist/designer doing this same project, would you take such an employment position for $12/hr. If not, then why would you work any freelance for that rate.

  • 1
    Thank you very much for that link! Incredibly helpful, I hadn't really thought of all that. I have been unemployed after graduating from college so I just came up with the 12$ based on what I think a job would pay me. I really didn't think of all the details about billable hours and the like. Quite honestly I would take any job that offered 12$ an hour. XD but that's just desperate talk at the moment.
    – zenrumi
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 3:36

Your pricing seems way, way to low. Even though I am not in the US (I live in one of the most expensive countries in the world), your estimate seems extremely low. I second @TunaMaxx.

Also bear in mind that not only are you in danger of "pricing yourself out of the game" (i.e. you cannot live off it), but you set their expectations for the entire business. If they at some later point get price estimates from others, it will seems like you say "this is quickly and easily done" and you will seem unprofessional. I understand your fear of scaring off the client, but make a solid contract with milestones, what is their job etc. They might negotiate you down from that, but at least you have set some expectations.

  • 1
    You were right. Not only did they seemed offended by the price above 100, but they claimed an artist with 40 years experience is giving them the same for 150. Seems like a dirt cheap price for someone with so much experience. I feel like they are lying to me.
    – zenrumi
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 7:49
  • That truly sounds like balderdash. Of course, that does not really help you, but if the client really is such a liar .. :( You could use the concept they wanted you to do - altered of course - and maybe make something for your portfolio. If you have the time. Not to show off to them, but as an example of an actual, real-life project.
    – benteh
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 10:18
  • That's a great idea!I didn't get much details from them on their particular concept. Still alien and scifi are pretty generic.
    – zenrumi
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 4:25

After asking similar questions myself in the past, there is the general rule I like to subscribe to:

Your freelance work hourly rate should be double your day job hourly rate

Even if you've never worked in the industry before, starting jobs in the games industry are around 35K a year, depending on your skill level. Game Art doesn't pay very well compared to other industries with similar skill sets (film for example).

35K a year is almost $17 per hour for a 40hr week. So even if you generously round it down, nobody should ever work freelance for less than $25 an hour. If you do, you are doing an injustice to yourself and the industry as a whole.

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