Character Commissions -Support Your Budding Artist


We all have characters that we play in our weekly games, from D & D to Vampire. We also have active imaginations, or rather a mental picture of what our characters look like. But how many times have you found the right picture to encompass your character? Sure you have found a few pictures on the web that look "kewl" and are even close to representing your character, but are you willing to STEAL other peoples' artwork?

There is a growing trend on the web for people to search and steal. It may seem harmless, but it's not. There is no problem collecting someone else's work, but it is a problem to republish it under a different name, or claim that it is yours, or even (the worst thing) to profit off of it. And besides that, you don't know how many times I have seen someone's character picture that turned out to be "Cry For Dawn", or Angel, from the WB. Its funny -- you'd think it was the Clone Wars all over again.

Now, there are web artists out there, some damn good ones in fact. And guess what? Some of them do commissions! I have done the research, and I am now placing this knowledge into your hands - a listing of websites that are both personal art sites and gallery sites. Some of the gallery sites have such a mass of artwork that you will have to gather your own opinion of whose art that you like.

The character commission prices range from $20 to $75, a wide range for a wide variety of art quality. The lead times for such pieces can be anywhere between 3 weeks to 6 weeks depending on how booked the artist is, or how quick of a turn around they have. In most cases the commission process works in 3 steps.

The first step is what I like to call the commission phase. In this step the customer (you) commissions the artist to produce a work to your specifications. Now mind you, don't go asking an artist to make your picture look like another artist's style; after all, you chose your artist because of his or her style. If the artist agrees, then it is time to talk money, and requirements. At this time the artist will take notes, and go over the overall description with you. In some cases, the artist will request that the customer pay the first half of the commission price, to prove your intent on a purchase.

Then we move on to the second phase. With the completion of the first step, the artist produces a sketched piece with a large watermark over the top of it. At this time the Customer and the Artist discuss changes in the design, or other such items.

With the completion of this step, the Artist moves on to the final phase. The artist completes the piece to the standards agreed upon by the two parties, and then e-mails the completed piece with a large watermark on it. At this time the customer needs to issue the final payment, in order to receive the final piece without the watermark.

I know there are ways to scam around this, but do you really want the artist to not do commissions at all, or to not draw at all? Artists want to make a living off of creating art, but if all we do is steal or scam them off the web then they will all be forced to go back underground, and take the art off the web. Which to those of you who don't know is happening a lot in Japan. With the influx of the popularity of Jap-anime, and the ease with which Americans connect to the Internet, mass theft of Anime-style artwork, and a disregard for the rights of the Artist, has caused many Anime artists to take their work off the web.

That being said, here is a list of some relevant sites, featuring a link and a short description on the said artist's talent. The list consists of artists that returned my e-mail about getting permission to list them in this article.

Joanna (Site)
Joanna is a talented artist that lives in Brazil. This works against her for this article, due to the fact that commerce with her will be very difficult. She is an animator, and has a style that is true to animation which much expression on her character's faces.

Elf (Site / Alternate Site)
Elf is another artist that I believe lives abroad. Nonetheless, Elf's art is simply fantastic. Elf's work looks water colored, and it very well may be. There is a classic 1800's style to this person's anime style art. Check it out...see for yourself.

Michael John Katsillis (MiDNiGHT, Site)
MiDNiGHT is a very unique artist, whose art lies in a group all its own. His art is a strong angular style that lends to a very dynamic statement. MiDNiGHT has both a command of gesture and a flare for detail. And might I add, he once colored a picture of mine. Well worth any money he charges.

Ren (Site)
Ren is a young artist that lives in Australia. Her influences come from the Disney greats, and I would guess a healthy dose of comics. A skilled artist, Ren is an example of the future of the art field.

Juu (Site)
Juu is a passionate Northerner (from Canada) with a flare for powerful Black and White oekaki. Juu's art is filled with a dedication that shows her respect for the Japanese style of art. Very good work, and she even has a commission page worked up just for you all.

Tung Lei (Site / Alternate Site)
This guy is really kewl... a very good artist in my own opinion. Hee hee, this is me. I would like to say that my style is a mixture of American comic books, and Japanese anime. I have had both classical education, and informal pop-culture training. Check me out.... you will not be sorry.

Of course there are many other artists out there, some even better then the ones I listed. Just look around: one good site to check out is Elfwood, a very kewl collection of odd artists (mainly amateurs) grouped into Fantasy, and Sci-fi. Then there is, a site geared more towards the professionals; however, it has a problem with popup windows.

Feel free to list any other websites that you know of, and remember to support your RPG Art community. Thank you.

Don't get me wrong, but what exactly has this to do with RPGs? I myself quite often use pictures I downloaded from the internet to represent how an (N)PC looks. Heck, sometimes I even run across a piece of art that is so good, I just make a new NPC based entirely on the picture just because I feel it should be in my game.
And since it's just for my own games, I don't hurt anybody with it. Sometimes I even ask permission / inform the artist that I use their work for my own private games.

But the issue about piracy and intellectual property has, in my opinion, nothing to do with RPGs. I don't mean to sound offensive, but this thing really belongs on a site or forum dedicated to art.

However... Some of my own favorite artists include:
Light-hearted fantasy and anime style, but this fellow actually did art for Big Eyes Small Mouth (anime RPG)
A slow site, but worth the loading time.

And try doing a google search on the games 'Magna Carta' and 'War of Genesis'. Pretty good art I think, by the same artist.

Like the appeals not to download copyrighted MP3s and commercial software, this article probably won't stop a single person from downloading or put an extra cent in any artist's pocket. This argument has already been hashed out before in other forums and, although well-meaning, is unrealistic, ineffective and, quite honestly, tired.

Thanks for the e-addresses, I'll take a look.

Even if the discussion is moot, just publicizing the artists e-coordinates might bring them a couple of contracts. I've been thinking about buying an artists' service to do a portrait of my party so you never know.

Cthulhu matata

The list of artists seems useful but I have to say that even $20 is WAY too much money for some one to draw my character. Why would I pay that much when I can find a picture either on the web or in one of my rules books or even a comic book. With that money I can buy a suplimentary book or some figures. I understand that many of these artists need to eat and all that but it simple economics. Supply and Demand. The supply of artwork that is out there is huge and the demand for personalized character (or NPC) portraits is pretty low. I see nothing wrong with using artwork from and artist so long as you are not claiming it was your work and you are not profiting from it. In fact there is a new product coming out specifically designed for this reason. Larry Elmore is coming out with an open gaming character clip art. you can check it out at and the suggested retail price is $20.00 for over 200 pecies of line art. Since its open gaming content ANYONE can use it in any product. I'm all for supporting the arts (being a writer myself), but I'm not going to spend my money on one picture when that money could go toward something a bit more useful and I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way.


This is just horrible. Its simple comments like this that cause artists to take there art off of the web. There are many artist that have had to stop doing what they love because they cannot find work. Sure there is a comic book character that fits your character, as I said in the opening of the article, but come on. How many Sandman's can there be? The comments about "Using" other peoples work is just wrong. How about I come over and use your house, for a while, or even barrow your car. But here's the catch I am not going to give you anything in return. I have worked for at least 17 yrs trying to improve my art skills, and to be told "Why should we care? We can get it for free!" is what has caused countless of creative people to no publish there work on the web. Do you all not understand? If we do not buy role-playing books then there will be no market, and if there is no market then there will be no games, until all RPG companies are out of business. The same can be true of artists, if we do not get support from our community then we will have to move on and get "Real" jobs, as so many other people call it. Its fine if you are ok with that, because you all are allowed to have your own opinion, but don't come crying to me when all the game books don't have any art in them, or if you don't have any fun little pictures on your magic cards, or even illustrations in children's books to spark the imagination in there minds.

By the way.....20 dollars is too MUCH!! You have to be kidding me. It takes at least 4 to 8 hours to produce a finished piece, not to mention the time spent learning how to draw, paint, color.

Even if you looked at it from a manufacturing angle, the cost of labor would out weigh the profit margin. The artist is only asking for a token of respect from you tight-wads.

::walks away ready to pursue a career in some other mundane practice, like ditch digging.::

Oh please... the 'wounded innocence' routine? If you can not handle criticism, why are you posting rants? That's a sure-fire way to catch some flames.

Your analogy about using my house is a ludicrous and unreasonable one. My house isn't up on the web for everybody to use, for one. Even ignoring that, using my house is inconvenient for me, puts me at personal risk, and even damages my privacy. Right-clicking on a picture that is right there won't do any of that. You talk as if using a picture to say 'my character looks like this' will in all cases cause an artist to lose revenue. Well, not only are many artists not even accepting commissions, but it is also a blatantly false statement; there is no garantue that I would ask for an artist to paint my character for me. Even if it was for free! Sometimes an existing picture is what you want, and not something else.

Oh, and a final bit of advice: if you try to convince people to embrace your opinion as their own, don't call them 'tight-wads' or imply they are horrible. Statements like that tend to irk people.

And this all still has nothing to do with RPGs, by the way.

Speaking from the standpoint of anime as well as RPG fandom, I can safely say that in no way is $20 too much money to pay for a portrait of your character. A couple friends of mine have commissioned portraits of their characters from a pair of artists, yielding beautiful results. Not only is there enough work put into these drawings that $20 or more is only fair compensation for their work, but you don't have any idea how good it feels to have a high quality, custom made drawing of -your- very own character. I admit this isn't something you want to go for if you want a visual reference of any old character, but for a beloved character you've run for a long's a real treat. And if there wasn't enough demand, do you think they'd be charging such a price, or even bothering to offer the service? There's plenty of people out there willing to spend that kind of money, and they aren't just idiots with cash to burn.

Now, on the other hand, I agree that there's nothing wrong with taking someone else's picture and using it to represent your character, as long as you aren't putting it up on a webpage and claiming it to be such. If artists didn't want their work to be downloaded and used for purely private and personal reasons, they wouldn't post it.

Anyway, I think this topic is relevant enough to RPGs, and I'm actually comissioning a color portrait of one of my favorite characters later this week. Given the work these guys have done for my friends in the past, I consider the $30 I'll be paying to be a bargain.

Tribal, $20 is peanuts. It never ceases to amaze me how many people don't seem to realize that gaming is a luxury hobby. Having the leisure time and/or money to purchase a line of rule books, participate in a long running campaign or attend a convention is something that I even find myself taking for granted sometimes.

It's sad that so many people participating in this luxury hobby aren't mentally mature enough to recognize and respect the fact that custom portraits are a luxury item. My mother is a professional artist and charges $300-$500 and up for a portrait. The people doing this purely over the web thing may only be amatures, but their prices seem to be more than fair.

"But it's not worth it to me!" you say? Fine, but it's insulting to loudly claim that the prices are "too high" when what you really mean is that you're too cheap. Because considering the time involved and the quality of (most) of the product the prices are extremely generous. Anyone who can't recognize that needs to go outside more often.

I will throw my agreement in with Yonjuuni on the "taking someone else's picture and using it to represent your character" subject. That totally falls under fair use. Artists who don't want their art used in this fashion should either not post it or should watermark it, because like it or not it *is* personal use.

I have looked over the arguments made towards my rant. Some of them make a good point, and some of them fail to sway my thoughts. Yet one stands forward in the all the postings....."this all still has nothing to do with RPGs, by the way." If you look both at the bottom and the top of this page do you not see artwork in the form of links. Even the moderator of this site has sated that there is a lack of graphics. And do you not paint minitures that you use on "Drawn" maps. Or maybe do you think your image of Rastlin, or Drizzit would be different if a production artist had not rendered them. Every picture in a roleplaying book adds to the imagery of that said game. Would Vampire be as gothic? Would Werewolf be as raw, and would DnD be the stuff of dreams, with the female fighter downing the giant in 2nd ed. or the DM holding open the doors of the tome on the ADnD DMG, or even the new art work of 3rd ed. You can realize that much of your imagery comes from those books. The style of the Drow.....well lets just say I could go on....and on.

As for the right clicking thing, I don't know about other artists, but I create everying I draw unless I am commissioned to do something else, and for someone to take one of my characters and warp them to there storylines is some what offensive to me. And yet I might be able to agree with you that artist show there stuff on the web for other peoples personal use. I for one have my art on the web to get noticed, in the hopes that I might be able to get work as an artist.

I cannot stop everyone from "claiming" other artists work but at least I can plant the seeds of discomfort in the moral few that still exsist in this new centry.

Tung, man, you need to cool it a bit. I agree with you on most points, but you're not doing your cause any good by arguing it in such an angry manner.

Can we all discuss this calmly? Please?


I can't help thinking that this is a lot of fuss over nothing. [prepares to duck]

If you want original art, yes, you should pay for it.

I have. My enjoyment of my Alex Robinson illustrations is all the sweeter for knowing that only I have anything quite like them. They're a snapshot of my past, a reminder of something that I very much want to remember.

Having said that, the Robinsons are pictures that I hang on my wall for all to see. I don't do the same with my characters and I don't think of them in the same way.

[good point, Yonjuuni, about pictures of beloved PCs. Yes, I can see a case for that, definitely.]

Characters, (and NPCs - I DM too), are disposable. They're a means to an end, the end being an enjoyable game. Yes, it does lend a little atmosphere if the game has some pictures in it. That doesn't mean that I'm going to comission black and white (let alone full color) illustrations of my villains at $20 a pop. Even if I only do half-a-dozen important ones, that's still over a hundred bucks. Never mind the fact that you all are quoting the Infidel Yankee Dollar (grin!) and not the True Blue Pound (or even Euro) that I'd want to use.

It's the game that's the important thing, not the pictures. So if I really feel the need I might go looking for oddments, but I wouldn't just go via the web. 1920s Cthulhu game? I can probably get a few old snapshots from the junk shop down the road. Medaeval fantasy? There are plenty of books out there that reprint lush color pages from old illustrated manuscripts, and those convey the atmosphere far better than anything modern I've seen.

I might not even stop at people. National Geographic is an excellent source of beautiful landscapes, ancient lost cities, gold and other artifacts . . .

I don't do that too often, though, because I don't think that the pictures are so central to the game that they're worth going out of my way for. The game is what's important. I'm going to spend much more time on the motivations and plans of my villains than I will worry about what they look like.

Which brings us back to the point made earlier: what does this rant have to do with RPGs?

Well, if you play the way I do, very little.

Right. Different ways to play for different people.

Since myself and my RPing friends are all very much into anime as well (and play virtually everything in BESM as a result), we tend to care a lot about the visuals associated with our games and characters. As there's myself and another in the group who are amateur artists and willing to do pictures of other players characters for a mere request, we end up making a lot of our own art for the games. I know that I'm nowhere near good enough to charge actual money for my pictures. But another person in the group happens to have two friends who are incredibly talented artists, he tends to get a lot of pictures done of his characters in various games, as well as for villains and other NPCs in his own games. And seeing these pictures have made a few of us jealous enough that we've commisioned portraits from these two friends.

So, yeah, it all depends on how you play. To us, this thread has everything to do with RPGs. ^_~

OK [stepping in front of Adam G to give him cover]
D.P. , If $20 is peanuts to you how about you give me the cash to spend: or better yet switch paychecks with me at the end of the week. Granted I probably shouldn't get flipant about it like that but my point is that for one person $20 is peanuts (Bill Gates for example) but for another its not.

As for the game being a luxury; I'm not sure what your point is. Are you saying that I shouldn't do something I like because I can't spend as much money on it as you do? Are you offended by the fact that I can't spend as much money as you do on the game? Maybe you're offended because I will acutually say what I'm thinking when it differs from what you think.

And don't EVER assume to know what I mean or don't mean. ("when what you really mean is you're too cheap") What I really mean is $20 is too much. Thats what I said and what I meant. I don't pretend to know what you or others mean and I expect the same respect from everyone else.

I also don't see how my rebutal to the original post was "insulting" as you put it. Its my opinion and if you are insulted by it, thats your issue not mine. My post is certainly not as insulting as yours which is filled with thinly covered jabs. ("...people...aren't mentaly mature enough..." and calling me cheap)

I'm also curious as to what hobby's aren't luxury on some level?? lets take a look at some of mine Mountain biking - I'm not getting paid to do it and I'm not sponsored so I have to pay for my own bike, clothes and safety gear. If I get hurt I may have to take time off from work. Seems to be more of luxury than RPG's Paint Ball - Again not sponsored and not getting paid to do it. Gotta buy my own gun, paint, air, clothes and safey gear again. Sometimes I have to pay to enter certain fields to play and I have to travel to said fields. Again fits the luxury catagory
Listening to music - I gotta buy a sterio and the CD's. Seems like a luxury of sorts to me.

So what about playing RPG's makes it different from any of these things in terms of luxury? You seem to be very upset by the fact that other people don't see the difference so tell us what you see that I'm apparently missing. OK this is certainly starting to turn into a flame war and I hate that. I posted my responce to DP and thats enough. I feel I've made my point and I will not continue to post on this topic.


Tung Lei, I appreciate the point you're trying to make, but I agree that the way you're going about it is going to antagonize more people than it will convert. How can you fault people for the choice not to pay artists to draw their characters? What if someone chose not to have a character portrait done, but never took pictures out of websits or comic books to represent them (which I nonetheless believe is not the sin you make it out to be and perfectly allowable under fair use)? Would you still respond to them with such unbridled vitriol? In the future, tone down the flames a little and give people room to be themselves. Perhaps your response, then, will be a little easier to swallow.

I myself am a dreadful artist, so when I want a picture of a character I usually go to the Hero Machine, which is like paper dolls for RPG characters and is admittedly very limited but still usually manages to at least get the sense of the character across. Its address:

Personally, I roleplay to roleplay, not to collect pictures of my characters, but I don't think it's crazy to want some visual aids, either. I can see both sides of this argument, though, and how it would be nice to commission a portrait for a beloved character (I recently had my favorite character ever die, and you're right, it would be kind of cool to memorialize her with a portrait - $20 is an amazing deal for original artwork like that). I've actually had some people I know from my website give me gorgeous gift art of my characters (Yonjuuni, actually, drew a great portrait of my dearly departed Hunter character), so it's hard to justify spending money on that when people are giving me stuff for free. (c:

Well, I've skimmed, so, admitedly, I'm probably missing quite a bit of the deeper reasoning behind a lot of the replies to this thread, but I thought I'd cough up my two cents too.

Insomuch as WHAT this article has to do with the RPG gaming scene, allow me to present the following thoughts: Elfwood is a non-profit, online Gallery, following (in the vastest area therein) a "high fantasy" theme. Which basicly means that pretty much EVERYTHING you see in there should be able to be used in a D&D campaign. Or forgotten realms, or whatever other pure fantasy RPG you want to play.

Now, the problem with that is? Well, while the art on elfwood is copyrighted, and you're allowed to d/l it for personal viewing purposes (i.e. for a spot on your HD, or as reference material etc), you're NOT allowed to reproduce it without the artist's express permission. Which means, theoretically, you can't use it for your D&D character without asking them first. Most, myself included, will usually HAPPILY let you, so long as it has some sort of watermark on it. Something that says I drew it, maybe my site's url or something akin to that.

D/ling, printing and passing it off as your own work though is terrible. I was actually in a position, where I was chatting online with a random RPG fan, who, upon learning I was also into art, stopped me and asked me if I wanted to see a "really cool" character rendition he'd done up the other day. Lo and behold, it turned out to be a printed version of one of my characters from elfwood. From the days before I watermarked my drawings. As Itend to carry around, apart from a sketch pad, a small collection of drawings in an equally diminutive portfolio, by chance, I was able to hold up the original (lineart) to my webcam on the spot and comment on how interestingly coincidental their likeness was... it's like d/ling a song, having a band that get's together in your garage every saturday and saying that the hi-fi studio recording was done by them in the backyard the other day. Cool, no? Not if the band get's their hands on you...

Anyway, it's akin to passing off RPG campaigns form well known companies as your own inventions.

I'm not sure I acn stress enough the severity herein. It seems laughable, I realise. What? You think the artist is going to get YOU? Ha. Well, there ARE artists out there, who WILL get you, if they see you have their art and are using it without express permission. Who -WILL- press charges, and who WILL make a shitload of money off the trial, thereby, indebting you. It -has- happened, and , I imagine, will again. Some people don't like getting screwed over.

Artists spend a -lot- of time on their work. Believe me, I know, I am one. There's a lot of concept work that goes into it. A lot of working and reworking of ideas. Constant practise, constant toil, constant critisism.

I'm not sure how many of you are actually in a corporate workplace environment, but let's parallel this to spending a month working on a project for your boss and, at the presentation meeting, having some underling (pardon the terminology), who happened upon the details the day before, step up and claim responsibility for the whole, brilliant, plan.

I suppose the answer here is, make sure the plan is safe. Good thought. So, transferring it to the case in point: Don't air your work on an insecure internet. Riiiight. However, do you guys have any idea how hard it is to break into the art scene? The Internet gives coverage like no one's buisiness.

I suppose, we jsut have to trust to the greater good in all people.

Personally, I'm not in it for the money. Ask around. I tend to turn commisions down flat. I will do the occaisional request, if it interests me though. Not to say I wouldn't go in for money for art, just that it's not a driving force. Also, I work mianly in the fnatasy geanre. And my art is taken advantage of regularly. Sure, for a while, it's flattering. Eventally though, it get's excessively annoying. People just taking my work, without asking, without (any) compensation (at all, not even simple thanks)...

And, as far as the getting stuff for free thing goes...well, I get gift art too. Or I collaborate, often, so a lot of stuff is at least aprtially mine as well. But it's not the same, as having, per say, a print of the aforementioned art on my wall.

I'm not sure if I've conveyed any answer's through this post, but I -fif- feel I ought to write this stuff up. Hope it helps, in any case.

-MiJKa, aka MiDNiGHT :)

Tribal: Do you walk into a nice restaraunt, look at the menu then loudly proclaim "$20 is WAY too much money for someone to make me dinner!" and walk out? No, of course not. The place may be out of your range, but it's not overpriced -- and even if it is, there's this thing called "tact" you've probably heard of...

Not wanting to spend money on custom portraiture is fine, but to complain about $20 being "too much" when that's the (more than fair) going rate is not only incorrect but in very poor taste. This is exacerbated by the fact that you're obviously willing and able to drop plenty of money on other hobby-related items.

I pointed out that gaming is a luxury because the word is something that a lot of people don't seem to fully understand. Briefly, it means that anything associated with gaming is likely to cost money -- sometimes a lot of money. Many people disdain paying money for custom artwork simply because it's "not practical". But of what practical use is 90% of the crap we buy for our hobbies to the guy in South Africa trying to decide if he eats this week or buys his medication?

MiDNiGHT: I don't think anyone here has advocated stealing credit. However while "the Internet gives coverage like no one's business" the Internet also taketh away. Elfwood's terms of service can say anything, however fair use rights still trump it. I'm a little rusty, but I believe you won't have much of a case as long as the person isn't altering the artwork, republishing it, selling it or trying to claim credit for it. Assuming none of those things are true I think you would have an uphill legal battle trying to stop someone from using your art (which you published on the internet) as a representation of their character.

If you want (nearly) complete control of your artwork on the internet the only solution is low bit rates, small resolutions and watermarks -- just like the clip art companies.

Midnight, I find it very difficult to believe that any artist has been able to successfully sue a gamer for improper use (or whatever the correct legal term is) of their artwork for character illustration purposes.

Let alone get any amount of money (shitloads? please) from said gamer for the misuse. It'd help my belief a little if you could quote some hard-&-fast cases, cases that have gone to law and which the artist won.

Lord knows I'm not advocating theft. My only point was that I find it difficult to believe that this is a serious issue. I was under the impression that character illustrations were a fringe item, a perk, a luxury that some gamers indulged in but most did not.

From the tenor of some of the postings so far I half expect to hear that Capone is bootlegging elves in Chi-town and six people have already died in drive-by shootings! ;-)

OK, DP, $20 per might be fair dues for occasional portraiture. Something like a picture of a beloved character, or what have you. A one-off. $75 at the high range is a little too rich for my blood regardless of character status.

That's just me, tho. There must be someone out there who'd pay it.

Oooh, I like this one.

First off - The question of Worth: Is a professionally done character portrait worth US 20? Some are, some aren't. But we'll get back to this topic.

Tung Lei! Who'd you learn your rhetorical skills from, art-boy? Yes, as someone whose work is on the web, I am troubled by copywright as well. But if you don't want to actually discuss the matter, don't submit a rant to a website where people do. It does not make you come off well.

Now, MiDNiGHT, I'm backing D.P. in that using a picture for a character in a role playing game still falls in fair use, but unless someone want's to scrap about it or desprately wants to know why, I'm letting that one slide.

What do I do? Never bought a character portrait in my life. Never saw the need to. I can think of one or two I might be game for, but the effort involved isn't just the artists, and it's never been worth it to me in that way.

Have I had them? Sure, when Chandra decided to draw everyone in the C-gen game, just for something to do for downtime and TNE wouldn't have been the same if Jed hadn't gone through the New Yorker and Rolling Stone, somehow managing to ferrit out the most perfect pictures (sometimes with minor alterations) for the whole party. Have a folder of cut out pictures and the like, that I'm ready to use, ones that struck me as evocitve in some way.

Yeah, the 20 is a 20 - a night of sushi gone forever - but it's the time spent writing up the description, finding the artist, correcting the vision and so on that's anathema to me.

But if I were publishing a game, then the time would not. It would be essential to find the best artist I could afford and work with him for hours pounding out the exact vision I was trying to accomplish. And there's something very critical there.

See, as funny as it sounds, it is probably a good thing for people to be stealing your stuff. The Hell, you say, but think about it from a different economic viewpoint: you're losing money, but gaining exposure.

I mean, the economic argument? I would be highly suprised if there was a single artist who made their livelihood doing rpg character portraits for players. It might provide a nice supplimentary income. But let's assume that some bootleg of your print is wandering around the web, and some people are using it for their characters. Said fact increases the chance that you'll be "noticed," and that some start-up might actually be interested in your work.

Unrealistic? Whole hobby is unrealistic. And out and out plagarism? String 'em up.

I mean, as advertising for the portrait industry, as a resource list, this article is great! Of course it has to do with RPGs, it's RPG art! However, Tribal is right and the holographic Ayn Rand AI on my desk is not pleased with your need for everyone to buy the product because they should. Free market and all that.

Frankly, it's also a matter of taste. I mean, do you really think that the same person who uses a Sarah Michelle Gellar shot with edited green hair and pointy ears is going to have the smarts and the class to go out and intellegently shop for a character portrait? They're only doing it because the web made it easy to get. You're not easy because it's actually good.

But hey, I'm willing to try this out. And to settle this issue in another way. Tung Lei, if you are so inclined please contact me by e-mail, and I will commission a piece from you of one one my characters. This will go up on the web (properly watermarked of course) with full disclosure as to how much I paid, how much it changed the conception of my character, how much it changed others perceptions of my character and how much it improved my gaming experience, so that everyone can make actual judgements as opposed to bitching about what is or is not fair.

Desperado in the Culture Wars,
Cosmic Bandito Emeritus

Hey TL, wow, thanks for the honorable mention up there!

Really, there is that price range because the higher the price, the more flexibility, detail and time will be put in it. We should really say that the price range goes from 0$ - infinity $ . Commissions will get you a completely personalized, unique picture, rather than you going and looking in a magazine, taking the image of a character who already has a name, and may have been used by several other people. I do understand why a person wouldn't want to either. I know it sounds weird to spend money on getting a picture done, and there are always issues about what to spend money on (and drawings doesn't seem to be a practical thing for most people).

I don't think that an artist's work is "free for everyone" on the internet, it isn't put on display for everyone to "use". As an artist myself, I'd understand that it could be flattering, and giving myself more exposure if somebody used my pictures. At the same time, if the person using the image doesn't give credit, this 'exposure' can be directed to the wrong person (or in most cases, people just have no idea where it came from at all). I personally don't put URL/Emails on my images, I don't really know why, possibly because URL/Emails change all the time. Maybe more people will visit your site and take more pictures then? If you really do like an artist's picture, give them feedback and maybe just ask if you can use the picture!

You can see the growing amount of "no-right-click" growing on the artist sites. An artist can also feel offended if you took one of their original characters (that they took the time to design uniquely and illustrate), changed the name, put them in a different setting etc. because the character belongs to the artist, nobody else (we're not talking about fanart here). It is like if anyone DID happen to get a commission done, and then somebody take the image of your commission and uses it for him/herself...

Blah, I can't exactly get myself to sound right, but I see that both sides are reasonable. And hey, I think this article does have something to do with rpgs! RPGs with visuals are becoming more and more popular, so why not?

You can help the artist community by commissioning them, or let them be by not commissioning... but at least don't hurt them by warping/editing/altering their pictures! If you have permission, then good for you :D

Ok so I said I wouldn't post on this thread again. I changed my mind. DP- I think your restaurant analogy is off the mark. This site is an RPG news, reviews, story and rant site. It is not an artist forum, it is not an artist's personal website and it is certainly not an artist's studio.

Tung Lei decided to post a rant to this site. I, using my basic human right, disagreed and decided to post my opinion. I did not go to an artist and tell them that they are charging too much. I simply spoke my truth. If you find it offensive and impolite that is something you need to deal with and my suggestion to you is that you don't read rants or that you don't read anything any one posts in reply to the rants you read.

I won't use what you refer to as "tact" to be nice and polite and stuff my own feelings, thoughts an opinions down so as not to offend people. By your defenition, as I understand it, Dr. Martin Luthur King Jr. Ghandi, Rossa Parks and anyone else who stood up for what they believe in the face of adveristy would not be using "tact"

Now I know I'm not anywhere near as important as any of these people and this issue is also not as important as the issues these people faught against but the principle is the same. You can't stand up for what you believe in and speak your truth with out offending some one.

This site and many others would not exist if not for people willing to stand up and say what they feel to spite the fact that others might be made uncomfortable by what they say. You say my opinion is in poor taste. I say your post which seems to be stating that I should not speak my truth because it might offend some one is in poor taste. What better place is there to say what I feel? Ok but enough of my pontificating on the subject of speaking one's mind.

Back to the subject of art on the net. Now its a different medium but this is one way I see this...I happen to like some little known bands who don't have record deals and can not mass produce CD's. They put some of their stuff on the web for anyone in the world to download for free. I see this as along the same lines as when an artist puts some of his or her work up on the net for people to look at. Tung Lei's argument, to me, seems to be saying that I should not download that music and copy it to a CD so that I can listen to it in my car or some where other than at my computer. In the same way that I should not download an artist's renditon of a fantasy character that I think looks like a particular NPC, PC, or location in my game.

Now granted this argument is not flawless. The CD I've made might cause a friend of mine to ask who the band is and I could give him or her the name and the website so that he or she could order the CD's from the band, thus putting some cash in the band's pockets. Does that happen so much with drawing? My guess is no. But I would guess that it does happen from time to time.

I also agree that it sucks that an artist works for a long time to draw a piece of art and they get paid very little for it but thats part of working in ANY artistic field. Actors get paid jack when they are just starting out and they have to work damn hard. Same for musicians. Freelance writers probably have it worse than most (no this is not a contest to see who has it worse) there were times when I worked on pieces for days and ended up making less than 1$ an hour. So I do have sympathy for the hard work that goes into some art vs. the pay that comes along with it. Thats the nature of the business though.

Ok so now this is the last time I will post on this thread. Really, I mean it. NO REALLY this time I mean it. :-)


All social economic stati aside (WTF is the English plural for status by the way?) paying money for a custom made portrait seems fair.

Using art in a non profit way, why not.

The moment you profit from someone else's art is where I draw the line. I'm no artist (although I do act) but I can clearly identify with those who get a mad on because some lying SOB has stolen their art and taken the credit for it.

But I think we're actually discussing ethics and morals here. And that is for each person to decide where he or she stands.

Well, look, nobody's asking you to pay someone 20 bucks for each and every one of the 157 NPCs in your campaign; most of them are faceless, and even the important ones might happen to look exactly like Angel or Sean Connery. But that's not the point here. If you tried to commission that many portraits you'd have to wait a year just to get them all so you could start the campaign, anyway. But is it a problem, really, to pay someone to draw your big bad evil supervillain, or your becon of good and justice instead of stealing a pic off of Elfwood? I mean, ok, you put off buying "Grimoire and Heritage" for a month. So? Tung Lei is absolutely correct. If you're PLAYING D&D you have no right to complain about price.

OK, yes, nobody ever earned a living doing commissions. But that isn't really the point, is it? You can work down at Burger Hut for 6 bucks an hour. If you estimate a good day's work to do a drawing, you owe the artist at least $48 AND you have somthing longer-lived than 200 McGrease Burgers. In what is, I might add, a highly skilled field, that's a heck of a bargain.

Hiya Aubri, "Well, look, nobody's asking you to pay someone 20 bucks for each and every one of the 157 NPCs"


Heck, I'm not such a fan of illustrations that I'd even want one portrait, let alone 157. However, I do think that the price is a little steep for what you get. Not outrageously expensive, just steep.

As JS pointed out, I could as easily clip my art (assuming I wanted it) from Rolling Stone. Nobody's going to hound me for money if I do. Or I could photocopy/scan old illustrated manuscripts and use them. Which is what I prefer to do for fantasy games since, aesthetically, the effect works better for me than the alternative. Or I could get old movie stills, or snapshots, or any one of a hundred other sources that cost me next to nothing, bar maybe 10p (at most) for a photocopy.

So why part with $20? I don't have to use hand-drawn art, and I'd prefer not to if it's going to embroil me in an artistic maelstrom. ;-) "So? Tung Lei is absolutely correct. If you're PLAYING D&D you have no right to complain about price" I guess you're trying to equate the price of a portrait with the price of a suppliment.

The thing is, I can get a lot of use out of a sourcebook, no matter what system. It can give me hundreds of ideas, provide me with a lot of useful information, give me supplimentary rules and advice on what to do in certain common situations. I can use it again and again, in many different campaigns.

Art, on the other hand, is more of a one-shot. The picture of the Villain might only be used once or twice and that's it. I can reuse it on different villains, I guess, so long as I don't mind that all my villains look the same. That's not what I'd prefer to do, and personally I think it's a poor return for a $20 investment. Assuming that this was what I wanted the art for in the first place.

"In what is, I might add, a highly skilled field, that's a heck of a bargain."

From your point of view, it is, but then you obviously have strong feelings on the subject. I don't. It's a storm in a teacup to me. I hadn't intended to use hand-drawn illustrations before I read this article and I'm not inclined to use them now. If, on the other hand, I was buying something to put on my wall, that would be a different story. I've paid much more than $20 for art that I wanted to display.

Which to me is the crux of the matter. The character illustrations we're talking about fall between the cracks, commercially speaking. Highly skilled or not, character illustrations aren't important enough to be worth going all-out for. My character is somebody I visit once a week, if that, and depending on the game he might not last long enough for me to get attached to him. It would have to be a hell of a character, (and probably a hell of a game), for me to want to memorialize the wee fella with his own portrait.

I'm left with the impression that some of the posters here don't operate in the same way. It almost seems as though you're taking it for granted that I need art, and fantastic art at that.

Tribal: Someday, when you're older you'll understand what I was talking about and you'll be glad that this page no longer exists on the internet. Ghandi? King? Christ on a pogo stick! All you had to do was pull a Godwin (that is, compare me to Hitler -- do a search on "Godwin's Law") and you would probably win some award for most twisted, overblown analogy EVAR!

juu writes: "I don't think that an artist's work is 'free for everyone' on the internet, it isn't put on display for everyone to 'use'."

Sorry, but putting your art on the internet qualifies as publishing it for most intents and purposes. AFAIK, that means fair use applies. That (in turn) means that your art can be reproduced by anyone for certain limited reasons and in certain limited ways.

These limitations mostly prevent things like reselling or altering the material. None of them prohibit "printing it out and using it in a private collection to represent a character other than the one it was drawn for".

You can dislike it all you want, but that's how it works and you aren't going to win any friends by trying to deny that people have fair use rights (just ask the USA's music and movie cartels -- their only friends are the ones they pay for in Washington DC).

$20 on the internet can be ANYTHING depending on what country you live in....

and i do mean ANYTHING

As a freelance artist, let me interject on an almost dead conversation - I do commissioned pieces at fair prices. I also post my artwork up on a popular fantasy artist's site (you all know the one).

If someone wants to print out one of my drawings and use it as a representation of their character, it is fine with me. I think it is highly UNcreative in such a creative hobby, but to each his own.

Those who really get into their character and really want to create something original and worthwhile will have a character drawing commissioned at very cheap prices in relation to what most gaming supplies cost.

The end.

My sister 's son is very talent person.he can drow very nice pictures.He is living in russia.What do you think what he needs to do?I mean how he can start and start from what-that show his work.Please if you can help,Thank you,Galina

Priviet gaspaja Galina,

Your brother can send his artwork to online galeries by e-mail or mail.

Be careful to read the contract first and don't send/sell all your stuff at once, just in case they grab it for their own or don't honour their end of the bargain.


For you people who think that an artist should provide you with free dare you!

When you take a picture from the internet and use it without permission you...are...stealing. It's as simple as that. If you think twenty dollars is too much to pay for a picture of your character, you have no business having a picture for your character or you should draw it yourself.

How about I go into the fast food joint you work in and ask for a free burger? Or go to the gas station you work for and ask for free gas, or a free soda?

Drawing, painting, etc is a skill...we're born with it, but we work hard to develope and hone it. How dare you steal our hard work and use it without our permission! You should be ashamed of are nothing but common thieves.

Okay, now here is my useless two bits of rhetoric.

$20 for a piece of art-work is too damn much!

Just think, for a typical teen role-player that can be 4 hours working at McDonald's flipping hamburgers, or perhaps even a whole months worth of allowance! Gees! All for a stupid piece of artwork that some sucker wasted an average of 4 to 5 days of their free time on? How many hours could they have really put into that? 6 hours? 10? Okay, so maybe some really insane artists waste a whole month or more, but even still that is THERE time, not MINE.

Okay, in all sincerity now, if $20 is too much, then how much do you think an artist's time is really worth? And I am not talking about someone's doodles on notepad while waiting in line at Wal-Mart, I mean a professional artist, or someone who could at least pass for a professional, someone who has dedicated their whole lives, their whole passion, learning what they do.

Can their time be put on par with someone flipping burgers at some fast-food restaurant? Are they worth, per hour, what a dump dump driver would make, a carpenter, a roadway paver? What would YOU consider fair compensation for commissioning them to work for you to create something out of your own mind?

$20 bucks, even $75 bucks in most cases, is a token payment at most. Most artists put far too much work into what they do to ever compare their time into an hourly rate. Are you a role-player? How much would you charge per hour to DM a game for a group of people if you did not love what you do?

That said, I want to add that using an artists already existing piece of art to represent your character or NPC is not a crime IF you ask for permission first. Giving the artist a bit of exposure by publishing their work on your webpage or gaming group is a small form of compensation to them IF you give them full credit for what they did and a link back to their site or gallery. Greatest of intentions aside however you still have to ask permission first or it is stealing.

There is absolutely no reason nor excuse to steal an artist's work when simply ASKING PERMISSION 99 percent of the time will allow you to use their work for FREE and even with their BLESSING to do so.

Try it sometime, you just might be surprised how willing, and sometimes even delighted, artists are to share their work, but if you don't at least ask then it is STEALING and no good excuse is going to change that.

I think there is a point that keeps coming up over and over in this thread - the whole thing about $20.
That price is approximate, not everyone charges $20, and not everyone charges in USD - do you people think that artists only live in America?
My currency is worth less than half what USD is, I don't think I would ever charge $45 - $50 dollars for a picture even when I do charge (I charge if people want the original, because postage is expensive).
And we didn't all get together and say "ok, this is how much we ALL have to charge if anyone asks us..."
I do requests - FOR FREE
I don't charge for them because it's the pleasure of creating something special for someone based on their own vision.
But I hate it when my art is used for a purpose other than that which I intended, because so often it's a character I drew specially for someone to use.
It isn't there for anyone but them, however, I choose to display it on my website and my Elfwood page in the hopes that other people will see it and take pleasure in it, tell me what they think I could have done differently, and perhaps ask for something of their own.
Word of mouth is a powerful tool. By all means look around for inspiration, to inspire is something important for artists.
But please don't take us for granted, we don't post art because we want you to use it, we post it because we want you to look at it.
GIVE CREDIT. Keep a note of the person who created the art and where you got it, let people know who the artist is.
I especially hate it when I see my art used as a representation of someones character on a website or whatever, and my signature has been airbrushed out. The captions so often say "I don't know where I got this from" or "a friend of mine did this for me".
At least let us know you are using it, ask for permission, maybe actually *gasp* ask us to draw something for you.
You might be surprised - not all of us take requests/commisions, but I think there are enough of us who do that it's worth looking around for us and it beats the hell out of a page ripped from a magazine.

As an artist, we just hashed this out over at, so it's interesting to hear the gamers' point of view. $20.00 for original art, custom designed just for you, is dirt cheap. And many artists will let you borrow images for a link back, as long as you aren't profitting from them, or altering them substantially. What's the big deal?? I know gamers are tightwads; I'm married to one. And the Internet is the wild, wild west...t'aint no real good way to protect yourself. I don't get all pissy about the internet, but at the very least, give the artist credit. Networking is how we make our bling-bling, ya know? 'Nuff said...peace....

People, $20 might seem a lot of money when you have to work hard for it, have a limited income and so forth, but you are thinking an odd way around.

Consider this. You go to an art gallery and buy a painting. Is it going to cost you more then $20? Hell yes! Obviously, you can't do that (yet) because your life style doesn't suit that sort of purchase. But does that mean that painting isn't worth more then $20? No, it just means you can't afford it.

So saying "$20 is too much for a picture" is like saying "$20,000 is too much for a car". It isn't. It might be too much for your pocket, but the value of the object is not lessened by that, only your ability to purchase it.

So there are things we might like in life that we can't afford. We either want them badly enough to save or do without something else, or we just don't buy them. It's no big deal.

But, if you can't afford to buy that $20,000 car, does that mean you can steal it? Of course not.

Art on line might be a different thing. I'm an artist, and I make money off my art. I would not offer to do character drawings - you probably can't afford me! But, if you found a picture you liked of mine and wanted to use it for your RPG and you asked nicely I'd probably say "yes". No need to take it without my permission, just ask. And if I were to say "no" there are lots of other artists our there that would probably say "yes", at least sometime.

And then you would have a picture you could use. Not a high quality original, just a computer printout of what is probably a 72dpi jpg, but you would be able to say "so and so drew this and I have permission to use it!"

Happy RPGing all :)

I'm sorry, but I do not put my art up on the internet in order to make it free for people to steal. Most of the art I post belongs to various game companies who will pursue thieves. If there was a way I could keep people from taking it, I would use it!

While it's true that you probably won't get hunted down for using other people's art privately, anytime you post it on the internet or print it out, that constitutes publishing it, which is technically illegal--a violation of copyright.

If some of you ever become a professional game developer, designer, artist, writer, or whatever, then you'll have to learn to stop stealing very quickly or your business won't last long. And you'll also learn just how much it costs to get artists and writers to work on your games.

The whole "free advertising is good for artists" is BS. It doesn't help us when our names have been cut off the art and no one knows we did it. It doesn't help us when people cut the art up to use parts and change the art so that it isn't something we would ever create. Having my art stolen has never helped me one bit. It just makes people think of art as free and diminishes any value in what I do to try and make a living.

Many artists hesitate to put their work on the internet because theft and disregard of copyright is so universal. I hope you know that this means that some of us who just want to look and not steal are being deprived of seeing some art.

Artists also have to slap watermarks all over things because of thieves, which also interferes with honest people enjoying the art.

If you want to see less art up on the internet, and as others have said, less art over all--in RPG books or wherever, by all means keep stealing, and ruining things for game companies, artists and art fans.

I think it's pathetic that some feel like it's OK to make things difficult for other people.

As to what this has to do with gaming? For some people, it has a lot to do with gaming. For those who don't care about the rpg art, they are free to ignore this discussion. For those who are interested in getting commissions made of their character to use for gaming, or images to illustrate their campaign--or a scenario or module they've created, I think the topic is a good one.

Here's a thought for all those of you who can't bear to part with $20 for someone's efforts.

Do it yourself. Or don't have it at all.

Let's say I, an artist, work at a certain unnamed fast food joint for $5 an hour. If I spend 4 hours working on a portrait for one of you lousy ingrates, that's 4 hours of my time I might otherwise have spent performing paid work at my job. Know what that means?

Let me spell it out for you:

For labor alone, you owe me $20... we're not even accounting for materials.

While I understand that a lot of you cheapskates probably also work at similar jobs for similar pay, and $20 is hard to come by, the bottom line is, if it's too much for you, then do it your darn self if it must be done.

Work is work, nothing is free, and anyone who might have told you otherwise is selling something.

I didn't spend ten years honing my art skills to have some lay-about waste my time and my effort.

End of line.

Actually, let me revise my statement. In addition to be ing an artist, I am also an RPG gamer. So if anyone is going to sympathize with the costs involved in that endeavor, it's going to be me.

On the other hand, RPG gaming is what really got me into art.

So much creativity can go into gaming, from the careful consideration of characters right down to the props we put out on the table for our players. Why not spend some of that creativity, if you are so inclined, on a foray into drawing, painting or another visual arts effort?

I admit, much like my last statement, this is very much D.I.Y. But, to be honest, I find that I am the only one who can render things just the right way to fit into my gaming experiences. If you want it done "right", after all, eh?

As good as Elmore is, I wouldn't think of using his art (cheap or open-resource as the case may be) to describe my ideas, because, no matter how well chosen the pieces might be, they'll never truly express my vision because they aren't mine, let alone were they even created with my vision in mind.

For those not inclined, I notice some of the posters here really show a lack of any knowledge of just how much time, effort and material can go into a visual arts project, dependent on the medium, and the parameters of the comission. Art supplies aren't cheap, as any of you who go out and shop for them will find.

I find Tribal's effort to identify himself with visual artsists because he is a textual artist, a writer, himself, flawed. Being thrice-blessed, myself: as an artist, writer and roleplayer, let me tell you from an experienced standpoint why this comparison is ill-considered.

As a writer, unless you have ambitions of being published- and, by that, I mean, "on paper", not on the web- it requires little more then your time and reliable access to a word processor.

You don't need special paper, pens, pencils, charcoals or whatever else to write. A writer's necessary tools are cheap and readily available because, let's face it, everyone needs these things, not just writers.

However, in this lovely, left-brained society of ours, not too many can see the value of art, or artists. They sympathize less with the cause of art than many of the posters in here whose opinions I as an artist, find so insulting. Thus, visual art, and all it's trappings, are considered a luxury (and not even a very well understood luxyury at that), and, as such, are not easy to come by, if not in scarcity, then in value.

I could go off on a tangent here and say, in supporting art and the artist who create it, you, in fact, help make it cheaper, but I'll leave that one for you all to ponder on your own.

Another related thought on why it's good to pay an artist for services rendered:

Point of fact: The amount people care about a thing is directly related, if not directly proportionate to the amount of resources- be it cash, time, or whatever- they sacrificed to obtain it.

The lovely part about this principle is that it works both ways.

Let's say one of you commisions me to do a piece. In days more naive for me, I would likely have done it for free. Whilst I'm working on this piece for you, you then go out and ask about a dozen other artists to do the same thing, also for free. End result? I have a finished or half-finished piece of work in my studio that you really didn't care much about to begin with to show for my efforts. Why did you do this? Well, it was free, why should you care what problems I have? People go out and get a dozen free web-based e-mail addresses for the same reason. When you do it to a service, it's less personal, but you just snubbed me, personally, by wasting my time. Why? Because I made it easy to do.

And now, the same situation in reverse: You ask me to do a comission, describing it all in deep detail to me because of how much loving care and effort you've put into creating this character you've asked me to depict. I, in turn, look over your depiction and give you an enthusiastic, "Sure! I can do that for you!" to garner your confidence. After that, I put it in the pile with the rest of the free commisions I'm doing and forget about it. Three weeks later, you're asking em what happened to your comission. I tell you I just got behind and, satisfied temporarily with that, you wait again. I, in turn might dig your commission out of the pile and give it a brief once over, then drop it back in the pile and forget about it again. Three weeks later than that, you ask what my progress has been again, moving towards being angry. I give you an excuse and then forget about it again, and on and on the process goes. Now, why did I do this? Simple: it was for free, and why should I care what your problems are?

The moral of the story? Paying for what you commision is not only good for the artist, but good for you as the comissioner of a work. It motivates both parties to follow through with a transaction.

That being said, if you really can't bear the thought of parting with a respectable sum of money for artwork made specifically for your tastes and purposes, then why not try creating the art yourself?

At the very least, you'll learn just how it is that artwork comes to cost what it does in today's markets.


You are truly kidding yourself if you think that non-commercial arts will ever get paid what they deserve.

Even then let me ask the following questions to all the offended artists of this post:

1 - Ever taped a song on the radio or ripped it from napster without paying the writers and performers?
2 – Ever videotaped a TV show or movie and kept it in your library without paying?
3 – Ever taken an idea, a poem, a piece of story or any such writen work from someone else to add to your story?
4 – Of course none of you have ever downloaded freeware on a permanent trial basis, or have you?
5 – Ever "stolen" someone's recipe?
6 – Ever photocopied a map to use in your campaign? Either integrally or modifying it?

Well, if you haven't done any of these things, congrats you have the strength of your convictions.

If not… aren't you a bit hypocritical?

I'll pay for artwork that is done for me and will gladly buy graphic art books and original paintings (those I can afford). But when a virtual gallery specifies that using its content for personnal/non-profit use is acceptable, then I sure will.
I draw the line when I go on someone's personnal page that says the opposite.
When a site doesn't contain any warning. I might try to ask the owner of the site then (but not always especially if it is to use as a one-time prop).

Oh… and when you consider the written arts, they might be less expensive in terms of material but they are just as time consuming and that is (I think) the biggest cost related to art. The time and dedication one puts on their craft is never justly compensated (except for those who make it out of anonymity).


Cthulhu matata*

*by the way I stole that signature from a guy who signed the same and I found it hilarious. Should I feel cheap for it?

Not if I don't take the credit for it.

Why am I kidding myself again?

Because I think that artists deserve to be paid for their time?

I don't believe I ever said anything about it being realistic or not realistic. I also don't remember saying anything about whether that mattered much to me.

As for hypocritical, whether any of us are or not also is tangential to my point. Which is that the matter of paying for art-related services can, in fact, be reduced to simple, concrete economics, and, as with any other profession, you can directly relate the effort and materials to the amount a given piece is worth. Therefore, either spend your own time and money on materials and workmanship or quit bitching about what others charge for the same.

You seem to be making the old "everyone else does it" argument. It really doesn't phase me any, to be honest, I don't care what anyone else does. Yes, I'm aware that people will still do as they please despite what I say or believe. If you want to go join them, then fine with me, don't expect the fact that you are "one among many" to garner any sympathy for you if you go stealing my work.

As for my value of the written arts, as a writer myself, I thank you for backing up my point as I made it above. Yes, it requires your time and effort. Does it require much else? No. It's good we agree on something. What this has to do with me making a point about the visual and written arts being logistically different in terms of what goes into them, I must once again have missed something.

Non-commercial art? Once again, thank you for elaborating and expanding on my point above. Yes, in this concrete society of ours, the only art that our culture puts any monetary value on is that has a direct physical impact on the other concrete functions of society. And what could me more concrete and fundamental to our society than selling a product or service? That also seems to back up my point about how truly ignorant and insensitive the general public is concerning art which is "non-commercial".

(Truthfully I don't believe that there is a difference between the commercial and non-commercial art save for the arbitrary way in which society values each. If we're talking about art that has a monetary value, then all art is commercial. I believe Warhol would agree with me.)

...Did I happen to mention that I'm going into the field of commercial art? And it's precisely because of the societal standards that you and I both cited in our respective posts.

Now that we've esablished that we both agree on the existance and nature of all facets of the status quo that are relavant to this particular subject, give me one good reason why we should take any part in maintaining them?

And, no, simply because this is the way it always has been isn't the sort of answer that would impress me any.

I salute you for respecting the wishes of artists, in terms of whether or not work can be used for public domain. I also thank you on the behalf of the artistic community for having the respect and good sense to ask the artist when you're not sure. As far as being willing to pay an honest fee for services rendered, whether the result is of the commercial variety or not, I have to give you a lot of credit there. For seeing any value in "non-commercial" art in the first place, I declare you a miracle for that fact alone.

However, I'm afraid I don't see your assertion about me "kidding myself". You didn't supply me with any revelations in your post that haven't already occured to me, or, more to the point, any information that I hadn't already accounted for in writing my last post.

If you do, however, have something to tell me that I did not know, or have not considered about this issue, however, please feel free. I'm listening.

"Should you feel cheap for [stealing that 'hilarious' signature]?"

Honestly, I don't care what you feel, let alone how you should feel. But if you really need my aesthetic opinion, then I'll have to say you should feel cheap, but not because you stole it from anyone. You should feel cheap because, frankly, it's just not that funny. Having already been parodied from another source by it's "originator", then "stolen" to be posted again by you in a vain attempt to make a point to me about what everyone else does (which, as you'll note above really doesn't enter into this issue in my mind in the first place) squeezed out any cleverness the phrase might have had left in it.

Actually what I'm saying is do YOU do it?

Rip MP3 songs, tape movies, etc.

I totally agree that people (everybody) deserve to be paid for their time, whatever they do.

Frankly I like to inspire myself from artists (whatever their media). Either to create a character, an environment heck sometimes I write up a whole story / adventure around one image or poem or song.

Most of the time I try to give credit to the art that inspired me.

I have a question for all you artists out there:

What is a reasonable price for art? Shoudl it reflect the subjective quality/value of a piece? The time it took to make? Offer and demand? What would satisfy you?

Cthulha Matata (I always sign that, but only here).

Even whether I do it or not is irrelevant.

Look, we have a set of rules on Elfwood concerning content appropriateness. With over 10,000 artists in Elfwood, do you think that they all obey these rules 100% of the time? Of course not, which brings me to enforcement.

There's a common excuse given that "Oh, well so-and-so does it." The typical, and valid response to that justification is: "Really? Point me to their page so I can deal with them as well. And no, just because he does it doesn't mean you should as well."

As for the issue of "Do as I say, not as I do," let me bring up the case of Lyndon Johnson (the President) The man did plenty of things that you wouldn't expect him to do given his position and his personality. All kidding aside, Johnson was one of the most sinister presidents we've ever had. If he'd wanted, he could have easily seized power, invalidated the checks and balances system, and taken over the country as a totalitarian dicatator given all the political dirt he had to blackmail Congress with.

And, yet, he did a great many benevolent things as a president. Advice is not necessarily bad advice when the source of it is bad. Similarly principle is not necessarily bad principle if the person preaching it doesn't adhere to it.

I despise hypocrisy as much as the next person. My point is, it's a separate issue from this one. Let's not muddy the waters.

A reasonable price for art? The main point I was trying to make is that establishing a reasonable price for art is not as abstract a concept as one might think. If you'll refer to the first post I made here, I note a formula for determining a minimum price for services rendered. And it's as easy as asking, how much would the artist be paid if he spent his time doing paid work? As most artists seldom do art as a sole means of income, this is usually easy to determine.

Note I say 'minimum' however. Because, as you noted, there is a certain degree of subjectivity involved after those facts I mentioned are hashed out. Qulity of work is definitely a consideration. Not so much if the quality of the work is thought to be less than the minimum amount dictated by the formula I gave above. The principle of free market solves that problem neatly enough: if you don't think it's worth that amount, then don't pay for it.

The real problem arises when the quality of work is above the minimum. How much above that is reasonable given the quality of work? Can you put a price on that?

Those are the tough questions. Often hashed out between artist and consumer.

Myself, I charge a minimum of $10 an hour for work done on a piece, as this is what I would be paid at my other job. The amount tallied up in this category is going to vary greatly on the complexity and parameters of the commision. Obviously, the more complex, the more work is involved.

Another consideration that has a definite effect on price is material. As I noted earlier, art supplies aren't cheap, and depending on what is requires, this cost could be quite small or quite large.

Yet another consideration is the form of submission to the buyer. Does the buyer just want a scanned/digital version of the piece, or does she want the original sketches/artwork used to create it? If the latter, one must take into account both the loss of the original (as it may have value to the artist for his portfolio), and the cost of getting it to the buyer intact. Obviously you can't just fold it in three, stick it in a standard envelope and expect it to arrive unblemished. In short, there's a postage issue.

Other less related fees and issues might include such things as a "kill-fee". A charge levied on a buyer (usually in contractual agreement with the artist) which determines a cost for canceling a project after it has been started, but before completion.

Supply and demand doesn't enter much into my calculations, I suppose it should, but usually a client chooses a specific artist not only for quality, but for style. Style that can't usually be replicated by a different artist.

As for subjective quality, I will admit that, as an amateur, I don't really consider charging more than for time and material (and even material is often a waivable charge to me if the materials required were negligable to obtain- if a ballpoint sketch on copy paper is the extent of a buyers wishes, it seems ludicrous to charge for such easily obtainable materials). It's not that I think I don't do quality work, it's just that I don't wish to get into arguing that with a buyer.

...believe me, enough people who ask for commisions get insulted enough merely when you ask for compensation for your effort, let alone when you tell them that it's worth more because you think you're good.

There seems to be this misunderstanding that, because I'm an amateur, I must also be desperate. The "exposure" angle is often used to dispute a right to payment as well. As other atists here in this thread have noted, "exposure" only is worth something if the art you make is used whole and complete, and, most importantly, you're credited for it in the work it is published in. Amount of exposure is also important. Is it a publication that anyone is likely to see? If it isn't, then what is that sort of exposure really worth?

I'm happy enough in being paid for time and materials honestly. If a sketch is all you want, I can often whip it up in an hour or two easily. Color, of course, can take quite a bit more time. It all depends on what you're asking for.

Time, in particular is very important to me. I work a job and go to college full time as well, so I have very little of my own spare time. If you're asking me to spend some of it creating a work for you, then I at least like to be compensated for time.

I think that, beyond that cost, I'm pretty flexible in what satisfies me.

Just a small thought, people...

Have you absolutely no respect for people's wishes? how difficult is it to ask the artist in question, and if she or he would rather you didn't use the work, how difficult is it to ask someone else? It's not. It's not very difficult at all. And most artists won't mind a one-time use of their picture in a context they'd never get paid for at all.

Other artists, of which I know several, are more protective about their work and their images are very personal to them. How incredibly difficult can it be to simply respect their wishes and leave said pictures alone? Seriously, people, legalities aside, I think it's common courtesy. And you can sit around arguing the rights or wrongs about it all day, but when it comes down to it, you're disrespecting someone's wishes, and you're stomping all over your work. It really makes me sad to see people call themselves "fans" of someone, at the same time as they misuse those people's hard work. It's just a matter of courtesy.

Anyway, as far as fair use goes, you can use images for review purposes and school purposes, nothing else. And those are just the American laws. Not all artists are American.

I'm not an artist myself but I am a friend of many who make their living through art, and even more that simply draw because they love to do so. I know quite a few that are deeply hurt by the way that fans refuse to pay them any kind of respect.

Here here.

Respect for the artists.

But, how can you make the remorseless respect them? How can you make people think to ask before taking?

Any thoughts?

My only thought is to track down the remorseless guilty party and apply several strokes to the head with a blunt object...

...then again, I believe that approach brings with it certain legal complications of it's own. ;)

Seriously though, Sam's got a valid point, people will do as they please, despite what their conscience (or other people) might say to the contrary. If it's easy to do, than that makes such outcomes doubly likely.

There's a reason why we slap watermarks all over our work. Thus far it's the best solution to the problem of theft and misuse. You certainly can't trust people to do what's right.

Hey. I'm not a big talker, but this whole thing got my attention. So I'll just put in my dollar fifty and be on my way.

I'm an artist and a gamer, and I enjoy surfing the 'net and looking at other people's artwork, both good and bad, and I do save some pictures for future reference. I might like someone's particular style, or I might just want to draw a nose like they did. I don't know if that's stealing, but I figure as long as I don't try to pawn of their work as my own the copyright police won't get me.

I have done quite a few character sketches, and I find it very hard to price my work.It all depends on who's buying; some people commission a piece of art, something to hang on the wall and look at, and then some people want a sketch of their character that they can wave at their buddies and say "this is me," and some people want a character sketch just so they can say they have one. The reason determines how much money the client is willing to spend, and how much effort I'll put into the piece.

I've been reading a lot of "$20 is way too much," and my response is "depends."

I'll do a picture for twenty bucks, sure. And it'll be nice, 'cause twenty bucks is a nice chunk of money for me. It'll buy a new sketch pad, and maybe a marker. I'll draw a picture for five bucks, if that's all you have to spend. Hey, I'm not goona turn down anyone's money; I'll draw anything for a price! But I'm certainly not going to knock my socks off on an oil painting of someone's beloved dwarf fighter for anywhere less than $150, and that's just for time and supplies.

I honestly don't think that most non-artist people realize how much money art supplies cost. I'm sure some people can find what they need dirt cheap, but I have not yet found such a place, and my prices are going to reflect that. However, I do try to compensate for it in the quality. I could charge hourly for my time, but I hate to miss out on a client because my rates were too high. I work on an individual basis, and it's worked rather well.

I don't ask for payment first. It's a personal choice. But I don't send the picture 'till I see the money, just to keep from getting gypped. If the client never pays, I keep the picture, and I don't care, because I like my work.

Some people do their work on the computer, but I don't. It might be cheaper materials-wise, but it takes me more time. In the end, I'm an old-fashioned kinda girl. I prefer pen and paper.

Okay, okay, I'm almost through. To those of you who don't know what this has to do with RPGs, think of it as a visualization aid. It's much easier to imagine what your comrade looks like if he/she has a highly detailed version of the character, complete with all the uniquities that define their persona. It's a lot more helpful than a stolen image, which just gives a general idea. Noone's character is really exactly like anyone else's, whether it's an RPG or a comic book, and an original drawing reflects those differences AND similarities. In the end, it helps everybody get a better image in their head.

Ok. That's it. You're a fiesty group, please don't hurt me.

Well I guess I'll just give my meaningless (brief) opinion.

First off, I think the price of a commission should depend mostly on the time, effort, and cost of art materials too. I'm an artist myself and I gotta say that $20 is a bit much to pay if you just want a character sketch. Hey, if someone did pay me $20 I'd make sure it was nice. I've done plenty of character sketches(really nice ones) for waaaaaaay less than that. I've got my stuff posted on the net. It really doesn't bother me that much if someone wants to print something up as long as they ask and give me credit for it. However, I think people who try to pass someone else's work off as their own are just wrong. I put a great deal of effort into my art. Commisioned work really can be worth it though. Alright, that's all.

Again - Writer/Artist/Gamer.

As an artist, I would like to be able to make the big bucks doing something that I love. As a realist, I know this ain't gonna happen.

I would like to make money off of pictures I do, sure. Who wouldn't want to make money off of something they spent time and effort on, whether a visual piece or a story they wrote?

Give credit where credit is due. "This pic was done by such-and-such." "I got ideas for this picture from such-and-such's story." How hard is that? If you feel that the piece in question was worth it, express it somehow, monetary or otherwise.

Apparently, Common Courtesy isn't in many people's character sheets under "Skills."


I think a number of people are missing the point. The original rant itself was keyed mainly towards people who claim downloaded art as their own or who intend to profit off of it, not people simply looking to give this or that temporary game NPC a new look.

I am also highly amused at all of you silly people who feel that because this is a rant forum, a person who posts a rant can't re-post comments to it. Where, exactly, does it say that once you post a topic you can't reply to the comments and criticisms you draw?

"As an artist, I would like to be able to make the big bucks doing something that I love. As a realist, I know this ain't gonna happen."

I recently moved out of my house in Massachusetts, relocating to Pennsylvania. The woman who bought the house proceeded to build a very large addition to it. It's simply enormous. We had a three-bedroom, two-bath house, and she doubled it. She's an artist. She particularly likes to draw horses, and horse-related things. I saw a picture of hers depicting a horse's head and bridle, with the neck fading into the ether, sell for over $2,000.

Also, two words: Thomas Kincaid (sp). He draws well-lit, brightly colored cottages for the most part. Beautiful. In the span of two years I saw him go from selling art to obscure puzzle magazines to a line of Hallmark greeting cards.

I have a friend in college who, in fact, does character portraits for people who want original portraits for their RPGs, or who wish to produce commercial products or websites. $20-$80 a pop, and she's paying for most of her education on it.

Where, exactly, do you get the idea that it can't be done? The fact that you aren't doing it? How hard have you tried, exactly? I'm a writer, and I'm a damn good one. I've never gotten a rejection letter. You know that thing they say about writing, "expect about forty or fifty rejections..." no, the first stab I ever made at getting published occured in a magazine when I was about 16 years old, and I got $150 for it. I'm having a hell of a hard time, now, trying to make a living at writing.

Making a living at the arts is not impossible, it's just not easy. This is possibly the one thing your parents, teachers, and mentors never lied to you about. To quote Roald Dahl, "the life of a writer is absolute hell compared to the life of a businessman." To quote Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, "I still have to write pretty much every day, in order to make a living at it."

A precious small percentage succeeds at this sort of thing; it can be done, it has been done, it is being done still, and quite openly (do you really think Monte Cook has a day job, for example?) but it's tough as hell, and you've got to be tough as nails to do it. (I've been focusing on writing, not art, because it's what I know personally, and from my experiences I know that the issues are very much the same).

I write for Dragon Magazine, amongst others; a particularly large article will net be about $250. Until I move up, that means a solid 1-2 articles a week just to scrape the barrel, and probably a part-time job to go along with this. This isn't a "sit back, spend eight hours painting, sigh dreamily at the wonderfulness of it all, and run outside to go dancing barefoot through a meadow of wildflowers' occupation here. THAT is why people who take credit for another's work in writing or in art, who try to profit off of such things, are so utterly abhorrent. They can and do make a definite, noticable, negative impact on the lives of the people they're ripping off.

Nobody's saying spend $20 on some NPC who's going to make an appearance in your campaign. I reiterate that the rant seemed intended, at least from my perspective, primarily for those who would steal such art for their own GAIN (as opposed to simple USE). If you're using it, give credit, if you're gaining from it, shell out the dough first off. I think this was a wonderful rant, particularly in view of the artists' references... I'm sure I'll be getting plenty of use out of them, and I'll be sure to pass them along.

Wah. I didn't even bother reading all the responses, because they just go on and on and on and on...*ahem*, you get the point. Myself, I am thankfully blessed with artistic talent and can draw. I've done many drawings of my friend's PCs, and offer to do them. And I don't charge. Why? I enjoy it. If someone offers me money to do something I like, sure, I'll accept. But I don't expect to be paid at all. I draw for fun, not for money. Money's just an added bonus.