FFXI FanART Commission Etiquette

Our Adventure Never Ends, FFXI 8th Anniversary by Lurazeda

Our Adventure Never Ends by lurazeda

One thing about MMO is… you spend all this time playing, building your character and in the end when you quit? You get nothing out of it :P So for me, I wanted something to “remember” my achievements, and that is through art, “commissioning” various artist to draw out Maiev as she gets herself equipped :P

After my 1st Commission, I fell in love with artist drawing Maiev out :P No matter how much rough times I’m going through, I look onto the wall with the poster hanging, and there it is, a smile. There’s one saying :P

It is easy enough to be cheerful when life flows like a song,
but the person who is worthwhile is the person with a smile when everything goes dead wrong.

The Maiev on the Poster :P Always smiling XD (Yes, I guess I’m a little attached to my “avatar”.)

Anyway, before I showcase what I’ve commission so far (yes, I spent quite a lot of money on it), I’d like to go over some etiquette of requesting a “commission” of your character being drawn. There are no guidelines, every artist have different feel towards what’s acceptable etiquette, but based on me requesting numerous commission as a non-artist, I believe I’ve got the right feel in writing a post about it.

Heavens Tower by LovelyDagger

Heavens Tower by lovelydagger

What is an Art Commission?

Commission is a request for a favor (in this case, drawing), and in return, compensating the artist’s cost in art supplies and technology investment. Some might say its a compensation for time, but I’d like to take it as, providing compensation for them to invest in more tools, so they can improve (or make life easier).

Commission is not contract work nor a job. It’s a side hobby with compensation towards their supplies. They have the right to refuse your work (though, I’d like a refund in that case). Commission should be “do a few stroke when you have time” type of work, it is a fun “off-time” work for artist that wants to improve / enjoy to draw.

Most of these artist who take commission, either have school or work, so your commission is kind of like “part time job”, but “a job where I can do it at my own pace”.

Remember, drawing these days are mostly done in a computer. They need to invest in a $500+ tablet and a few drawing software as well, and those aren’t cheap :P. Some might prefer to draw and do the lineart in pencil and paper, then scan it into a computer for coloring. Those paper and pencil aren’t cheap as well.

If you have a time that you’d like to get the drawing done, plan ahead and give the artist of your choice a ton of time. You don’t want them to rush because.. in the end, you suffer from a lower-quality drawing.

Well. How much to Commission?

This is always subjective, but in most cases, the artist already have them all listed on their websites or deviantArt page. Their cost varies with price.

A good quality single character FFXI would cost I’d say $30-50 (depending on skill level).
Background and additional character cost $10-15 more.
Experience should be compensated higher, versus someone who haven’t done much commission… Having experience doing commission and draw with criteria is something important… when deciding on your price as well as what you want.

You might say… holy shoot that’s expensive! Well here think of it like this. The “opportunity cost” of earning your 50 dollars is work in a grocery store. Say they pay 10 dollars per hour. So instead of drawing, they could work in a grocery store for 5 hours.

Can you finish a nice art piece in 5 hours? Usually not. Skilled people might take 5 hours, but most would take between 8-10 hours to finish a piece (plus skilled people might even charge more). Charging you 50 bucks is really, 5 dollars per hour for their work.

The only reason they would do it is, it beats “bagging” in a grocery store, and they are doing something they enjoy, they do it at their own pace, and its an opportunity to improve their skill while earning some cash to offset their cost in drawing. Grocery store does nothing but gives you cash. They gain EXP from this, possibly merit points :P

If you offer too low, they might choose to work in a grocery store than drawing your commission, so one should think about “opportunity cost” when it comes to selecting the right commission cost for drawing.

Midnight Excursion by Priestessofpie

Midnight Excursion by priestessofpie

Who Should I Pick?

That is something based on personal preference. However, there are a few factors that one should consider.

  • Their understanding of what you want to draw. Someone who plays FFXI would definitely be easier to accommodate you than someone who only plays WoW and drawing a Taru. It might end up like a Gnome.
  • Their art style. Browse their gallery. Pick 3 pieces and score them 1-10. After that, compare it to other artist that you selected and pick the one with highest score. When you select someone, you are not only selecting their skills, but also selecting their style. Don’t ask them to draw like “that artist”. If that’s the case, then you should go find THAT artist instead.
  • Their workload. Are they getting a lot of commission? How much quality time do you think that artist will put into drawing it. Are they burnt out?
  • Price (duh!).

Of course I have my favorite artist when it comes to commission. However, we all have different taste in art. One might find watercolor attractive, while the other find “comic” style attractive. Your money, your call :P

How to ask for a Commission!

Common says says, ask politely. Sign up an account on deviantART or forums, and PM them. Don’t type a wall of text :P (lol), just ask nicely if they still do commission?

If they reply “what do you want me to draw?”, then they are doing 2 things. They are evaluating the complexity and if they can actually draw it and, secondly, to also see if they are “interested” in drawing the stuff you requested.

Some artists are uncomfortable drawing the following:

  • Porn/Nekked/Hentai Stuff
  • Old Granny/Wrinkles/Chunky/Fat/Grandpa/Ugly
  • Mecha
  • Robots
  • Furries
  • Blood/Violence

So you finally made up your choice and selected someone to draw your fantasy! Awesome, now comes the detail :P

As a commission giver, you need to also be reasonable. “Please draw Taru Pigtails in RDM doing cool pose in RDM AF”, is pretty terrible description. You need to… use any Model Viewer (there’s even a ton of versions too), select your equipment and take a picture. Take pictures of front, back and side. Most of the time, people that plays FFXI will know what you want, but then do your homework, so nobody gets it wrong. Afterall, a picture is worth a thousand words… and here is a clear example!

Explain the pose, find images that closely resembles it. If its some generic pose, then let them emphasize.

Let them know about background preference. It determines not only price/time spent on it, but allows them to plan ahead.

Let them know the delivery system. Do you want PSD? in layers? PNG JPG? A lot of artist flatten layers after completion to save space (lolz!). This makes it difficult if you have intention of using a single layer for a specific purpose. If you want the original sketch work on paper (that’s if they do it in paper), let them know as well, because there will obviously be shipping cost :P

Communicating during the Commission

Most artist would first sketch out their idea. It would take a few tries to get it right (well, you won’t know that ;P)! However, when they finally found something the artist is comfortable in drawing/coloring, they will (or usually), email you their sketch work. This is the time when you contribute or adding / making changes. All changes should be requested here, including “drawing 3 legs for a Taru or… basically huge changes if needed… are done here”. When both side are quite satisfied with the sketch work, that is the point of no return.

Once an artist start lining, you should know that, you are committed to the look and feel of that art piece. Asking changes after they start coloring is just plain wrong. Not only you wasted all their linework, its errors that could be avoided because you aren’t decisive and its costing someone else’ time. Yes, you aren’t paying for their time but supplies, but re-drawing linework takes PAPER and PENCIL.

Paying Them :P

Artist are good with drawing, but pretty bad with asking money :P It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay them. In fact, most don’t even start or put your work to the side until you pay. They don’t ask, they just don’t start! LOL, so really, just send in your money. Some say “pay before I start drawing”. It shows that as a commission giver, you are committed. I mean, imagine they show you their final work and then they ask “can you pay me now”, well you got the JPEG, you can just run away. It’s the internet. So, it’s probably a better idea to pay em :P

Rinielenika - Maiev of Fenrir colored by Blackash

Rini’s Maiev of Fenrir colored by blackash

Tips IMO in getting a GOOD Commission

  • Give as much freedom and room to express their idea as possible. Of course, you can select clothes/equipment, but let them pick the pose / composition / colors. You usually end up with something beyond your imagination. (What you are essentially doing is, allow them to draw what they are comfortable at, within their skill limit)
  • Give them as much time as possible. It’s easier to say but… you’d want them to draw when they are free, outside with sunshine and when they are comfortable on a Sunday afternoon. If you say “girlfriend Bday tomorrow, get it done!” First of all, they might not be free, and if they stay up to get it done, you sacrifice quality for speed!
  • Select the right artist to begin with. Everyone have different art taste. One might find this pretty while someone else find that style is prettier. Select the one YOU feel its good. Rank them.
  • Don’t be stingy about the price. I often find if they ask for 25, I give 30. This gives them not only the feel that “you are confident” about their art, it also makes them feel that they are better compensated, that they can spend more time on your artwork. Afterall, if you aren’t confident with their art, why commission? LOL

I hope you find this read useful. By requesting commission, not only you are helping out artist in improving their artwork, it also allows you to give something “personalized” to your friends. Commission are usually used as gift in FFXI. I still think it is a GREAT gift. I even print them into poster and send them to friends :P They absolutely loved it and best of all, they now have something hanging in their wall that reminds them about you being a good friend to them!

Find your artist now! (Keep in mind, some of these commission are a few years ago :P so they might have stop drawing, FYI :D)

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