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Average salary for freelance 3d artist?

Hello to all. That could take a freelance job and I came to doubt. How much to charge per hour of work? What is the average? Know it depends of experience, quality, type of work, time to completion, etc, but wanted reach an average. In the research I did generally found values ​​per year and usually are outdated. Could anyone give me some idea of how to reach a fair value?

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  • tynew
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    tynew polycounter lvl 8
    There is a search function on these forums! :)

    Here are a few useful links:

    http://wiki.polycount.com/CategoryGameIndustry#Salary_Research
    http://freelanceswitch.com/rates/

    Apparently the trend these days is charging a rate daily rather then hourly. Otherwise clients would be rewarding worse artists that take longer, then the good ones that can pump out work in less time!
  • snakeeaterjns
    tynew wrote: »
    There is a search function on these forums! :)

    Here are a few useful links:

    http://wiki.polycount.com/CategoryGameIndustry#Salary_Research
    http://freelanceswitch.com/rates/

    Apparently the trend these days is charging a rate daily rather then hourly. Otherwise clients would be rewarding worse artists that take longer, then the good ones that can pump out work in less time!

    Thank you. I've searched the forum but no success. The first link is broken.
  • Eric Chadwick
    The wiki is being difficult right now, but you can get through if you hit refresh (F5) a few times. On this subject, we have some really good info there, worth the effort to get in.

    We hope to be implementing a wiki fix in a few weeks...
  • Jon Jones
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    Jon Jones polycounter lvl 16
    In my experience, typical man-day rates in India from low-mid-high quality are generally $135 - $175 - $195. China's about the same, except their low-end can go as low as $90 and their high-end averages out around $225. For US individual contractors I generally see $250 - 450\day, but the cream of the crop are usually $500 - 600\day. US studios are $600\day on average, and specialty shops (like VFX for example) can go as high as $800\day. US pricing is pretty flat regardless of the quality so I tend to vet those guys more closely, whereas you normally get exactly what you pay for in India and China.

    [edit 2] Better-formatted info, reposted from a post I made in another thread awhile back:

    Low-end overseas art studio: $140 - 180\day ($17.50 - 22.50\hr)
    Average overseas art studio: $225\day ($25\hr)
    High-end overseas art studio: $300\day ($37.50\hr)

    Low-end domestic art studio: $350\day ($43.75\hr)
    Average domestic art studio: $500\day ($62.50\hr)
    High-end domestic art studio: $800\day ($100\hr. this is rare, usually it's boutique studios)

    The range of rates I see for individual contractors are $250 - 375\day overseas, and $275 - 500\day domestic. Sometimes it goes higher, but domestically, contract artists typically charge around $300\day. Bids come from the time estimate multiplied by the day rate, rather than "I'll do it for this flat rate" which could get you into infinite revision trouble.

    Hope that helps too!

    [/edit 2]

    To speak of roughly yearly numbers, depends on how much work you can get. :) You could make a comfortable living making 50 - 70k\yr modestly. With more experience, I've seen and worked with contract artists that can make that much in a month, but that's the 1%.

    [edit] haha just checked the wiki. I'm in there a lot! And what a great overall resource, wow! [/edit]
    Otherwise clients would be rewarding worse artists that take longer, then the good ones that can pump out work in less time!

    Professionally-bid work is hourly rate * time estimate = day rate, so it all comes back to hourly in the end. If the rates and time estimate in the bid are accepted, that's written into the contract. If the original estimate goes over and the artist isn't delivering, the contract can be made to state that the overage isn't billable since it wasn't agreed upon in writing. There's all sorts of ways to stop your losses. :)
  • BradMyers82
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    BradMyers82 interpolator
    Jon Jones: I'm a little confused by your average domestic rates...
    Low-end domestic art studio: $350\day ($43.75\hr)
    Average domestic art studio: $500\day ($62.50\hr)
    High-end domestic art studio: $800\day ($100\hr. this is rare, usually it's boutique studios)

    The general formula is 200 x your (hourly rate) = to your yearly salary.

    So if you make $20.00 per hour then your salary is about 40,000 per year (assuming you work a standard 40 hours per week).
    Are you saying that the average low end art studio 3d artist makes over 80k a year! If so I'm getting totally jacked right now. haha. By that math it seems really high even if you are new york city based or California based. Or am I somehow misunderstanding these rates?

    snakeeaterjns: Most people will tell you its a case by case rate, and you really need to decide what is fair for you first, then make sure the client is willing to pay that amount. Averages don't really apply here. BUT... if I were to throw out an average hourly rate I would say 40.00 per hour about (in the U.S.). I'm guessing this might even be a lower end rate honestly.
    The way I personally come up with my own prices are mainly by the specific job though. I estimate how many hours a job will take, then I multiply that by the hourly rate I think I deserve and then add a little extra for buffer, because everything takes longer than you plan. However, if you are being paid a flat rate, you need to make it very clear what is expected and how many revisions will be allowed and so on. Otherwise a client could technically have you work on something for all eternity.

    Hope this helps. :)
  • Jon Jones
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    Jon Jones polycounter lvl 16
    Are you saying that the average low end art studio 3d artist makes over 80k a year! If so I'm getting totally jacked right now. haha. By that math it seems really high even if you are new york city based or California based. Or am I somehow misunderstanding these rates?

    Sorry, I should have clarified. I'm usually giving these rates to studios pricing out art, not the artists. heh! That's the rate the art studio charges, but not the rate they pay the artist. I started at 36k\yr salary at one of my first jobs, but I also put together the bids on work and saw the rates they're charging their clients. It might sound bad at first, but that's just the reality of overhead costs and everyone does it if they want to stay open. :)

    Great points on the rest!
  • Jon Jones
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    Jon Jones polycounter lvl 16
    200 x 20 is 4,000 not 40,000. But lets rewind. Where do you get 200 from?

    8 hrs/day x 5 days/wk x 52wks/yr = 2,080 standard work hours. In the US anyway.

    Example: You charge a standard hourly rate of $30/hr.

    30 USD/hr x 8 hrs/day x 5 days/wk x 52wks/yr = $62,400 gross income.

    Tracking, let alone finding the mean, of freelancers in a specific field sounds like trying to unravel a rat's nest.

    I generally do day rate * 22 working days per month * 12 months for yearly calculation. It assumes no holidays and 100% utilization, though.
  • snakeeaterjns
    Thanks everyone for the clarification.
  • AlecMoody
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    AlecMoody ngon master
    Jon's info looks about right to me. Billing for your time is best, and I much prefer day rates with half day minimums to hourly billing.

    If you are doing sub-contract work you will typically be getting a flat fee for an asset and the hours you put in will not work out as well as those rates. For subcontracting to pay well the client needs to be very organized, timely with feedback (waiting 48 hours for approval to move forward eats into billing time quickly), and they need to not micro manage you. Also, always ask for more money if they change the design part way through an asset.
  • BradMyers82
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    BradMyers82 interpolator
    Jon: Thanks for clearing that up, and its actually really interesting to hear your calculation since I have only considered actual artists take home rather then from a companies perspective.

    DustinBrown: LOL, yea man. I forgot a zero. The way you can easily do it in your head is to take the hourly rate x 2 and add that little "k" letter. :)
    You can see by your own math of 30.00 per hour you came up with 62,400. So pretty close to 30 x 2 = 60k. Its not an exact formula or anything just a ball park figure a lot of people use.
  • tynew
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    tynew polycounter lvl 8
    I have a few questions guys.

    So now that we have found out how much we need to charge or goal salary, do we charge these rates even to indie devs working with engines like Unity? I see lots of "indie rates available" artists.

    So a normal week is 5 days 40 hour work week, say we have a lenient deadline, if none at all, do we work weekends until the project has finished, or do we tell the clients we don't work 2 days a week during contract? What about strict deadlines?

    What about time taken to communicate, different time zones etc, is that part of being billable?

    Where does most of the work come from, indie devs, professional studios, other?

    I'm not too sure on the above. I'm considering going full time freelance, although I don't know how other artists manage their time. I also would like to open as much opportunity to getting work by learning fields. I can't imagine working 14 days straight to meet a deadline!
  • Jon Jones
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    Jon Jones polycounter lvl 16
    tynew wrote: »
    So now that we have found out how much we need to charge or goal salary, do we charge these rates even to indie devs working with engines like Unity? I see lots of "indie rates available" artists.

    In an ideal world, yes. In an indie world, no. :) I think "indie rates available" is a good idea if the expectations are very clear.
    So a normal week is 5 days 40 hour work week, say we have a lenient deadline, if none at all, do we work weekends until the project has finished, or do we tell the clients we don't work 2 days a week during contract? What about strict deadlines?

    Depends on what you can negotiate. If you're working a fulltime job and can only put in a few hours a night or on weekends, make sure it's extremely clear what your time commitments are, and that your first priority is to your day job. If you can set an expectation of an average of X hours per week given your constraints and stick to that, it should be adequate. Just make sure to let your clients know the instant there's going to be a shortfall of time or a late delivery.

    That is one of the most important things any professional can do: If you're going to be late, tell your manager the instant you know. It's better to hear bad news early than experience bad news late.
    What about time taken to communicate, different time zones etc, is that part of being billable?

    I'd only bill for that if a) it's in half-hour increments, b) it's agreed upon in advance, and c) there are stipulations for dealing with extreme time zones. For example, recently I've been getting up between 2am and 7am some days to deal with the studios I manage in China, India, and with our home office in Sweden. If I were working freelance instead of salary, I would definitely charge for those hours. But if it's just me answering an email, I'm not going to bill for that unless it's a huge time commitment, then I discuss it first.
    Where does most of the work come from, indie devs, professional studios, other?

    Varies. There's lots out there.
    I'm not too sure on the above. I'm considering going full time freelance, although I don't know how other artists manage their time. I also would like to open as much opportunity to getting work by learning fields. I can't imagine working 14 days straight to meet a deadline!

    I gave a talk and wrote a short article with tips on how to go fulltime freelance that may give you some ideas of what to expect: http://www.jonjones.com/2012/01/27/from-full-time-to-freelance/

    Hope that helps!
  • Blaisoid
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    Blaisoid polycounter lvl 7
    So now that we have found out how much we need to charge or goal salary, do we charge these rates even to indie devs working with engines like Unity? I see lots of "indie rates available" artists.

    You can try to charge same rates.
    Thing is, it's a hit or miss. Indie studio budgets really vary so if you give them a "reasonable" cost estimate (as in, what you think your work is actually worth), lots of them won't ever write back. However some of them are prepared to pay as much as bigger studios would.

    I guess it all comes down to whether you are in position where losing opportunities is not a problem.

    Fortunately I'm in that place now.
    But half year ago it was quite a frustrating issue. I had started getting offers from indie studios and after I told them price they would just dissapear. No response even after sending a follow up email.
    No response even when I'd write that the price is negotiable or could differ depending on desired quality.
    So I lowered my prices and did a bunch of low pay jobs.

    But it seems that as I got some recognition I started getting offers from indie studios who would contact me because of having specific skills or style and not just because my thread was at the top of page in "freelancer" section of some forum.

    This is the kind of clients that you wanna get. They know what they want and they are prepared to pay for it.
  • tynew
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    tynew polycounter lvl 8
    @Jon Jones
    Thanks a bunch for the wealth of knowledge! Reading and watching it now :)

    @Blaisoid
    Awesome insight, I have been in that boat. I used to work part time freelance 4 years back and when replying to an approach I wouldn't get replies or I'd get the "you charge too much". I don't know how people can expect people to work for 5$ an hour especially on those freelance bidding sites. I guess it's time to build my portfolio and rep!
  • LRoy
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    LRoy polycounter lvl 10
    When I was first learning 3d and starting freelance everyone that contacted me already had a number in mind. Wouldn't even bother trying to do it hourly because things you much longer than a senior artist. My first jobs were for 70-100 for a character. Obviously no one expects you to live off that but you do it for experience and to build a base.
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