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Thread: How much would *YOU* pay for a fantasy map?

  1. #1

    Question How much would *YOU* pay for a fantasy map?

    Hi Guys, I am needing some input and I was wondering if you could help me out. I am putting the finishing touches to my fantasy novel and I want to commission some hand-drawn maps to accompany it. What fantasy novel is complete without a map, right?!

    I am going for simple, black and white look - nothing fancy. Why? Because complex images do not translate well onto a Kindle screen. I want something that my readers can actually see without having to manually zoom at the expense of their reading time. Here is a quick outline of what I made in visio for a specific country. I want to convert this into a black and white map.

    If you want to picture what I am aiming for, open any fantasy novel from the 1980 - 2000, and you'll find a lovely black and white illustration on the first few pages. Simple. Effective. Clear. This is the look that I want to achieve.

    So my question - how much would YOU pay for a hand-drawn black and white fantasy map? If you have had experience in something like this before - for your own novel or if you have experience in the illustration industry, I would love to hear it.

    I really do want to strike the balance between affordability (I am not made of money) and honouring the value of an artists work. Please let me know your thoughts!

  2. #2
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Hmmm. Good question. I quite often commission coloured digital art of my characters, and 20-30 is my usual budget but I'll go up to 50 for an artist I really love. I'm on a very low wage though and I'm a stereotypical skinflint Scot, so my budgets reflect that.

    For a fantasy map, recognising that it's both a rarer and (sometimes) more complicated skill than character illustration, I'd be interested in 50 - 80.

    I'm wincing a little writing this reply because I feel like I'm undervaluing the work, but that's my honest answer based on my personal circumstances.

    EDIT: As a side note, I'm stuck behind a firewall and can't see your image link.
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by EMaree View Post

    EDIT: As a side note, I'm stuck behind a firewall and can't see your image link.
    Hi EMaree - click here and perhaps you can see the image.

    Thanks very much for your feedback.

  4. #4
    VPXV 4EVA LBlankenship's Avatar
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    FWIW, I'm about to hang out my shingle to offer various self-publishing services and maps are on the menu... I worked out an asking price of $100.

    My sample map is here.

    Available at all major e-retailers H&R published by Dreamspinner Press

    Writing blog: Notes from the Jovian frontier Twitter: LBlankenship_sf
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  5. #5
    A floopy flolloper K.L. Bennett's Avatar
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    Hmm, I've never thought aboutthis before. I mean, I've definitely thought about someone else reproducing the god awful MS Paint maps that I use for reference only and would never, ever show anyone else, not even Mr. Bennett. Just never been at the point where I was actually ready to commission a piece...

    So, with that said, my immediate thought was anywhere from $80-120 depending on size and level of detail, also color vs b&w. I'd be more inclined towards a simple b&w like you, but I can see a benefit to color, depending on the map.

    LBlankenship, that map is gorgeous! Part of the reason I commented on this thread was to bookmark your sample for later so I could contact you.

  6. #6
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I've done several pen-and-ink and digital versions of the map that I use as background reference for my fantasy books. This is a small digital version - the working digital version is 16"x 20", and big enough to let me code notes, place names, and heraldry.

    If I ever 'make it big' as a fantasy writer, that is the version I'd hand off to a publisher, so they could find their own cartographer.



    I've messed around with this one so much that I don't think I'd take on another person's map project - even though I love maps.
    Blog: Blue Night, Black Iron, Golden Rope
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    I've done several pen-and-ink and digital versions of the map that I use as background reference for my fantasy books. This is a small digital version - the working digital version is 16"x 20", and big enough to let me code notes, place names, and heraldry.
    It looks really great!

    Quote Originally Posted by K.L. Bennett View Post
    I'd be more inclined towards a simple b&w like you, but I can see a benefit to color, depending on the map.
    Yeah. My idea is simple black and white for the Kindle version, and then at a later stage, have that same version illustrated in colour for downloading at the website, or for use on devices that support high resolution and colour. Baby steps Having something rendered in full colour will also be much more expensive too.

  8. #8
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Also, if you do digital versions in Painter, Photoshop, or another graphics program, make sure you do everything in layers. It helps if you have to move a city or another feature.
    Blog: Blue Night, Black Iron, Golden Rope
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  9. #9
    VPXV 4EVA LBlankenship's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K.L. Bennett View Post
    LBlankenship, that map is gorgeous! Part of the reason I commented on this thread was to bookmark your sample for later so I could contact you.
    Thanks! If anyone's interested, my creative services menu is here.

    I do all my work in Photoshop and Illustrator, multi-layered and at high resolution, just for the record.

    Available at all major e-retailers H&R published by Dreamspinner Press

    Writing blog: Notes from the Jovian frontier Twitter: LBlankenship_sf
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  10. #10
    It's a dog-eat-waffle world. RedRam's Avatar
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    Filigree, that thing is awesome.

    The rates you all are kicking out seem crazy-low to me. I worked for a design company (mainly web) where we did occasional print work and there's almost no way you'd get a finished piece for under $300. It just wouldn't make sense.

    I'd say you need to stick to non-professionals or one man shops to get it done for around $100.

    On-ish this topic, how much of your world do you flesh out in map form when you write? I'm working on a story now that takes place in a made up land, but I haven't done anything but the most rudimentary sketch of how that land is designed.

    I think I was hoping that leaving the edges blurry would allow me more freedom in my story, but maybe that's not the case. What do you all do?
    WIP No Man's Landing: 750,006/1,245,000

  11. #11
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRam View Post
    The rates you all are kicking out seem crazy-low to me. I worked for a design company (mainly web) where we did occasional print work and there's almost no way you'd get a finished piece for under $300. It just wouldn't make sense.

    I'd say you need to stick to non-professionals or one man shops to get it done for around $100.
    Agreed that the prices in this thread are low, but I completely understand why.

    My predicted budget was very low because when I'm buying art I'm not buying it as an industry professional -- I'm buying it as a luxury purchase in place of the books or video games that I would usually treat myself too. I think a similarly restricted budget would apply if I was a self-publishing author looking for a nice extra to a fantasy novel.

    Plus my perception of 'value' is skewed by the fact that I often commission struggling and/or young Tumblr and Deviantart artists, where the going rates for extremely high-quality work are ridiculously low. Definitely "one man shops" though I wouldn't say non-professionals, at least not judging by the quality of their work and communication.

    On the bright side, though, if it wasn't for friendly low-priced artists I never would have had the nerve to start buying commissioned art at all.

    On-ish this topic, how much of your world do you flesh out in map form when you write? I'm working on a story now that takes place in a made up land, but I haven't done anything but the most rudimentary sketch of how that land is designed.

    I think I was hoping that leaving the edges blurry would allow me more freedom in my story, but maybe that's not the case. What do you all do?
    I only really keep note of the areas that are important to the city. I know the city and all it's areas, the surrounding lands, and vaguely what lies beyond it. But I keep the rest of the world entirely foggy.
    Website/Blog- Twitter

    WIP: Mecha and Monsters Project, Draft 5

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by RedRam View Post
    The rates you all are kicking out seem crazy-low to me. I worked for a design company (mainly web) where we did occasional print work and there's almost no way you'd get a finished piece for under $300. It just wouldn't make sense.

    I'd say you need to stick to non-professionals or one man shops to get it done for around $100.
    I wouldn't call someone charging $100 a non-professional. At the end of the day, it is the illustrators time spent x a rate per hour which can be a good means of determining the cost one should pay.

  13. #13
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    First let me say that I am a compulsive world-builder nutcase, so do not take my example as anything but an unwise extreme.

    I've been playing in that world for nearly 30 years real-time, and through a few million years of elapsed story-time. If the current map looks like it has a definite nod toward plate tectonics, repeated glaciation, and asteroid strikes - that's because it has.

    I have mapped about 80% of the coastlines of two large continents, one smaller one, and a sprawling archipelago on the other side of the planet. I know about 75% of the stuff in the continental interiors. In the 100,000 years of the planet's written history, the basic geology hasn't changed that much. Over that time period, I know which petty kingdoms have risen, expanded, died out, blown themselves to radioactive bits, or made hush-hush alliances with offworlders.

    I certainly don't use the whole map in one book. The mms I'm revising now follows one small adventure through a 500-mile stretch of the southern continent.

    But the big picture is a handy tool to have.
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  14. #14
    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenebaker View Post
    I wouldn't call someone charging $100 a non-professional. At the end of the day, it is the illustrators time spent x a rate per hour which can be a good means of determining the cost one should pay.
    I don't know how professional should be defined, but I would be pretty surprised if people charging that are actually paying most of their bills with that kind of a price tag for a commissioned print ready, 100% original drawing of a map.

  15. #15
    It's a dog-eat-waffle world. RedRam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gale Haut View Post
    I don't know how professional should be defined, but I would be pretty surprised if people charging that are actually paying most of their bills with that kind of a price tag for a commissioned print ready, 100% original drawing of a map.
    I think that was more my point. I should have said part-time designer, instead. Non-professional can easily be conflated with unprofessional, which I didn't mean to imply.

    Good points about Deviant Art art, which can be super cheap for the quality.
    WIP No Man's Landing: 750,006/1,245,000

  16. #16
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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  17. #17
    Sophipygian AW Moderator Alessandra Kelley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenebaker View Post
    I wouldn't call someone charging $100 a non-professional. At the end of the day, it is the illustrators time spent x a rate per hour which can be a good means of determining the cost one should pay.
    Actually $100 is a breathtakingly low rate for a rendered map illustration. Professional illustrators generally charge by the job, not by the hour (which I have seen those with labor intensive styles lament), so that is not a helpful way to calculate prices. Even if it were, by any decent standard $100 is less than a day's pay, scarcely enough to cover consultation and preliminary sketches.

    By my estimate, a map like the ones in many fantasy novels would take at least twenty hours of work, including consultation, preliminary sketches, rendering, and any needed corrections. It could be a full week's work.

    You are offering a rate of $2.50 an hour, $5 an hour if the artist can work very fast. These are not decent rates to off a skilled professional.

    Quote Originally Posted by EMaree View Post
    Agreed that the prices in this thread are low, but I completely understand why.

    My predicted budget was very low because when I'm buying art I'm not buying it as an industry professional -- I'm buying it as a luxury purchase in place of the books or video games that I would usually treat myself too. I think a similarly restricted budget would apply if I was a self-publishing author looking for a nice extra to a fantasy novel.
    If what you are looking for is simply a nice extra, you might be better off getting some software and drawing your own. If what you wish is a professional illustration, you should be willing to pay professional rates.

    I had not weighed in on this thread because it was clearly aimed at buyers: how much would you pay for a custom drawn map, not how much would it cost. But perhaps the second question is more illuminating, and more conducive to helpful cross-arts communication.

  18. #18
    VPXV 4EVA LBlankenship's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alessandra Kelley View Post
    By my estimate, a map like the ones in many fantasy novels would take at least twenty hours of work, including consultation, preliminary sketches, rendering, and any needed corrections. It could be a full week's work.
    I'll take your word on it, but... that map I linked to didn't take anywhere near 20 hours. Yes, I had the advantage of OK'ing it on the fly, but... yikes. And I don't even have a tablet.

    Available at all major e-retailers H&R published by Dreamspinner Press

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  19. #19
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Mine probably took about 6 hours in stages, but I had the basic contours.
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  20. #20
    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LBlankenship View Post
    I'll take your word on it, but... that map I linked to didn't take anywhere near 20 hours. Yes, I had the advantage of OK'ing it on the fly, but... yikes. And I don't even have a tablet.
    Pointing this out isn't meant as a knock against you. The map you linked to is nice, but it isn't a hand drawn map, which is what's requested in the OP. It has repeating textures all over it. Here's an example of a famous hand drawn map design that likely took much more than a day to put together. Another example from the Earth Sea world that is closer to what kenebaker described.

    If the OP wants someone to fill in the outline that was posted with textures and repeating graphics, then I agree that $100 is quite reasonable. It really shouldn't take more than 30 minutes to an hour, not counting consultation or revisions.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Alessandra Kelley View Post
    You are offering a rate of $2.50 an hour, $5 an hour if the artist can work very fast. These are not decent rates to off a skilled professional.
    When did I say I was paying $100 for a map? I was discussing the stance that $100 was unprofessional, which I don't believe is the case - if I look at LBlankenship's offering, her map is stunning. Professional illustrators can charge both per job or per hour, depending on who you use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gale Haut View Post
    Pointing this out isn't meant as a knock against you. The map you linked to is nice, but it isn't a hand drawn map, which is what's requested in the OP.
    You have a point, Gale about the rendered vs hand-drawn comment. Although you did get me thinking - my chief requirement for the brief is that the map needs to translate well to the Kindle screen. The map you supplied is beautiful and I would love it as my desktop background, but it would never work on a kindle screen - not if you want to see the names of cities on the low resolution of the kindle.

    For me, the map has to be clear, non-detailed, easy to read. That is why on the overall map, you will see that I have not included any geographical areas -no mountains, rivers, terrain etc. This map is going to be the simplest of lines, displayed on the simplest of screens. A map like this would probably translate well.

    Thoughts?

  22. #22
    VPXV 4EVA LBlankenship's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gale Haut View Post
    Pointing this out isn't meant as a knock against you. The map you linked to is nice, but it isn't a hand drawn map, which is what's requested in the OP. It has repeating textures all over it.
    Oh, hand drawn... okay, missed that part. Yeah, 20 hours would make sense then.

    And if I'm going to pay for 20 hours of an artist's time, a map wouldn't be the most useful thing to get, from a budgeting standpoint. Unfortunately.

    Available at all major e-retailers H&R published by Dreamspinner Press

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  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW eternalised's Avatar
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    I made a map for one of my stories as well. You can find it here.

    It's not THAT detailed, but it serves its purpose. It looks old and has all the important landmarks on it.

    I didn't pay anything, since I made it myself, but if I were to make something like that for someone else, I'd charge about a $100 as well.
    Visit my website.



  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by eternalised View Post
    I made a map for one of my stories as well. You can find it here.

    It's not THAT detailed, but it serves its purpose. It looks old and has all the important landmarks on it.

    I didn't pay anything, since I made it myself, but if I were to make something like that for someone else, I'd charge about a $100 as well.
    Looks great How long did it take you to make something like this? What program did you use? Honestly, I am so impressed with people who can write AND illustrate / draw. Fifth-graders draw better pictures than I do

  25. #25
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    Honestly, I made an action that can do it in about 5-10 minutes flat in color to boot *and* the continents look like they can fit together. I'll be refining the action when I take geography class.

    If I make any new stories within new worlds, I'd use my own generator.

    Given that, I wouldn't honestly have a *need* for one.

    However, if it was hand-drawn with no repeating elements, 500+ dollars, given that the person has specialized knowledge in geography/cartography seems fair, depending on the level of detail asked for.

    Generated maps are easy... making the art of making a map for a fantasy/sci-fi world seem like it's not as important.

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