Planning an art budget for your board game? Here are average estimates I'm seeing lately, as of the end of 2022. But first, a caveat: Quotes vary by many factors, including but not limited to the following:
- Dimensions: The bigger the art, the more expensive it is.
- Medium: Traditional paints and inks cost more than digital.
- Style: The more you make an artist work outside their expertise, the more it will cost.
- Complexity: A shot of a superhero flying in the open air is cheaper than the full super-team defending a city.
- Color/Ink: Some artists will cut you a deal if you only need linework.
- Terms & rights: If you want full work-for-hire rights to the art, expect to pay for it.
- Size of cast: Each character multiplies the complexity of the scene. If you want a big battle, it'll cost more depending on how many participants there are.
- Detail: Photorealists charge more than cartoonists, typically. That's not always the case though.
- Timeline: The sooner you need it, the more expensive it will be.
- Planning: If you can provide plenty of visual references, photobashes, sketches, composition notes, and other prep materials, that may reduce your costs. The more mind-reading you make an artist do, the more it will cost.
All that said, here are the quote ranges I'm seeing for these typical game art specs:
- Isolated Characters (Full-body, no background): $100—$250
- Isolated Objects and Items (Weapons, Vehicles, Tech, Clothes): $50—$200
- Any of the above set in a full scene or backgrounds: Add $100—$300
- Game Cover or Game Board: $1k—$4k
- Card Art (like in a CCG): $150—$550
This is the average I'm seeing for board games. Different industries charge and pay their own rates. Even within the tabletop game industry, there's huge variance. For example, one CCG card illo can equal an entire board game's budget, whereas most RPGs barely pay a fraction of that.
As always, approach an artist respectfully, as a professional, and be honest about your expectations. Even if that particular negotiation doesn't work out, that artist may be able to recommend another artist who is a better fit for your project.
As always, pay artists promptly and well. Good luck in the new year!