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Complete Guide to Game Art Outsourcing in 2022

December 29, 2021
Complete Guide to Game Art Outsourcing in 2022

Keys for game art outsourcing and how to get the best of it

1. What is game art outsourcing?

Game art outsourcing is the process of creating digital art for your mobile or PC game with the help of an external contractor instead of an in-house team.

2. How game development outsourcing is different from game art outsourcing?

Game development is a full-cycle process that presumes the turnkey development of a product while game art production is a part of this process.

3. How expensive is game art outsourcing?

It depends on the specific task, its scale and complexity - generally speaking, game art outsourcing is more budget-friendly compared to in-house production, but this can be different for various regions. For example, an average hourly rate for the same area of work in the US or Canada can be significantly higher than one in Eastern Europe - that is why getting an external game art production studio can be a beneficial option if your home region is known for its high rates. However, a top-notch quality work with complex requirements will most likely be reflected in its cost. Moreover, if you’re getting way lower than average rates it’s a reason to question your outsourcing partner’s competencies and understanding of the task.

4. Should I rely on game art outsourcing to save my development budget?

Not necessarily - more often you might get an external partner if you already have a steady content production and need to scale it up. That is when getting an outsourced company might really boost up your game development process. 

5. How working with a game art outsourcing company is different from a freelance artist?

Game art studio usually has a very organized production process and a dedicated project manager responsible for communications. While there definitely are a lot of capable freelancers, if your project is bigger, you’ll have to manage a lot of them by yourselves which might be quite a tedious task. At the same time, working with a game art studio means that there will be management responsible for the work-in-progress updates, and an art lead or art director who checks the compliance with the art style. If an artist gets sick, an art studio will provide a replacement that you might not even notice. Whereas, if your freelancer drops out, finding a replacement is entirely on you.

6. How can I be sure if the game art outsourcing company is legit and I can trust them?

First and foremost, you should check the feedback of their previous partners. If it’s a renowned studio, there will definitely be lots of feedback pieces from well-known companies. For example, RocketBrush Studio feedback comes from Supercell, Paradox Interactive, A Thinking Ape Entertainment, Romero Games, and other notable game developers.

7. Is a game art studio and a game art outsourcing studio the essentially same?

Yes, while there are minor differences, game art studio and game art outsourcing studio are focusing on the same area - digital art production for video games.

8. Is game art outsourcing good for small indies?

There are various outsourcing teams that offer their services for both large companies and indie studios. However, in our practice, the best application for an outsourcing team is to help scale up the production of an existing mobile or PC game that needs a steady flow of new content.

9. Does game art outsource companies good for all areas of expertise?

Different companies can offer various services - some are good in 2D, the others focus on 3D or animation. It’s better to ask for their priority areas of expertise at the very beginning of your collaboration. In RocketBrush Studio among other things, we create custom-made 3D low-poly assets for mobile games, as well as game characters, casual 2D illustrations, game icons and items.

10. Do I necessarily need to have a call with a game art outsourcing studio to get my project reviewed and estimated?

No, the calls are not necessary, although it depends on your way of getting things done. In our experience, the most efficient initial stage was when we got the project brief with all the needed information for an estimate right away.

11. What is the quickest way to get an estimate for my new project?

To get the quickest turnaround, it’s better to provide your potential game art outsourcing partner with a project brief, consisting of the list of content, a coherent description of all assets needed to produce, their requirements and, preferably, an art style and pipeline guides. On the other hand, you can get a preliminary ballpark estimate by just sharing an example of an art style and a general description of what you need. This works mostly for 2D art rather than 3D modelling though. It’s worth checking our 2D project brief sample and a 3D modelling task checklist that might be helpful at this stage.

12. What signs should make me worry at the initial stage of communication with an external contractor?

  • Too few questions or their absence; the more questions they ask - the more precise will be their estimate.
  • Providing estimates right away without getting any information from you
  • Having zero feedback from the other customers
  • Being too aggressive and pushing from the sales viewpoint

A good partner cares for their capability to complete the task in the first place, then the timeline, and then the pricing.

13. What about confidentiality? If I keep sending everyone the brief of my project, will be leaked at some point?

In RocketBrush Studio we treat confidential information of our partners with high responsibility. To keep it that way, we usually offer to sign an MNDA right away so that our partners can feel free to share any materials and documents about their project. 

14. What are the payment options in the game development and art outsourcing areas?

There are usually several options such as wire transfer to the bank account, using Payoneer or PayPal. However, PayPal is known mostly to be used by freelancers while the Wire Transfer is the default method of payment for legal entities like a Limited Liability Company and its worldwide analogues.

15. Are there other signals that prove that I can rely on a game art outsourcing studio?

Definitely. You should check if the studio does have a blog where besides elaborating on the game art outsourcing services, it shares working expertise, provides valuable advises and engages in relevant industry topics.

16. What are the best game art outsourcing studios you could recommend for my project? 

We prefer not to discriminate among our colleagues. All studios out there do have their merits and have proven to know their area of expertise. If you feel like discussing this more, reach out to hello@rocketbrush.com for personal recommendation.

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