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The Importance of (Free) Sketches (And Why You Should Always Request/Offer Some)


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Howdy again. It's been 8-9 months since my departure from this site, and as I need some work done again, I wanted to share with you a little something that came up during my recent venture on this site.

I'm currently trying to get some animation work done for my channel for a fun little gimmick that I want to add. Since my previous artists of choice primarily focus on emotes and logos, they were unfortunately not up to the task. So I decided to look for new artists via a service request to get the job done. Which resulted in me getting like 30 offers from random people that I had no experience with. Everyone had their neat little ideas, and half of them did not even read the requirements, but that's beside the point.

Now, I try to be as descriptive as I can in my requests (quite often the 2500 limit is not enough), and occasionally an artist's vision/language barrier/whatever gets in the way. But... sometimes you just find that little golden star among all the rubble. And then, when it clicks and you see your vision personified in front of you on-screen... it's like a little magical moment.

This is sorta what happened to me yesterday after I requested some rough sketches from some of the artists that made me an offer. I asked both parties to please make a very rough sketch of what they thought I wanted my character to look like, with a focus on cartoonish, based on my descriptions and drawings. Like, 5 minutes of work, so that I could get an idea of what the artist's style was and whether it matched my personal idea. What I got was more than what I expected and asked for, but it pretty much hits the nail on the head on why it's of utter importance to offer or request (free) a sketch.

Because, while the first artist assured me they could get the work done quickly and I looked at their work and their style was good, the sketch they showed me was not remotely what I had in mind. Though I think that maybe my drawings might have added to that, but that's why I try to be very descriptive in the actual request and always provide references.

To help you understand, let me show you some pictures to go along with this story.

First, let me quote parts of my description and show you my drawings I made prior to all that.

image.png.4bb2d843e7bdfac4b91b5d77736dfb76.png

These are the drawings I made. Didn't spend too much time on them as it would be pointless because I'm no artist. I just wanted to have some ideas on paper.

And here's an excerpt of the request, describing the character:

Quote

The character is supposed to have a comically large helmet with a tiny body. You can draw inspiration for the design from Disney's "Marvin the Martian". I want the helmet to be based off my logo character's helmet [...] I want the body to be muscular but scrawny and tiny in proportion to the helmet [...] and "leather" wristbands. As for pants, a "leather" speedo would do. The character itself does not need to be massively detailed [...] Most of the facial expression will come from the eyebrows and eyes; the character does not necessarily need a mouth [...]

image.png.8f13269089b0ac3fe17f9a8e6cbf43e0.pngimage.png.8543fd0407575277e2266659cec51065.png

This is the helmet for reference, and Disney's "Marvin the Martian" for comparison. This will be important later.

(What I'm about to say should by no means be taken as me trying to insult or diminish their work, but I tend to speak freely. It's splendid work regardless.)

The first artist apparently ignored my descriptions both in the request and messages prior to the sketch and simply used my drawings and pictures as references. While it is a nice drawing, it's by no means what I requested. I did not ask for shoes and the body was too bulky, and it all looked kinda... off. It just didn't click with me at all.

image.png.36e5c614857f2d18bfa30734bd03e5fd.png

BUT... it highlights the fact why sketches are vital. I did the same thing with all the artists I hired for my emotes/logos. They were always happy to provide a free sample. However, this case was seemingly a matter of an artist getting in the way of themselves in the form of going strictly off a client's references, too afraid to do their own thing. Which I understand plays an important role in business, but you can always make 2 sketches if need be; 1 strictly based on client's ideas, and 1 based on your own interpretation.

However, I hope I'm not too much to blame here as I did tell them to draw the character in their own style and in a way what they thought I wanted it to look like. Lovely work, but quite far off the mark of what I was going for.

Now, let's get to the creamy part of this story and my "magical moment".

I later got another offer by an artist that had me intrigued after visiting their profile and checking out their work. A little bummed out from before, I was starting to doubt whether I put too little money on the table (I offered $100 or more, depending on work and quality) and didn't exactly have much hope in getting what I wanted. But I messaged them anyway and asked for a free sample.

They were kind enough to offer such, but since it was late at night, I told them I'd check out the sketch in the morning and wished them goodnight.

And when I woke up, I booted up my PC and decided to go check my Fiverr inbox. I was not prepared for what I got. That right then, that was my little magical moment. When you just click with someone...

Here's that absolute beauty of a sketch:

image.png.8c990341de7fe6ce19c0919d1b19dec1.png

That right there is an artist who understands me. Who seemingly knew exactly what I was going for. This... this is way beyond what I expected I would get. Reminder that this is a mere sketch, a very good one, no doubt, but that's not even the finished product. Now, just imagine the magic this artist will be able to produce on-screen with a finished cartoon version. Absolute madness!

Not only do the proportions match, but they actually did include the leather wristbands (more like armguard, but I actually like it better!) and the speedo. A few adjustments will be made along the way, but all in all... it's just bloody gorgeous!

I'm still so in awe that I felt the urge to share this with you, and I hope you can appreciate the art for what it is. I will definitely proceed with this artist and they will get a tip from me after it's all done.

I hope my little experience was at least somewhat entertaining to read, and maybe, if you are an artist yourself, it gave you a good perspective from a client's side of things and why you should always offer a free sample sketch. It's probably common knowledge, but still. I wanted this post to emphasize on such.

Thanks for reading and take care.

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11 minutes ago, captain_warlord said:

why you should always offer a free sample sketch.

Hm... This is a hard one. 

Why should I (as a writer/artist/etc.) do even something quick for free? I do offer sample packages on some of my gigs that cost very little (I'm a writer) but I don't ever, EVER write even a line for free. (which, yes, has lost me some orders, but...)

The main thing is - even if you don't like the first sketch (which, is very fair), the person still worked on it, right? It's worth at least, say, 5 bucks. 

I understand that such thing can add up quickly if you run into loads of 'bad eggs' but in my experience no one likes to do extra work for nothing. If there's no guarantee that the order will be made, why would they put more than a small amount of effort into something free? (unfortunately, your heart might be in the right place, but 10 others' won't. And they will mercilessly scam new OR old sellers who don't think twice about providing free work...) 

That being said, asking for a sketch (paid) is a good idea - great, even. You never know if the artist is what you're looking for and sometimes styles just don't match up and that's perfectly fine. Now, a few times I've encountered with artists who offered free sketches but I always tried to place an order (or ask for a custom offer) right away. I just don't think anyone should work for free, even if it's just five minutes of work. Imagine, if I had 10 people a day who wants a 5 minute sample... That's nearly an hour gone! 

In the end, I realize that if the sellers themselves are fine with it, it's okay - but I don't quite agree I guess. 

Might be because I've been scammed a few too many times, though!

(and, if you think about it from a different perspective... aren't free samples of any kind a way of making sure you don't get a bad review if the buyer doesn't like your work?)

 

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7 minutes ago, katakatica said:

If there's no guarantee that the order will be made, why would they put more than a small amount of effort into something free?

That's why I always politely ask for a very rough sketch, and even mention that I don't want them to put in more than 5 minutes.

And $5 per sketch, according to you... for someone with a $100 budget, that's a lot to account for, especially when you want to compensate the artist adequately for their work. But I also don't just ask everyone to draw me a sketch. I check out their work first, and, if I like their style, I ask if I could get a rough sample (and most already offer beforehand).

I get that "doing free work" is not always feasible, but it's imo part of business expenses, similar to marketing. It's kinda the same in grocerie stores offering you a free sample of cheese/sausage/whatever.

It's not that I wouldn't want to compensate them for a sketch (I do in the form of tips), but compare it to this: Imagine you are in a restaurant and they offer you 3 samples of wine. And they expect you to pay for every single one, even if they taste awful and are not at all what you are looking for in a wine. That just creates a bad feeling for the customer about the entire establishment instead of just the wine selection, which is why this is not done anywhere, at least not to my knowledge (unless it's expensive stuff).

17 minutes ago, katakatica said:

Might be because I've been scammed a few too many times, though!

Yeah, I'd say you seem biased on the matter. Though I fully understand your side of the story. Keep it simple, that's why I never ask for a full sketch.

18 minutes ago, katakatica said:

(and, if you think about it from a different perspective... aren't free samples of any kind a way of making sure you don't get a bad review if the buyer doesn't like your work?)

Yeah, exactly. It's premature selection. You filter out beforehand so that there's no reason to have a bad experience for either one.

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12 hours ago, captain_warlord said:

And $5 per sketch, according to you... for someone with a $100 budget,

See, I totally understand, especially with all the people who lie about their work on here. I can also understand it as a quick test to make sure they understand your pitch. I think partially where I'm coming from is that (for me, personally), suck a quick sketch - or say, in my 'world' it'd be like a paragraph of writing - won't REALLY show someone's talent unless they actually overdeliver? 

Art takes time and I'm not sure it can be judged based on something so rough (unless it really is just to test whether they get you or not.

13 hours ago, captain_warlord said:

It's kinda the same in grocerie stores offering you a free sample of cheese/sausage/whatever.

Freelancing, to me, is quite different from that. I mean, the market is very different, and we already have portfolios to show what we do, right? If everyone is actually being sincere, I just don't see the point in having to do extra custom work. 
BUT, I would actually be very curious to hear some other people's opinion on this, maybe I really am being a bit biased! 

13 hours ago, captain_warlord said:

Yeah, exactly. It's premature selection. You filter out beforehand so that there's no reason to have a bad experience for either one.

I think the risk of this is that you only sell to people who will give you five stars (or at least, you think so), which COULD kind of be viewed as scheming, though I guess that's more people who do entire orders that way, not just sketches. To some extent, I see the point, too, just yeah. 

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15 minutes ago, katakatica said:

I think partially where I'm coming from is that (for me, personally), suck a quick sketch - or say, in my 'world' it'd be like a paragraph of writing - won't REALLY show someone's talent unless they actually overdeliver? 

You see, this is because you look at it from your perspective as a writer, which, sorry to be so blunt, is irrelevant in this context as this post is about art and is aimed at artists. To help you better understand my point:

Artwork and writing are two very different mediums. I can inspect the work of a writer and get a pretty good idea of what they can do. Same applies to the artist.

However, the main difference lies in this one simple fact: When you write the word "owl", everyone will have a pretty basic idea of what an owl looks like. But there will be differences, yet they won't matter because it's only a word, and everyone will have their own interpretation of said owl in their minds, no matter how many times you write it for different people.

With an artist, this basic idea applies in a different way and on a whole other level. My interpretation could be much less, or much more, detailed in my head than the artist's. The wings might be different, the feathers might look different, etc. Point is, while the subject of interpretation is nothing but an owl, the variances can be far too great, and thus a sketch is necessary to get on the same page.

In your world, an owl is an owl. In an artist's world, every owl will look different.

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2 hours ago, captain_warlord said:

you look at it from your perspective as a writer, which, sorry to be so blunt, is irrelevant in this context as this post is about art and is aimed at artists

Artist here 🙋‍♀️ 
What takes 5 min for a sketch might take hours even just thinking in my head of a concept. Did I draw for 5 min? Yes I did a 5 min sketch, but in reality it took let’s say 3 hours because it still took time to come up with an idea and how I will make it look according to the brief and how to execute. 
I am ok with people making sketches if they want to but for me concept takes the most amount of time, drawing is fast if you have a skill. But I’m not giving free sketches because I simply don’t have enough time for that and I am just upfront honest with my clients if I think that I can not invision their idea . The first person definitely couldn’t grasp your idea but still decided to give it a try and that’s his choice to spend his time rather than just saying no 

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On 7/29/2022 at 7:23 AM, mariashtelle1 said:


What takes 5 min for a sketch might take hours even just thinking in my head of a concept. Did I draw for 5 min? Yes I did a 5 min sketch, but in reality it took let’s say 3 hours because it still took time to come up with an idea 

EXACTLY! The OP seems to ignore completely this aspect! Non mentioning that to arrive at the point of making a sketch in 5min, a seller has been through years and years of practice and studies. And most buyers choose to ignore that for some reason.   

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7 minutes ago, roxana_nesfintu said:

EXACTLY! The OP seems to ignore completely this aspect! Non mentioning that to arrive at the point of making a sketch in 5min, a seller has been through years and years of practice and studies. And most buyers choose to ignore that for some reason.

I don't get your point. Fiverr is a site for freelancers to offer a service. It goes without saying that, when someone wants to buy something on here, a certain skill level is required in order to make a sale. Why would I ever pay for someone who needs hours to come up with a basic concept for a sketch? Especially with concept material at hand? There's a reason why one doesn't always pick the cheapest offer available. You get what you pay for.

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It might be better if Fiverr allowed payments <$5 (eg. $1 or $2) just for rough samples (depending on the type of work and how long it takes - if it would take quite a long time it would cost more). That way sellers could get paid for samples that are done for free currently.

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1 hour ago, captain_warlord said:

I don't get your point. 

The point is that you sound pretty selfish to come in the forum to address sellers statements as "the importance of (FREE) sketches" ... important for who???? for you only.

This whole thread sounds to me like: "it's important for you to offer free work because sometimes me as a buyer I might incur in sellers that don't get my idea straight away, therefor is good for you to make the concept beforehand for free so I can choose the best one without spending any extra money!" paragraphs and paragraphs on how could we make things easier FOR YOU by adding some extra free work ON US, basically!

Like seriously? you yourself admitted that you are picky and indeed you chose just a couple of them to test, really you could't spend 5/10$ each for that test? You are so picky and expect so much but so short handed?

And to be fair I don't even think there are many experienced artists that agree to do free sketches and "tests", most of them know their value and won't feel the need to try to "convince" you by doing free work in advance (there are so called REVISIONS for that). They'll have so many clients waiting to work with them that your requests would most likely just be ignored. 

  

Edited by roxana_nesfintu
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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, roxana_nesfintu said:

The point is that you sound pretty selfish to come in the forum to address sellers statements as "the importance of (FREE) sketches" ... important for who???? for you only.

Yes. As a buyer, that is obviously my perception. And if you want to make a sale, then sometimes it comes with a little extra effort that is just part of business, depending on the industry you are in.

Even in software development, we offer free "sketches" to clients in the form of either paper concepts or PowerPoint presentations. We don't charge for those, they are part of "business expenses". It's a trade-off one has to live with in order to attract customers.

5 hours ago, roxana_nesfintu said:

Like seriously? you yourself admitted that you are picky and indeed you chose just a couple of them to test, really you could't spend 5/10$ each for that test? You are so picky and expect so much but so short handed?

I mean, you are being pretty rude for no reason. I was merely showing how much of a difference a sketch can make, and how it can affect sales. For the record, I no longer order from artists who do NOT offer a free sketch, simply because I've been burned before. I simply ask as a courtesy instead of demanding them, and 99% of the time I get them offered beforehand anyway. So who are you to presume you know what my intention was? Especially when it's basically industry standard.

5 hours ago, roxana_nesfintu said:

And to be fair I don't even think there are many experienced artists that agree to do free sketches and "tests", most of them know their value and won't feel the need to try to "convince" you by doing free work in advance (there are so called REVISIONS for that). They'll have so many clients waiting to work with them that your requests would most likely just be ignored. 

Funny you should mention that, since I've ordered from Top Sellers before in the same way, and they ALSO offer a sketch every single time. Oh, and I just remembered: I even got offered free samples by people doing voice work. What do you have to say about that, hmm?

And even if I consult with a tattoo artist in the actual world, I also get offered a free sample sketch. Like, seriously, what world are you living in? Getting all worked up and personal just because you disagree with something that can otherwise be considered industry standard.

And as a footnote just for you: Ever considered that this is not about "convincing" the customer, but is in fact a sales strategy?

Edited by captain_warlord
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11 hours ago, captain_warlord said:

Oh, and I just remembered: I even got offered free samples by people doing voice work. What do you have to say about that, hmm?

Are you sure they were offering custom samples of voice over created from your specific script? I don't think I've seen any gigs offering that and I don't remember any VO seller offering that in messages. Are you sure they weren't just pre-done samples that they had that weren't done for your script?

One issue is that doing this may not work well for all service types and also the sellers you don't order from will have been working without payment.

For the person whose drawing you didn't like enough you could probably have asked them to draw it differently in the actual order and then asked for revisions if it still wasn't what you wanted. You'd said "I want the helmet to be based off my logo character's helmet" - and he drew a helmet very similar to the helmet in your image (which I assume was your logo character's helmet), when the one you chose differed more from that. It might still be worth making a $5 order from 2 or more sellers just for the rough versions.

Also if people are going to give free custom samples out they should really add a watermark to make it harder to use without paying. Neither of the sellers in your examples did that.

Edited by uk1000
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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, uk1000 said:

Are you sure they were offering custom samples of voice over created from your specific script? I don't think I've seen any gigs offering that and I don't remember any VO seller offering that in messages. Are you sure they weren't just pre-done samples that they had that weren't done for your script?

Yes, I am sure. The lady was a Top Level Seller at the time and my script had like 15-20 lines, and I asked if she could voice one line in a specific tone to see if it matched what I was looking for. She told me she does not normally do this, but then not only provided me with a free sample, but also added another free take of specific lines when she delivered the order. I've used her voice lines for some of my stuff.

I've had people doing scottish accents offer me a free sample voice line, too. It's less common in this field for a reason, but it does exist. And most, at least in my experience, are happy to provide when asked.

39 minutes ago, uk1000 said:

One issue is that doing this may not work well for all service types and also the sellers you don't order from will have been working without payment.

I am aware. And I agree. But I've also already explained this to a previous poster; this post is aimed at artists and is about art, it's basically standard practice as far as I'm aware.

39 minutes ago, uk1000 said:

You'd said "I want the helmet to be based off my logo character's helmet" - and he drew a helmet very similar to the helmet in your image (which I assume was your logo character's helmet), when the one you chose differed more from that.

Aye. They sent me that sketch 30 minutes later. Yet, the main difference between the two sellers was the fact that seller 1 tried to constantly pressure me into placing an order while saying the whole time "sample is free", while seller 2 actively asked me more questions and then, after they sent me the sketch, simply added a "here ya go. if willing to proceed, let me know." Communication also matters, but that's a topic for another time.

Both sellers got the same information prior, for both parties I emphasized on "cartoonish". Seller 2's version of the helmet isn't even that different. Seller 1 just made a direct copy of that helmet when I explicitely told them to simply use my images as references and not as templates. Seller 2's version is a cartoonized version of my logo's helmet, which is what I was looking for, and the feather garment plume isn't even that far off, it's just from a different angle. That was the original idea of the logo anyway, but I scrapped that later and went for a more "metal" look for the sake of reduced complexity.

Here's the earliest concept from back then, and the free sample sketch I got from the artist:

image.png.f908d9f847d93144da0ec0b9339a7da6.pngimage.png.6779e9cdee1997677cb8b075d379f4ce.png

Here's the free sample sketch for 1 of my emotes, and the actual emote:

image.png.403c90bbb6a964c1ca6bf01f04881f33.pngimage.png.c7530e0af3b03852624717460a36e7c7.png

 

Like I said, I've never had anyone NOT offer free samples before placing an order with them. And I'm glad they do. Has made it a lot easier to decide and not waste anyone's time. And for the record, I'm really grateful when I get them, but I also carefully select beforehand and usually end up with 1 or 2 artists to choose from. And no one has ever asked me to pay for them. I've had exactly 1 person decline a free sketch in the ~2 years I've been coming to this site.

39 minutes ago, uk1000 said:

Also if people are going to give free custom samples out they should really add a watermark to make it harder to use without paying. Neither of the sellers in your examples did that.

Yeah, I'd have no problem with that. But I've also been shown that watermarks don't really help against the truly dedicated scammers... if that is an artist's main concern. I've had people re-post my own emotes, that I had commissioned and added a watermark to before I posted them, without the watermarks. PhotoShop's a b****.

However: If all you see is malice, malice is what you'll find, and you'll find it everywhere. Not everyone's out to scam you. Some people just like reassurances. Especially when everyone's poorer these days.

Edited by captain_warlord
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