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Journal History

Pricing Photomanipulations

Fri Sep 11, 2015, 8:00 PM by artorifreedom:iconartorifreedom:

Art in the Professions

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Art in the Professions Week!

My name is Orina and I am a digital artist, mainly photomanipulator. I've been working commercially with clients for a few years and I've been often asked, by fellow photomanipulators, how do I price my works. Many of the people who are just starting getting involved with selling their skills, feel a bit lost when it comes down to pricing their work, so I'd be happy to shed some light on this field, based on my personal experience so far.

But let's start from the beginning. What is photomanipulation?

Photomanipulation is the application of image editing techniques to photographs in order to create an illusion or deception (in contrast to mere enhancement or correction), through analog or digital means.source: Wikipedia


Promises by clair0bscur Planet Earth 2 Version by lauraypablo Boat of Dreams by JennyLe88 Les Fleurs du Mal by Aegils The horsemen of the Apocalypse by itsbxd

Hence, two or more photographs are required for a piece of art to be considered a photomanipulation. Those photographs can be own resources or they can be used with permission from their rightful owners - in such case, they're called stock images.

Many people believe that just because a photomanipulation is based on "simply" editing some images, the cost for a commission will be a lot lower compared to the cost for, let's say, a digital drawing made from scratch. That might be the case sometimes, but there are many factors to take under consideration when setting prices for photomanipulations, and generally your works.

To the point, I'd say that it all comes down on how do you price your time, actually. So it's always good to keep in mind:

The source of the stock images.

Stock images are easy to find around the web, both free and pay-to-use. When you have to pay for a stock photo to use, you can either ask the client to buy it for you, or you can buy it yourself and include the cost in the final price. In case you have already purchased a certain stock image by yourself before you have been appointed with the job and then decide to use it, I would recommend that you also include the cost of that image in the final price as well. It's up to you, but keep in mind that when setting a price for your work, you have to make sure you cover all the possible costs of getting the right stock photos.

The complexity of the work.

A photomanipulation is often a lot more complex than it seems. It may involve a lot of editing as well as digital painting too. It's only logical that you should charge less for a simple image of, let's say, 2-3 stock photos and some coloring, and more for an image with more stock photos and even some painting. Complex works obviously take more time to make.

  • Note: Some artists charge different between editing stock images and painting instead. For example, you want to make the hair of your model. You can either use one (or more) stock images or you can paint it. Most will think that painting it is more complex, but maybe it's more time-consuming to try and find the right stock and then edit it. In the end, it all comes down to how much time you spend on this specific work. So if painting some details comes easier for you than finding stock and editing, then you should probably charge less, or vice versa.

The time you spend working on it.

Is it something you can make in a couple of hours or does it take, let's say, 8-9 hours? Many people price their work per hour, for example $20/hour. There are various costs out there, like $5/hour, $10/hour, $25/hour and so on.. It depends on how comfortable you feel to charge your invested time. Especially in photomanipulation, your "work time" should also include the time spent in searching for the right stock images. This may seem easy or fast, but sometimes when the job appointed is extremely specific, finding the right stock pictures can be very time-consuming.  

  • Note: If you're not known yet, you should start from a low rate till you get a little more experienced with working with clients. But remember: your time is your time, so don't get way too low on prices.

The purpose of the deal.

What does the client want the work for? Do they want it on a canvas on their living room wall to admire or do they want it as a book cover - thus making money from it? Many artists charge more when the work will be used commercially and the client will make profit out of it. Such uses include cd/dvd/book covers, posters for a purpose with paid tickets (e.g. a mgic show or a concert) and any other way the client will make money using your work as advertisement. As a photomanipulator, you should always notify your stock providers of such use. Some providers require a fee in order for your work to be used commercially twice: a) you selling the artwork itself AND b) the client selling a product using this specific artwork as advertisment. :buymyprints:

  • Note: If the work is to be used commercially by the client, many people request a copy or more of the final product featuring their artowork (e.g. a book, a dvd, free pass on the concert you made the work for, etc.). Note that maybe even some stock providers may request one or two copies of the product in which your art is used. You can either reduce the final cost in exchange for a couple of free copies, or request some copies anyway without an impact on the price. It's all up to you and how comfortable you are towards your client. Note that maybe even some stock providers may request one or two copies of the product in which your art is used.


Some people, including myself, charge less when making covers for the internet (e-books/e-cds/music track covers for i-tunes etc.) than they charge for printed books/cds/dvds. The reason is that since the client doesn't feel comfortable to publish their work printed yet, or they may don't have the budget to do so, I don't want to push them on a price which may seem unaffortable.

  • Note: If it's a printed work, it's usually good to ask for the print run (how many copies of their work will be published). If it's a small run, let's say 100 copies, you could charge less than, let's say 500 copies. There's always the case that the client may start with a small print run, and in the long run publish more copies. In such case, you have the possibility to either get paid a higher price once, or get paid less and receiving extra fee when the new print run will be puplished, or receiving a percentage % on every (agreed) amount of copies being published.

Your client's budget.

It's good to ask how much they're willing to pay for your work and always be ready to negotiate. Also, when giving your price, state that you're open to negotiation - even if the price seems big, they may be able to make a deal with you. Be sure to discuss beforehand any issues with paid stock images and include them during the negotiation. You understand that it won't be nice if your client and you decide on a price and after a while you come to them with extra costs because of stock images. :O

  • Note: Make offers in order to make your price appealing. For example, you can offer to make the back cover of the book or the booklet of the cd for free (included in the price) or for a small fee.

New or old work?

I don't think if that's important to other artists, but me, when I'm asked to sell a work that already exists in my gallery, I usually charge less than when I'm ordered to make a new work. The reason is, I have made the works in my gallery for my own satisfaction, I don't find it to be the same when I spend my time working on something they tell me how/when to do. There are artists that sell all works, old and new alike, at the same price because they see it as "time invested in that work". There's no right and wrong, it's simply a matter of personal choice.

General advice

  • If you're just starting with this, don't be too picky with prices. Be flexible and negotiable, so that you get more deals and be more known. But also don't give out your work almost freely, it's your own time invested after all and it's also bad for bussiness, especially for people whose budget rely on selling their artistic skills.
  • You can take a look at the forums, under Job Services to get an idea of what prices are around the market. You can also search under Job Offers. Some clients there state their prices. Have a look at the comments to see if the artists are generally approving such prices. And of course that's a great way to pick some new commissions too.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you find yourself stuck in making decisions about pricing your art, don't hesitate to ask someone for advice. Pick one or more people who you trust artistically and/or professionally and ask them any questions you may have. Most people are willing to help, because we all start from scratch at some point. Nothing to be afraid or ashamed of.
  • In order to sell your art and/or your skills, search the web for all those different sites available. For example, besides Deviantart, a nice place to sell prints of your work is Society6. Some interesting sites to pick commissions are PeoplePerHour and Freelancer while you can make your premade covers available for sale on The Book Cover Designer. There are countless options out there, for anyone who wants to get started with selling their art. :typerhappy:

I hope you will find this article, as well as all articles from the Art in the Professions Week quite useful. I wish you good luck and I hope the best for you and your art! :dalove:


Orina Kafe
Artist | Hobbyist | Digital Art


C o p y r i g h t . N o t i c e


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arifmere123x Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
hi please watch me-?
EloieeStock Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2015  New Deviant
Thanks for the fave :hug:
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Missrosea22 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for Llama Hug I give you one llama too !
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jose86tf Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thanks a lot for the fav:) i must to say that your art is amazing!!!
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morphine16 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2015
I'm in love with your gallery <3 You're so talented!
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Happy Birthday
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Agent36496 Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015   Writer
Happy Birthday :cake: Hope you're doing well :hug:
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Happy birthday! :hug:
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caddman Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015  Professional General Artist
  ...I hear its your birthday and want to to wish Have a great one...:iconcakelickplz::party:

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maiarcita Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015
:iconeufrosis:Happy Birthday!!:iconeufrosis:
I wish you a lovely day:iconlovepowerplz:

This is a little present...
Run by maiarcita
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