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June 16, 2021
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5 things to know about Game Art Outsourcing Studio before working with one

by Tom Safarov on 10/30/19 10:39:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Outsourcing your game art production to the external studio can be a neat time-saver, especially when your game development is on a tight deadline. However, even the best art outsourcing company cannot usually just hop on your project and adapt to your workflow right away – there is some preparatory process on the way.

Today we will talk about 5 major factors to consider in order to include the external art outsourcing studio into your existing workflow painlessly for the whole game development process.

Project Brief is everything

For the game art studio that can be overloaded with current projects in hand, it can take up to 3 full days to analyze your project and prepare the estimate even without the additional factors that can extend this process. Usually, the major factor here is the clarifying questions. This back-and-forth texting can "eat up" a lot of time and significantly tighten the initial deadline. And this is even before you get any valuable information in return, such as rates and production capabilities from your counterpart.

Therefore, the more thoroughly you prepare the project brief before approaching any game art outsourcing studio, the quicker your contractor will understand the task. And, of course, the fewer clarifying questions there will be to answer before you get the estimate.

You might have read about our estimation process earlier and already aware of our game art studio general workflow and the best practices. Now check these key pieces of information that you may consider including in your art project brief in the first place in order to get a thorough and precise estimate:

  • The short description of the game, its genre, and core mechanics;
  • The list or table with all graphical assets required for your project;
  • The resolution and/or size for each asset would be great to mention;
  • Art style references – to show the examples of visuals that you have in mind;
  • Level of detail references – add them to get a more precise estimate.
  • How would you like us to export files – do you need a specific method or you just want layered PSD files without any extra requirements?
  • Additionally for 3D art:
    • define the type of 3D pipeline needed;
    • prepare the concept-art and relevant references;
    • mention how many polygons needed for the model;
    • provide the list of all maps and the game engine;
    • if you're planning to animate the model afterward, mention which nodes will be animated or provide the rig;
    • if the model is needed for pre-rendering, then the game engine and the number of polygons aren't needed.

To make it easier, you can check our game art project brief example and use it as a reference point when presenting your projects for an estimate to your game art outsourcing partner.

Consider preparing the Style Guide if your project is large

Art Style Guide is an optional but highly desirable document to have if you are planning a long-term production with a large number of graphical assets for your game. If there are a couple of dozens or even several hundreds of characters, icons or items to draw, the Style Guide is something you really want to have before starting the actual production.

It's okay if you don't have it – most of the studios can create one on your demand. In our game art outsourcing studio we highly recommend our clients to prepare the Style Guide if there's a really big pipeline awaiting ahead. Believe me, you don't want to waste unnecessary working hours on implementing re-adjustments and redoing the art that was created without the style guide. Moreover, you can use the Style Guide later with any other contractor and be sure that all your art comes in one defined style, no matter how many different artists work on it.

The importance of NDA

Preparing a Non-Disclosure Agreement from beforehand will establish the boundaries for your contractor and protect the confidential information about your project. There are a lot of NDA samples on the Internet, but the safest way to go – is to have one drawn by a dedicated attorney who understands the specifics of your industry.

It can come in handy to check the jurisdiction of your art outsourcing partner – if it's Cyprus, you'll probably get the best UK law practices there.

Dedicated project management and adjustments

It often happens that project management is not included in the studio's rate. So be sure to ask your art outsourcing partner if their rate includes this or not. Dedicated project management and even art direction is something that the best game art outsourcing studios provide together with their services. Having the project manager paying proper attention to your project, providing your team with timely updates and implementing your feedback quickly – is a major factor that may affect the whole production workflow and the final results of the work.

It can also be useful to discuss the number of adjustments that the studio can agree to make according to your feedback without raising the price of the final art. The overall number of adjustments can be limited. However, knowing exactly what kind and how many adjustments you can expect the studio to implement way from before you start can save you from frustration and raising expenses during the production stage.

Double-check the numbers

Don't forget to check all the details mentioned in the list of assets together with sizes/resolutions and other numbers in your project brief. This will help to eliminate possible mistakes and typos that can mislead the estimation team and result in you getting incorrect rates.

We hope this short guide will be of some help to everyone considering getting a game art outsourcing studio on board with future projects!

Written by A. Safarov for RocketBrush Studio

Check also:

- our game art blog

- our game art projects

- our casual illustrations and characters

- our 3D art outsourcing services

- art outsourcing vs in-house production

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