As my freelance schedule allows I take on various private commissions from single character busts to full body character illustrations, comic or RPG style cover battle scenes, group character shots, or even large custom oil paintings. Here is an overview Step-by-Step guide walking you through my private commission process from the first contact to the final delivery of the artwork. These images come from a private commission where I was hired to illustrate two characters from a person’s DnD group.
1. Let’s Chat: Defining Your Dream Art
The process all starts when someone reaches out to me looking to have a commission created. First, we chat or have a back & forth email conversation. During this time we go over all the important details of the artwork you would like to have made. My goal in this back & forth is to define the scope of your artwork: important details, size, budget, and try to define what you want from the piece (emotionally, visually, that intangible quality); to really define your expectations. For characters, yes I want the physical descriptions, but also their personality. During this step is where you would provide reference too: such as screenshots if it says a WoW character or various shots of types of armor or specific gear. Here is the write-up I received from the commissioner of his two characters:
2. Create Agreement: Clear Communication & Expectations
Once we have all the important details agreed upon I draft up an Agreement for us. This is nothing scary. The agreement helps to ensure clear communication on both our parts, makes sure we have clear expectations, and that everyone is on the same page. When juggling multiple commissions, this serves as a reference tool for me to quickly gather all the important details for your commission. As part of this stage, the initial deposit would also be paid.
3. Let the artwork begin: Sketch Phase
First up I begin thumbnail sketching searching for the best solution to the artwork you desire. Playing around with composition, posing, design, etc. Once I have a few directions I think you will like I will refine those thumbnails to send to you to pick between. Generally, I make 1 to 3 sketches for a commission depending on the budget and scope of your commission. Once you approve a particular sketch I will make an adjustment you might request to it and then move on to the next stage.
4. Drawing & Drawing Approval
With an approved sketch in hand, I will move to rendering the actual tight detailed drawing for your commission. Depending on the scale of your commission I may also create a small color comp during this phase. Once the drawing and possible color comp are complete I would send both to you for your approval and any minor adjustments you would like made to them.
5. Painting: Bringing Your Commission to Life
Now with final approved drawing in had, I would begin painting your commission. If it’s an original oil I would transfer the drawing to the final paint surface (usually wood) and start in with oil paints. If a digital commission, I would scan in the drawing at a high resolution and then begin painting in Procreate. And I just jam along till your painting is completed.
6. Digital Approval & Final Payment Installment
With your painting completed, I would send you a low-res version for you to view and approve. If there are any last-minute adjustments you would like made I would do those here. If everything looks great and you approve the final payment installment would be due.
7. Final Delivery
With the final commission approved and full payment received I pack up the final painting to for delivery to you! This could be in the form of a high-rez digital file or perhaps a rolled canvas print or even an original drawing / oil painting. Now you just need to wait a few days for the package to arrive; then enjoy your fully custom made just-for-you artwork.