This piece follows on from my Free Art post from a couple of days ago. There is a middle road between having to scavenge public domain libraries, edit the art and then use it, and paying more for a single piece of art than you would ever hope to make from your book.
This doesn’t have to be an either/or choice. You may want to pay for some iconic art but not pay for a book full. This middle way is stock art.
I mentally see two different classes of stock art. The first is the stack it high, sell it cheap stock art on DriveThruRPG (link goes to the stock art category). The stock art category on DTRPG used to be a disorganised mess, but it is getting much better and I hold out great hopes for the promised redesign and reorganisation. I used stock art from DTRPG in Navigator RPG from The Forge Studios and I was very happy with it.
If you time it right, there are frequent sales of stock art. You can pick up art for as little as a dollar an image.
What I like to do is lay out the document and drop grey blocks where I need the art to go. I can then list out the art, I know what is on each page, and I can find the piece that fits the subject matter. Leaving art to the end means that the time lag between the expense of buying the art and getting the PDF or book in the store is relatively short.
Stock Photography and Illustrations.
There is another source(s) of amazing art. Sites like Adobe Stock, Shutterstock and 123rf, amongst others carry more than just photographs of call centre staff and fountain pens.
Take this image by Tithi Luadthong. On 123rf it costs £7 (4 credits). On Shutterstock the same image is £5.80, on Adobe Stock Photo the same image is £5.99.
Those are the prices if you are buying just 5 pieces of art. The more you buy the cheaper they get.
I think that the best option is to pick one or two artists and then buy up all the art for a project, at once from just those illustrators. It means that you have a consistent look across all your pages, and it makes financial sense to buy up the art as one bundle. A really wise creator would say to themselves, I am going to write X adventures in this series, each one is using Z pieces of art. So I will buy up X * Y pieces, or credits all at once.
Just for fun, go to one of these stock photography sites and search for Fantasy Monster or your genre of choice.
When most of us start out, we tend to try and do everything for free because we have no budget. That is where I started. We create using free resources, free software, free art. We also tend to massively under price our work. That kind of makes sense. If you do not factor in your time, selling even a single 99¢ adventure is 99¢ profit (actually it is more likely to be 69¢ after DTRPG take their cut). If you are ‘making money’ then there is no driving force to make you price things higher.
Tomorrow is video blog day. I will pick up this subject about pricing in the video blog. That is something I know people agonise over, how much to charge, whether to charge and so on.
My YouTube channel is here… https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ6hd-qgQ0Y-PMEFHyRaKnA