This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

August 24, 2014

Designing for revisions

One of the things that separates the professional Commercial Illustrator from the amateur is the ability to make revisions.

A revision just means a change. That is, if I have drawn a cartoon scene with dachshunds running around, and my client requests that one of the dachshunds be yellow, instead of being brown. A revision does not mean a correction because I've done something wrong. If there is any kind of miscommunication, I accept responsibility right away, and fix it.

Unfortunately, for many illustrators, doing revisions can be a terrible problem. It can be just a matter of artistic temperament, as some artists hate to see their masterpiece *ruined* by a client who is changing their mind. Or it could be a physical difficulty, as the media that they have chosen, or how they are using it, doesn't lend itself to changes. In the computer graphics world, there are many ways to do construction, but best practice is always to allow changes to be made as easily as possible. And believe me, if you don't know the software you're using, and put the design together with what I call *bailing wire and scotch tape*, even the smallest revisions can be extremely difficult.

Many of my clients have worked with temperamental, argumentative, illustrators. I can usually feel them tensing up when they ask for a change, or a revision from me. So I can understand. And I am quick to assure them that revisions are no problem. But it's important for me to clarify expectations.

I charge by the hour. Unlike my high school teacher, I don't charge for genius. I charge for work. And so each project is quoted before I begin. And before I even submit a rough sketch, I write out exactly what I understand the assignment to be. I'm sometimes surprised how much time that takes, but it's part of the job. I clarify if the dogs are to be dachshunds, about how many, what the background should be, that sort of thing.

I do the final artwork in Adobe Illustrator. I remind my clients that small revisions, like changing the color of one of the dogs, is easy, but large revisions, like making all of the dachshunds horses, for example, isn't very easy. And really, changing color just takes a few seconds in Adobe Illustrator, if you've done the construction correctly (best practice with vectors). And my clients have all been reasonable enough to know that if they change something major, like dachshunds to horses, I will have to charge extra for that. And I do. Not a lot, I don't gouge people for making revisions, I know that it's part of the process.

Designing for revisions is as reasonable as carrying your umbrella in London. If may not rain, but it probably will. It's good to be prepared!

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