How Much Does a Game Character Design Cost in 2024?

If you want to make a game, especially if you’re going to make a good one, you’ll need a well-thought-out game character design. How do you start? First, let’s start with the icon. Game icon design is important because it affects everything from how a game plays to whether people download it. The design aims to quickly show what the game is about and draw in players. One interesting point is that the character on a game’s icon is usually the first thing that catches a player’s eye in app stores, especially for games in the same genre. 

Character design pricing in 2024

The cost to create a game character in 2024 can range from $100 to $40,000, depending on how complex the character is.

Here’s a look at what affects the cost:

  • Characters that are more detailed and complex are pricier.
  • Experienced designers or well-known studios will likely charge more.
  • Characters for big-budget games usually cost more than those for smaller indie games.
  • Whether your mobile game ASO is optimized.
  • Characters important for marketing or branding might need extra investment to appeal to the audience.

There are also character-making websites where you can build a character by using prototypes, but the quality of the result is incompatible with what designers and artists may offer you. 

How much is the cost to create a game character in 2024

Character Design Pricing

Generally, 3D character design services are more expensive than 2D due to their complexity and the additional dimensions involved.

The type of animation — whether it's 2D or 3D — greatly influences the price.

 Aside from the animation type, the complexity of the design also affects the price. 

A simple character design commission price is less costly, while a complex character design requires more detail and time, and is priced higher. Additionally, the style of the character — be it casual, realistic, or stylized — also impacts the cost. 

The region is another crucial factor in pricing. For instance, an artist price sheet in North America might charge between $80 and $100 per hour depending on what you want to draw. In Eastern Europe, the rate drops to about $40 to $50 per hour, while in countries like India or Pakistan, it might range from $20 to $40 per hour.

Difference between 3D and 2D character design services pricing

2D Character Design Price Lists

When planning the budget for 2D character design, the 2D character development cost can vary widely depending on the type and complexity of the character.

Based on examples, here is a breakdown of the typical 2D game character artist price list:

  • 1

    Character Concept Art

    Preliminary illustrations used to define and explore the visual style, appearance, and personality of a character in development. For example, creating skeleton concept art for the card game Hero Academy 2 can take between 4 to 20 hours, costing anywhere from $100 to $1000.

  • 2

    Vector Character

    Is created using vector graphics software, allowing for art that can be scaled indefinitely without quality loss, typically characterized by smooth, clean lines. Fanart of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat may require 3 to 15 hours of work, with prices ranging from $80 to $600.

  • 3

    Casual Character

    Simplified, stylized designs suitable for games and media targeting a broad, non-specialist audience. Characters like a 2D Panda from Bubble Panda Legend: Blast Pop or a pink-haired girl from a Candy Crush stylized game typically require 25 to 50 hours, costing between $1000 and $2500.

  • 4

    Realistic Character

    Are designed with a high level of detail and anatomical accuracy to appear lifelike, often used in advanced video games. Designing a 2D Warrior from the RPG Legend Of Khans involves 40 to 70 hours of work, this 2D character design cost ranges from $1500 to $3000.

2D character development cost, how much does it cost to make a 2D game character design

3D Character Design Price Lists

The pricing of 3D character creation can vary depending on the type and complexity of the character being created.

Here are some common types of 3D characters, their typical price ranges, and good character design examples:

  • 1

    Character Concept Art

    Creating a dwarf model sheet for an RPG game may take between 10 to 30 hours, with costs ranging from $500 to $1500.

  • 2

    Casual Character

    Characters designed in the Clash Royale art style for Spell Arena: Battle Royale generally require 50 to 100 hours of work, costing between $2000 and $5000.

  • 3

    3D Realistic Character

    Developing 3D pilot models for Flying Tigers: Shadows Over China takes about 70 to 130 hours, with a price range of $3000 to $6500.

  • 4

    Stylized Character

    Survival game characters like Coreborn might need 60 to 120 hours of work, with costs ranging from $2500 to $6000.

If you need more information, you can read how much a 3D model cost from our other article.

3D character development cost, how much does it cost to make a 3D game character design

Factors Affecting the Character Design Cost

The cost of character development images creation process can vary based on several factors:

  • 1

    Complexity of the Design

    The more detailed the character design, the higher the cost. This complexity often correlates with the overall complexity of the game itself, whether it’s a large-scale AAA title or a smaller indie project. For more details on indie game costs, see how much does an indie game cost to make.

  • 2

    Experience Level of the Designer

    Experienced professionals or those with a well-established reputation typically charge more due to their expertise and ability to create best character designs of all time.

  • 3

    Timeframe and Deadlines

    Tight deadlines can drive up the cost as designers may need to work faster or prioritize one project over others, potentially requiring overtime or additional resources.

  • 4

    Platform (PC or Mobile)

    The platform for which the game is being designed can also impact the cost. Whether it's mobile game development costs or a PC — designing characters for mobile games might involve different considerations and budget constraints, particularly in terms of graphic requirements and the size of the audience.

What factors influence the character development images creation process

Character Design Salaries and Earnings

What is freelancer character designer hourly rate, how much does a freelancer character designer earn per year

Freelance Character Designers

Freelancing in character design offers a wide range of earning potentials, largely depending on the designer’s skill level, reputation, and ability to market themselves. Freelancers typically charge either by the hour or per project. Hourly rates can vary significantly; for example, in North America, it is $20-25 an hour. 

In regions like Eastern Europe or South Asia, hourly rates might be lower, $15 per hour. The flexibility of freelancing allows designers to take on various projects, which can increase their earnings, but it also involves the unpredictability of fluctuating workloads and client demand.

What is annual character designer hourly rate, how much does an annual character designer earn per year

Annual Salary Ranges in the Industry

How much do character designers make a year? Salaries for character designers can also vary widely based on geographic location, experience, and the specific industry sector (e.g., video games, film, advertising). 

In the United States, for instance, the annual salary for character designers can range from around $40,000 for entry-level positions to over $100,000 for senior roles. 

In Europe, salaries are generally lower but can still range between $30,000 to $80,000 annually. These figures can vary more dramatically in Asia and other regions, reflecting different living costs and industry standards.

Industry Demand and Job Stability

The demand for character designers is strongly tied to the health of the entertainment and media industries. Sectors like video games, film, and digital media continue to grow, often leading to a steady demand for skilled character designers. However, job stability can be less certain than in more traditional fields, with project-based contracts and freelance gigs being common. Some people are confused about who is a Character Designer and isn’t a Concept Artist the same thing.

Do you need to hire both? To answer this we recommend reading our article on Concept Artist vs Character Designer.

Best Practices in Character Design & Shape Theory

There are some character design principles you should follow while making one. One of the most fundamental concepts in character design that involves using various geometric shapes to show different traits about a character is called shape theory character design. For example, choosing character sheet dimensions and shapes is really important. Circles can suggest friendliness and warmth, squares can imply stability and reliability, and triangles are often associated with dynamic characters or villains due to their sharp angles.

The character design body shapes you choose can greatly affect how viewers perceive your character. Rounded shapes are generally seen as softer and safer, while angular, sharp shapes might be viewed as more aggressive or sinister. This plays a critical role in storytelling, helping to visually communicate the nature of a character at a glance.

More complex and angular designs, with different character design sheet sizes, often take longer to create and animate. As a result, these designs tend to be more expensive. The complexity means that designers and animators spend more time refining and perfecting these elements, which translates to higher production costs.

Main character design principles, shape theory character design, character design practices

FAQ

Frequently asked questions about game character design

The average cost of character design can vary widely depending on several factors, including the complexity of the design, the experience of the designer, and whether the character is 2D or 3D.

To select the right character designer, review their portfolio to match your vision, check their client reviews, discuss your project’s needs clearly, and ensure their rates and timelines fit your budget.

Spine modeling uses curves for smooth designs like in cars and architecture, while polygon modeling builds 3D shapes from polygons, suitable for detailed video games and films.

Game development is expensive because it involves many complex tasks like story writing, design, programming, and testing, all requiring skilled professionals and advanced technology. Marketing and distribution also significantly add to the costs.