Category: Custom Graphic Art

A Graphic Art Bright Spot

Tizzie, a custom book cover by professional graphic artist D. L. Keur

Tizzie by P.D.R. Lindsay

It’s rare I get a public acknowledgement of my grapic art work. I get heaps of praise, via phone and email from the happy client, but rarely am I mentioned publicly. That’s as it should be, for no other reason than, honestly, the product the graphic art advertises is the important focus. Today, I received an email from George J. Berger, author of South of Burnt Rocks, West of the Moon.Burnt Rocks book cover for South of Burnt Rocks, West of the Moon, a historical novel by G. J. Berger He informed me that another client, P.D.R. Lindsay, had received a review of one of her excellent books, Tizzie, and the reviewer loved the cover. Both George and P.D.R. have always been very public in their support, and I thank them. Thanks also to the reviewer, Louise E. Rule of The Review. I’m glad you liked it!

Custom Graphic Art

Custom Graphic Art—creating unique artwork just for you.

The high points for those of us who prefer bullet-points:

  • Custom graphic artwork means that artwork is unique, created just for your project.
  • Custom graphic art is more expensive than pre-made art or stock imagery.
  • There is a process, sometimes lengthy and intensive, in developing custom graphic art for a project.
  • The more time and effort it takes to create a piece of customized art, the more expensive.

Reasons to seek custom graphics:

  • Your project or message is distinctive, but nothing you see in various catalogs of stock images or pre-made artwork is suitable.
  • You have a vision of just what you want and need an artist to create it.
  • You are establishing a brand and/or trademark—a ‘look’.

The process, which can take anywhere from hours to days to months:

  • You’ll describe your needs, perhaps supplying a sample of what you seek, else requesting the artist to generate some ideas for you.
  • The artist will either create artwork based on your sample, if any, else supply rough sketches of their ideas, emphasis on rough—quickly done mock-ups of possibilities which are generated quickly with no refinement whatsoever.
  • You’ll either like or dislike the direction of the mock-ups, at which time you’ll either stay with the artist or seek a different one.
  • Once a rough idea of the artwork you want is decided upon, the artist starts creating a refined image, and details are established based upon your vision of the completed work. This is the most intense part of the project where screenshots of the image are submitted to you each major step of the way.
  • Changes occur to major elements, perhaps significant ones.
  • Once the artwork is nearing finality, small adjustments to color tones, saturation levels, and, if applicable, font sizes occur.
  • Once you are satisfied, the artwork then is detailed to its final, refined state by the artist. Once done, a proof is sent to you for approval.
  • When you approve the final proof, the artist then generates an invoice, along with the necessary file formats and various sizes you will require. Once the invoice is paid, you’ll receive the files in an agreed upon method, such as download or perhaps mailed to you on media such as a DVD. You’ll also receive any previously agreed upon licensing or copyright releases.

The price of custom graphic art:

  • First up, it’s going to take (or ‘cost’) time.
  • Pricing is done by estimate, by bid, or based on number of hours needed to finalize the project.
  • Hourly prices are $60 an hour; half that for regular clients.

Terms upon payment in full:

  • You receive the finalized artwork in appropriate, agreed upon file formats, either via electronic download from my website or via some form of media transport, such as the files burned to CD or DVD media, sent to you via USPS.
  • You receive the terms of use, any licensing agreement, model releases, and/or copyright transfers.

Custom Graphic Art, creating unique artwork just for you—the long version.

There are several reasons to contract for custom artwork, and several good ones why you should try to either create the artwork yourself, use public domain images, stock images, or find something suitable in available pre-made art collections. The main reasons why not to seek custom artwork are time and cost. Creating custom artwork takes time-yours and the artist’s—anywhere from hours to days to months, and it is also going to cost a lot more.

Sometimes, the artwork and images used on a project don’t really matter. Any common button, icon, image, or photograph will suit your purposes, so you can grab something from one of the free public domain sites without fretting that maybe millions of other people are using that same image. In fact, sometimes it’s preferable to use something that everybody recognizes…like a recycle symbol, a stop sign, or play button.

At other times, though, you will want to have something unique and distinctive, but maybe you don’t have the time, inclination, or skills to create it. That’s when you want “custom” artwork.

I do a lot of custom graphic art, but I’m rather picky about the projects I’ll take on. Your project deserves an artist’s peaked, attendent energy and interest to make it special and “just right”. I have to feel an affinity and an excitement for your project. In that way, I’m a little less “commercial” than a lot of my cohorts. Inside myself, I must immediately care about your project and the art you desire, otherwise, the ideas don’t generate themselves, and the inspiration escapes my hand. What you might get then, were I to agree to do the project anyway (which I won’t), would be less than spectacular artwork.

So, yes, I’m selective in which projects I’ll undertake.

And, no, there’s no good way of knowing if I’ll take on a project or what kind of projects I just don’t have a feel for. It just all depends…on “energy”.

I create artwork on a wave of energy that generates itself from the images I get inside my brain when you first introduce me to your project. Something gets set in motion when there’s a nick between the art you want and the artist, me. Then the work flows, and what gets created is something inspired and (definitely) unique.

Now, you won’t always like what I create on the first wave. Maybe not even on the second. But, usually, something gets sparked in the process that really suits your needs. Ultimately, if you don’t like something, that’s not a problem. I just tuck it away into my archives for use at some other time. Mostly, though, what I create on that generated wave of energy is so appropriate and project significant to you immediately give me the thumbs up to finalize the work.

That’s been my experience in doing custom work.

Prices for Custom Graphic Art

graphic art pricesUntil this year, I often did custom work “on spec”, that is, artwork for which you paid only if the work was to be used. As I’ve gotten busier and busier, I’ve tried to maintain that policy. But, now, I’ve hit a wall. I’ve run out of time, the most precious commodity in my life, so I’m sorry to say that I am no longer able to contribute time to a project without being compensated. There are just too many other projects waiting in the wings to be able to have that luxury. So, once I give you a quote or estimate on the cost, if you decide to engage my service, I will require some money down, non-refundable, in order to commence work. This payment is for the time I devote to your project, including correspondence. Remember, just you are compensated for your work (or should be) at a fair and reasonable rate, I also expect to be justly compensated for mine.

Of course, you are under no obligation to buy the artwork I create for your project, but neither may you take what I do and use it, either as an example to another artist, or for any use whatsoever. I retain all copyright and license until such time as I am paid in full for my work. If you decide that none of the artwork I generate for your project suits your needs, then you are under no obligation to pay the balance. If you decide that, yes, indeed, you want the art, then full payment is due on acceptance of the final proof, afterwhich you’ll recieve the appropriate files, terms of use, licensing agreements, model releases, and/or copyright releases.

My prices for custom artwork depend on the project and start at $30 for small, simple projects. Costs for my custom projects range in average around $300 to $1500. However, the more time-consuming and intensive the work, the more the artwork will cost. Some projects can and will cost you into the thousands if engaging a photographer and, perhaps, one or more models, is necessary. (Engaging and paying the photographer and/or models is your responsibility.)

The process of creating custom graphic art can be arduous for both of us, simply because I can’t see what you are envisioning inside your head. Then there are the numerous changes that we’ll go through once we have a design close to the one you want. This process can take weeks, so, if you are in a hurry, try public domain, stock, or one of the available pre-made art catalogs to see if there is something there which will work for you.

In truth, price all depends on the project, so do ask for an estimate. I usually come in pretty close to what I send as an estimate, sometimes lower, sometimes a bit higher. If I think the project is overrunning the estimate by more than ten percent (10%), I’ll advise you.

Response times

I usually respond within 24 hours, business days, unless somebody working on the highway cuts the DSL cable (It happens!), or a family emergency comes up. In that case, usually a nice lady named AmyV will respond to you, but it usually takes her 48 hours, business days, because she only checks my messages and email once a day.


This original of this page was created June 2012 and uploaded on November 1, 2012. This is a mobile compliant recreation of that information. Old page is located here:

Book & Article Illustration for Print & E-Publishing, Graphic Art Help

This page specifically concerns graphic art illustrations for books and articles heading for publication on paper and in e-format.

vaccination and autism campaign illustrationIf you want me to recreate your artwork, bringing it up to a quality level that will print well, send me a sample of the art.

If you want original artwork and design, you can contact me with a description of what you are looking for, the number and kind of images you need, and, if you can, something that shows the style of work you envision. State whether this is for traditional print, for electronic print, or both. Tell me if this is full color, black and white, grayscale, or limited color. Please include the concept to be illustrated and, if possible, the pertinent paragraphs of text which the image(s) will illustrate. Illustrations start at $15 USD per image.

A word about engaging your own illustrator: Most publishers secure the illustrations they want, done by an illustrator of their choice. Unless you are self-publishing, please check with your publisher before initiating contact with an artist on your own.

If you find out you should provide the illustrations, go ahead and contact me or email me to send me your illustration description(s), number of illustrations, and the related text pertaining to the illustrations. I’ll return you an estimate and, sometimes, a sample illustration so you can make a decision on whether or not you want me to go ahead with the project.

Most illustrations I do are done specifically to the client’s vision, not to mine.  In fact, there are only a couple on this page that are actually “original me” images.  Botterfly is one, and I quite like him, though he was never used for the project I created him for.

A Small Arbitrary Sampling of Illustrations I’ve Done

science fiction illustration

short story illustration

ghostly illustration

memorial illustration

slipstream illustration

Science Fiction short story illustration

short story illustration

short story illustration

memorial illustration

This is a recreation of these old HTML pages about illustration and book covers and illustrations that are no longer compliant.


Image Manipulation, Retouching, Corrections, & Clean-Up

First off, if you are trying to restore an old tin plate, don’t just scan it in and discard the tin plate. Not. No. Never. KEEP THE TIN PLATE. And, yes, it is worth taking it to a professional restorer. Tin plates have inestimable value, both, historically and sentimentally for the family. …Okay, end of lecture.


Image Resizing: REDUCING THE SIZE: $15 per image plus $2.50 for each additional size. INCREASING THE SIZE: I’ll have to see the image before I agree to try it. If successful…and I usually get excellent results, it will depend on the amount of time it takes as well as the number of tries. $30 per hour.

Everything else: $60 per hour billed in 15 minute increments. I give you and your wallet the benefit of the doubt, though, because I also figure what I think is fair for a price. That often means I’ll reduce the bill, because I’m known to be a bit too picky sometimes, and pickiness takes more time than “un-pickiness”. I recognize my own hang-ups and don’t make you pay for my ideosyncrasy.

Fun Jobs

My favorite jobs are taking photos of people who don’t want their real mug shots on the Internet and lopping off a nose, changing the jaw a bit, remolding the brows, raising or lower the cheekbones, adding or subtracting hair, making a gray-muzzle out of a 20-something and vice versa. Think I’m kidding? Nope. …And for those of you wondering, yes, me is me. I’m not afraid to show my real face to the world. It’s just too bad if it shatters the glass globe.

DO-IT-YOURSELF HINT: Photoshop by Adobe — that’s the program you need for good results doing retouching, corrections, and clean-up.  There are open source alternatives…such as GIMP. Here’s a list, but with no guarantee that the programs are any good or that they are even still available, much less available for free.  (I know GIMP is, and I know it’s a darn good program if you can’t afford an Adobe suite, so do try GIMP if you don’t want to pay anything for software):

ArtRage Freeware artistic painting program designed to provide a realistic simulation of using paint on a canvas, pen on paper, pencil on paper….
Artweaver Freeware paint program designed for creatinve painting: realistic brush simulation, artistic effects. OS: Windows.
Brush Strokes Free image editor. Supports GIF, JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF, PCX, TARGA and AVI file formats. Also: GIF animations, filters, rotations, transformations.
GIMP Freeware image editing program. The GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program suitable for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. OS: Windows, Linux, X-Windows
iMage Easy graphics editor. Supports 8, 16, 24 and 32 bit images. Supports GIF, BMP, JPG, PCX. OS: Linux and Windows
Image Enhance Free image editor for bitmap and JPEG images. OS: Windows:
ImageForge Freeware image creation and editing. Special effect filters. OS: Windows
Paint.NET Freeware paint program for Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or Server 2003. Layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and more.
Painter 25 Image editor. OS: Windows.
PhotoFiltre Image retouching program. Good filter set.
PhotoPlus 6 A free professional photo editing program.
Pixia Very nice freeware paint and image editing program for Windows.
Texture processor Free program texture creation program. OS: Windows.
Free Edition
Freeware paint program for creating images and effects.
Ultimate Paint Paint program for Windows for photo editing and image creation with support for many file formats. Freeware and shareware versions are available. Also has an excellent GIF and JPEG optimizer. Gets a lot of recommendatins.
VCW VicMan’s Photo Editor Freeware. A photo editor with intuitive skinnable interface and a variety of features. OS: Windows.

Another useful tool is a Wacom. CRITICAL are good eyes and a good computer. You are going to use ZOOM a lot. You are also going to use PAN (the little hand used to scoot and skoochy the image by under your nose, your face glued to the monitor) ;).


These are highly miniaturized to save page load

CD cover back

LB Back Cover of his CD album
raw 1 raw 2

From this.

Sometimes people send me images to use that are very bad “Instramatic” snap shots. The image below the CD started as one of those. The group’s name was Vertigo Haze, so I used that idea in creating something that would pass for the cover of a CD for them.

This is the image after I manipulated it.

This was a complete image manipulation, including adding and designing the hair, from a very bad cam shot. I have to dig through some old drives to find the original cam shot, but if you know anything about candid cam shots….

This page is recreated from two old versions of archaic HTML webpages, this page and this page.

Graphic Art for Other Print Projects

…But, First, a Word about Pricing and Format

I used to work on the basis of the size of the image, a throw-back to the days of doing it all by hand with rulers, protractors, angles, French curves, Rapidograph pens, masking, and razor knives. With the advent of computers, especially ones capable of handling large files, that’s changed. I now base the work on both a flat rate charge and the number of hours needed to create the final image. Ultimately, this means it costs you a lot less. In fact, the better the software and hardware gets, the lower the price becomes because a lot of that gnarly work that required hours upon hours to complete has been taken over by good computers and great software tools.

Vector Imaging versus Raster Imaging

Vector images use formulaic mathematics to create lines, curves, and shapes. Raster images use pixels. A lot of advertising art and promotional artwork produced for businesses requires it to be printed in large, medium, and small formats–large meaning up to billboard size. This means the work must be a vector graphic. A relatively crisp, simple image such as this

CY logo, graphic art help, image recreation, logo recreation

is relatively easy and inexpensive to create–about $30 USD. However, an image that is very detailed will require extensive work, which means it will be extremely time-consuming to create.

Did these vector graphic art files in June 2011.They are logos recreated for the purpose of engraving. Here are some sample snips of the original files I was sent.  Below are my recreations of those old logos.

Yankee logo, snip showing part of the pixelated and fuzzy original Maine Yankee logo, snip showing part of the pixelated and fuzzy original CY logo, snip showing part of the pixelated and fuzzy original

I get quite a few requests for graphic art help to bring images up in quality, usually either because old print files need help or sketches by a client need to be rendered to professional quality print specifications.

Yankee logo, graphic art help, image recreation, logo recreation Maine Yankee logo, graphic art help, image recreation, logo recreation CY logo, graphic art help, image recreation, logo recreation

A while back, a client referred someone to me who wanted a very detailed image set recreated from poor quality samples and hand sketches. My quote, while very reasonable, was rather upsetting to the gentleman because, though he wanted vector images that would reproduce up to billboard size, he didn’t realize that it would cost him accordingly, in this case, $960 USD for one of them and $1540 USD for the other. A word to the wise: The longer it takes, the more it’s going to cost. Vector graphics cost more than rastered images when the image requires intense hours of work to produce.


Logos, Letterhead, Office Forms, Signs


I’m not a specialist in logos. Sometimes I get lucky and hit what you want right away. Other times we both get frustrated. Your best bet is to go to a graphic artist who is a specialist in logos. There are some very good ones around the Internet. Of course, they are expensive, and, of course, if you are looking for “cheap,” there are lots of “insta-logo” websites around where you can whip one out in no time.

I’ll slip some logos I’ve done in here when I get around to digging them out of the archive.  Here’s one of the latest, though:



Letterhead is a fomula, really: Take your name, address, phone number, email. Design the layout to match your business or personal persona and translate it into font, and embellishment, add logo, and you’re done. Remember you can use the footer area and, if you want to get fancier, the margins, a full bleed background, and a watermark.

Office Forms

You are usually better off doing these in Word, Excel, or Access or similar types of programs so you can change them as needed by the business. Just slip your business letterhead in on top and print your terms of service on the back. Terms of service are usually printed in small type in a color just a few shades darker than the paper color. This isn’t to drive readers crazy, though there are some unscrupulous benefits to making it difficult to read. It’s done so that the print doesn’t show through the other side of the page.

You can see one I did for The Fullington Collection below.


Vector graphics ONLY here. Your logo designer should have your master logo saved in vector format which can be shipped to any printer who can add whatever text you like. Save yourself some money and do it that way. Of course, I can do them, and charges are the same: $60/hour



Built to specifications provided by the client, this order form was originally designed to be printed by the client on standard 8 1/2 x 11 paper with 1/4 margins. It was then modified to print on 8 1/2 x 14 sized paper to allow for extensive product additions. Print-sized closeups are below this image. PRINTED BY: SELKIRK PRESS



 This page is a recreation from old, archaic, non-mobile-compatible HTML pages: brochures, graphic art for print, brochures and one-sheets, and logos, letterhead, office, forms, signs.

Graphic Art For Advertising And Promotion

General Information about Advertising and Promotional Artwork

Effective advertising and promotion relies heavily on knowing your target market and what that audience finds engaging. If you know that, then an artist can design to that audience for you. Otherwise, it’s just guess work. That said, though, sometimes pure guess work can result in something going very big. The public is not entirely predictable in what it will or won’t find appealing, so, sometimes, something completely “different” can work strong magic.


If you want me to recreate your artwork, bringing it up to a quality level that will print well, send me a sample of the art. If I think I can and want to do it, it will cost you $60 an hour.

If you want original artwork and design, send me a description of what you are looking for and, if you can, something that shows the style of work you envision.

Brochures are folded many ways, including some very unique ones. Design is critical. So is the paper you print on and how it is folded. Remember that cut-outs are always an option, too. BUT. The more unique you make it, the more expensive it is going to be to produce.


The trick is to make them so they develop your company “brand name recognition.” They should be designed to the tastes of your demographic target customer. They should be definitive and eye-catching. Otherwise, you’re wasting your advertising dollar.


Expensive — very. I have to be absolutely meticulous and the quality has to be at the extreme high-end — 4800DPI. That takes lots of resources and lots of time and care. You can request a quote, but, chances are my fees will be based on an hourly rate of $60 per hour.

Listen, if you are spending money for an ad in a glossy magazine (hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of dollars), you should use a top advertising agency’s services for the upper end, prime markets, and, for the secondary market glossies, someone in your local area where you can see the printed proofs.


Starting from scratch, not knowing your company or being able to sit down face-to-face with you to get a feel for your perspective makes doing this cold via the Internet a bit of a challenge. Chances are, you are going to have better gains by using someone physically nearby. Then you’re going to let that graphic artist deal with the magazine specs one-on-one with that magazine’s ad manager.  Remember, that artist might have to call you in for consultations about LAST MINUTE changes, and you are also going to grab proofs from the artist and from the magazine before the ad goes to print so that, if the magazine publishes something less than what your artist sent and you and your artist approved, you get your money back or another ad run free by that magazine. And, remember, an artist has a trained eye that can see flaws where you don’t.


Yeah, I do them. Mostly I work for local customers. Right up front, I don’t do “Carpet Sale” or “Blow Out Prices” ads, though. I won’t do commodity sales spreads. I do elegant, bold, startling, or outrageous eye-catchers. If you want a quote, contact me, but you should try a local graphic artist first. Ask to see their portfolio — things they’ve done for others which are similar to what your project will require.


Word to the wise: Unique, bold, targeted. I’m good at them, have a running track record of success with Verizon Information Services and some regional publications, but, again, your easiest option is using a good local graphic artist. My rates for this run either by column inch or by the hour ($60/hr). If you have a design in mind and want me to make it better, I can do that.


PULP: When building an ad for pulp, check how your image looks on halftone screen. If it doesn’t look good that way, it isn’t going to look good on pulp. Redesign it until it does look good on halftone screen. Use the fonts the publisher uses or send your fonts along. Always send a proof, and make sure you get a signature that shows they got the package.

GLOSSY: When building an ad for glossy, use the highest DPI your program and your computer can handle. Start with the absolute best quality images. Don’t forget to outline your text (see your graphics program’s help index because this isn’t “outline” like you did with a crayon when you were a kid), and send your fonts along when your send your ad in. And ALWAYS send a proof that’s exactly the quality and color accurate to what you want it to look like once published. Send it all SIGNATURE REQUIRED and KEEP THE RECEIPT.

EVERYBODY: Always good if you aren’t seasoned at this to run your ad past a professional for their opinion. Be up front and pay them that $30 they ask in exchange. Nothing worse than having something go to print and see the problem once it’s gone out to untold millions of potential customers, something that a pro could have spotted because he/she is fresh to the work and has the expertise and knowledge. (And don’t feel bad.  Even the pros miss stuff, because, yes, everyone’s eyes and brain gets stale after working on an ad or image without a break…which is usually the case since almost everything is on a “must-have-it-yesterday” deadline.)


This is a recreation from several old, defunct HTML pages, graphic art for advertising and promotion and magazine and newspaper ads.