Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving art assets.
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Zet
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Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#1 Post by Zet » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:22 pm

Hey everyone!

I've been a VN dev for 3 years now, and at first I had a lot of trouble working with artists. It was really tough to find someone reliable, and things got really messy when it came to things like royalties and character ownership. However, I started using a website last year that completely changed how I approached VN development, and I figured it's only fair I post a shoutout to it for anyone else who might find themselves in a similar situation.

http://www.skillots.com/design?locale=en

Skillots, previously known as Fast-Design, is a really big Japanese website that lets you connect with artists based in Japan and commission them for work. You're able to post estimation requests and see who applies or contact an artist directly, and most people have big portfolios that really help you make a decision. And don't let the fact that it's in Japanese deter you, the website uses translation software for basic messages or the option to pay for professional translations (about $5/paragraph, it's pretty reasonable). On top of that your initial proposal is translated into Japanese for free, so communication isn't an issue.

Most importantly, you have the ability to pay for full copyright ownership, so if you're making a free game and decide to make it commercial, or you're making a commercial game but decide to make a free chapter or something, you don't have to worry as you've got full ownership, so there's no drama.

Since last year I've got a lot of different products from the website, such as my company logo, character sprites, UI, backgrounds and I was even brought into contact with a professional animation team, it's really opened up a lot of doors for me. If you've got a budget and want to make a video game, I highly recommend Skillots.

Oh and I wasn't paid to promote the website or anything, I just figured I'd let everyone know because I haven't seen the website talked about here.

Cheers :)
Lach
Check out Max's Big Bust on Steam - http://store.steampowered.com/app/416360

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#2 Post by Biomass » Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:29 am

neat. bookmarked.

I do wonder if their business model generates any significant revenues though.

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#3 Post by Hazel-Bun » Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:46 am

Thanks for this!

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#4 Post by PurpleMind » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:10 pm

Very helpful for someone looking for artists. I am not, though. BUT I am a musician. Do you know about any website like Skillots, but musically themed? Well, does anyone know?

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#5 Post by SundownKid » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:31 pm

PurpleMind wrote:Very helpful for someone looking for artists. I am not, though. BUT I am a musician. Do you know about any website like Skillots, but musically themed? Well, does anyone know?
Skillots also handles other aspects, not just art. But there is really no point in using Skillots unless you are an actual Japanese artist/musician/etc. who only speaks Japanese wanting to be hired by westerners. For everyone else, I wouldn't expect to be hired a lot, if at all, because the rates of Skillots are too high to make using it worth it over other sites.

You could probably try Upwork, or Freelancer.com.

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#6 Post by PurpleMind » Sun Jul 10, 2016 3:32 pm

I know Freelancer, will check out Upwork for sure. Thanks a bunch.

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#7 Post by Darim » Sun Jul 10, 2016 3:40 pm

I know this site too, but this is only for games with a high budget.

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#8 Post by SundownKid » Sun Jul 10, 2016 4:46 pm

PurpleMind wrote:I know Freelancer, will check out Upwork for sure. Thanks a bunch.
Edit: Actually, I didnt realize the potential for westerners to possibly be hired by Japanese people. I thought it less likely because I am assuming there are more skilled visual novel/video game makers in Japan than there are in the west. But there could be a chance.

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#9 Post by PurpleMind » Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:38 am

SundownKid wrote:
PurpleMind wrote:I know Freelancer, will check out Upwork for sure. Thanks a bunch.
Edit: Actually, I didnt realize the potential for westerners to possibly be hired by Japanese people. I thought it less likely because I am assuming there are more skilled visual novel/video game makers in Japan than there are in the west. But there could be a chance.
Exactly. I'm not sure about their view on working with gaijins, though. I know things change - with globalisation and such - but Japan still remains a pretty much closed country in terms of sociology. Nonetheless, that's a nice perspective there.

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#10 Post by SundownKid » Mon Jul 18, 2016 1:52 pm

Okay, so I decided to take the jump and try to hire an artist on Skillots. Overall, the artist I found is great, but the site... well, that's a different matter. It's flaky beyond belief. Not only is it massively slow and laggy, feeling like something right out of the 90's, but the machine translation is horrid. I don't know why they don't just hook Google Translate into the system, because whatever translation software they are using now is lightyears behind. If you want a human translation it can cost $10 per message which is pretty ridiculous for something that would only take about a minute to do.

The rate charged by the site is also extremely high considering how poor their user experience is. Really, the only reason I'm still using it is because I found an awesome artist, because otherwise, even something like Upwork is a bajillion times better (and Upwork is pretty bad).

Tl;dr, they have made it easier to hire a Japanese artist, but they haven't simplified the process of trying to communicate with them if you don't know Japanese. I'm still not sure if I will be able to make it work. Especially with my tendency to write eloquent sentences that get mangled by translation software.

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#11 Post by PurpleMind » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:33 pm

SundownKid wrote:Okay, so I decided to take the jump and try to hire an artist on Skillots. Overall, the artist I found is great, but the site... well, that's a different matter. It's flaky beyond belief. Not only is it massively slow and laggy, feeling like something right out of the 90's, but the machine translation is horrid. I don't know why they don't just hook Google Translate into the system, because whatever translation software they are using now is lightyears behind. If you want a human translation it can cost $10 per message which is pretty ridiculous for something that would only take about a minute to do.

The rate charged by the site is also extremely high considering how poor their user experience is. Really, the only reason I'm still using it is because I found an awesome artist, because otherwise, even something like Upwork is a bajillion times better (and Upwork is pretty bad).

Tl;dr, they have made it easier to hire a Japanese artist, but they haven't simplified the process of trying to communicate with them if you don't know Japanese. I'm still not sure if I will be able to make it work. Especially with my tendency to write eloquent sentences that get mangled by translation software.
Thank you for sharing the experience. Will keep all that in mind.
Also, could you expand on why Upwork is pretty bad? As far as freelance websites go, I'm a rookie and only now am I slowly starting to look for good websites to work with clients through.

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#12 Post by Graff » Thu Jul 21, 2016 4:06 pm

I hired a Japanese artist from Skillots awhile back, thanks to the suggestion of this thread. I was able to communicate with the Japanese speaker using simple English sentences without using a human translator, and it worked out pretty well. But I suppose it really depends on the artists' English comprehension and how complex your referential details are.

I agree with SundownKid when he says the site could be a bit cloudy for Western users. And it IS quite slow, but I imagine it's because the server is Eastern side? *shrugs*

Prices, of course, vary from artist to artist, just like anywhere, but I would say the cheapest you'll get for decent anime work is 5000Yen/$50 per character, plus tax and commercial fees. You can find cheaper than that, but it's not the best work.

Fair warning, a massive percentage of the artists draw only moe characters; there is a very small amount of artists that draw mature anime styles such as Ghost in the Shell and Hellsing.

I would suggest only hiring artists with Available tagged on their profile. Some artists will have "It Depends", "Busy", and "Unavailable", but some have no tags at all. The latter makes things a little confusing because you don't know whether they are free or not.

A single artist can be listed several times under different categories, each with a different listed price if their prices aren't private. If you need sprites, I would suggest searching under the "Character" category so you can get a base price for a single full view of a character. You won't really need to search under the "Moe-style illustration" category, because you're gonna get a whole lot of that in the "Character" category anyway. If you need CG work, search under the "Illustration" category.

You can also get animation, music, and 3D modeling done as well, but it's minority compared to still artwork. I know Zet got animation work done for Max's Big Bust, but needless to say, it's a very expensive option, but by golly is the work good; they'll also provide Japanese voices for you.

Be prepared to slug your way through search results. Be sure to scroll down to the dropdown list and choose "Show 100 Creators per page".
Last edited by Graff on Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#13 Post by SundownKid » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:09 pm

After suggesting that we switch to Google Translate, my experience improved, I think it's mainly the machine translation in the site that's really, really bad. It makes me facepalm. Overall though, I definitely like the idea of the site, it just needs some improvements. I may be using it in the future, not because of the site itself, but because of what it allows you to do in connecting with artists from Japan.

I don't like Upwork because, well, compared to Elance, the site is slower and harder to navigate and the rates are higher. Then again, I don't know how it compares to the other sites operating at the moment, so it may still be the best site around.

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Re: Skillots - Super easy way to work with Japanese artists

#14 Post by Chocopyro » Sat Aug 27, 2016 5:13 am

Cool website. Though it seems like my artists are from everywhere in the world except for Japan. I've got one in Africa, one in mainland Asia, one in Europe, one in North America... Two writers from the philos... And I wonder why I'm still awake with an hour till the sun rises. XD

I'll have to make use of this website next time, if only to simplify things.
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