Also what sort of things do you find useful to mention in a brief? I figure that things like hair colour or clothing for a sprite commission is obvious, but are there things that people forget to say that ends up being really useful?
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I also use Pinterest to help with character creations/art albums, but prefer DA.
I unfortunately don't have much artistic skill, so I don't really use dA anymore. Plus it wouldn't be for showcasing my own work, but for assisting other people who I am commissioning for art.
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If you want to give the artist some freedom without straying too far from the initial concept, give us several references. Let's say you want us to design a uniform. What you need to do is collect several existing uniform design that you like and let us combine them to create a new original design of uniform.
I know some people are shy with their drawing skill, but don't underestimate the power of stick figure because it can really help us understand what you want. Letting us know certain 'feel' that you want for your commission will also help.
As for textual description, I say things like age, height, body type, and personality are the basic information that you need to fill. And if your character has physical quirk, specific gesture, and/or occupation that need to show in their design, mention that too.
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References are important ass they help to picture your idea and so the artist can have a clear idea of what you want and make the best they can.
Usually, people give the following: colors, hairstyle, bodytype, outfit, pose, accessories
Of course it all depends on how clear you can imagine the characters, it's not an absolute must. It takes time to gather references, so just give as much information as you can, but you don't need to spend hours and hours just for that if you don't think it's worth it haha
And I also agree with what morinoir said
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The ability to add comments/questions on the sides of the document is also useful.
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