I cannot stress this 1 enough: ALWAYS GET IT IN WRITING. It’s happened to all of us. I’ve heard countless horror stories from freelance 3d artists that have either been completely ripped off or overworked by over zealous clients. Yes, it takes some time and work to construct an agreement. Yes, you’ll have to negotiate upfront. Yes, you’ll need to practice and refine your process – but never do or handover ANY work with out a signed written agreement.
You’ll find templates and sample contracts on the internets. The legal terms can go on for pages if you prefer to. Search for work-for-hire agreements and check with your industry’s professional associations for examples. Listed below are the key factors you need to look for or make sure to include in your contract:
Project Brief – an breakdown of the job you’ll perform, how it will undoubtedly be deemed “complete”, and an in depth list of the deliverables. Be as specific that you can so everyone has exactly the same expectations going in.
Schedule and Deadlines – ALWAYS add a deadline 5 tips for 3d artist portfolio. If you leave your project open-ended, it won’t ever finish and unless you work hourly – I will almost absolutely guarantee you won’t be paid appropriately. If you want materials from the client, make sure to add a delivery schedule that explains what is required and when.
Fees – range from the budget and any payment schedule. Always require a deposit or retainer. You won’t always have it, nonetheless it shows a larger commitment from the client and establishes a high level of professionalism upfront. This may help protect you if something goes wrong in the process (see “Terms”).
Terms – this really is where you get into the details. What are the results if schedule, deadline, fees aren’t met? What forms of payment are acceptable? Imagine if the task is stopped or canceled? Imagine if the client doesn’t deliver on time. How many revisions will there be? At what point(s) will be the client reviews? Who owns the job? Exist any usage restrictions? Do your research on this section.
Make sure the client’s name and office address are on the document and make sure to get yourself a signed copy (with deposit) BEFORE starting the project. Not every client has gone out to obtain you – but stuff happens. Even a seemingly good client can turn bad when deadlines and money are involved. If an unresolvable disagreement gets out of control, you’ll have this document as legal backup.