Information for Clients

This page contains information about our business policies for prospective and current clients. The content is still in the process of being developed for the internet.
Please check back for new information or contact us for any additional questions you may have about our business policies.

Contracts and Agreements

A signed or written acceptance of an agreement is required for all jobs prior to starting any work. We will work with the client to develop terms to create work that that fully meet the client's needs of content, style, licensing and budget.

After an initial project discussion, we will prepare a preliminary description of the work to be done, including an estimate of the costs, and draft a Confirmation of Agreement with terms of usage for the client to review and comment. We are glad to modify any proposals to best fulfill a client's needs.

Copyrights and Licensing

Most clients will find that there are a wide range of licensing options which will fully satisy their needs, including limited rights, unlimited rights, or extended-term licenses. In the rare instance that a client absolutely must own full copyright of an image we can discuss what a transfer of copyright will require, including the impact on cost.

As creative professionals, we own and maintain the copyright to all of the work we create from the moment we put pencil to paper unless the copyright is expressly transferred.


At Kestrel Illustration Studio we do not sign work-for-hire agreements. This is a standard practice we share with our professional colleagues and associations. As an independant studio, we are responsible for 100% of our operating and administrative costs; such agreements limit our ability to receive due consideration for our creative work and intellectual property. We encourage clients to educate themselves about the issues surrounding copyrights, work-for-hire agreements and their impacts on creative professionals and their clients.

We will work with any client to develop an agreement that provides precisely the licensing rights they require for their projects. See Copyrights and Licensing, above, for more information on how we can tailor rights transfers to best suit your needs.

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Billing & Payment Information


Projects will be invoiced when the final is delivered or at various agreed-upon milestones during the course of the project. Invoices may be sent as PDF files via email or standard mail. It is the client's responsibility to forward invoices to the appropriate administrative department within their institution and follow-up to ensure timely payment.

Most invoices are payable within 30 days of completion of the work; late payments may be subject to a minimum fee of 1.5% per month after 30 days.

Remitting Payments

We prefer that payments are made by cash or check. All payments must be made in US dollars. We currently do not accept credit cards directly, but have a PayPal account where clients can use their credit cards or PayPal account. Additional fees will apply. Click here to go to our PayPal account page.

For international clients, payments may be made by wire transfer. Please contact your bank to find out if fees will be deducted from the wired funds; we ask that our international clients be sure that the we receive the full invoice amount. Wire transfer and other fees are considered expenses to be reimbursed by the client.

Advance Payments Are Required For First-Time Clients

Unless a client has been referred to us or we've met in person, it is our studio policy to require an advance payment of at least a portion of the total estimated cost of the project from clients with whom we haven't worked before. Once we have a signed agreement, we will send the client an invoice for the advance payment which is due upon receipt. Only after the advance payment has cleared we will be able to start work on the project.

After we've developed a working relationship, work can commence as soon as we have signed or written acceptance of an agreement and invoices will be due 30 days from receipt or by other mutually agreeable terms.

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Project Phases

This section describes a typlcal progression of the phases of an illustration from concept to completion. Animations have a similar structure of preliminary work and approval at each stage, and will be described at a later date.

Thumbnail Sketch

This is the "outline" of the illustration. After an agreement has been signed, thumbnails are made to develop the basic concepts, elements, layout, and text. Thumbnails are not expected to be of a finished quality; they may be no more than a few "sketchy" drawings. The main purpose is to get everyone on the same page, to define the important concepts that must be communicated and, by removing unecessary elements, reduce the illustration to its most effective form. Often this process will generate new ideas from both client and illustrator, especially when the original idea is quite rudimentary.

In some cases, only one thumbnail will be produced, but there are times when the illustrator will work up several options from which the client will select one version or synthesize additional possibilities.

Even though the intent is a quick and dirty sketch, it is often good for the client to notify the illustrator about specific relationships, size, morphologies which may be crucial to the early development of the illustration.

Thumbnail approval by the client will lead into the next phase of the process, the finished sketch– or clean sketch– and color comp.

Clean Sketch & Color Comp

This is the sketch of the illustration in its most complete form, usually as a line drawing– possibly with some shading and labels. Illustrators may also call it their "transfer sketch" which hearkens to when a high quality sketch would be mechanically transferred to the good paper on which the illustration would be completed, or "rendered." Nowadays it is most likely a pencil sketch that is to be scanned into the computer and rendered digitally.

The color comp is a map of the colors that will be used in the final render. The amount of detail will vary, depending on the needs of each illustration and the client's own requirements, and may not even be produced in some cases.

Acceptance and approval of this sketch will allow the illustrator to proceed to the final render. Any major changes not previously agreed upon may be subject to additional charges if they are made after the final render has begun.

Final Render

This is the phase where the illustration is being worked to it's final, reproduction-quality form. It may be a tone or color rendering – either traditional or digital &ndash or in pen & ink or digital line.

Again, significant changes to the layout or rendering at this point are proportionately more difficult to make than at earlier phases. The client will have an opportunity to review and suggest changes, but any revisions at this time that are not due to an error by the illustrator may incur additional revision costs. It is important for the client to carefully review each stages of the illustration before moving on to the next.

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Timelines and Scheduling

Meeting Deadlines

We pride ourselves on timely preparation and delivery of our work to our clients. Due to the technical nature of the work we do, it is necessary to have all concepts, thumbnails, sketches, storyboards, color comps, and finals reviewed and approved by the client or client's subject matter expert in order to proceed to the next stage of the project. Delays in approval may result in a corresponding delay in meeting the delivery of the final work, and clients are urged to respond to all correspondences from us in a timely fashion to keep the project on schedule.

Long-Distance Collaborations

Kestrel Studio has successfully worked with a number of clients we've never met in person. While it is certainly preferable to meet one-on-one, we are experienced with negotiating the challenges of working via email, phone, and other long-distance and asynchronous communications. We do recommend that a client provide ample leeway in their project schedule to allow for time to complete contract negotiations, thumbnails, sketches and possible revisions of the final illustrations, whether we meet in person or by long distance communication.

Much can be accomplished via email, but sometimes there is no substitute for direct, synchronus collaboration; to that end we can arrange to meet by phone, audio or video chat, Skype, Yugma and other desktop sharing applications.

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