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How Much are Sketch Cards Worth?

How Much Are Sketch Cards Worth?

I’ve worked on sketch cards for a long time and a common thing I see asked is “how much should I sell my artist proof sketch cards for”? I also see collectors ask why artists charge what they charge and how much are sketch cards worth? I thought I’d try to help answer these questions with my own personal experience but that doesn’t mean these are definitive answers. Read on and take what you feel works for you but then experiment with things you think of on how to better price your art and ways to promote the sale of your art. It’s not a one size fits all strategy but hopefully this will be a useful starting point for beginning artists working on trading cards.

Seller vs Artist

There is a substantial difference in pricing for the artist versus collector or reseller of art. This is probably even more so with trading card artwork as many card collectors who sell a sketch card will look to things like ‘comps’ and their acquisition of the card is likely from a random act through purchasing and opening a pack of cards. The amount of money put into acquiring the artwork and amount of time put into acquiring it is low. They may also not be familiar with the medium and art, so the knowledge level could also be low. None of this is meant as a slight but merely done to identify a difference between sellers and artists. 

An artist prices their artwork differently than a collector. There’s a different criteria and I go into that below, but a major difference is the usage of ‘comps’. A comp is short for comparison, where you look at similar or the same item elsewhere to figure out a price, often done so on auction sites like Ebay. This works well for the average trading card or comic book but artwork is trickier. You can search for sketch cards from the same set, of the same or similar character, and for artist. All sketch cards are hand drawn and hence each one is a 1-of-1 and unique, so finding such comparisons can be tricky. If you do find similar comps then that is a starting price but there is also an intrinsic value to art where people may pay much more or less for a piece of art just because they really like it… or don’t. Because of all of this it is nearly impossible to easily or in a straightforward manner the value of a given sketch card; there are many variables to consider.

From the perspective of a buyer, how do you know if you are receiving a fair price for an artist proof sketch card when buying from an artist? Short answer is that any price an artist gives you is the fair price because ultimately each artist sets their own price. A buyer can absolutely shop around to find another artist to buy an AP from or opt for a pack inserted sketch card instead they find on ebay or wherever, but when someone buys an AP there are a number of factors that go into that price. As the buyer, consider if these factors warrant the price you about to spend:

  • time spent to create the artwork
  • skill required to create the artwork
  • experience of the artist
  • popularity of the set it comes from
  • popularity of the character /subject matter /franchise
  • rarity of the card itself -yes APs are 1-of-1 but not every artist has a lot of APs from each set

If all of these factors seem to reflect well within the price an artist has set for their work but it’s still a little too expensive for you then you can always politely ask if they can come down in price or offer a payment plan. Sometimes artists will accept a lower asking price, especially on an older AP they drew, and many artists will allow people to pay half now and half later. If none of that works out you can always walk away; an artist does not owe it to you to sell you their art. 


There is nothing else like it, unlike a reproduced trading card where comparisons can easily be found.

2023 Topps Museum Collection Canvas Reprint baseball card painted by matt stewart of Josh Jung Texas Rangers

What is an Artist Proof Sketch Card Worth?

An artist has put time, effort, skill, and more into creating the artwork they are selling. All of this factors into pricing your work. Artist Proof sketch cards are also very limited. Unlike any other artwork you may produce where you can go back to a store to purchase a new sheet of paper or canvas, an artist only gets so many officially licensed AP cards and those are gained through working on a set that will only occur once. For instance, you work on a set for Mandalorian Season 1 Topps will provide you with AP sketch cards that have specific graphics printed on the card that won’t be used again. Collectors value this and in some ways are buying your art not just because of the art you did but also for the licensed, exclusive aspect of the art and the paper it was done on.

As a side note, always put a price on your art when trying to sell it. It’s almost a universal truth that anyone that puts “contact me for price” never sells what they’re trying to sell and it ticks off potential buyers. For one thing you’re putting an additional step into selling your art. You want the purchase of your art to be as simple and transparent as possible. Now if you’re unsure how much to price your artwork, even after reading all of what I wrote, that’s fine but you still need that base price. Decide on a price range, what’s the least and what do you hope to make, then post what you hope and say “or best offer”. Some people will move on after seeing an artist say this but there are enough collectors that will make an offer to make this strategy worthwhile.

I can make a list, and I will, of the factors that go into pricing your AP sketch cards but unfortunately it’s still not quite that simple. Instead, the process is a little of picking from this and that column, valuing this more than that, and a process of trial and error. There’s also the possibility you might be in a situation you need the money or you just want to move on from a project, so selling the card at whatever price is your goal. That’s all fine and there’s no right or wrong way to sell your APs, just a more or less informed way of doing it. I myself am always trying to figure out better ways to sell my artwork and reassessing my pricing, which is no different than how I create my art in the first place. I’m always learning and by writing this post hopefully it helps you and me!

Topps Stranger Things Season one Sketch Card
star wars masterwork artist proof sketch card of darth maul
2023 Topps Museum Collection Canvas Reprint baseball card painted by matt stewart of Josh Jung Texas Rangers
sketch card of wolverine amf sentinal for upper-deck 2023 marvel premier trading card set
upper deck alien 3 sketch card

1. How Much Do Artists Sell their Artist Proof Sketch Cards For?

How to sell sketch cards starts with looking at what other artists price their work at. There are a ton of different Facebook groups out there where artists sell their sketch cards. Find artists that you feel are similar to you in style, experience, talent, and are selling cards from sets you’ve worked on and are selling APs from (or PSC). For example, I’ve been working on sketch cards for over ten years but have been artist for much longer than that. My style is semi-realistic to American comic book (it changes depending on what I’m working on). My talent is harder to quantify but I’d say I’m middle of the road if not slightly above average. Now, going off all of that and knowing what others sell for particular sets, I’ve set my Star Wars APs for instance at $135-150US. 

2. How Much Does a Box of Trading Cards Cost?

When a set releases that has your artwork in it, check online for what people are paying for it. Most Star Wars sets are in the $150-$200 range but Masterwork is $350-$450 range, so I know that my Star Wars APs from Masterwork are from a premium set and carry a bit more cache to them. 

Sometimes price can be misleading so be careful. If you have an AP from an older set, a box for that set may have appreciated substantially in value but that doesn’t carry over to most of the cards you could get in that set. I’ve never found that this has impacted the value of an AP sketch card outside of perhaps making people a bit more interested in buying it. Also, some sets will come out where the box price will be high (say $100-$150) but the product won’t be in high demand. Firefly, a set I worked on for Upper-Deck years ago and based off the hit TV show was such a case. There still hasn’t been much demand for that set and even after dropping my prices on my APs I still have a few that have never sold.

star wars masterwork artist proof sketch card of darth maul

3. Does What You Draw Increase How Much Your Artwork Can Sell For?

Subject matter is perhaps one of the biggest impacts on the price of an AP. For example if I’m working on a Marvel trading card set for Upper-Deck and I draw Spider-Man or Wolverine on a sketch card, it will sell for twice as when I draw Speedball or the Gladiator. There are not just more fans of bigger characters but those fans will pay more for those characters.

On the flip-side of this, many people that will seek you out for a commission will likely ask for a lesser known character. The reasoning is varied but often because they either value the uniqueness of a card owning a card that features a character that other people won’t have one of or they are a collector of this specific lesser known character. This leads into the importance of not always drawing on all of your APs. It’s not always possible to do this as some companies want all the cards done when you work on the pack-inserted cards, but other companies like Crytpozoic will allow you to retain your APs blank. This way you can advertise online that you have blank cards available for custom commissions. In these cases you then draw what the person has asked you to do and then you send it or a scan of it back to the company for approval.

Like subject matter, which franchise you are drawing for influences how much a sketch card will sell for. Like I said before, most people buying your APs are not just buying it because they like your artwork but also because in a greater sense it’s licensed artwork on a limited edition card from a franchise they like; who you are as an artist is secondary. So for franchises, I charge more for a Star Wars, Marvel, or MLB sketch card than I do for Ultraman or say a BBC show like the Thunderbirds. There are just far more people that love those other properties and hence those sketch cards are in higher demand, so they get what I suppose you could say is a premium added to their price. I don’t make that bump in price crazy high, but just enough so it says “hey, you’re getting a really great sketch on something that is REALLY cool and a lot of people want”. It’s kind of akin to looking at LEGO sets actually. You could walk into a LEGO store and buy any basic set and then make whatever out of it like a Millennium Falcon, but if you want an official Millennium Falcon set with the Star Wars logo on the box, then you’ll have to pay more.

4. Will a Painting Sell for More Than a Pencil Sketch?

topps star wars sketch card of jyn erso by andrew fry
Most people don’t know how much art materials costs nor how difficult it is to use this over that, but some people do have an intrinsic value placed on a painted medium over others. I’ve found that many collectors value a painted sketch card. They believe that it takes more time to paint the card and that more skill is required to use the medium. The paint could be acrylic or oils but I haven’t noticed an increased value placed on water colours or other mediums. 

One big impact though is full colour over black and white and colour mediums over pencils. By and large collectors will enjoy a well drawn sketch card created with any medium but will pay more when it’s not just pencils; there are some exceptions like when an artist is incredibly skillful with a pencil like Andrew Fry (he drew the Jynn Erso card shown).

5. How Much is Your Experience and Time Worth?

Short answer is that most collectors won’t always see the amount of time or effort you put into your art and acknowledge your experience by paying more for it. I’ve seen a lot of artists that have been drawing for decades sell their art for the same price as they did when they first started working on sketch cards. I’ve also seen artists who worked on one project and their APs command ten times or more what a more seasoned artist can make. I’ve also seen some incredibly detailed sketch cards that took hours if not days to create sell for only slightly more than a sketch card that was slightly better than a scribble. Sometimes this is due to who did the scribble, for example a sketch card by a highly sought after artist like Joe Jusko can do a scribble and his NAME will command that higher price.

Perhaps that first paragraph was a little too negative, but it’s good to be realistic. Also being realistic though is to know that someone who has practiced drawing for years will be a better artist than someone who just picked up a pencil. A lot of collectors will recognize that talent that’s been fostered through years of practice, but don’t expect that to translate to higher sales. Sometimes it does but more often than not it won’t.

What experience and time spent does do to how you price your art is that it sets a base price. You as an artist need to know what your worth is, and that goes beyond sketch cards. Think of how long it took for you to become proficient with a paint brush or to be able to draw the human figure in a realistic and dynamic way. Think about all of those years and what that’s worth to you. Then think of how much time it took you to draw that card. Factor in how many sketch cards you had to do to earn that one artist proof sketch card. All of this has worth and it’s why I value my personal sketch cards at a starting price of $90US. I factor in my experience then the time of 1-2 hours to draw a card (sometimes I take way longer but that’s usually how long it takes), then I add on another few hours it takes to organize a project and time it takes to package and ship it. If you undercharge your worth then you will quickly feel cheated and it will show up in your art. I’ve done it to myself where I feel devalued and get lost in my head when working on a project. I start thinking “why am I doing this” and then after shipping the art I feel like I did that for nothing; I spent hours away from other things I could be doing like spending time with my family or creating artwork just for fun.

6. What Are Some Additional Costs to Making Art?

Shipping your art and replacing your art supplies costs money, and that money comes out of what you charged for your artist proof. All too often I see beginning artists charge a low amount for their work and then offer free shipping. For sure shipping within your own country can be cheap if you only mail it in a plain envelope and use letter mail, however this often won’t protect your artwork in shipment, have many customers happy with how it arrives, offer you no coverage if it goes missing or damaged in transit, and it will still cost you money. 

Say the cheapest cost to mail something is $2 worth of postage. Then add in another $5 for the cost of the envelope and whatever you use to put the art into. On top of all of that you also have the time to package the art and get to the post office, which might include using gas or transit fees. That adds up in a hurry and if you are only charging $20 or something you will not be left with much and that goes back to what I talked about before with not feeling proud of what you accomplished as you made no money. 

For myself I have built shipping into my prices. I know that listing something that says free or ‘included’ makes it easier for people. They don’t have to worry what else this might cost; what they see is what they get. For my shipping I ALWAYS use tracked mail. This allows for at least $100 insurance in case it disappears and with the tracking number I can add that to a PayPal transaction so everyone knows it’s been shipped and when it arrives. 

I use padded envelopes to ship my APs. I attach custom mailing stickers to the outside of the packages and have been thinking on ways to personalize the packages a bit more to make them really stand out. The APs are either housed in a penny sleeve and top loader or in a one-touch case, and then with either way these are placed inside a larger plastic bag like a team bag. I’ll insert my business card, a mini print, and sometimes some random trading cards to use as padding. More expensive APs will often get a one touch and even if not I will add a peice of cardboard I cut to size that adds a bit more rigidity to the package. 

All of what I described for my packaging costs money and it’s because I’ve factored that cost into the price of my cards that I’ve been able to continue offering this level of shipping quality and to look into ways of improving it.

Not Done Yet?

Did I miss a topic you think should be added or do you have something you think should be added to what I wrote? Let me know in the comments or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you!

I’ll also be adding more to this topic and have another idea for a follow-up post, like how to sell your artwork on online and in person at conventions!

Learn More About Sketch Cards with These Posts:

what is a sketch card with a box that has the dimensions in it for a sketch card, which is 2.5 by 3.5 inches
What Are Sketch Cards?
art supplies
How to Make Sketch Cards
sketch cards on twitter logo
Interview with Chris Mixer About Collecting Sketch Cards

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