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How To Create An NFT Art

Jul 26, 2022 3:44 PM

When people are inspired to create NFT art and publish their own collection, their definition of what “NFT art” is can either be almost infinitely broad or exceptionally specific, without any type of in-between.

That is because, for many people in the crypto space, there has developed a distinction between art that is distributed on the blockchain as non-fungible tokens and a specific type of art medium that takes advantage of the platform to create fascinating and highly collectable works.

The first type of NFT art can be anything, and the main part of the process is minting this artwork (either works an artist has already produced or has made specifically) as an NFT and beginning the process of selling it. This process has been discussed at length before.

The other type, known as generative NFT art, needs a few more steps, but by following this guide, you can create an entire collection of thousands of individual NFTs much quicker than you may expect, which gives you more time to develop a marketing campaign, arrange a pre-sale and sell your creations.

What Is The Deal With Generative NFT Art?

Generative NFTs, sometimes known as profile picture or “PFP” NFTs are possibly the most common, most lucrative and most popular form of NFT out there, with Cryptokitties being one of the first to use the concept and the success of Cryptopunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club solidifying it to the public at large.

Given that there are hundreds, if not thousands of NFTs in a particular collection, it would take an extraordinary amount of time or a considerable number of artists to create each one by hand, but it does not need to be that complex.

How generative NFT art works is by creating a standardised template of different elements known as traits and putting them together in a specific order to create a complete image, similar to a face flip book.

Mixing and matching the different pieces creates a huge number of different combinations. For example, if you had three traits, each with three versions, that would be 27 different complete images.

If you had, for example, five traits with five versions, that would equate to over 3000 combinations, and the numbers increase exponentially from there.

Once you have the pieces, instead of putting them in a flip book, you use a generation tool, program or algorithm to put these pieces together.

What makes them desirable and collectable is that certain traits can be made rarer than others, and it is these NFTs with several rare traits that sell for the most.

Step One: Workshop And Develop Your Idea

The first step to making NFT art is to decide on a theme or an idea that you want to use to guide your entire collection.

This can be pretty much anything you want, and we have seen some truly out-there concepts and conceits, from apes and cats to entire miniature worlds.

The main limit is that it has to be an idea that can have a range of versatile traits built around a single familiar design.

Develop a benchmark design either as a sketch or as an image that you can use as a reference when making each individual trait layer.

Work out how large you want your NFT images to be, their shape and any other standout elements.

Step Two: Design Your Initial Template Layers

Once you have a finalised design, it is time to design the layers of your NFT.

Image manipulation tools such as Photoshop allow for various different art layers, similar to those used in traditional animation, allowing for one layer to have a background, another to have the main body or face, and then each detail on a separate layer.

For example, if your NFT design was of a face, you could have the following as trait layers, in order from highest to lowest.

  • Extra details, such as stars, rainbows, or anything that appears in front of everything else.
  • Hats
  • Hair
  • Nose
  • Eyes
  • Lips
  • Face shape
  • Background.

Each layer stacks on top of the one below it, making a complete face.

Save this template in a layered image file format such as PSD. Now it’s time to add variations.

Step Three: Design Variations

The next step is to draw the various versions of traits that deviate from the original design.

This can be as simple as a different coloured background, can be different designs that fit the template, can add patterns, details or anything you want. As we see in most popular NFT collections, variation is the order of the day.

The easiest way to ensure they are consistent is to add a layer above the detail you are adding and draw on top of it, so you know that it will fit a consistent size, position and style. In many cases, it is worth having each trait in a separate layer folder that you can keep organised.

Once you have enough of each design to be happy with (for example, if we had five variations of each trait above, we would have over 390,000 possible combinations), it is time to save each layer as a separate file with transparency support, typically PNG.

Step Four: Prepare Art And Rarity Table

The next step, once you have your artwork designed, is to get each of these individual layers prepared (typically by placing them in appropriate folders that a program can access), and start defining how rare different traits will be.

The easiest way to visualise this is using a rarity table. This is essentially a spreadsheet where you can note down each of your traits, their names, and determine how rare each of these will be as a percentage.

This will make it easier to program the levels of distribution you want and allow you to have rare or even unique traits.

Once this is done, the NFT art can be fed into either a generation tool or given to a dedicated programmer and will be converted into a vast number of art pieces that can be minted into NFTs much like any other form of digital art. Congratulations.