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How To Create NFT Digital Art

Oct 20, 2022 10:04 AM

As the NFT market has matured beyond the initial rush of excitement for the latest NFT drops, a greater spotlight has been shone on the concept of “use cases”, and how important an NFT is beyond its artistic pretensions.

Whilst, as Oscar Wilde once put it, “all art is quite useless”, non-fungible tokens have a lot of potential for functionality beyond being a cryptographic token that denotes ownership of a piece of art, and NFT creators have taken advantage of the potential behind a simple premise to provide a range of use cases for NFTs.

Much like other parts of the blockchain, the concept of NFTs can be applied in ways beyond ownership, and this article aims to explore how to create NFT digital art that provides value to its owners, as well as the different ways NFTs can offer value beyond a profile picture or a work of art.

Creating NFT Artworks

The first step to creating any NFT project is to create the art for the corresponding NFTs. There are variations to this process but the typical NFT creation process is simple.

Firstly, create the number of original artworks you need for the NFT collection. They can be all individually designed, as was the case with Curio Cards, or generated with the help of art layers and algorithmic generation, such as is the case with the vast majority of NFTs today.

Next, choose a marketplace such as OpenSea or Rarible, and connect your cryptocurrency wallet to the marketplace, with the most common wallet used on the site being MetaMask.

After this, mint the NFT. On some marketplaces this is free, but on others, you may need to pay a transaction fee to do this, so make sure you have some available ETH cryptocurrency in your wallet.

Finally, pay the listing fee and set up the sales process, and your NFT collection is ready to go.

Whilst you are preparing the art assets, it is important to understand the use case for your NFT project, and here are some examples of what an NFT can be used for.

A Tool For Digital Ownership

The first, primary and most common form of NFT functionality is the function they were designed for; they are used as a sign of digital ownership of a particular digital asset. This is most often a piece of digital art but could be theoretically anything.

It is an attempt to restore the aura of an original copy as described by the great philosopher Walter Benjamin in media formats without a meaningful original, such as digital artworks, video or three-dimensional models.

As well as this, the systems used by platforms such as OpenSea allow for original creators to be appropriately compensated for their work as long as they verify its authenticity.

In that regard, it is similar to the mechanics used for art ownership; whilst anyone can buy a print of a painting like the Mona Lisa, the original copy is securely stored in the Louvre museum.

Unlike physical art, however, the smart contracts used in the creation of NFTs allow for creators to claim royalty payments on every sale going forward, allowing for a continued revenue source even after that initial sale.

Owners then have the right to display, sell or give away that NFT however they like, as they would an original physical art piece.

Intellectual Property Ownership

The question of NFTs and intellectual property ownership is a complex one, and certain projects such as Spice DAO got this idea very wrong.

Whilst the principle has not been tested in court, owning an NFT of a character or a piece of art does not inherently give the owner the intellectual property rights to use that character however they choose, such as by releasing merchandise or creating derivative works based on it.

The exception to this is projects which provide that explicit permission, and this is one of the most notable aspects of the Bored Ape Yacht Club.

According to the terms and conditions on their website, an owner of a Bored Ape has an “unlimited, worldwide license” to use, copy and display the art, which has led to merchandise, animated series and music videos featuring specific apes, as well as derivative NFT collections tethered to the ownership of an ape.

None of this has been tested yet in a landmark legal case, but creators should be mindful to make clear what an owner can and cannot do with their NFT, and owners should read the terms and conditions, the white paper and the roadmap to see what an NFT provides.

Exclusive Access

Arguably the easiest way to add value to an NFT is to take advantage of the inherent community spirit that NFT owners have and grant an NFT holder exclusive perks, often connected to a progression-based roadmap.

Whilst not the first to have such a club, Bored Ape Yacht Club was a template for how such an access club could be run. Owners of Bored Apes were eligible to join an exclusive club, play games, buy members-only merchandise and potentially be airdropped other NFTs.

This can connect to physical bonuses as well. VeeFriends, an NFT collection connected to business advisor Gary Vaynerchuk has a real-world element to its exclusive rewards. Gary Vee’s collection also offers access to VeeCon, an event exclusive to NFT holders that provides the types of advice he has become famous for.

Ownership Of Physical Assets

Whilst rarer, and as untested as intellectual property rights, NFTs have been linked to the ownership of tangible physical objects as well.

These have ranged wildly in value from rare whiskies to cars to even a house. Some proposed projects tie NFTs to parcels of land.

The aim, although whether it will ever reach this reality is uncertain, is to make transfers of ownership of complex assets as simple as buying and selling NFTs.

Ownership Of Gaming Assets

Digital items are a major part of modern gaming, and NFTs could at least theoretically make it easier to buy and sell in-game items to use in games, although several myths need to be debunked to ascertain the true value of these assets.

One commonly proposed idea is the notion of metaverse items or NFTs that could be transferred to any game and still be used. This is exceptionally unlikely, given that even in 2022 it is rare for digital items to transfer from different editions of the same franchise, with the Hitman games being a rare exception.

Another point that needs to be debunked is that this is an entirely new concept. In 2012, Valve expanded the in-game items store for the games Team Fortress 2 and later Counter Strike Global Offensive with the launch of the Steam Community Market.

This allowed for the purchase and sale of items within the marketplace, with these wallet funds being transferable into real money.

Whilst this system did not have the benefit of being decentralised, it is important to note the limitations of NFTs for in-game item transfers.

However, gaming assets being owned and sellable through NFT marketplaces have a lot of benefits, particularly if someone wants to start a game for a more affordable price or sell on valuable items, characters or assets to a new player who wants to start with an advantage.

Axie Infinity is the exemplar of this, but other games have taken full advantage of this potential, with games such as Wolf Game being completely decentralised and taking place entirely on-chain.