There are many ways to create NFTs. Most of them follow the same steps which have been outlined below.
1. Decide what you want to create.
2. Create the artwork (in layers).
3. Use coding, usually, a script or library to generate thousand of images and metadata.
4. Upload the images and the metadata to a peer-to-peer (p2p) storage network service such as IPFS.
5. Deploy the collection to an NFT marketplace such as OpenSea, Rarity, etc.
6. Create a strong community behind the NFT project.
The last step comes with a decent amount of marketing and promotion. Alternatively, for most projects, having a strong community is the main force to showcase the NFT collection.
I'm being a bit vague on purpose, but as I'm releasing this series, I will be diving more in depth into the steps above.
In this post, I will focus on steps 1 and 2.
Before starting, if you are a visual learner, there is a video version of this tutorial at the end of the tutorial. You can check it out and don't forget to subscribe.
The first step is the easiest at least for most people. If you have being thinking about creating NFTs or you have seen the hype around NFTs, you will probably have a few ideas already.
Think about what you want to create whether it's pixel art, abstract art, or any other kind of art. Settle on an idea or more than one if you want to create multiple collections.
Usually, a combination of different kinds of art is the key to create a strong NFT collection.
Also, you have to think about a name for your collection. Try to think of a name that describes you collection and at the same time makes you different than most of the collections out there. Strive to be original.
In my case, I have decided to create a pixel art collection for this tutorial.
For the artwork, I have decided to create a Shiba Inu dog in pixel form, and for the name of the collection, I have settled for the Much Exclusive Doge Yacht Club (MEDYC).
You can see one of my NFTs below.
Much Exclusive Doge Yacht Club #7
You can draw inspiration from different sources to create your NFTs, so feel free to be creative and have fun.
Once you have decided what you want to create, you can move to the next step which is creating the layers for your NFT collection.
What do I mean by layers?
To explain this concept, I will use one of my NFTs, one with many traits.
Much Exclusive Doge Yacht Club #46
In the NFT above, we have the following layers.
1. Background Layer
2. Base Layer
3. Eyes/Eyewear Layer
4. Accessories/Other Layer
In the case of the metadata, we have the following.
Background: Colonial White
Base: Reddish Brown
As you can tell, the metadata is just a description of each layer that makes up the NFT.
- Go to https://www.photopea.com and click on New Project.
- Use the following values for the new project.
Name: Name of the collection (in my case MEDYC)**
Width: 64 Pixels
Height: 64 Pixels
DPI stands for dots per pixel. You will also see PPI which means pixels per inch. Both are units to measure the pixel density of image.
Click on Create.
Once you see the canvas, zoom in to start creating the artwork.
To start creating your art, make sure that you use the pencil tool as opposed to the brush tool. The reason behind is that the pencil tool paints one pixel at the time on the canvas while the brush tool colors multiple pixels leaving a trace which makes it difficult to paint accurately.
To select the pencil tool, go to the tools bar on the left side of the editor.
Click on the arrow in the lower right corner of the brush tool and select the pencil tool.
You can adjust the size of the tool on the upper left corner of the editor.
Bring down the size of the pencil tool to 1px. This means that if you go to the canvas and click anywhere on it, only one pixel will be painted. This is what we want to start creating the layers for our NFTs.
Note: You can adjust the size of other tools as well such as the brush and the eraser tools.
Another important concept before starting is the concept of layers. As explained before, we need to create layers which will be superimposed on each other to create a single image.
An NFT is just a bunch of different layers superimposed on each other.
We have to create these layers separately. For instance, we create different layers for the base/body, for the eyes, for the ears, for the mouth, etc.
Of course, the amount of layers depend on what we are planning to change. In my case, the base layer contains the entire shape of a Shiba Inu face including the ears, mouth, and nose. The eyes are not included in my base layer. This is because I plan to change the eyes and make my Shiba Inu dog have different eyes.
A good rule of thumb is that if you plan to change something in your NFT, then you want to isolate that part by itself, in other words, you create a separate layer just for that part.
On the left side of the editor, you find the color picker which can be used to switch between colors.
On the right side of the editor, you find the different layers. When you start, you will have only one layer named Background.
Change the name of the layer from Background to Base Original or just Original, either one works. This layer will be the layer for the base of the NFT.
Press Command + J (On Mac) to copy the Background layer and rename the new layer Eyes Standard or Standard. This layer will be the layer for the eyes of the Shiba Inu dog.
Once you have done this, click on the Base Original layer. As you click on it, the layer will be highlighted which means that you're currently working on that layer.
I won't go into the details of how to draw the Shiba Inu dog from scratch, but once you see the pixels on the canvas, you can easily figure out how to do it on your own.
Start painting the pixels with the right color palette to get the base layer of the Shiba Inu dog.
This layer will be one of the variations for my base layer. Since the layer has the original colors of the Doge meme, I decided to name it Base Original.
Click on the Eyes Standard layer and make sure that the eye icon next to it is activated for both layers. This is helpful, so that you can draw the eyes more easily. Instead of drawing them on an empty canvas, at least now you have the base layer to guide you a little bit.
Select the colors for the eyes and start drawing some eyes for the Shiba Inu dog. In my case, I chose the white and black colors for the eyes. You can see the eyes below to help you draw yours as well.
Once you have drawn the eyes, click on the eye icon next to the base layer. When you click on it, the base layer will disappear and you should only see the eyes on the canvas.
Deactivate the eyes layer and activate the base layer to see only the base.
This is a way to check that you have drawn on the right layer.
Awesome! You have created your first two layers. If you want to create more main layers, feel free to do so.
For the sake of the tutorial, I will only work with these two main layers, but you can create more main layers depending on what you want your NFT to have.
Let's create a copy of the Base Original layer and rename it Base Grey.
Make sure the Base Grey layer is activated. Let's start editing it.
Pick a grey color from the color picker and make sure that you have selected the pencil tool.
Start painting the base of the Shiba Inu until you have completely changed the color of the base.
Now you have two different bases, one is the original and the other is the grey one.
You can create more bases by following the same process.
- Copy a main layer.
- Rename the layer.
- Select the new layer and start editing it with the new color or feature to be added.
The same applies to other layers. For instance if you want to create other types of eyes, you will follow the same process above.
I will work with these three layers for now, but feel free to create more.
Finally, let's save the project by going to File > Save as PSD.
This PSD file will be the file before sizing up the layers.
PSD stands for Photoshop Document. It's just a common file extension when working with image editors.
Go back to the file and issue the following command, Alt + Command + I (On Mac). A pop-up window will appear. Enter the following values.
Width: 600 Pixels
Height: 600 Pixels
Interpolation: Nearest Neighbor
These values will resize the layers and make them look good. Feel free to play with these values depending on what you want to achieve with your NFTs.
After you click OK, zoom out to see all the layers resized. You won't see the grid on the canvas anymore.
Before you do anything else, save the project as a PSD file again. This PSD file will be the one after resizing the layers.
Up to this point, you should have two PSD files, the one saved before doing the resizing and the one saved after the resizing.
We do this because if you want to go back and create more layers or edit existing layers, it is easier to work with the layers before they are resized. This is because you have the grid and pixels on the canvas which makes it way easier to create and edit layers.
You can also edit the layers after resizing them, but it will be harder and time-consuming.
Finally, let's save each layer separately.
Go to the layer that you want to save and turn on the eye icon next to it. Turn off the eye icon for the rest of the layers.
Go to File > Export as > PNG.
A new pop-up window will appear. The values that we want are already entered, so just change the name to describe the layer that you are saving. In my case, I have saved it as Original.png.
Follow the same process with the other layers as well.
To keep things organized, we will create a bunch of folders. This will save you a ton of time in the future.
Once you have all the files on your computer, create a new folder with the name of your project, in my case, MEDYC.
Open that folder and create a new folder named MEDYC LAYERS
Once again, open that folder and create as many folders as types of layers. For instance, I have two different types of layers, the base layer and the eyes layer, so I will create two folders, one named Base and other named Eyes.
Look for the PNG files and put the base layers in the Base folder and the eyes layers in the Eyes folder.
If you have more layers, follow the same process to organize them.
In my case, this is how my folders are organized.
For the sake of length, I will end this tutorial here.
In the next tutorial we will create different backgrounds for the NFTs and align all the layers, so that when we superimpose them on each other, we will have them at the right location.
If you have any questions, leave a comment and don't forget to check out the video version of this tutorial.
If you think this tutorial is helpful, please share it with others.
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