Hi, my name’s Dane. I’m a designer and crypto artist. In this article I’ll be walking you through how to create an NFT step by step. Using Adobe Photoshop I’ll show you how to cut out an image, edit it and then use it in multiple ways to create a digital artwork. From there I’ll then show you how to compile many unique variations. Plus how to mint on OpenSea so you can begin building your first NFT collection.
I am using Photoshop but the techniques covered can be accomplished in any photo editing software that has the ability to create layers, layer masks, make adjustments to opacity, hue, saturation, lows, mids, highs, add effect overlays and such. Here are some links to a few of the more popular free and paid Photoshop alternatives.
Image Editing Software:
- GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program
- Pixlr: Free Photo editor online graphic design
- Sumo – Creative Tools for Curious Minds
- Affinity Photo – Professional Image Editing Software
Also in this guide I’ll tell you how to download and where to find installation instructions for open source code that you can use to create generative art. Alternatively you could go down a rabbit hole like I did and consume everything generative art related like I did. There’s plenty there.
What is an NFT?
If you’ve never heard of cryptocurrencies or the blockchain then you may not be familiar with what NFTs are. NFT stands for non-fungible token. Something that is fungible can be replaced by an identical replica. Whereas something that is non-fungible cannot. A token is a digital asset stored in your wallet. A wallet holds your items and allows you to use your tokens.
NFTs are tokens that store unique sets of data. The tokens are certified proof of ownership like a deed. What’s cool about NFTs are the limitless possibilities. Teams are capturing moments, creating highlights and building communities all around NFTs. While digital artists are creating and minting art for sale on digital marketplaces.
What is photo editing?
Consequently, if you’ve not heard of photo editing either then you might be feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. Photo editing is simply the changing of images. They can be photos, illustrations, prints or film. Traditionally photo editing was done by hand with an airbrush. Nowadays artists and retouchers use software like Photoshop, Gimp, Microsoft Paint, Affinity Photo and more.
Photo editing can clear away blemishes, touch up dark spots and even remove items from backgrounds. It can also be used to produce works of art like the one I’ll show you. What’s even more exciting is that some of these techniques can carry over into motion graphics.
What is generative art?
Algorithmically producing ideas, forms, shapes, colors or patterns the delicate blend of man and machine creates works of art, generative art. A style that uses a self-governed autonomous system to compile compositions. A broad category by nature,it is created either entirely by chance or through the mind’s eyes of the artist. Constraints must be set around the creation process in order for it to work. The artist must instruct the computer to follow those rules. As a result new works are produced.
What is compiling?
To compile is to assemble things from other sources. Traditionally in computer coding, compiling can mean running a script to collect all of the necessary bits of code to run a software program or even reduce the size of a file by removing white space and unnecessary commenting. Whereas in generative art the definition relates to the former.
Part of the rules that get set during the process establish the collection of assets, unique combinations created with them and then the final compiled output. Basically the computer looks in folders or specific locations. Grabs what it needs. Holds it all until it’s made sure that the exact combination is unique and then compiles the visualization to produce art.
What is minting an NFT?
Minting an NFT is the term used to describe the creation of your art on the blockchain. When your artwork is minted it’s written into an unchangeable and tamper proof ledger where ownership is recorded and the item is now able to be sold. OpenSea is a fairly common marketplace and a great place to get started.
It’s super simple to get setup. You will need a wallet. Metamask is the most common. You’ll also require an exchange account. Coinbase is popular and easy to get started with. At the exchange is where you’ll buy the ETH to transfer to your Metamask wallet. OpenSea requires a small one time fee when getting setup. After that to mint your first NFT all you have to do is click on their call to action for creating, fill out the form and upload your artwork. Easy peasy.
How to create an NFT step by step
The style and approach I took was experimental and a combination of techniques. First original photography. The rose used in these compositions was a photo I took of a single rose in a bottle. From there the photo was manipulated, rose was isolated and the photo was edited to create the single rose used across a few of my NFT collections.
From there a variety of techniques were applied. You’re an artist, so you should create whatever you feel like. follow along this tutorial and you’ll learn some basic steps. Let’s explore how I created Passio.
In culinary arts one of the first things you’ll learn is mise en place. Or getting everything ready before you begin. Here we’ll get a few things sorted out before diving into how to create an NFT step by step. First you’ll need to open your image editing software and create a new document.
Choose the image size and resolution you wish to work with. Any size is fine. For this document I am working in 3024 x 4032 pixels because that was the resolution of the original format and I liked the rectangular shape.
In your image editing software you’ll be faced with a completely new document. This will be your blank canvas and starting point.
Hopefully you have an idea in mind. I chose a rose as it is a really interesting flower with several meanings and interpretations. Those interpretations were interesting to me which is what led me to further investigate their meaning.
Because I chose a collage style of art and was only going to use the rose. I knew I was going to need to isolate it from the background. A good rule of thumb is to always duplicate your original layer. If you make a mistake you can delete the layer you’re working on and create a new copy. In order to isolate the rose I used the pen tool to create a path around it.
With the pen tool I begin to trace around the rose in order to begin making the shape for the final layer mask. There are a few ways to do this. I prefer the pen tool because of its accuracy.
Once I made it all the way around the rose and had the shape I wanted in order to convert the path into a selection I right clicked on the path in the canvas and selected `Make Selection` from the dropdown menu. You can access the `Make Selection` from the edit menu as well.
Before making a selection you will be faced with a modal overlay that has a few options. The main one you’ll ever really mess with is going to be the `Feather Radius`. This feathers the edge of your selection making it “softer”. Meaning if it was set to 0 then the edge would be hard. One or above smooths out the edge and creates a “blend”. Try it out and see what’s what.
Voila. A new selection was made. Friendly tip, as a confirmation you’ll see the marching ants around the shape you just traced if you did it correctly.
Creating selections allows you to do a whole bunch of really cool things in imaging software. For this specific project it allowed me to create an isolation of an object. With the mask I created I was able to erase the background. I did that by inverting the selection which selected everything around the shape. From there I deleted the contents of the selection and was left with an isolated rose ready for use.
Creating the art
Now that the rose was isolated I was free to begin experimenting. Since I had a direction in mind I was able to dive right in and start workthing through ideas. For this particular style of work I knew I was going to follow specific constraints. As part of the creative process I needed a base layer to work from. Therefore I ended up desaturating the rose and removing all color. Effectively making it black and white.
To get the final rose I used several different methods I was taught when working in the printing and publishing industries. In order to get black and white images to reproduce correctly, not build up ink on the rollers and look crisp on all types of paper adjustments to the objects levels and curves can help reduce the midtones, kind of like equalization in audio mixing.
In order to access the levels or image adjustments have a layer selected and navigate to Image/Adjustments. Depending upon what you select you’ll be faced with a dialog box of options. Here’s what Levels looks like.
I’m not going to go in depth as to what I did or the exact adjustments I made. There’s many tutorials on how to adjust levels, curves, brightness, contrast, hue and saturation. I will say that I used a conjunction of all in order to create the finalized colorless rose before treating it with color. I also used a combination of layering and layer opacity settings to create the right blend. For this particular piece what I was trying to achieve was stark contrast between white and black while retaining an even stone like texture.
Now that the rose was ready and prepared I could begin working through the rest of the concept. For this particular project I was using a script created by another NFT creator named HashLips. The script that was created is a type of generative art that uses randomness as it’s automation system. With this particular script I knew that it was going to compile a final image from a collection of images that I output and stored in the corresponding directories. Therefore I wanted to start working through those layers and building the base.
The theme for this collection was the orange rose. In looking up the meaning of the orange rose I found it was linked to passion. Digging deeper into the meaning of the word passion I saw that by definition it meant suffering, enduring.
Because the script would be layering files on top of one another to compose the final image I started with layering backgrounds and applying a gradient overlay. Adding the overlay and messing with blend modes let me create depth to my base colors which creates an interesting blend in the overall compositions.
This process was repeated six times creating different background layers. I chose the number six as an underlying concept. In all of my art I reference my own spiritual and personal beliefs. The number six, in some cases, is said to represent problem solving and the need for balance.
That is a true reflection between suffering and enduring a passion. In moving forward with my creative process I continued by making a focal point. Since I already wanted the rose in the center I decided to draw a sphere around it by selecting the ellipse tool. Holding shift to force equal constraints I then drew the circle.
There we have it. The very beginning of our composition. As I mentioned earlier the number six was an important part of this project. Outside of it’s references it established a set of constraints used in setting up layers and limiting color range. Because of this I established a set of six shades of orange I wanted to use. Those six colors would be the backbone for each layer. Added depth was made with an inner shadow. What this did was create the feeling of a recession in the center of the canvas.
Finally to round out the background of my composition I created a texture layer. Something I was taught early on in design school was that by adding depth and texture you can make something simple much more interesting. I duplicated the rose layers, flattened them into one single object and created random overlapping juxtapositions. With the layer blend mode set to `Color Dodge` I was able to create a vibrant textured pattern helping to add more visual interest.
With the background in place I began moving on with adding in the rose. Since all of the hard stuff was taken care of earlier, doing so was as easy as turning on the layer group that we used earlier to isolate our rose.
The next few steps were relatively simple. Since the rose was already isolated, a shape existed. Color constraints forced the same color overlays to the rose. Another thing I did was set the roses drop shadow layer blend mode to `Multiply` as I knew the black would react nicely with the oranges.
At this point all the layers were created. And all the colors, styles and treatments were checked for compatibility with one another. Here’s a look at the final piece.
How to create an NFT with code
In this section I’ll go over how I used open source software to run a script that auto generated and compiled sixty-six unique variations of art. There are two versions of his script. I used the latest version. There are also videos he produced on his YouTube channel walking you through the creation of the script from scratch. I highly recommend watching them.
Once downloaded and unzipped make sure you saved the extracted file somewhere you’ll remember or want. I chose to move the extracted folder into the main directory I set up for my artwork. Once inside the directory you should see contents that look like such.
This is the directory structure and what you’ll see at the top level. It’s where all the inner workings of the script are. Open the extracted folder in a code editor of choice. I use Visual Studio Code.
The next steps are critical. Follow along with the readme on HashLips repo. He explains that you require Node to use this software. He also explains clearly how to modify the code and contents of your layers folders in order to build your generative art. Fortunately I did not run into any hiccups. This isn’t always the case.
The main edits were in the config.js file. When I was happy with the setup, running the script was as simple as typing in `node index.js`.
From there the computer ran through its process and began building unique variations of art based on the layers I supplied it and the weighting assigned to each layer directory. During the build process you could see how it kept record of previous combinations. If it caught a duplicate the script would automatically try another approach.
After several minutes the final output is a folder full of sixty-six unique variations automatically generated by the compiling of multiple layer files and a basic set of constraints.
Through the combination of photo editing techniques and open source coding I was able to explore an entirely new topic and art form. Which is what I love so far about this entire experience creating crypto artwork. Had I not been exposed to NFT art I would not have been exposed to generative art. Had I not learned about this concept then I would not have been able to even explore the thoughts and ideas around it. New possibilities are being unlocked.
Minting an NFT
The final aspect to all of this assumes you’ve created an OpenSea account. If you don’t have one take a moment to sign up. Signing up requires that you have a wallet. The most popular one is Metamask. Creating an account requires that you connect your wallet to OpenSea and make a small transaction fee for authentication. Once authenticated you can begin rocking and rolling with your NFTs.
I specifically will be mentioning how to mint on the OpenSea platform as that is what I use. To get started, right on the homepage there are two places you can click in order to create an NFT. Both are labeled `Create`.
Clicking on either of those buttons brings you to a new page where you’ll be faced with a form to fill out. In that form there will be places that ask for general information such as the artwork you wish to upload, the title of the artwork, an external link and description.
Additionally in the form there is information that refers to more specific elements of an NFT. Such as the collection it could belong to, properties, levels, stats, unlockable content and a NSFW setting. I won’t cover all of these areas but collectors pay attention to this. Take some time to learn what they are and include necessary information.
Finally after you’ve filled in all the information you can select a payment method. I prefer the Polygon network as the fees are lower. With Ethereum you pay gas fees. Those can get a little expensive depending on the market.
The last thing you’ll do is click `Create`. Once that’s done you’ve minted an item on the blockchain. It’s now in your collection and ready to be listed for sale.
Wrapping up how to create an NFT step by step
Even though I specifically mention Photoshop, the tips and workflow exposed in this guide on how to create an NFT step by step can be used in any image editing software. They are basic techniques that manipulate photography to compile and create many unique variations through the use of open source code.
Passio latin for passion meaning suffering, enduring. Something we sometimes experience when going after our passions. A suffering through the endurance required to succeed? I was inspired by the orange rose as it’s a symbol of life, energy, passion, and excitement. Feelings that I’m feeling as I embark on my journey as a cyto artist.