The internet is full of headlines, and articles on the outrageous sales NFTs have generated. As a result, there are a lot of curious individuals wondering how to make an NFT. In this article, I will cover the general aspects of creating your very first non-fungible token. Through experimentation and application plus alignment of existing knowledge, we can see what it takes to go from idea to NFT and beyond.
NFTs, the basics
Before diving into NFTs, A few basics. What is an NFT? An NFT is a non-fungible token. Which means?
An identical replica can replace something fungible. Whereas something that is non-fungible cannot. NFTs are tokens that store unique sets of data and are not easily replaced.
Non-fungible tokens are certified proof of ownership like a deed. It’s a simple technological breakthrough that has been around for some time. Don’t let the headlines fool you. Shit’s been cracking since the 1990s before some of you were a twinkle in your daddy’s eye. We just didn’t know it. Peep this article for a little 101.
The simplest way I’ve explained NFTs was by using a container of potato salad. I pointed out the simple fact of the container and inside it was potato salad. That potato salad could be anything. If I traded the potato salad for the same potato salad, that would be an exchange of fungible goods. If I asked for the toaster instead, and in return, I gave my potato salad and a box of coffee, that transfer of goods would be non-fungible.
Simply put, NFTs are containers that hold unique sets of data that point to a location with information about the asset contained in the container.
Minting an NFT is the term used to describe the creation of art on the blockchain. When art gets minted, it’s written into an unchangeable and tamper-proof ledger. Ownership gets recorded, and the item is now able to be sold. To sell your art, it’s a simple process. You will need a wallet and an exchange account. Coinbase is popular and easy to use. At the exchange is where you’ll buy $ETH to transfer to your wallet.
Once you have funds in your wallet, OpenSea requires a one-time fee when getting set up. After that, all you have to do is click on a button, fill out a form, and upload your artwork. Easy peasy.
How to make an NFT
How to make an NFT starts with an idea. Not just anything. Something unique, fun, and meets the laws of supply and demand.
All too often, artists and creators want to have fun and forget the aspects of business only to get frustrated that their work doesn’t sell. You do not understand the market. Market research and competitive analysis are part of the product design process and provide a basic understanding of what people want.
Some get this straightaway. Others do not. Think of it as scanning a room when you enter it to see who you might want to meet.
I get it; you’re an artist, and you just want to make art, or you’re not really with the business stuff. Unless you have representation or a following to support you, it will be hard to get by without having a slight bit of business acumen. For that matter of fact, take a couple of hours and watch a YouTube video.
Art, whether physical or in the form of an NFT or NFT collection, is a product.
Sometimes products are created for fun. Most times, products fill a need, want, or desire. Therefore it’s essential to understand this if you want to know how to make an NFT. Also, it’s critical to know that a product can exist on its own without a business attached to it. Products require significant thought and attention from varying angles to create.
Groups of people get together and figure this shit out. Meaning they identify the market they are trying to serve and how they can meet the needs of that market.
Even though CryptoPunks has no utility or purpose, it held sentimental value and desirability when it went to market. It was the first Ethereum NFT initially sold for the price of gas. It’s one of those things you’ll never be able to get again—a stamp in time.
What does all this mean?
If you want to know how to make an NFT, you need to spend time researching the market and identifying who you want to create artwork for and what they may or may not want to buy. Just because you think something is cool does not mean it will sell. Nor does it mean that it’s even worth creating. Google terms like product-market fit to understand this concept further.
Once you have a clear idea of who you’re creating artwork for and what they want or need, i.e., buyer personas, you can get cracking.
To make an NFT, you will need some work of art in a digital format. It can be created by hand and digitized, created entirely in a graphics editing program like Photoshop, a 3-D modeling program such as Blender, or whatever else. The method is fluid and up to you. Get creative.
The output can be typically JPG, PNG, GIF, SVG, MP4, WEBM, MP3, WAV, OGG, GLB, and GLTF file formats. Meaning artists and creators of all types can participate in the whimsical world of NFTs.
Depending on your medium, you can take a handful of approaches to make an NFT. My background is in visual arts; I lean towards tools like hand-drawing and graphics editing software to accomplish works created in a style known as generative art.
Examples of NFTs
To understand the breadth of the industry and how far and wide the landscape reaches, we have to take a quick step back in time. First mentioned as a form of a crypto trading card. The concept developed overtime looking for practical uses cases. It wasn’t until more recently we saw the emergence of the NFT as we know it. Closely linked to technology and gaming, NFTs have grown beyond the confines of terminal windows and are now in the hands of the general public.
NFTs we’re interacting with are art, gaming, trading cards, collectibles, sports, music, and media. Enterprise applications are also beginning to take hold as new uses cases are starting to come to life. Industries like real estate, events, the metaverse, virtual fashion, Defi, certifications, and qualifications are just a few examples.
Art NFTs come in various shapes and sizes. Images, music, and video are all ways creatives express themselves. The initial intention behind NFT technology was to create a monetized system for artists to get paid for their art. It was also a way to protect their intellectual property.
The demand for in-game assets has increased ten-fold. People are buying things like outfits, shoes, weapons, and property. Programs allow creators and developers to take part and participate in open marketplaces. The play-to-earn market is also taking shape.
Today people can buy and trade virtual trading cards and keep them just like keeping the real thing. Trading cards are also heavily linked to gaming. Some of the more popular NFT games are based on card game concepts similar to Magic the Gathering.
Collectibles are no stranger to NFTs. These items have varying attributes and properties. They’re scarce, can be traced back to their owners, and are highly desirable. Collectibles, like anything, are subjective and built around sentimental value.
Onboarding in early 2020, organizations took to NFTs. Sporting teams have made great use of their utility. They are creating different NFTs and their experiences, from fan tokens to launching their collection.
The growth of music NFTs in the non-fungible tokens could offer reliable prospects for addressing the concerns of music piracy and intermediaries. Music and media are starting to see the benefits of NFTs as artists get the advantage of reaching out directly to followers and new audiences; the listeners get a premium experience.
Shortlist of examples:
- Art: https://xcopy.art/
- Gaming: https://axieinfinity.com/
- Trading cards: https://opensea.io/collection/trading-cards
- Collectibles: https://boredapeyachtclub.com/
- Sports: https://www.arsenal.com/news/socios-partnership-drive-global-fan-experience
- Music: https://www.coindesk.com/layer2/2021/12/16/music-nfts-are-set-for-an-explosive-2022/
- Media: https://www.adweek.com/media/how-media-companies-are-looking-to-nfts-as-a-business-of-the-future/
Additional steps to make an NFT
Suppose you’re a tech-savvy individual or generally curious about how to go beyond uploading a file or file type. In that case, there are some extra steps you can take to make an NFT. Thanks to my OCD, I needed to know how randomly generated NFT collections were being created and went on a mission to understand the core concepts behind them. In doing so, I uncovered a few things about decentralized apps, Web3, and working with smart contracts.
Warskullz was an NFT collection I wanted to create to celebrate the profile picture phenomenon. I thought I’d do a more extensive set. The collection failed miserably because I hadn’t realized my initial approach and positioning were way off. As a result, I realized that to gain maximum efficiency, smart contracts were the next thing I needed to dive into because uploading art one by one is stupid. Unfortunately, interfaces don’t have bulk edit functions built-in. Plus, as a purest, I wanted to be familiar with the art. Consider me an engineering-friendly designer.
Don’t get your panties in a bunch over the word smart contract. It sounds scientific and probably is, but it’s just a digital contract that is immutable but amenable. Thankfully standards are in place, and extraordinary developers have created open-source smart contracts to jump off. If you want to go down this road, your best bet would be to look at some of the tutorials available on the internet. Below are some of the ones that initially helped me understand the overall concepts before digging in deeper.
Shortlist of resources:
The scariest part of all of this is the setup and testing. Deployment, verifying, and minting are easy peasy as long as you copied your ABI and contract ID while configuring things. With testing, you’ll need some test $ETH or whatever coin you’re working in. I bring this up because it takes a few days to get a test $ETH. To earn coins to test with, you will need to find a “faucet” for the token you wish to work with and follow their steps.
I used Remix IDE to work with an open-source contract. Modified it and then deployed to Polygon network. If you’re not familiar with IDE’s, they can be a little weird at first. It’s an interface like any other. I initially was like, what the fuck is going on because I couldn’t grasp how easy it was to switch between networks when testing. You select the network from a dropdown in Remix and your wallet. Bing bong. D’oh, it took me forever.
From there, testing was straightforward. In the smart contract that I used, all that needed to be updated was specific information about my collection. Mostly the name, metadata location, and token. I chose $WRSKLZRBT because I thought I was clever and tried to spell out Warskullz_Reboot for the deployed collection. Hehehe.
I don’t know what you’re going to need in your contract, so there’s no point in getting too detailed. For me, it was as simple as minting and revealing. I did not plan any spectacular drop or release mechanics.
For me, NFTs have been a purely experimental process. I have an idea forming into a vision as I learn the industry and apply what I am learning or expand my RADIUS.
The most satisfactory feeling I got in this process was the little green checkmark that signified the contract was verified, and all was ok on-chain. It had meant I accomplished what I had set out to do, ultimately developing a collection from beginning to end.
Wrapping it up
As you can see, there are many ways to make an NFT. Chose what best suits you and your needs. If art is not your thing, then help expand the industry by solving problems outside of money laundering and asset allocation for the wealthy elite. Onboarding is a significant issue for many and a massive blocker in adopting cryptocurrency as a whole. Outside of that, there are use cases that haven’t been explored. It’s a growing space with tons of opportunities.