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Warskullz_Reboot, a generative art NFT collection

Right click, Save or screenshot what you want NFTs have unlocked endless possibilities all around the world. Regardless of what one may think they’re adding tremendous value to many of our lives. Hell, if it wasn’t for them I’d probably never have experienced generative art. Nor would I have learned how to combine years of knowledge as a designer with new found information to create Warskullz_Reboot.

EZPZ watch if not wanna read. 2x speed works. Tested.

What is Warskullz_Reboot?

Deep in the depths of the SPOOKTOBER “back office” aka private Discord messages a conversation was being had by two legends. Myself and The Professor. Chatting about a new collection I was putting together and part of my contribution to the prize pool we power-brained hella ideas for names until agreeing it should be called Warskullz.

Hours and hours of work over the course of a month went into this collection. There was a lot I had not learned and a lot I had not foreseen. 

Every click of the mouse was riddled with some sort of a problem. From Photoshop hating me and my files sizes to OpenSea just saying fuck you and not loading. It was a nightmare. My energy and enthusiasm remained but my spirit weakened. It was then that I knew there had to be a better method. Which is how Warskullz_Reboot was born.

Example from a generative art series titlted. Warskullz_Reboot #255.
Warskullz_Reboot #255

The quest for a more efficient process led me down a path that allowed me to further explore generative art and create a collection of 666 unique variations. Designed in Photoshop composed in a stacked collage, this profile picture collection utilizes image manipulation techniques coupled with colors, layering, layering effects, textures and more. 

Comprising three weapon types, based on twelve color variations and graphical elements plus textures over ninety-six layers were compiled using HashLips’s art generator. Furthermore they were minted to the main Polygon network via smart contracts and solidity tutorials. 

Warskullz_Reboot is a true exploration in NFT creation from start to finish.

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, created either entirely by chance or through the mind’s eye of the artist.

Simply put generative art is a style of art that uses machines to construct images with the help of an artist’s input. This can range from the layering and compiling technique used in Warskullz_Reboot or be entirely created by code. Generative art can also be designed by artificial intelligence left to its own devices.

There are a lot of really amazing resources online that explain generative art further. I think it’s worth the time to wander and explore. It’s a really cool technique. Just about any programming language can be used for this medium of expression.

How the collection was made

The initial collection was made in Photoshop using a layered approach. The focal point is a skull that I had sourced and manipulated to create the base of the artwork. From there I collected a few old style hand held weapons as one of the more obvious variations to the collection. It was also what would make up the backbone of the art as it was stabbed through the top of the skull protruding down and outward.

In wanting to keep with the theme a wreath of roses, some frames and more roses would all be built up or removed to develop the different classes; common, uncommon, rare, super rare and ultra super rare.These classes made up the overall idea of Warskullz.

When it came to Warskullz_Reboot I knew it was going to be a generative art collection. Wanting to revisit the artwork itself and make sure I addressed problems that arose initially. Since the intention was to create a profile picture collection it was a smart idea to draw in some trim lines. Rookie mistake. I didn’t fully consider that in round one.

Example of the file used to create generative art series titled. Warskullz_Reboot. It shows the overall composition and the layer structure.
A look at warskullz_reboot.psb and it’s layering of smart objects.

With everything adjusted I went back in and cleaned up the elements themselves. Masks needed sorting, levels adjusting and some housekeeping was necessary. 

It was not time for the production process. Which is where I think a lot of artists and designers might get tripped up. Creating a one off piece is easy. When the art begins to transcend from an individual work and scales to a collection, a different mindset and approach is required.

Engineering the production process to create this collection was a time consuming pain. First I had to consider that each layering effect doesn’t always work the way you’d expect when flattening or removing the layer from the order in your file. Especially if you start trying to output them individually. 

In comes smart objects and tricks I learned as a screen printer. 

Certain effects that relied on transparencies and layer effects had to be treated in ways that they could become flattened objects. While others would be manipulated in a way that they could accept color and then be flattened into that single element. 

Basically I was creating transparencies and elements as smart objects and then creating the variation of the element based on the color palette and textures being applied. Meaning each layer and each element had to have any and all of the effects and treatments in the total composition applied to each one so they could stand alone as an object and later make up a unique variation.

The color palette for this project was kept relatively simple. I chose twelve complimentary colors from the color wheel and made sure that each one had the right amount of saturation depending upon how they’d fall in the compiling. With all colors set I applied them to the elements and made the varying layers.

Those layers were output into the project directory where the real fun was to begin.

My process included Adobe Photoshop and open source software. A fellow by the handle Hashlips created a bunch of really helpful tutorials, videos and repositories to help artists and individuals like myself. One of those repos is a generative art engine. What it does is take all of the layers and builds compositions based on rules set in the configuration.

Once those rules are set and the process is run it will pull each layer from their directory and place it in the order it is to be placed. Depending upon the weighting and rarity limit set that layer will show up X amount of times. After the build process is complete you’re left with a directory of however many files you’ve created.

As well as metadata for the entire collection and each individual element.

Example of the build directory showing a generative art series titled Warskullz_Reboot #1. It is also showing the metadata files automatically compiled.
Build directory showing Warskullz_Reboot #1 and metadata.

The metadata was a critical element to the next part of the process. A step that included working with open source smart contracts, a ton more tutorials, since what I wanted to do required piecing together a few bits of information, and some elbow grease.

You may not realize this but all of those ten thousand plus NFT collections that are touting “randomness” aren’t actually being upfront. Every file gets placed on IPFS ahead of time as it needs to have a unique URI. That address is the location of the actual asset. The URI is what marketplaces like OpenSea rely on in order to display the image.

There is a little trick I learned. 

Prior to “minting” a token the creator of the collection can develop a placeholder image with its own metadata. Once the contract is deployed it will show this placeholder info. When a user “mints” or reveals the coin metadata is refreshed and the “minted” object appears.

With all of the files in place and the correct URI address in the metadata I could now start building out the core functions of my contract. This was done using open source solidity contract templates and updated to reflect changes I needed to make for my specific collection. At that point I could test my contract against the different networks and make sure that all things functioned as expected. Now I could easily just change from the testnet to the mainnet and spend some $MATIC. That’s right. I deployed directly to the main Polygon network. 

Following the flattening and compiling of my contract I went over to Polygonscan, claimed ownership and went through the verification process. Things were starting to get real. 

I had come pretty far on my journey and pretty soon I was about to create my very first smart contract and token. There’s a few things to keep in mind when verifying your contract. There’s some bits of information you’re gonna need to capture early on in the process.

Those bits are your contract address and ABI. The ABI is going to be necessary in the verification stage because you’ll want to make sure that the one in the actual contract is correct. It should be but there is a chance it might not come back right. You also need to paste in the flattened version of your file when you’re verifying your contract.

Example of a verified contract for a generative art series titlted. Warskullz_Reboot.

Contract deployed, $WRSKLZRBT coin minted.

Why Warskullz_Reboot?

If you’re wondering why collect one of these NFTs the real question is why wouldn’t you. Let’s start with rarity. There will only ever be 666. I will never make another Warskullz of any kind. Each and every variation is unique and does not have an identical. Some elements remain the same and some elements are consistent; all outputs are their own.

I set out to do something and did not stop until I completed that task. I won’t allow the habit of not completing things to take shape in my life. When setting out to create this collection and its predecessor I had a goal in mind. That goal was to put to use what I learned regarding planning artwork for a collection.

Embarking on that journey I also set out to find a more efficient way in producing NFTs through smart contracts which unlocked doors in my mind. 

Example from a generative art series tilted. Warskullz_Reboot #266.
Warskullz_Reboot #666

Outside of that this is a true exploration in the creation of an NFT project. It’s the physical formation of an idea that was once a spark in my mind manifesting into a real digital asset. The entire collection was created, planned, designed and developed by me as an effort to fully grasp the technology but also position myself to continue to grow within this space and help others understand these same concepts so they can grow too.

Therefore collecting a Warskullz_Reboot NFT is more than just saying you appreciate my efforts. It’s an empowering validation that what I am doing is positively impacting the world and will allow me to continue to push my own boundaries transcending possibilities.

Collect them all!

Grab Warskullz_Reboot today!
Unique 1/1 digital artworks.

Available on OpenSea.
Max supply 666. Each .0111 ETH on Polygon.

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