How to Quickly Create a 10K NFT Collection with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop

How many layers and traits do you need to make 10,000 NFTs? How to structure your NFT pieces? What is the best way to create variations? What are rarities and how to implement them? How does a batch export the different attributes?

Although individual art pieces can be very valuable on some specific nft marketplaces, it seems that many successful projects feature giant nft collections that consist of 1K, 5K, and in many cases 10K art pieces and more. Creating such a collection may seem very intimidating and time-consuming. But the truth is that if planned correctly a 10K NFT series can be created and generated in several hours.

create 10k nfts in adobe illustrator and photoshop
In this post, I will walk you through the entire process of designing and generating the 10K NFT coolest birds collection from scratch using only Adobe Illustrator * and Adobe Photoshop *.

The Main Idea

The process of creating a 10K NFT collection is all about planning. Once you know what you want to create you need to follow a very simple process of drawing a relatively small amount of unique elements in a specific matter so those pieces can later be combined into many different configurations. This can be done in many different ways, I will show you my process of doing it, which I believe can save you lots of valuable time. [No coding knowledge is required]

Follow these 11 simple steps and you will know how to quickly create a NFT collection of any size.

Step 1: Coming up with the Idea

The first step would be coming up with the idea and style for your NFT collection. Almost any subject can transform into a cool collection. You can feature doodle art, illustrate sports moments, draw walking men, create riding stick figures, and render cartoon vehicles. There is no limit to what your collection can be about.

The same goes for style, some collections are just line art, others 3d renders. Some are static frames, others are animated, and some collections have both static and animated art.

Pfp is probably the most popular NFT collection type. It is a profile picture art. Many successful collections, like CryptoPunksCool CatsStarCatchers, and many more are featuring this type of art.

In this post, I will walk you through the full process of illustrating a whole collection using Adobe Illustrator. Then comb and generate all the traits and layers into 10K collectible pieces using Adobe Photoshop.

The collection that we will be creating in this tutorial is called “Coolest Birds”. It features cartoon birds with different facial expressions, hats, legs, and backgrounds.

This tutorial describes the process of creating the art layers in Adobe Illustrator and then transferring them to Adobe Photoshop to be generated into a large collection size. If you prefer to create the art for your collection in Photoshop the process is similar, you can just skip the exporting/importing steps described here.

Step 2: Defining what Layer and Traits will be Created

A generative collection will usually feature a base character and many customizations on top of it. Those customizations are called traits. Layers will refer to the number of different variations of each customization.

So let’s look at one of the art pieces in our bird collection.

Each piece consists of a bird base, on top of it there are different types of eyes, glasses, hats, legs, and other accessories.

nft coolest bird collection artwork structure

The base itself may consist of different layers as well. Those layers are different variations of the same base.

Some collections will have a consistent base (with just 1 layer).

Cool Cats Project for example has the same blue cat silhouette as a base for almost an entire collection.

Other collections may add color variations to the base.


Cryptopunks project uses pixelated faces in different skin tones as a base for everything. 


Some projects will have more significant differences between layer bases.


The Coolest Birds collection base layers differ from each other by color, nose shape, and wing gestures.

base layers for 10k birds nft collection

For this collection, the base consists of the body, wings, and nose. Intuitively it feels like the wings and the nose should be created as separate traits. But since we want the nose and wings to be consistent with the base color. It is just easier to define them all as one base when using the generation method described in this post.

To create a collection using automatic generation it is important to create all the base layers in such a way that they can all look good with the different traits created on top of it. Having just one base layer or differently colored same shaped base layers helps in avoiding mismatch mistakes during the generation process.

For example, if one of the base layers uses a completely different shape and the eyes layer will be added on top of it, the output will look odd.

rules for creating variations for the base nft layer in a generative collection

There is, however, a way to overcome this problem when different base shapes are needed and that would be to run the auto-generation process several times and then just combine the results. 

How to Calculate the Amount of Traits and Layers Required for a 10K Collection?

Total pieces of a collection are a multiplication of the number of layers and traits.

Layers * Traits = Collection Size

So, if we have 1 base layer and 10 layers for eyes, 10 layers for hats, 10 layers for shirts, and 10 background layers that will already sum up to a 10k collection (hats, eyes, shirts, and background is considered a trait):

1 Base * 10 Eyes * 10 Hats * 10 Shirts * 10 Backgrounds =10K

You can also create a 10K collection using 5 base layers, 5 eye sets, 4 hats, 5  mouth shapes, 5 glasses style, and 4 shirts.

5 Bases * 5 Eyes * 4 Hats * 4 Shirts *5 Mouths * 5 Glasses =10K

Or, alternatively, you can use 2 different bases, 10 different shirts, 4 hairstyles, 5 facial expressions, 5 scarves, and 5 hats.

2 Bases * 10 Shirts * 4 Hairs * 5 Facial Expressions *5 Scarves * 5 Hats =10K

The more different traits and layers you use the more interesting your collection will be. You can of course create a collection that sums up to more than 10K items and just get rid of the less interesting ones after generation.  

Step 3: Planning Rarities

Another important aspect of creating a diverse collection is rarities.

This means making some traits/layers appear less than others in your collection.

With rarities, you can insert more differentiation between items without increasing the collection size.

Rarities will also make some art pieces more valuable than others and allow you to create a more diverse and eye-catching collection.

Example Collection with Rarities

Blue Birds 10%

White Birds 10%

Red Birds 5%

Green Birds 25%

Yellow Birds 50%

Police Hat 10%

Chef Hat  10%

Gentleman Hat 20%

Clown Hat 10%

Native Hat 50%

No Glasses 50%

Sun Glasses 30%

Pink Glasses 5%

Red Glasses 10%

Green Glasses 5%

Yellow 20%

Blue 20%

Red 30%

Green 29%

Purple 1%

sitting 10%

running 10%

walking 40%

with socks 20%

with shoes 20%

Example Collection without Rarities

Blue Birds

White Birds

Red Birds

Green Birds

Yellow Birds

Police Hat

Chef Hat

Gentleman Hat

Clown Hat

Native Hat

No Glasses

Sun Glasses

Pink Glasses

Red Glasses

Green Glasses









with socks

with shoes


In the example above the collection without rarities has 5 layers to each trait. So during generation, all the traits will appear an even amount of times. This means that each trait has a rarity of 20%. The rarities collection on the other hand has a percentage assigned to each trait making a purple background, for example, appear only in 1% percent of all generated NFTs in that collection. 

Step 4: Creating the First Piece

We will start the process by creating the first piece of our collection with 1 layer of all possible traits it can have.

Your base art might be a combination of more than 1 sub-layer. Once it is finished just make sure that all the pieces are placed on the base layer.

layer structure for every coolest bird artwork

Step 5: Creating the Variations

Now that one full art piece is finished and each attribute is placed on its layer, duplicate the artboards several times. The number of duplicates should be the same as the max number of variations you plan to have for the attributes.

For our cool bird’s collection, we will make 13 duplicates and end up with 14 artboards that at this point look the same.

structured artboard duplicates for making changes to traits and base layers

It is now time to make the variations. We will now change the appearance of the base layer on each of the new artboards. We can hide the other layers while we make the variations for convenience. For some, it will be just a color change and for some of them, I will add more details. Once finished, I will turn on the other layers to make sure that all new bases look good with the other attributes.

Once all the changes to the base layers are made, it is time to change the appearance of all the attributes on the different artboards.

coolest birds nft all traits and layers

Step 6: Saving All Artboards

Once all the variations were created it is time to save all the base and traits layers as individual png’s.

using export for screens to export all layers for attribute in batch

Step 7: Importing the Art Layers into Photoshop and Structure the Document

psd structure for coolest birds nft

Step 8: Add Values for Rarities

Step 9: Download a Script for Generating a Collection

To generate a collection we will run a script created by Daniel from Hashlips Nft. He made the script available for everyone to download here.

 You can generate the collection just by running this script without knowing anything about coding. But In case you want to understand the logic behind the generation scripts, here is a video where Daniel explains how it was created.

Step 10: Save the File in the Script Folder

Step 11: Run the Script

Now What?

You can now go to the build subfolder and enjoy your collection. You can pass it over to your client or upload it to the nft marketplace

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