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.
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.
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 CryptoPunks, Cool Cats, StarCatchers, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%
with socks 20%
with shoes 20%
Example Collection without Rarities
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.
We will start the process by creating the first piece of our collection with 1 layer of all possible traits it can have.
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.
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.
Once all the variations were created it is time to save all the base and traits layers as individual png’s.
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.