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How to Create a Successful Generative NFT PFP Collection

tie-dye-ninja

What is an NFT PFP collection, what makes it so interesting, why are people racing each mint to get one of these precious PFPs, and how to create a successful collection? I’ll answer these questions in this article. Plus, I’ll share with you some insider tips from my experience working as an illustrator behind a successfully sold-out project “Tie Dye Ninjas” released in 2021. This collection brings a music festival and psychedelic culture to the Meta-Verse.

With all this in place, you’ll be well equipped to launch your NFT PFP collection. So let’s get started!

What is a PFP NFT?

PFP stands for Profile as Picture. Once you own a particular NFT, you can use its picture on your social media profiles to display your ownership and stand out online. The world’s most popular NFT collections such as “Bored Ape Yacht Club” and “CryptoPunks” are PFPs. Both of these projects have generated a large amount of Ethereum and received a cult following.

Bored Ape Yacht club NFT collection

PFPs are also collectibles and come in a fixed amount, just like trading cards or lithography. Some PFPs come with additional perks for the owner. E.g. they give private keys to access virtual or physical events, others are Metaverse ready, and some are simply for the beauty of art.

PFPs collections are a specific kind of NFT, they are meant to be automatically generated by an algorithm based on different assets created by an artist and be minted randomly.

They are often created on the Ethereum blockchain but can also be created on Solana, Polygon, or Tezos to name a few. While Ethereum is the most popular blockchain regarding NFTs, it has a high energy cost as of today and Ethereum 2.0 isn’t there yet. Solana and Tezos are way more efficient but have a smaller community at the moment.

One interesting thing to note is that NFTs can be resold for profit. The original creator of the NFT retains a certain percentage of the sale price. Those who buy NFTs and resell them for profit are called flippers.

All the PFP NFTs have two things in common:

  1. their metadata, and
  2. their scarcity.

The metadata defines the uniqueness of the NFT. It can also be interpreted in future games and platforms to recreate the characters in those contexts. Imagine a game such as Fortnite partnering with “Bored Ape Yacht club” and allowing the owner of each of the PFP to play their characters there. It would make them the ONLY players to have their unique characters! Such a use case could apply not just to games but also to other media which is not yet live.

The key to a successful NFT PFP Collection is not only the artwork and the perks but also the marketing that’s behind it. We’ll look into some NFT marketing techniques a bit later in this tutorial.

Tie Dye Ninjas PFP Collection

I’m an illustrator behind a successfully sold-out project “Tie Dye Ninjas” released in 2021 under the creative direction of Laine Kelly. This collection represents the Warriors of Peace and brings a music festival and a psychedelic culture to the Meta-Verse. See this collection on Opensea.

One of the parties we’ve organized for the Tie Dye Ninjas NFT owners.

When holding one of the “Tie Dye Ninjas” NFTs you get access to the secret parties or can join one of the games created for the project (online and offline). You can also get access to streams of DJ sets or concerts in different metaverses such as Sandbox or NFT world.

As of this day, the project is sold out. The IRL (“in real life”) party has been organized, dozens of concerts have happened in the metaverse, several games were created on different platforms, and much more to come!

Tie Dye Ninjas game in the metaverse.
Tie Dye Ninjas game in the metaverse.

How to Create a Generative PFP Collection?

Let’s look into the steps you need to take in order to create a generative PFP collection.

1. Define Your Characters

  1. To start your project you need to define your characters. What type of character will you create? A humanoid, an animal, an abstract form, a 3D render, or a painting?
  2. Now, you need to define the character’s style: cartoonish, semi-realistic, abstract?
  3. Next, define the universe where the character will operate: under the sea, a canvas, earth, space, etc. The possibilities are endless.
  4. Lastly, we need a background for the PFP. Will it be a solid color or an illustration?

2. Decide on the Size of Your Collection

At the start of the hype of collectible PFP NFTs, each collection would have a set number of 10,000 NFTs that people could mint randomly towards a candy machine.

These days the number of PFPs in a collection varies. Some contain 300 avatars, some 666, 2,222, or 9,999. There are no rules here. Each PFP could be linked to a set of rewards or perks that your audience would find appealing.

3. Decide on the Perks

Deciding on which perks to assign to your NFTs is a matter of imagination and practicality. Some NFTs give you access to a specific channel in a Discord so you can be updated on the upcoming market waves. Other NFTs give you tangible rewards like a T-shirt or a physical print of the NFT.

In our Tie Dye Ninjas collection, the perks were hoodies, virtual concerts, VIP access to IRL parties, and access to the metaverse games that allowed you to earn cryptos.

It’s up to you and your team to decide on how to push your marketing and sustain the viability of your product in the long run.

4. Decide on the Prices

There are no rules for how much the PFPs should cost. Some creators give them for free besides the price of gas, some sell them through a Dutch auction, others sell at a fixed price such as 0.05 Ethereum per PFP, and some use pop-culture references to set the price.

Since the NFTs can be resold, you will have to decide the royalties you want to receive from the secondary market sales. Most projects take 5% of the resale value while the others take 10%. This percentage can be put back into a DAO or the wallet of the creator to sustain the project further.

5. Create the PFP Artwork Using an Algorithm

Let me walk you through a quick tutorial on how to create a character as a PFP and get it ready for the algorithm. We’ll use Tie Dye Ninja #534 as an example:

  1. You’ll first need to decide which algorithm you’ll use to generate the art. An engineer can create the algorithm for you or you can use a generative art website such as NFT Art Generator. You can also find the basic source code of the generative art online as open-source just make sure you download from a safe source – scammers are everywhere.

  2. Now, you need to identify the attributes that will be used to generate the character. They will be part of the metadata and look like this:


  3. Each of these properties represents a layer of the character. The more layers the character has, the rarer he’s going to be in your collection. You will also have to give a percentage of rarity to each property (layer) to give even more rarity to your different characters.

    For example, if you wanted to make a cowboy hat to be a rare component of your NFT PFP, you can give it a 0.5% chance to appear on a character. If you want a lot of your PFPs to have a Fez, then you can give a 15% rarity to it.

    Below you’ll see how each of these properties translates into a layer. I used Procreate on the iPad here but it can be done in a similar way with Photoshop, Krita, ClipStudio pro, etc.:


  4. Once all the layers are created and finalized, export and save each layer as a PNG. This will maintain the transparency of the layer as opposed to having white background in a JPG image.

  5. Once you have all the different layers exported, arrange them in folders. E.g. “hairs”, “pants”, “background” and so on. Each of these folders will have about a dozen or more PNGs. The more variety you have, the better!

  6. Now, you need to generate an NFT art. You can do it with online software, hire a developer to do this for you, or use the open-source code from Github and do it yourself.

  7. Now, you need to upload your NFTs to a website so people could mint them. You can create your own website or upload your NFTs on such marketplaces as Opensea or Rarible.

How to Promote Your NFT PFP Collection?

Promoting your NFT PFP Collection is the most important part of the success of your collection. It’s also the trickiest one too, especially if you are an artist without a big audience or an audience that’s not yet into crypto or NFTs.

Some collections partner up with the influencers to gain a wider reach, some build their audiences from the ground up. Each collection has its own path.

Mingling in the Crypto Communities

The coolest kids that own crypto and NFTs in 2022 hang out online on Twitter and Discord. You need to forge friendships with them by following them, winning their hearts and then their wallets 🙂

You can start by identifying these people on Twitter as well as relevant crypto/NFT communities on Discord. You need to constantly interact with them by initiating the conversations and attracting their attention through interesting content.

Another way to gain access to a crypto/NFT community would be to buy an NFT from a project that has an audience relevant to your project. Most of the NFT collections promote each member through a tweet. This gives exposure. The members of the “Bored Apes Yacht club”, for example, follow each other.

Partnering with the Influencers

Partnering with other artists or people who want to create a project in the same direction can yield very good results. It works just like you’d organize a concert together, a live event, or a game together. There will be more compromise to make and less personal revenue but you’ll grow and get stronger as a team.

The “Tie Dye Ninjas” collection had a creative director on the team who had extremely strong ties to the music industry and a huge network of influential people that pushed the project to the front stage and made it a success.

Engaging the Potential Contributors

Another good strategy is to engage the potential contributors to perform promotional activities in return for some perks, a percentage of the tokens or NFTs. This is often called a “bounty campaign.”

Running Giveaways

Running giveaways can attract people to come to your Discord group or retweet your announcements. If they are run tastefully, they can work. Just be careful not to overdo it because there is a lot of scam out there and people are super cautious.

Creating a Dedicated Twitter Account & Discord Server

When you decide which marketing techniques you’ll use to promote your collection, I highly recommend creating a dedicated Twitter account and a Discord server for the collection. You can leverage these assets in various ways. For example, you can share special announcements on Twitter and connect with other projects. You can have a more “closed with special access” community on Discord and connect with other NFT enthusiasts who would be potential owners of your NFT PFPs.

Wrapping It Up

NFTs are still in their infancy. The volatility of the crypto space has its highs and lows. Despite that, most large companies are already implementing the NFTs and adopting blockchain technology for their future projects.

The NFT space moves extremely fast and you need to be on a constant lookout for new trends. One trend that will surely stay is the metadata that’s connected with the NFTs. This will be part of the DNA of the Meta-Verse of the future.

When it comes to promoting your collection, there’s no magic formula. There are more and more projects coming into the space and it’s becoming very crowded. However, if you offer a quality product and find an audience that’s receptive to it, you have all your chances to be successful.

Good luck with creating your NFT PFP collection!

Terminology

Mint

Minting an NFT means converting digital data into crypto collections or digital assets recorded on the blockchain, it refers as well as the action of purchasing such asset

PFP
Picture for profile (picture used on Twitter and Discord).

Metadata

Data that provides information about other data.

Fortnite

One of the most popular and profitable games of the 21st century.

Gas

Price of the transactions on the blockchain. It changes based on the volume and demands.

Dutch auction

Auction starts at a fixed price and drops by X% over time until it reaches the final minimum price.

Candy machine

This term is used for buying random NFTs through minting. It works just like a candy machine in real-life or a set of Pokemon cards.

DAO

A decentralized autonomous organization.

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