Artists do not necessarily need a gallery to display their artwork and offer it to potential buyers. They can also sell their art themselves – tokenized. They do this by converting their artwork into what is called an “NFT” – a Non Fungible Token. This is a unique “non-replaceable” cryptographic token.
How do I create a digital NFT from art?
Even art creators from America or England can turn an analog piece of art into a digital NFT. But how do I create an NFT with my own art? These instructions should help with the process. First, create a photo, for example, of a painting you’ve done yourself. Or you create the artwork digitally from the beginning. For example, an illustration, a photo, or a video.
First find a tokenization platform
Now, as an artist, you look for an online art marketplace that offers tokenization. There you upload the image file. Only in interaction with the blockchain technology does your artwork become an NFT. This token has a unique, almost forgery-proof signature. The NFT is a digital original. You can think of it like a digital painting or a digital collection. Tokenization serves to ensure the uniqueness of one’s artwork.
Tokenize art Instructions for artists
As an artist, you offer the created image file – the NFT – for sale on the art platform. Don’t know how to tokenize your own art? We explain how to proceed from the creation of the NFT file to the sale. For this, we took inspiration from a tutorial from 3D Gladiator. Basically, you store the original artwork in a distributed network. And you do this using pinata.cloud and an interplanetary file system.
Step 1: You must be the owner of the art
Before you decide to convert an artwork to NFTs as an artist in America or England, the following is important: make sure you are the creator or owner of the artwork. First, export two versions of the image or movie file with a defined rendering (quality of image resolution). One version you save as a large TIFF file. The other version you reduce to 50 percent and save as a JPEG file.
Step 2: Open the Rarible website
The next step is to open the rarible.com site in your browser. This is the first community-owned virtual NFT marketplace. Here you can create, sell or collect digital goods that can be secured via the blockchain. Before you click the “create” button on rarible, you connect your crypto wallet to the decentralized application. And you can do that by clicking on the connect button at the top right of the browser, below the URL bar.
Step 3: Find a crypto wallet
Now you have the option to connect to a wallet provider, for example MetaMask. After choosing the desired wallet, confirm the established connection in a new, small window. The connection between your own wallet and rarible.com is now established. Crypto wallets are software wallets that are available as an extension or add-on for your own browser. You can fill up this crypto wallet with the cryptocurrency Ethereum (ETH), which runs on the Ethereum blockchain.
There are two ways to buy Ethereum:
- You can pay by debit card, checking card, or credit card and thus load the wallet directly with the cryptocurrency.
- You can deposit Ethereum directly on your wallet by using one of the crypto platforms, like Coinbase or Bitpanda.
It is important that you, as an artist, have enough Ethereum on your wallet. This is the only way you can pay the transaction fees that will follow later. You will only have to pay these fees when your own artwork is actually converted into an NFT.
Step 4: Upload the file to rarible
But back to rarible: Now click on the “create” button. You can choose between a single edition and a multiple edition. Behind the “multiple edition” is the process of creating many individual and different parts of the same artwork from a single artwork. If you don’t want to do this, you should choose the “single edition”.
Next, you can upload the file. To do this, choose between PNG, GIF, web picture, mp4 and mp3 formats. Even if the file format JPEG is not listed here: There should be no problems with it. It is advisable to export a PNG file first. Before proceeding, you should always keep one thing in mind: When you convert an image to an NFT, the artwork itself is not stored in the Ethereum blockchain.
The smart contract contains the image metadata
The entry in the blockchain takes place with smart contracts (computer protocols that map or verify contracts). The contract consists of only a few lines of code. Within this code is metadata. This in turn contains the name of the image, a short description and a simple link. The latter points to a location on the web where the image is stored. In the case of variables, they do the storing and also compress the image accordingly.
As an artist or seller, you want the artwork for sale to reach the buyer in high resolution (HiRes). That is why you have the possibility to select the unlock once purchased option. In this case you can add an additional link or digital key to the file. This way, the file can be hosted on your own server or placed in a cloud storage system for files, for example Google Drive. But even that is still not secure and long-lasting enough. That’s why it’s beneficial to store the high-resolution version of the image on the IPFS, the interplanetary file system.
What is the IPFS and how does it work?The IPFS is a protocol and peer-to-peer network for storing and sharing data in a distributed file system. Even though the file system is distributed, it is not a blockchain. However, it is based on cryptographic hashes that can be easily stored in a blockchain. The IPFS network allows content to be addressed based on the content itself. This means that a name or hash is assigned to the content. If the content, for example an image, changes, then the hash changes as well. It's not like a classic URL (uniform resource locator) that points to a location where an image is stored. If you delete or change the image, the URL always remains the same. With the IPFS network, it's the other way around.
Step 5: Call Pinata Cloud
In the next step of this tutorial, access the pINATA.cloud. This is the easiest way to use the IPFS. If an account already exists, you can go to pinata upload on the top right and search for the TIFF file. If you have already uploaded the file before, you can omit this step here. To access the TIFF file and see its properties, use pin explorer. Besides the name and size of the file, you can see the IPFS hash here. This unique IPFS hash was generated on the network. This ensures that it always and exclusively refers to the own TIFF file.
- If you click on the IPFS hash and then on the file name, the image will be downloaded and displayed in the folder. After that, right click on the filename, copy the link and go back to the original page (rarible.com).
- If you click on the unlock once purchased button, you can paste the pinata link there. You can then set the instantscale price by typing in a value in Ethereum currency. In addition, you should note that Rarible charges a service fee of 2.5%. For the sale or transaction, you get the price you choose minus the 2.5%. The achieved return in non-cryptocurrency can be found in the current Ethereum exchange rate.
Do you have a collection of similar art?
Scroll down further, you can choose a collection. Here you can decide as an artist if you want to keep your image on the Rarible token. Or whether you choose a token based on the ERC-721 standard. This standard for NFTs ensures that this type of token is unique and can have a different value than all other tokens of the same smart contract. And this is based on age, rarity or appearance.
Usually, this makes sense especially if you want to publish a collection of similar artworks. Then you can enter your own token name, token symbol, description and short URL. Here at the bottom of the web page, you can also set properties, such as the artist, the version, etc.
This is how you participate in every further sale
Enter a percentage for the royalties. With this you define the amount you yourself will receive each time the artwork is resold. So if you sell the painting to the first buyer once, you as the artist will receive 100% minus the 2.5% service fee. From that point on you will receive 10% of each future sale. The percentage can be freely chosen.
Step 6: Connect the crypto wallet
All you need to do now is the following: Make sure that your own crypto wallet is connected. If it is, you can click on the create item button. This will upload the file and prepare it for token minting. This may take a few seconds to complete. Once the file is uploaded, you can start minting the tokens.
If one is performing this process for the first time, you have to confirm the interaction via app. This means that you are interacting with the blockchain at the same time. Every time you interact with the blockchain, you incur fees – the so-called gas fees. These fees cover the costs incurred when a transaction is executed on the network. In addition, Rarible charges fees for (initial) confirmation.
Gas Fees for using the Blockchain
As a general rule, you can remember the following: Whenever something is written to the blockchain, gas fees are incurred. Once the interaction contract is confirmed, the minting can finally begin. This brings the crypto wallet back to life. The interaction contract itself costs 0 Ethereum (ETH) because Rarible does not charge anything for minting tokens. However, you have to pay high gas fees for it
There are a few ways to reduce the gas fees:
- The first way is you click edit. Here you can set the type of transaction. You can choose between slow, average and fast. If you choose the slow option, you should expect the transaction to take ten minutes to an hour.
- The other option is to set the gas fees yourself. If you enter a low value for the gas fees, the price will also be reduced. However, you should make sure that the value of the gas fees is not too low. Otherwise, you run the risk of not being able to execute the transaction. So, in general, you should be careful with these values. The transaction will also only be executed if your crypto wallet has a corresponding utilization – i.e. there is enough cryptocurrency available. After the transaction is completed, the created NFT is shown in the crypto wallet.
Step 7 (optional): Open Open Sea website
Next you click on the icon Open Sea, the world’s first and largest NFT marketplace. In the best case, Open Sea is connected to your own crypto wallet. Here you can see at the top, above the indicated price, that the NFT has been created on Rarible. In addition, you can see the title of the artwork, the price in ETH and current offers at first glance. The Trading History shows when the NFT was created and offered for sale.
If you post your artwork as a token not only on Rarible but also on Open Sea, you will have to go through the confirmation process again. This means that some setup fees will apply. The confirmation process is free in itself. However, as described above, gas fees start accruing as soon as you start interacting with the blockchain. So, one should be prepared to pay fees for interacting on Open Sea. However, these fees are small compared to the fees that are additionally incurred if you want to offer your artwork on the Open Sea marketplace. These fees are considerably higher (double-digit dollar value) than the transaction fees (single-digit dollar value).
Step 8: Have fun with art tokenization
Minting NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain is currently quite expensive. This is largely due to the fact that the blockchain is highly trafficked and thus heavily loaded. So it is likely that prices will not fall in the foreseeable future. But in any case, it is fun to tokenize your own art and offer it for sale. The instructions are intended to help artists get closer to this goal.