2021 was a landmark year for non-fungible tokens because of several high-dollar NFT purchases. The pieces themselves enjoyed varying degrees of renown; Disaster Girl and Charlie Bit My Finger were among those that made headlines. They aren't among the NFTs that commanded the highest price; that honour goes to Beeple's First 5000 Days, which netted him $69 million. We mention Disaster and Charlie because of the type of NFT they are. One was a family snapshot and the other, a home video. One became a popular meme while the other was, at one time, the most-viewed YouTube video. For years, both dwelt in the public domain (Charlie is still accessible on YouTube). But then, they went up for sale, ultimately netting thousands of pounds and begging the question: if a family snap can bring in that much money, where do I sign? And so, 2021 was a banner year for NFTs - not just their sales but in the growing public interest. Many who are interested in making their mark in the world of digital art want to learn how to create visual art, not simply upload a snapshot or a song snippet that may or may not fetch them any kind of payday. The trouble is that the very concept of non-fungible tokens is so new that there is no established curriculum for those who are keen to learn. There's so much to know before you can earn any money as a digital art creator.

The best NFT courses include:
- An overview of blockchain and cryptocurrency
- An explanation of ERC-721
- NFT marketplaces and smart contracts
- How to mint NFTs
- How to avoid NFT and cryptocurrency scams.
And that's just for starters. Let's look into all the components a good NFT course should include and where you can learn how to develop NFTs.

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What You Need to Know to Develop NFTs

As Charlie and Disaster Girl prove, NFTs do not have to be digitally created art. As long as whichever form of art you create - snaps, videos, audio/music files and so on can be digitized, they can be NFTs. The caveat is that there must be only one of each piece. Indeed, that is the very definition of 'non-fungible'. That doesn't mean you can't create a series of similarly-themed artworks - a collection, if you will, only that each piece must be distinctly different from the other pieces in the collection. Charlie Bit My Finger, Charlie Headbutted Me, Charlie Broke My Toy, Charlie Filched my Biscuit and so on all feature Charlie and his brother but, in each video, Charlie is wreaking a different sort of havoc.

Collectors avidly hunt for limited edition series
You may attract NFT collectors by creating limited-edition NFT series. Photo credit: pinguino on Visualhunt

Pro Tip: collectors enjoy searching for and owning limited sets of pieces such as the fictitious Charlie series described above. Keep that in the back of your mind as you learn how to develop NFTs: designing collections is one way to make NFT projects successful. Charlie and other NFTs prove that you don't have to know any coding languages to create NFTs but you do have to know at least the basics of blockchain, cryptocurrency and NFT. NFTs exist on the blockchain as unique lines of code that identify the piece in question. The blockchain, a decentralised ledger of transactions and digital artefacts records their existence and any transaction that they are subject to. The blockchain also identifies the pieces' rightful owners by allowing only that person to access the piece. You'll need a cryptocurrency to deal in NFTs; to buy and/or trade them and, in some cases, to mint them. Indeed, you cannot gain access to a blockchain without any cryptocurrency so, before you sign up for any course that discusses NFT development, you must ensure that it includes a detailed explanation of both blockchain and cryptocurrency. Beyond those two vital subjects, a good NFT development course should cover:

  • ERC-721: Ethereum's standard for building non-fungible tokens
    • also, and ERC-1155, Ethereum's multi-token standard
  • NFT marketplaces
  • NFT minting
  • NFT sales, including selling by smart contract
  • how to avoid NFT scams

That last is particularly important because, of late, there have been rather dramatic instances of both art creators and patrons being scammed out of thousands during NFT transactions. Be sure that any course you sign up for includes a lengthy dissertation on NFT scamming and how to keep yourself and your work safe from scammers.

The Types of NFT

So far, we've introduced three types of NFT: video, snapshot and digital art; what's called generative art. Beeple, CryptoPunks and other high-dollar NFT creators fall into this category; they generate the art that they sell. To create generative art, you have to know at least some coding so you can write the programmes that will generate the art. Python is a particularly good language to pick up on because its modular structure makes it easy to plug in the lines of code you need to render the images you want. You could also render images in Java but you'd have to learn a lot more about coding. Besides generative art - admittedly, the most widely-recognised type of NFT, you may create NFTs to plug into games. Have you heard of CryptoKitties? They're the high-profile example of NFT use in gaming but there are plenty of others, Gods Unchained and The Sandbox among them. Music is the third major type of NFT. If you are a new music artist, you can digitize your songs, mint them and post them to your preferred NFT marketplace.

Real-world assets are quickly become a huge piece of the NFT market
A new type of NFT called real-world asset is quickly gaining a huge corner of the market. Photo credit: John-Pa on Visualhunt.com

Of course, there are other types of NFT; real-world asset and memorabilia being just two. Swiss-American photographer to the stars, Frederic Auerbach is currently minting a collection of exclusive images of well-known luminaries such as Natalie Portman and Sharon Stone. Despite there already existing thousands (maybe millions) of pictures of these and other stars in his upcoming collection, these NFT are unique in their composition and style. Any NFT development course you look into should include an in-depth look into the different types of NFT you may develop and discuss how the concept of what can be an NFT is ever-changing.

The Best Courses for NFT Development

As non-fungible tokens are digital assets, it stands to reason that the best courses for NFT development would be found online. Besides, the field is so new that traditional brick-and-mortar universities and schools have hardly had time to come up with a curriculum to address the subject and, anyway, as it is constantly evolving, they'd be hard-pressed to keep up with all the innovations. The thing to watch for when looking for NFT development courses is how much emphasis they place on development. While researching this article, we ran into plenty of courses that expound, in great detail, how to buy, sell and trade NFT, leaving only a meagre slice of their course time for how to develop NFT. For instance, Skillshare offers a series of video instructions on topics related to NFT, such as how to mint and sell audio NFT and how to get started buying and selling NFT. However, they only boast one masterclass, and the course overview doesn't list anything about the development or production of digital art; presumably, they assume you must already know how to create it. Also, Skillshare is a membership platform. You must first purchase a subscription to their platform before accessing the best courses. Indeed, while there are plenty of free online courses and video tutorials on NFT, the best information on NFT development will cost you. If you don't mind laying out around £20 to get a comprehensive look at everything you need to know about NFT development, you may well get your money's worth if you're able to put what you learned to good use.

Join NFT communities for the best tutorials and support to create digital art
Whether you want to create pixelated images, photographs or create abstract art, NFT communities are the best places to learn. Photo credit: pinguino on VisualHunt.com

The Best Way to Learn NFT Development

There are a few NFT certification courses available online and you may well learn NFT development fundamentals from them but, overwhelmingly, the best way to learn NFT development is to become a member of the NFT community - that is, join the thousands who are passionate about digital art and freely share their skills and experience. There is more than one NFT community. Some are NFT-specific, such as MekaVerse, inspired by Mecha universes found in Japan, and VeeFriends, a community meant for owners of at least one Gary Vaynerchuck NFT. Others are more general. If you're a complete novice to blockchain, cryptocurrency and the world of NFT, becoming a member of NFT (Discord) is your first, best step. There, you can get a feel for the community and the level of support you might expect as you develop your first NFT projects. Finally, you might find your community through your chosen NFT marketplace. For instance, OpenSea, one of the leading marketplaces for digital art, boasts several channels that address anything from where to find resources for your projects to support as you develop them. It makes perfect sense to learn all about NFT development from those who are, in real-time, blazing the trail for future NFT creators. Wouldn't it then also make sense to invest in a bit of cryptocurrency to gain access to NFT marketplaces so you can join such a community as soon as possible? Now, discover how NFT are created.

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