If the concept of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) falls flat for you, we’ve got news that might change your mind. Everyone’s favorite love-to-hate-it Web3 trend is becoming more realistic and immersive. That’s right—NFTs are going 3D.

NFTs, which are non-interchangeable units of data stored on a blockchain, encompass many different formats. They can be photos, videos, audio files, and even 3D animations. Today, 3D NFTs are gaining traction. What makes 3D NFTs stand out is that they have an inherent use case—and display venue—in immersive gaming environments. They may also one day be an integral part of the metaverse.

If you’re interested in exploring the next dimension of NFT creation, read on.

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What Is a 3D NFT?

Just what it sounds like! A 3D NFT is an NFT formatted as a three-dimensional model or animation. They are often rendered in voxels (used for 3D design) versus pixels (the unit of 2D), and therefore sometimes called “voxel-based NFTs.” 

There are already a few examples of 3D NFTs being released by major brands and artists. Earlier in 2022, Sony and Theta Labs launched a series of limited-edition 3D NFTs for use with the Sony Spatial Reality Display (SRD), a tablet equipped with semi-physical augmented reality (AR) capabilities. As VR/AR hardware like this becomes more advanced, it’s likely 3D NFTs will follow suit.

In the future, the metaverse—a concept that’s being hyped as “the next era of the internet,” or essentially, cyberspace realized—may be where 3D NFTs finally find their niche. In an ecosystem of interoperable virtual worlds, NFTs could serve as props, characters, avatars, sound effects, rooms, streets, cars, clothing, or other status symbols.

How to Make a 3D NFT

3D NFTs can be a fun experiment for creators like 3D modelers, concept artists, and game designers. If you’re interested in learning how to make a 3D NFT, here’s a quick step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Equip Yourself With the Essentials for Creating and Trading NFTs

Before you dive into this process, you’ll need a couple of things on hand—namely, some cryptocurrency and a digital wallet. You’ll need to use crypto to pay any fees associated with converting your digital file into an official NFT. That number will depend upon the blockchain you’re using and its account, gas, and service fees. Most NFTs today exist on the Ethereum blockchain. You can expect to pay around $50 to $150 USD (in a comparable amount of crypto) to mint a single 3D NFT, although in some cases, the cost is as little as a dollar, and in other cases, it could be much higher.

You’ll also need a place to store your crypto and NFTs. There are dozens of wallets to choose from for these tasks, but you’ll probably want to explore ones compatible with Ethereum’s NFT token standard (ERC-72). You should also explore wallet options that function as more than just a place to safeguard digital assets—they must be compatible with the marketplace where you plan to buy and sell your NFTs (more on this in step three). Coinbase and MetaMask are two apt choices.

Step 2: Create Your 3D Asset

Now comes the fun part. You’ll need to design your 3D asset using some kind of design software or platform like Blender, SketchFab, or VoxEdit. This is your time to let your creative genius shine. Do you want to create a LEGO-like figurine? A hyper-realistic robot? A pixelated spaceship? You can learn more about 3D design principles on countless online courses. When you’ve completed your artwork, you’ll want to export the file in either GLB or GLTF format.

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Step 3: Choose an NFT Marketplace

We know, we know—another decision. Don’t worry, you’re already more than halfway through the process. This time, you’ll need to figure out the best venue for marketing and selling your 3D NFT collection. When making your selection, keep your target buyer or collector in mind. While there are major marketplaces like OpenSea and SuperRare with a broad, built-in audience, you may also want to consider more specialized marketplaces like SmartMFG, which is specifically tailored to 3D modelers and gamers.

You’ll need to link your digital wallet to the NFT marketplace before you can officially get down to business.

Step 4: Convert Your Asset to an NFT

When it comes time to convert your 3D art to an NFT, the process is actually quite simple: Most marketplaces let you upload your file and turn it into an NFT in just a few clicks. Look for the “create” button (or something comparable) to make the magic happen. Presto! You’ve got a newly minted NFT.

Step 5: Market and Sell Your NFT Art

Now, it’s time to market and sell your artwork. You can get the word out about your 3D NFTs in many different places, but a few venues might include your website, your social media accounts like Twitter, or online communities like Reddit and Discord. You can share your work on threads that cater to relevant audiences like gamers or crypto enthusiasts—but tread carefully! Sites like Reddit have a notoriously short attention span when it comes to overt advertising, and the NFT market is incredibly crowded.

Every marketplace will have its own policies and processes for selling NFTs, but again, it’s pretty straightforward at this stage. You’ll be prompted to select transaction details like your desired price, auction time limit, and the type of crypto you’ll accept for your work. You’ll also need to review what fees you or your buyer may be obligated to pay—usually some percentage of the final sale price. You can find these fees detailed on your marketplace’s website.

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The Next Phase of NFTs

Whether you’re interested in minting 3D NFTs just for fun, to sell online, or to make a name for yourself as a maestro of the metaverse, this new phase of the internet’s hottest fad is fertile ground for tech-savvy creators. Even if you’ve held off on dabbling in NFTs until now, perhaps this latest phase will help your creativity take shape.

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