A picture is worth a thousand words. This old adage still holds true, more so than ever, as the proliferation of content creation has generated new methods of expressing ourselves through artistic means. The best examples that come to mind are provided by the advertisement industry, which has elevated storytelling through a single image to the level of an art form. But technology has started to liberalize content creation, giving rise to new models of expressing ourselves through images, like memes and, of course, NFTs.
Talkens, the first AI experiment focused on giving life to non-fungible tokens, uses the technology developed by Humans.ai to take image-based storytelling to new heights with the design of its Talkens AI NFT collection. Sketched using innovative technologies, complex 3D modelling and rendering techniques, every Talkens AI NFT has its own personality, unique look and story to tell. This is the story behind the design of the Talkens AI NFT collection.
Searching for the perfect shape
Composed of 10 000 NFTs, each Talken is unique in two ways. Each encapsulates a unique digital DNA inside, a synthetic voice, that can be used to bring standard digital assets, NFTs, to life, by animating them and giving them a voice, transforming static assets into a new type of smart and dynamic asset that can work for their owner, acting at the same time as the voice of the web3 generation.
The second level of innovation and uniqueness stems from the design of the Talkens AI NFT, the meaning and symbolism behind it as well as how each design is sketched, modelled and rendered. But before the team got to the nitty-gritty technical stuff, there were multiple meetings and brainstorming sessions to decide the shape of the Talkens AI NFT, the fundamental design that would act as a foundation for all the 10 000 NFTs.
“There were a lot of meetings where we would simply throw ideas at each other to see what sticks. We needed to start from a basic geometric shape that would allow us to add new elements down the line to make it unique. A shape that we could later transform into something that we could call our own. Then, one day it simply clicked, I guess, and we decided to use a sphere”, stated dragos.3D (Dragos Dinca), 3D designer at the Talkens project.
A sphere proved to be the ideal starting point for the Talkens AI NFT, as the shape itself symbolizes a container, something that can hold multiple objects inside of it. In the case of Talkens, it’s a digital DNA, a synthetic voice and multiple AI components that help bring regular NFTs to life.
“A sphere was a natural choice for what we had in mind. From the start, we wanted to showcase, through our design, the utility behind the project, that each Talkens AI NFT has a voice inside it and a neural network, a mini-brain, that can make the magic happen”, underlined mental.os() (Robert Dragoiu), 3D Artist.
Artificial intelligence is often depicted as an abstract concept, something that is difficult to represent. Most images of AI often portray this technology as a human brain fused together with computer hardware or something along those lines. Some people even jokingly paint AI like the Terminator marching menacingly in a barren landscape.
Talkens has an entirely different approach when it comes to illustrating the concept of AI. To depict the Talkens AI NFT in a more humane and user-friendly manner while also showcasing its capabilities to our audience, the design team also incorporated lips into their design. Alongside the sphere that acts as a foundation for the design of the Talken NFTs and the lips that humanize the design, there are multiple design elements that make each Talkens NFT unique.
The design elements that compose a Talkens AI NFT
Each Talkens AI NFT incorporates three main elements that define the design:
The additional features are meant to give context and a personality to each Talkens AI NFT and the voice inside of them.
“As a creative team, we contributed equally to every aspect of the final collection, inevitably reaching a symbiosis of personal knowledge and styles in the direction of the concept created. So, each of us needed to be fluid and adapt to different roles when the need emerged, like modeller, 3D texturing and animator, to name a few”, stated Nephronik (Nicu Scarlat), 3D Artist.
As far as the overall design goes, each designer left their distinct signature on the Talkens NFT collection. Talking about this aspect, the Talkens Art Designer underlined how the influence of each member of the design team can be seen in the end product.
We can see the influence of the elegant design of @dragos.3d everywhere in the final visuals, but most obviously in the high-tech glass, a motif that influences the general aesthetics of the design, and many of the AI Serum models. From @nephronik, we encounter his trademark organic style every time we see the lip models and their already recognizable ‘hello’ animation, as well as in the models and animations of the Aura trait and in the proportions of the traits. Lastly, there is @mental.os(), who stands out with his glossy materials, neon and vibrant colours, and light composition.”
What makes each Talkens AI NFT unique?
When faced with a collection of 10 000 Talkens AI NFTs, the first question that comes to mind to an avid collector is — What makes a Talkens AI NFT more desirable than others from the same collection?
Well, each Talkens AI NFT is unique, but this does not mean that all of them are graded the same. Factors like the complexity behind every NFT, how much time was required to create the traits that compose an NFT, how intricate is the animation, as well as how difficult it is to render the material that composes a specific NFT come into play. The sum of all these parts comes together to determine the rarity and subsequent value of a Talkens AI NFT. There is also the aesthetic part to take into consideration. Some traits that compose a Talkens AI NFT can be premium, some are more abstract, and others have a friendlier design, and so on. The level of diversity and the lower occurrence rate of some features and traits have a significant impact on the rarity of the NFT as well.
All these design elements are the foundation upon which the rarity table that classifies the Talkens AI NFT collection is built. The Talkens project is divided into five rarities: Uncommon, Common, Rare, Epic, and Legendary. As a Talkens AI NFT is higher on the rarity table, the trait variation that goes into its composition is less likely to occur. Collectors, be advised! Besides all these elements and traits, the designers also introduced a few easter eggs specific to the universe of each Talkens AI NFT. So, keep an eye out for them!
An innovative design for an innovative take on NFTs
Because the Talkens collection is an innovation in itself that merges artificial intelligence with blockchain technology, the design team wanted to reflect this in the overall look and how the product is presented to the public.
There are many atypical approaches in a project of this magnitude. But the general guideline was that, first and foremost, the design needs to satisfy the standards of the team behind the project and the community. This approach meant that the design team wasn’t constrained by rules and guidelines that usually act as a standard in this type of project. The design of Talkens combines the corporate tech world, full of glossy surfaces, dramatic lighting, and perfect shapes, with the nonconformist approach that is attributed to digital art, where perfection isn’t an end goal. This fusion of approaches enabled Talkens to find its own voice, with which it propagates its own blend of emotions, personality and context.
In the end, the 3D design team concluded: From a technical point of view, generating 10 000 unique animated 3D models designed to be synchronized with 10 000 synthetic AI voices represents a first in the world of NFTs.