Thoughts Are Free | 5 Year Anniversary

in Alien Art Hive6 months ago (edited)
Authored by @Reinhard Schmid

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital art, milestones become chapters in an artist's story, marking growth, innovation, and the unwavering dedication to a creative vision. My journey over the past five years has been a testament to these principles, as I celebrate the 5th anniversary of my first mint on Makersplace. This occasion holds a special place in my heart as it shows not only the passage of time, but also the evolution of my craft and the continued exploration of new possibilities to create my art.

Five years ago, I embarked on my nft art journey by minting my genesis piece on Makersplace, titled "Thoughts are Free." This artwork, found at describes a fundamental aspect of my artistic philosophy. The theme of freedom of thought has been a recurring motif in my work and personal contemplations.

In a blog post at , I already wrote about the original artwork, inviting readers to join me in pondering its complexities and implications.


N°1 is the evolution of my original "Thoughts are Free" piece, which I minted on August 27, 2018.

The new artwork for the 5 year anniversary is now built on this original, showing the progress I have made in the fusion of my traditional visual language and digital tools.

It encompasses:

  1. Digital Pencil Drawing: My distinct style, evident in my first piece, is amplified by my refined techniques in digital pencil drawing.

  2. 3D Modeling: Embracing technological advancements, I have now integrated 3D modeling into the artwork. This dimension adds depth and complexity and allows me to show things from different sides and in motion.

  3. Animation: Learning new skills, I've breathed life into the artwork through animation. Definitely a step beyond my traditional painting, this gives me the possibility to tell my story in, what I call a micro movie.

  4. Sound and Audio Track: Recognizing the sensory richness of human experiences, I've introduced sound and audio elements. This auditory layer elevates the artwork, and enhances the story and the emotions involved.

There will be two pieces for the anniversary drop:

  1. N°1 : Celebration, offered as a limited edition of 33 with 30 editions for sale

  2. N°1 : Evolution, A micro movie, published as single edition, 1/1

The animated piece actually tells the story of its own creation
It starts with the finished piece, which is also the base for the limited edition:


A few moments into the video, we are taken back to the original image of the first mint. A change in the soundtrack also marks the moment, where we can see, how the new piece was created.

An overlay moving in shows the outlines of the essential elements:

5yearAniv_03-overlay1.png 5yearAniv_04-overlay2.jpg

• Part of a face with a strong, expressive eye, commonly seen as the “mirror of the soul”

• The butterfly representing free thought

• Lower part of the face made of mechanical elements pointing out the merely functional aspects of our existence

Next, we see the newly created face. The original image is a scan of a glass painting, done in the technique outlined here:

This time, I challenged myself to create it all digitally.

For that, I created a Photoshop file using Grut papers: (not a sponsored link)

Together with their brushes, this gives you a very natural feel, and while drawing on a Wacom Cintiq it almost feels like drawing on paper (or glass in my case) with a pencil. It took me a while to choose the right tools from Grut's extensive library and fine-tune the settings to suit my needs, but I quickly learned to love this new approach.

There are a few distinct advantages to working digitally. For one, you can always go back to an earlier stage of your work.

You can also keep certain aspects of your drawing, such as highlights or deep shadows, on separate layers so they don't get "messed up".

Masking areas along with layering can also make your life a lot easier.

I started with a first sketch on top of the original file. While refining the drawing, I also checked it with the colors of the original layer.

5yearAniv_05-auge-1.png 5yearAniv_06-Auge-2.png

Layering different stages, I slowly got to the final drawing:


Finally the colored version:


Next, I created the mechanical parts in 3d in Blender. I wanted to be able to move this element in 3d space and also use it as a reference for the new drawing.

Based on the original image, I created a rough drawing with a few changes to the design:


I imported that into Blender as a reference and modeled the whole “machinery” accordingly:


Some of the topology is done in this way specifically so that the wireframe overlay that I was going to need later on would look good:



I also tried different materials and lighting to see, how the shapes and reflections would come out:



Then I drew this part, based on this model again in Photoshop as I did with the eye.



Here an image that illustrates this sequence of creation:

  1. Relatively quick and rough drawing

  2. 3d model

  3. Refined drawing based on the 3d model


Next I created the butterfly in Photoshop, using the same method as I did in the previous drawings:


Since it is symmetrical, I only had to draw half of it and mirror it. Of course, with simply mirroring the drawing, the lighting would be messed up. However, since I had things on different layers, it was relatively easy to fix:


The wings were animated later in Aftereffects.

Together with the binary text, the butterfly represents our free thoughts. Here a little concept sketch I created on the way:


Now it was time to add the binary text and think about the "side panels". At first, I had them monochrome and dark, but then I decided to make them colorful. These colors would change during the animation:


The binary text says “ThoughtsAreFree”:

Finally, I designed the display thingy in Illustrator and made it fit the drawing in Photoshop through the application of a series of filters.


For the background behind the butterfly and the text, I wanted a kind of mesh of jittering lines to illustrate the "thought process". I created it again in Blender using geometry nodes. This is the first of 60 frames rendered for the animated version:


Overlaying them in Aftereffects at different angles and speeds gave me the "noise pattern" I wanted.

Now it was time to animate the 3D mechanical element, also in Blender. I wanted it to "move" to show that it was a step in the creation based on the original artwork. I had to try several options to get it in a way that made sense to me.

I rendered it with different lighting settings to get a color transition in the final animation.

mech_render-01.jpg mech_render-02.jpg

I always render the animation in individual images for each frame for best quality:


I also rendered a wireframe version, that I wanted to apply as an overlay to the drawing in Aftereffects.


With all the individual components at hand, I started the process of bringing them together within After Effects, the platform where the magic of the entire sequence would unfold.

Each of the carefully prepared elements found its designated place on a separate layer, akin to assembling a complex puzzle. This layer-based approach allowed for precise control over the arrangement and interaction of each element, including looping of the line sequence or the use of effects and layer options like drop shadows for instance.

The image sequences rendered in Blender now also became animated elements again.

The wireframe overlay I talked about earlier serves as a bridge, making the shift from the original painting to the textured 3D object and from there to the final drawing smoother and more connected.

overlay-01.jpg overlay-02.jpg

In a final step, I added my signature and the legendary SmackMan, which also points to me as the creator:


After everything was arranged and fine-tuned for a beautiful flow, I could create the main sound track in Garage Band.

In Adobe Premiere, I added few more sounds and was then ready to render the final 30 second micro movie.

N°1 : Evolution and N°1 : Celebration are featured in a special Drop on Makersplace at starting August 28th, 2023 at 06:20 CEST

Don't miss this unique opportunity to get one of these historic tokens!

Special thanks to Jarid Scott from Makersplace for making this happen and to FluxCollective for their friendship and tireless support!

I enjoy reading your comments!

If you like my work, of course I appreciate your upvotes and reblogs





See more of my art and NFTs at and

My tokenized collectible art at

MakersPlace and Superrare


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Beautiful work. congratulations on your anniversary.

 6 months ago  

Happy anniversary! <3