Nov 21, 2023

Create a 2D PFP project

In this guide, we will learn how to effectively create a 2D PFP (Profile Picture) project


In this guide, we will learn how to effectively create a 2D PFP (Profile Picture) project. We will showcase the project we developed for Ethermon as an example.

Creating a 2D PFP requires a different approach compared to 3D. We may encounter challenges related to organization and layer management. Therefore, in this guide, we will explore techniques for conducting research, organizing our work effectively, developing a unique style, and adapting to different design requirements.

PFP example 1
PFP example 2

PFP example 3
PFP example 4

How to get documented

Documentation is always important as it provides information and helps build a foundation of ideas. For visual projects, it’s essential to search for visual documentation. A highly recommended tool for this purpose is Pinterest.

Pinterest is a platform that allows you to search for images, but it differs from general search engines like Google. Pinterest primarily focuses on artistic content, making it an ideal source for finding ideas and inspiration.

Pinterest page

  • You can search for terms of what you imagine. Even if you don't get exactly what you're looking for at first, you can simply open an image that has something similar.
  • Observe the images suggested as a result of that one, and in this way you will find a chain where each time the images resemble your idea more and more.
Edit your pin on Pinterest
  • Create boards on your profile and save those images here to keep them together. Within the board, you can add notes that you don't want to forget or even mark the images with a star and filter them later to see only these.

Pinterest boards

  • It’s also recommended to download the images to our computer. We never know when we may lose internet and then need those images.

Know what the client wants

When working for a client, it’s crucial to gather as much information as possible about their requirements in order to ensure a successful outcome. By obtaining comprehensive details about the characters, including their nature (human, animal, or other), you can better align your work with the client's vision.

Consider the style of the characters, whether realistic or cartoon-like. Think about their desired positions, traits, and the universe they will exist in (fantasy, sci-fi, etc.).

To stay organized and have easy access to the gathered information, it’s recommended to document everything in a schematic format. This way, you can quickly refer to the details as needed throughout the project. However, it’s important to note that client preferences may evolve over time, so remaining flexible and adaptable to potential changes is also crucial.

Develop the style

Before starting with the traits, it’s important to conduct style tests, also known as concept arts. These concept arts help in visualizing the ideas and bringing them to life.

To begin, you can create rough sketches and illustrations which can be done quickly without investing too much time. This allows for flexibility and exploration of different possibilities.

As the client provides feedback and narrows down their idea, the concept art can be further refined to create an illustration that accurately represents the final vision. The goal is to define the artwork as precisely as possible, ensuring that it aligns with the client's expectations and requirements.

Art style 1
Art style 2
Art style 3

Organize the traits

Another phase before starting the final traits is to make a visual table where at a glance we can see what we are going to do.

  • Create an excel document (for example, in google drive to have it in your cloud and several people can work on it).
  • Organize the excel by columns of the types of traits (skin, eyes, noses, mouths, glasses, necklaces, clothes, etc). Within each column, you can split it into the name and the reference.
  • Look up references for each trait to define what they’re going to be more or less. If you can't find what you're looking for, you can always make a quick sketch. Insert the images in the boxes so moving them is not a problem.

Excel traits organization

Besides organizing ideas in a table, it's important to effectively organize your files. This includes creating folders and giving proper names to the files. Also, when working on a layered 2D drawing, accurately name the layers.

By doing so, you will significantly enhance your ability to locate each file promptly.

Additionally, it’s imperative to keep backup copies of your work.

You can store these copies either in an online cloud storage or on an external hard drive. Having backup copies provides an added layer of security and ensures that your work is safeguarded in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

Trait creation

When creating traits, it’s highly recommended to start by making quick sketches of the designs. This allows for easy adjustments and experimentation with colors, if needed.

It’s important to note that it’s better to have loosely defined traits at this stage, rather than spending too much time on perfecting them. Once the initial sketches are satisfactory, the final traits can be developed with more precision and attention to detail.

PFP sketch
PFP lineart

PFP color
PFP render

💡 About traits

When making 2D traits, it’s very important to know how to organize the layers well. You have to keep in mind that some are going to cover others, and you will probably run into problems so that everything fits well. This was the order we used to create the Ethermon PFP project.

For example, in terms of hairstyles, it’s normal for the bangs to cover the head, but there is also hair that goes behind it. You can divide the hairstyle into two, the part that goes in front of the head, and the part that goes behind.

PFP layers


In summary, a successful PFP project relies on effective documentation, a correct style development based on the client proposal, and a correct trait execution.

By utilizing tools like Pinterest for inspiration and prioritizing flexibility through quick sketches, we can ensure the client satisfaction and deliver captivating profile pictures.

Concept Artist

As a concept artist, ever since I held a pencil for the first time, I have never stopped creating everything that comes to my mind

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