What are CryptoPunks? A Complete Guide

What are CryptoPunks? A Complete Guide

Cryptopunks are unique 24x24 pixel art NFTs, representing distinct characters, often with a retro aesthetic. Know more about what are...

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CryptoPunks look completely ordinary at first glance. Small, pixelated faces don’t seem exciting to anyone, but this is where you could not be more wrong. CryptoPunks was one of the earliest Non Fungible Tokens to be generated on the Ethereum blockchain. If one got hold of one of these NFTs way back then, they would be quite amazed at the returns they would be sitting on now. This entire project consists of 10000 24*24 portraits, all algorithmically generated. CryptoPunks has gained a huge following over the years due to the unique traits in each of their images and its significance as one of the first NFT projects. 

In this blog, we discuss ‘What are CryptoPunks blockchain?’ in detail.

What are CryptoPunks? 

CryptoPunks are 24*24 images digitally generated via algorithms on the Ethereum network. Each image is unique and in limited supply, which is why they are valuable. The developers had generated 10,000 images and won’t release any more CryptoPunks now. 

They had to work with the ERC-20 token protocol since the presently used ERC-721 protocol for NFTs didn’t even exist back then. 

A fun fact about what are CryptoPunks is that since these were given out for free when they were not famous to anyone with an Ethereum blockchain wallet, many owners became millionaires overnight due to their huge popularity, that too without having to invest a penny.

What is a CryptoPunks?
Source | What is a CryptoPunk and Types of CryptoPunks

Who Created CryptoPunks? 

John Watkinson and Matt Hall were two developers from Larva Labs who were inspired by the London punk scene and different movies and magazines on punk. They had initially started this as a fun experimental project, which has moved in a completely different direction, as we can see now. Using algorithms, they generated 10,000 unique images and hosted them on the Ethereum network in June 2017. They held back 1000 CryptoPunks for themselves, and the others were distributed to others for free on the network. With a few aliens, apes, and zombies in the mix, Larva Labs started a revolution in the NFT space.

How do CryptoPunks Work?

The Larva Labs team modified the ERC-20 code just enough to produce non-fungible items, eventually inspiring the ERC-721 development. The authenticity of each CryptoPunk can be detected by hashing reference image and comparing it to a specific image hash in the token’s contract. 

As the images are too large to be stored on the blockchain, a composite image containing all 10,000 punks was created by Larva Labs. One can easily know which one they own since each punk token contains metadata that refers to its position in the composite image. For instance, CryptoPunk #7807 is the 7807th punk in the large composite image.

What Makes CryptoPunks Special? 

There are some specific reasons why CryptoPunks blockchain are unique and special:

  • Among the first NFTs atop the Ethereum blockchain NFT marketplaces, CryptoPunks has inspired NFT collections developed in subsequent years like Cool Cats and more. From online forums, it graduated to famous auction houses, attracting attention from celebrities and art collectors worldwide. It has smashed several records on the way in NFT marketplaces.
  • CryptoPunks has the unique advantage of creating huge demand due to its limited supply. The unique attributes of several CryptoPunks also make them special.

What the Future Looks Like for CryptoPunks Blockchain?

In NFT marketplaces, CryptoPunks is considered a project steeped in legacy. Due to the crypto bull run in recent years, CryptoPunks prices have soared, taking the NFT marketplaces upward across the globe. The market continues to be extremely volatile, though, and the prices of CryptoPunks are ultimately dependent on supply and demand. 

Yuga Labs have taken over CryptoPunks from Larva Labs, and it remains to be seen how the new owners navigate through the ongoing crypto winter. The future of CryptoPunks also depends on renewed interest of art experts around the world and whether it continues to be a topic of discussion amongst them. NFT enthusiasts remain extremely optimistic, however. 

What are the Different Types of CryptoPunks NFT?

There are five different types of CryptoPunks NFTs which are – male, ape, female, alien, and zombie. All of these may have different attributes, but despite the accessories, these punks can hold value based on the type they are. For example, there are 6039 male punks, which does not make them very rare compared to other types of punks. Alien punks are extremely rare since there are only nine in total. Punk number 3100, which is an alien, was sold at a huge sum of $10.67M, which confirms that rare punks are extremely valuable. A CryptoPunks NFT can also increase its value if it contains a rare attribute.

1) CryptoPunks Attributes 

Every CryptoPunk contains some specific attributes, which are also responsible for making a punk rare and valuable. For example, only 54 punks have a Pilot Helmet out of 10,000 punks. So, a punk with a Pilot Helmet will obviously have more value compared to other attributes. Punks have been sold for millions owing to their attributes.

1. Attribute Counts 

A CryptoPunk has a maximum of seven attributes. It is interesting to note here that punks with all seven attributes are extremely rare and hence very valuable. On the other hand, punks with no attributes at all are also very rare, which also makes them very valuable! A female punk with no attributes has the punk number 6487, and it was sold at a price of $1.05M!

2. Gender-Specific Traits

There are some traits that are specifically for certain punks. For example, a hoodie or a beanie is for male punks only. On the other hand, the Orange side or the Red Mohawk is for female punks only. Some may look different in males and females, but in reality, there are shared attributes among the genders.

3. Wrapping

An Ethereum-based project, wrapping offers wallet support and a specific contract to help you wrap your punks. Once you send your punk to the wrapped contract, it stays in escrow. You will get an ERC 721 token for doing this, which will specify your CryptoPunk. This token can be used to sell or trade your punk. It also offers the choice of unwrapping the token anytime you want, and once you do that, you get your punk back that was in escrow. These punks can, therefore, also be used as a form of liquidity.


With more engagement being done in online and virtual communities in the future, NFTs will surely continue to enjoy the popularity they do now. With blockchain wallets allowing users to access their digital assets on the blockchain, crypto investors are increasingly exploring the space. CryptoPunks was one of the first to revolutionize NFTs and inspire others, giving way to many such laudable projects. NFTs will hold much more importance in the metaverse in the future, boosting digital commerce, events, virtual worlds, smart contracts, and art selling.

Disclaimers: Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). They do not necessarily purport to reflect the opinions or views of Shardeum Foundation.

About the AuthorAnuska is an independent freelance writer freshly exploring web3 and blockchain space. Her articles blend personal exploration with established editorial methods, and she’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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