Last year, gamers were blown away by the Oculus Rift (opens in new tab), enabling users to truly immerse themselves in a virtual reality beyond anything we've witnessed before. But now it seems that video game enthusiasts aren't the only ones that can enjoy the fruits of this new technology.
San Francisco-based design agency Skillman & Hackett (opens in new tab) has developed Tilt Brush (opens in new tab) – a 3D painting program that allows you to produce works of art like never before. You can create your own brushes; paint thick, 3D strokes and fill the space with smoke, stars and even light.
With a beautiful user interface design and clever UI paradigms, the app works as a kind of mash-up between Photoshop and CAD software.
"We'd been talking a lot about methods of supporting tactile input in VR," says co-creator Drew Skillman. "And I'd been playing a lot of chess on my phone. So we naturally took a stab at a VR chess prototype that would use touch input from a tablet."
"We added some debug line rendering to the chess pieces to better gauge how the input was working, and it became instantly clear that the debug line rendering was incredibly cool and unlike anything we'd seen before."
While this AR prototype proved an unlikely inspiration, as they moved forward, more influences surfaced. "Music visualisers, 3D scene capture software, traditional painting," says co-founder Patrick Hackett, "and our backgrounds in using real-time engines for video games all influenced development."
Creating content is a new concept, so Skillman & Hackett want to target a large amount of users and allow them to build things as quickly and easily as possible. "The same way anyone can pick up a crayon and enjoy the feeling of making something out of nothing – no matter what it is," explains Drew.
However, the team are conscious of keeping up with their users, as their skills start to develop. "With features like allowing users to build their own brush sets and advanced lighting controls, we're including concepts that should allow dedicated users more control over their sketches," Patrick continues.
The team have also made it as easy as possible to share your works – with AutoGIF allowing you to export your masterpiece as a .gif. "We want Tilt Brush to help create and define the ecosystem of the next generation of tools," says Patrick.
"We expect technologies like virtual reality, 3D scene capture software and 3D printing will define new file formats and new ways of thinking about data." The free lightweight viewer application Tilt Brush Gallery is available now on Google Cardboard. Learn more and download the app here (opens in new tab).
This article first appeared in 3D World (opens in new tab) magazine.
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