Wacom turns hand-drawn art into VR

The ability to create a drawing using VR isn't exactly new, but it's not cheap. It's easy to achieve amazing results with Google's Tilt Brush software, but to use it you'll need a heavyweight PC and a hunk of expensive VR hardware.

Wacom (opens in new tab), however, has other ideas. At SXSW (opens in new tab) this week in Austin, Texas, it's showcasing a new (cheaper) way to see your work in a VR world. In collaboration with WHITE Inc., creator of the Google Cardboard-like MilboxTouch VR headset, it's come up with a way to draw on paper and then see your work translated into a VR experience.

First, sketch an image with the Intuos Pro Paper Edition

First, sketch an image with the Intuos Pro Paper Edition

It works like this: you start by sketching out an image on paper with the Intuos Pro Paper Edition; it's then converted into digital ink. This data is then exported into an app developed by WHITE Inc. that projects your image onto a 3D sphere that you can then explore in VR.

Your doodle is wrapped around a 3D sphere

Your doodle is wrapped around a 3D sphere

Your drawing is rendered in different ways depending on the amount of pressure you exert in your strokes, taking full advantage of the Intuos Pro Paper Edition's full range of pressure sensitivity. You can also move around and zoom in and out to see your work from plenty of perspectives: look down on it from above, or position yourself on the surface of the sphere and look up to see your lines spread across the sky like colourful contrails.

You can view your creation with the MilboxTouch VR headset

You can view your creation with the MilboxTouch VR headset

 As well as being able to enjoy the full VR experience, visitors to SXSW will also be able to scan a QR code for their image to view it in Google Chrome on their smartphones.

This isn't Wacom's first big digital ink experiment; in January it showcased a digital ink technology capable of presenting a visual display of a user's emotional state from a handwritten script, using a Bamboo Slate and brainwave data captured using a special headset.

Your 2D creations really come alive when viewed from the sphere's surface

Your 2D creations really come alive when viewed from the sphere's surface

Wacom plans to collaborate further with WHITE Inc. to explore more ways to combine digital ink with VR environments; you can try out this one at SXSW this week.

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Jim McCauley is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler who started writing professionally way back in 1995 on PC Format magazine, and has been covering technology-related subjects ever since, whether it's hardware, software or videogames. A chance call in 2005 led to Jim taking charge of Computer Arts' website and developing an interest in the world of graphic design, and eventually led to a move over to the freshly-launched Creative Bloq in 2012. Jim now works as a freelance writer for sites including Creative Bloq, T3 and PetsRadar, specialising in design, technology, wellness and cats, while doing the occasional pantomime and street performance in Bath and designing posters for a local drama group on the side.