Imagine going to an art gallery, but instead of merely looking at art, you travel inside the painting and become part of what’s happening in the scene. Artists around the world are using virtual reality painting and cutting-edge tools to achieve that very effect.
Virtual reality painting broke into the VR mainstream when Google launched its Tilt Brush in April 2016. Google acquired Tilt Brush from developers Drew Skillman and Patrick Hackett, who came up with the idea while working on a VR chess application.
“Tilt Brush, at its core, is a virtual reality painting application. It creates something anyone can use, intuitively, for kids, artists, and absolutely anyone,” Skillman told Fast Company. “Within the first 30 or 45 seconds, anyone can start VR painting and making marks in space all around them. […] It allows everyone to see how powerful VR is and how transformative it will be.”
Since then, a small but growing community of artists are embracing virtual reality painting as a way to change the way the world views art and the people who create it.
3Donimus: An Artist Profile
VR artist Cesar Ortega, known online as 3Donimus, began using Tilt Brush about two years ago after seeing a video of it in action. Ortega holds a degree in game design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. He saw virtual reality painting as a natural extension of what he was already doing.
Ortega said he often has trouble describing his art. As soon as he can get someone inside VR, it all clicks into place.
“No matter how much explaining I do, they never truly get it until they are fully immersed,” he said. “The moment they put the headset on they go ‘Ohhh’ and at that moment they understand.”
Ortega’s art focuses on character sculpting and design. It combines his interest in virtual reality with his background in traditional 3D asset production. His favorite piece shows a character coming to life from a skeleton to fully-formed.
Ortega said a background in art is not necessary to be a successful virtual reality artist. In fact, he said VR painting and drawing is easier to learn than traditional methods. It’s also a great way to become familiar with VR technology.
“Background in art is not necessary to be a successful virtual reality artist.“
“You don’t need to be so technically knowledgeable, which has always been a great barrier for many creative people,” Ortega said. “All these tools are being built from the ground up with the purpose of them being as easy to use as possible.”
VR Artist Community
As virtual reality art grows, so does the community of artists who are practicing it. Here are just a few of the many other artists who are working in the medium:
Anna Zhilyeva – Anna’s Dream Brush
Based in France, Zhilyeva gave a live performance of her work at the Louvre last summer. She recreated the Eugène Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” using Tilt Brush.
She also gave a TED talk last fall on the future of art, including a demonstration of her virtual reality painting.
Tse applies a storytelling approach to her virtual reality art. She has a diverse background that spans everything from sociology to web design.
She was an artist in residence at Adobe and on Google’s Tilt Brush team. Her blog includes articles about how to get started in VR art, including her own story.
“I was exploring VR in early 2016, going to tech conventions and conferences, trying out every demo I could,” Tse writes. “I knew I was made for this field. From there, I spent hours and hours in Tilt Brush, painting my days away. The rest is history!”
Vladimir Ilic – VRHUMAN
Through VRHUMAN, Ilic combines his natural curiosity about the world and his passion for new technologies to help companies like Microsoft, Sony and Mozilla tell immersive stories through virtual reality.
He’s presented talks and workshops around the world and also started the #vreveryday campaign to document daily experiments in virtual reality and augmented reality.