One of the first things I was invited to do in virtual reality was use Google’s Tilt Brush program. I wasn’t sure what to expect; it was my first time using an HTC Vive, my first time with premium virtual reality. Suffice it to say, I was blown away. It wasn’t like using an art program on a desktop computer at all, at least not the way I had expected. Tilt Brush gives you the ability to sculpt, model, and touch the digital art you’re making. You step inside of it. Immediately, I was reminded of all the things I’d ever wanted to see animated or modeled in 3D. As an avid reader and RPG player, it didn’t take long for me to start trying to bringing the images in my head to life.
The Breach, my first longer project, is a figure of the landscape in the world created by Wyrd Games for their tabletop game Malifaux. It’s a portal between worlds, held open by magic and steampunk-styled science. It was a great subject because of the different textures and shapes involved; the movement of the different features of the piece makes you believe it’s really there. I caught myself trying to adjust the steam I’d drawn coming out of an exhaust pipe by pushing it, even though I knew deep down that my hands wouldn’t make contact.
Drawing in Tilt Brush ends up requiring many of the same skills used in sculpting. Rather than applying paint, it feels more like pulling ribbon and clay. You’re forced to keep in mind that every brush you use has a three-dimensional presence, and that the marks you leave will have another angle to their viewing. Ignoring the back of your subject isn’t an option if you want to be able to walk through it and believe it’s really there.
At the end of the day, though, Tilt Brush is just fun. There’s something deeply fulfilling about finding a new medium for play and art. You’re standing in the landscape of your mind, without restrictions or limits. No idea what to draw? Make a bonfire and sit by it. Watch the flames move and the embers float up toward the sky. Stuck on what to do next for a project? Walk away from it. Stand far off from it and look back, see if the new perspective helps you find what’s missing. Tilt Brush makes it easy to get excited about creation in virtual reality.