Does this VR tool im­press?

3D World - - CONTENTS -

| | price £22.99 on Steam / £75.99/month sub­scrip­tion com­pany Grav­ity Sketch Web­site www.grav­i­tys­

What de­signer hasn’t thought about bring­ing their ideas to life in the air in front of them? In the last few years we have been able to do just that, at least in­side a VR head-mounted dis­play and with con­trollers in our hands. Grav­ity Sketch started life on an ipad and was fol­lowed by the VR ver­sion which can now be ex­pe­ri­enced in an Ocu­lus Rift, HTC Vive and the Mi­crosoft Mixed Re­al­ity head­set. There’s a ba­sic ver­sion with some lim­i­ta­tions (only four lay­ers, lim­ited ex­ports etc) and a sub­scrip­tion model to ac­cess the full fea­ture set.

Un­like a lot of the other VR cre­ation tools that have cropped up, Grav­ity Sketch is much more like a Nurb­s­based de­sign pack­age: more like Rhino than Zbrush. There’s no sculpt­ing with Vox­els yet but that’s not re­ally what it’s all about. This tool is aimed at de­sign­ers who are used to curves, patches and manipulating ge­om­e­try with con­trol ver­tices (points). The vast ma­jor­ity of de­sign­ers who started post­ing work on­line were from an au­to­mo­tive or de­sign back­ground and that is re­flected in the sort of work that is be­ing pro­duced. A de­signer can lit­er­ally sketch out the frame of a ve­hi­cle with strokes in the air and then patch those strokes to­gether with ed­itable sur­faces.

The ba­sic toolset found on your main draw­ing hand con­troller in­cludes Ink, Strokes, Re­volve, Curved Sur­face, Vol­ume and Prim­i­tives. While that doesn’t sound like a huge list, it pretty much gives you what you need to make

any­thing. The Ink and Stroke tools en­able you to paint strokes in the air and they are ei­ther rib­bon like or made from a shape. In ad­di­tion to that, you can ta­per and even edit the con­trol points once you have drawn out the stroke.

There is a full colour wheel at your dis­posal and strokes can be painted in your cho­sen colour and edited af­ter­wards. The Re­volve tool is a lathe of sorts and by drag­ging out a stroke or click­ing points you can cre­ate wheels, cylin­ders, jet en­gines and the like. Again, af­ter the ini­tial shape is cre­ated with a sin­gle click you can go back in and edit the con­trol points to re­fine the de­sign.

Curved Sur­face al­lows you to click in two places in space and a sur­face will be cre­ated in the space be­tween. By drag­ging from there you pull out sheets of ge­om­e­try to cre­ate your sur­faces. In edit mode you then snap those points to the strokes you’ve al­ready made and in that way build up your de­sign.

Vol­ume re­places Filled Sur­face and is a way to cre­ate a vol­ume of ge­om­e­try by click­ing or draw­ing out a shape. Add to that prim­i­tives like sphere, cube and tri­an­gle and you have a pretty all-en­com­pass­ing cre­ation toolset. There’s also some pre-made man­nequins that you can build around.

Ver­sion 1.5 was re­leased in Septem­ber and brought in a raft of new fea­tures the com­mu­nity has been call­ing for. For ex­am­ple, Group/un­group helps to keep your scenes or­gan­ised, and Bridge Can­vas brings the abil­ity to stretch a sur­face be­tween strokes and means you can quickly build up a model with a lot less cleanup.

As men­tioned the Vol­ume tool im­proves on an al­ready ex­ist­ing Filled Sur­face tool, and Su­perel­lip­soid adds more func­tion­al­ity to the prim­i­tives mean­ing you can hit more com­plex shapes quickly. There’s also a new Or­tho­graphic View­port, ta­per­ing op­tions for strokes and the abil­ity to edit nor­mals which means you can ac­tu­ally ro­tate parts of a stroke to make them more vis­ually ap­peal­ing.

This soft­ware will ap­peal to in­dus­trial de­sign­ers, prod­uct de­sign­ers, tech­ni­cal il­lus­tra­tors, con­cept artists and any­one want­ing to quickly draft out their ideas with­out need­ing to learn a huge amount of com­mands and tools. It might not be for you if you want to fo­cus on 3D print­ing, as the sur­faces gen­er­ally aren’t sealed ready for print with­out lots of post work. It doesn’t mean they can’t be, but there’s def­i­nitely lots to do to make an ex­ported model print-ready.

One thing that will surely be in com­ing re­leases is the abil­ity to edit and re­move parts of a curved sur­face. Things like fil­let, cham­fer and Booleans must be on that list and that will make an amaz­ing piece of soft­ware even bet­ter.

If you de­sign for a liv­ing and are look­ing for new ways to ex­plore your ideas, then take a look at Grav­ity Sketch. It’s an af­ford­able way to de­sign in VR. If you are all about sculpt­ing, paint­ing or 3D print-ready models then look else­where (for now!).

“THIS SOFT­WARE Will Ap­peal To IN­DUS­TRIAL de­sign­ers, TECH­NI­CAL IL­LUS­TRA­TORS, Con­cept ARTISTS And Any­one WANT­ING To QUICKLY DRAFT OUT THEIR IDEAS WITH­OUT need­ing To learn A HUGE Amount of Com­mands”

au­to­mo­tive is one of Grav­ity sketch’s strengths and see­ing what de­sign­ers like James w rob­bins can do with it con­firms that

Below: this spi­der tank was cre­ated in un­der an hour in­side Grav­ity sketch. ren­dered in cinema 4d us­ing red­shift

left: the core of Grav­ity sketch is mak­ing shapes with sur­faces that have ed­itable con­trol points. with re­lease 1.5 they added more fea­tures in­clud­ing draw­ing sur­faces be­tween strokes

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